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For all of you who are juggling multiple offers, how is your deliberation affecting you emotionally? Maybe I'm not the only one who thought getting some offers would end the stress and usher in a golden age of confidence and excitement, only to find that a decision now seems impossible without disappointing one or more people and sacrificing some truly great options. My advisors are split, with very strong opinions as to where I should go - they're people I want to associate with for the rest of my career as colleagues, conference friends, etc, so I greatly fear that this decision will alienate and disappoint at least one of them. Then, I worry that no matter where I pick, there won't be any excitement, just guilt and "what if's".

 

So, the questions then: how are you all coping with the stress of decision making? Are there things about it that are surprising you? Is anyone else experiencing intense anxiety about disappointing a mentor? After all, they wrote us letters; don't we "owe" them a say in our decision? I can't say this feels worse than waiting for decisions, but it certainly is a new kind of hell.

 

Anyone feel the strong urge to just wildly accept an offer and end it all, like those people who have the sudden urge to drive off the road?

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I'm not quite in the same position, so take my words with a grain of salt, but...

I really think you have to make your own decision here, and not worry too much about other perspectives. You should consider all perspectives, of course, but this is almost literally the one time that you will be able to make a major decision about the future shape of your academic life. Once you finally commit to a program, you'll be back in the grind for the next several years, fulfilling requirements and going through the motions of getting your degree. Those motions are usually somewhat enjoyable, of course, but they're also burdensome.

I've heard some recent stories from other GCers who have received some rather bad (in my personal opinion) advice from their advisors, pulling them one way or another for unknown reasons. I'm almost positive that that advice is never intended in a negative way, but in this particular instance, you have to put yourself first -- make your own criteria of things that matter to you, and run with it. It is you, after all, who has to go through the program for 4-6 years, not your professors, mentors, or advisors.

It's natural and often necessary to want to please people...especially those whose opinions you respect. But the best way to please them in the long run is to decide on the program that works best for you, and excel to the best of your ability. You're not doing anyone a favor by committing to a program that doesn't sit as well with you, and being less than happy for the duration.

Just my two cents, but I've certainly come across this sentiment among a few people recently, and I feel quite strongly that you have to largely put aside other opinions at this point. Go with that rare blend of heart, mind, and gut -- one can steer you wrong, but rarely all three!

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@piers_plowman I'm a bit of a lurker, but I know *exactly* how you feel. I'm weighing between four offers (which kind of feels like an embarrassment of riches, to be honest), and feel like my decision could tip any which way at the drop of a hat. I specialize in children's literature, so the rank of a school (which is already a wonky term anyway) actually has very little to do with how good a school is in my field. It's then super difficult to balance the different benefits of each of my offers because when it comes to the job market, if a school is looking for their one children's lit faculty member, they may not quite know that just because a school is lower ranked they have excellent children's lit. And to add more stress, since the field is super small, every professor I'm in contact with from each school is someone I'll come across in the profession (not just figuratively in the distant future--literally at the big children's lit conference this summer), and it's stressing me the heck out.

My advisor and rec letter writers have been super helpful  in talking through my options, but I honestly wish they would do more to just tell me which one is the best in children's lit and they won't do it (which I'm sure I'll thank them for later). I'm waiting to decide until I've gotten a chance to visit all of them to decide, but in the mean time I'm spending wayyy too much time agonizing over it. I'm trying to cope by doing a lot of yoga and making a lot of informational charts about the different programs, but I'm not sure it's working to decrease stress haha

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21 hours ago, Old Bill said:

I'm not quite in the same position, so take my words with a grain of salt, but...

I really think you have to make your own decision here, and not worry too much about other perspectives. You should consider all perspectives, of course, but this is almost literally the one time that you will be able to make a major decision about the future shape of your academic life. Once you finally commit to a program, you'll be back in the grind for the next several years, fulfilling requirements and going through the motions of getting your degree. Those motions are usually somewhat enjoyable, of course, but they're also burdensome.

I've heard some recent stories from other GCers who have received some rather bad (in my personal opinion) advice from their advisors, pulling them one way or another for unknown reasons. I'm almost positive that that advice is never intended in a negative way, but in this particular instance, you have to put yourself first -- make your own criteria of things that matter to you, and run with it. It is you, after all, who has to go through the program for 4-6 years, not your professors, mentors, or advisors.

It's natural and often necessary to want to please people...especially those whose opinions you respect. But the best way to please them in the long run is to decide on the program that works best for you, and excel to the best of your ability. You're not doing anyone a favor by committing to a program that doesn't sit as well with you, and being less than happy for the duration.

Just my two cents, but I've certainly come across this sentiment among a few people recently, and I feel quite strongly that you have to largely put aside other opinions at this point. Go with that rare blend of heart, mind, and gut -- one can steer you wrong, but rarely all three!

Thanks Wyatt for your (as ever) simultaneously astute and encouraging response. Not enough is said for gut affect - personal enjoyment isn't just a nice plus, but fundamental to mental health and satisfaction, which improve the quality of the work, and thus one's chances, regardless of school or mentor. Self-care is a major part of this lonely and self-starting profession.

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Hardcore lurker coming out of the woodwork here because of how intensely I feel this thread. @piers_plowman, the guilt, the anxiety, the FOMO when thinking about committing to one program over another; it's all there. And this is all just coming from me, internally—I actually haven't even told all of my recommenders the final list of places I've been accepted, so all the angst right now is only fueled by my own anxiety, and I'm sure it'll only get more intense when I finally tell them and learn their thoughts (I'm out of school, so I only communicate with them occasionally via email).

Like you said, @SophieHatter, I feel bad even complaining about having to make a decision from multiple offers, and I swear, I am THE MOST GRATEFUL to have even gotten one, but my god I never thought it would be so difficult to decide. My difficulty comes from the fact that I'm mainly deciding between three related but quite different programs (English, Comp Lit, and an interdisciplinary humanities program), all of which have faculty and resources related to my fields, solid stipend offers, and generally just good reputations. Where they differ is the way that their programs are structured and the degree of freedom there is in the coursework to pursue one's own varying interests vs. follow a clear (but not constricting) path. I did my undergrad at a college with an open curriculum and zero required classes, which was fantastic for me and played a huge role in shaping my rather odd (but I think fascinating) interdisciplinary interests within literary studies, but I'm unsure if I want to continue with that for the next six years, or have maybe a tiny bit more guidance in my training. 

People always talk about how the most important thing is "fit," and that's really what I think this question comes down to, but my fear is that maybe I don't know myself well enough/can't trust what I think I know about myself well enough to make the best decision in that area. I think/hope talking to my recommenders will help with that, also maybe just sitting down and doing some hardcore, focused self-examination (lol, because who has time for that). In the meantime, I'll just keep adding info to my massive Google Sheet as a means of trying to compare them :P

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This thread is everything I've been thinking about lately. I've been quite unexpectedly lucky in my applications this year and now that I'm trying to make a decision, I'm feeling incredibly frustrated, anxious, and worried. A lot of the schools that accepted me are immediately out because the funding offers are far too low when you factor in university fees. I accrued a lot of debt in my undergrad years, so there's no way I'm going for more loans. I'd finally figured out that KSU was my top choice (good stipend plus an additional scholarship, low university fees, great professors who have shown a lot of interest me) and I actually placed a deposit on a graduate apartment, which is itself an incredibly good deal. Then, my funding offer from FSU came through and it's unexpectedly high. Even though I don't think it's as good of a fit, it's still a great offer and it's in-state, which means I would be only three hours from my family. I keep having this guilt over saying no to more money, to a good school that's higher ranked (although neither are 'top' rankings, so does it even matter?), and to a place that's so close to my mom. On the other hand, I went an expensive route for undergrad and I don't regret it for a second because I learned so much. Long story short: I am confused!

Edited by mouthfulofstars
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@mouthfulofstars So, I can't speak to your other offers, but I actually go to K-State right now, and if you have any questions, feel free to pm me about it! I can say that if you're thinking about more grad school after the MA, everyone who applied this year (me and two other people to PhDs, three other people to creative writing MFAs and PhDs) has gotten into their first and/or second choice programs. More specifically, my roommate and I both got into four R1 programs. Even though K-State isn't so highly ranked, it hasn't limited anyone's options for what to do next. (Also possibly I'll meet you at Visiting Day?) 

Anyway. Back to agonizing and guilt! 

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On 3/16/2017 at 10:08 PM, SophieHatter said:

@mouthfulofstars So, I can't speak to your other offers, but I actually go to K-State right now, and if you have any questions, feel free to pm me about it! I can say that if you're thinking about more grad school after the MA, everyone who applied this year (me and two other people to PhDs, three other people to creative writing MFAs and PhDs) has gotten into their first and/or second choice programs. More specifically, my roommate and I both got into four R1 programs. Even though K-State isn't so highly ranked, it hasn't limited anyone's options for what to do next. (Also possibly I'll meet you at Visiting Day?) 

Anyway. Back to agonizing and guilt! 

Thank you so much for your reply! PMing you now.

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