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Daenerys

Anyone else married with children?

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@themoderncondition @JustPoesieAlong

One program I'm in prohibits working outside the assistantship (summer is, of course, okay) :( That's great your admin is okay with it, @themoderncondition

Would you consider something like freelance editing? I bet you're well qualified, the work is flexible hours, and the going rate is NYC area is probably quite good. It's one of the things I do as a freelancer now.

@JustPoesieAlong summer work is one of my questions for campus visits. The added element of health insurance being only during the assistantship (i.e. 9 months) is a complicating factor.

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5 minutes ago, maengret said:

One program I'm in prohibits working outside the assistantship (summer is, of course, okay) :( That's great your admin is okay with it, @themoderncondition

Oh, wait, maybe I don't understand what this means. Your program doesn't let you work during the semester?

I've done some freelance editing work since graduating. My first couple of gigs, I massively undercharged and hated myself. It's a sort of a tricky business since people don't always understand what goes into making written work shine. But now that I've got a little better idea of the details, I have been thinking about pushing for more freelance gigs to supplement my stipend.  

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@JustPoesieAlong I’d need permission, I guess, if I’m reading this clause correctly:

“Students appointed to an assistantship or fellowship may not engage in any concurrent employment without the expressed consent of the department or program and their dean or director. Requests for an exemption must be made in writing. Participation in any unapproved employment will result in the immediate withdrawal of the assistantship.”

 

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5 minutes ago, maengret said:

“Students appointed to an assistantship or fellowship may not engage in any concurrent employment without the expressed consent of the department or program and their dean or director. Requests for an exemption must be made in writing. Participation in any unapproved employment will result in the immediate withdrawal of the assistantship.”

 

Oh, dang. Is this in a handbook somewhere? I've never seen this before, but maybe I've missed it with other schools. Does anyone know how common this is?

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1 hour ago, JustPoesieAlong said:

I've done some freelance editing work since graduating. My first couple of gigs, I massively undercharged and hated myself. It's a sort of a tricky business since people don't always understand what goes into making written work shine. But now that I've got a little better idea of the details, I have been thinking about pushing for more freelance gigs to supplement my stipend.  

I joined some local editors groups and there’s a fantastic FB group called “Editors Association of Earth” that it is really helpful. Also, the “EAE Backroom” group is good for asking specific, client-related questions. Both groups discuss pricing issues like what you’ve described. I get a lot of referrals from my local group’s email list.

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4 minutes ago, JustPoesieAlong said:

Oh, dang. Is this in a handbook somewhere? I've never seen this before, but maybe I've missed it with other schools. Does anyone know how common this is?

It’s in a grad student handbook they emailed me. I don’t have anything else to compare to, yet, though I’m expecting details from a second program in the next few days.

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30 minutes ago, maengret said:

@JustPoesieAlong I’d need permission, I guess, if I’m reading this clause correctly:

“Students appointed to an assistantship or fellowship may not engage in any concurrent employment without the expressed consent of the department or program and their dean or director. Requests for an exemption must be made in writing. Participation in any unapproved employment will result in the immediate withdrawal of the assistantship.”

 

Holy cow, wait. This applies to freelancing/writing/editing gigs as well, you think? I mean, there is no ambiguous wording, so of course it does, I just don't know why I didn't think of that. Thank you for posting this. I'm going to need to look through handbooks too, I guess.

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1 hour ago, JustPoesieAlong said:

Oh, dang. Is this in a handbook somewhere? I've never seen this before, but maybe I've missed it with other schools. Does anyone know how common this is?

Very common. I hesitated to write this earlier because I know you all have done tons of research on the programs and such. But I hope you would appreciate the following warnings:

1. The majority of graduate schools that fund you will not allow you to take extra work while you are receiving that funding. Each school has their own set of regulations and some are more strict than others. However, the intention of the program is that you are meant to be primarily engaged in your work as a graduate student while you are funded. It's not like undergrad where you are there mostly for classes and you need to work in order to pay the bills. 

That said, non-disclosure is certainly and option and that's something each person has to decide for themselves whether or not they want to go this route. It does cause more stress and depending on the wording of the policy, breaking it (i.e. if you're caught) can lead to more severe consequences than seeking an exception to the rule in the first place. Personally, I am okay with it morally if the extra work doesn't break the intention of these conflict-of-commitment rules (even if it breaks the "letter" of the rules). To me, the intention is that you will always place your work with the graduate school first, ahead of all other jobs. So as long as you don't let your side jobs get in the way of what the school expects you to do (including cancelling shifts at other places of employment at the last minute if something else comes up) then it should be okay.

2. The majority of grad schools also expect you to be in attendance for most of the time. While it may be possible to only come in a few days a week, it's not going to reflect well on you and you will be missing out on what is arguably the purpose of grad school, which is to enter the academic community and be part of it. But it might be harder than you expect to schedule classes all on one day and any TA positions you may have. Typically, the understanding for grad programs I've been part of is that you're expected to be around for business hours. So, a class may have an extra meeting here or there during the day if the prof has to travel or something. And it would be rare to schedule TA appointments and classes around people's personal schedules. 

I'm not saying it's not possible to do things like only come in a few days a week or work on the side. Just be sure you will be able to get what you want before committing to the school. 

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2 hours ago, M(allthevowels)H said:

Holy cow, wait. This applies to freelancing/writing/editing gigs as well, you think? I mean, there is no ambiguous wording, so of course it does, I just don't know why I didn't think of that. Thank you for posting this. I'm going to need to look through handbooks too, I guess.

@M(allthevowels)H It wouldn't have occurred to me seek it out, but I've been combing through all documents they sent me. I anticipated keeping a couple of my clients, but now I know I'll need to hand them off to colleagues if I choose this program. Fortunately, I'm looking at places with lower cost of living than where we currently live. Between assistantship and spouse's working, it will be okay. Again, our wild card with health insurance.

1 hour ago, themoderncondition said:

Non-disclosure. Just saying. 

@themoderncondition It sounds like you're working with your program on the question, so hopefully you all can work out something. But I was thinking of you when I suggested editing work -- if your program's okay with you working, it would be a nice option schedule-wise to not have to commute to another location.

@TakeruK thanks for chiming in, as always!

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2 hours ago, M(allthevowels)H said:

Holy cow, wait. This applies to freelancing/writing/editing gigs as well, you think? I mean, there is no ambiguous wording, so of course it does, I just don't know why I didn't think of that. Thank you for posting this. I'm going to need to look through handbooks too, I guess.

I have a fully funded graduate assistantship and while technically this is the rule in my current program, the TA advisor recognizes that the program is for a master’s in professional writing.  We should practice what we preach.  She encourages us to take on additional editing jobs here and there. She actually invited a local publisher into our visual rhetoric class the other day to invite us to write freelance for them. I guess it depends on your program, but I don’t think it’s that big of a deal as long as your grades are up and your grading is done. 

Edited by Daenerys

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1 hour ago, TakeruK said:

Very common. I hesitated to write this earlier because I know you all have done tons of research on the programs and such.. 

I think I've been associating this with jobs that seem more like consistent employment, like adjuncting for another school or a 9-5. It seems strange that this would apply to something like freelance writing, particularly since publishing is somewhat the goal in the program. I'm trying to parse out that delineation where getting into a journal gets a gold star, but meeting a deadline for Salon gets you in trouble.

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3 hours ago, M(allthevowels)H said:

I think I've been associating this with jobs that seem more like consistent employment, like adjuncting for another school or a 9-5. It seems strange that this would apply to something like freelance writing, particularly since publishing is somewhat the goal in the program. I'm trying to parse out that delineation where getting into a journal gets a gold star, but meeting a deadline for Salon gets you in trouble.

Definitely more true for things like consistent employment, or even part-time shift work. A student at my school had to get permission to do evening bartending work, mostly for fun. This resulted in something like signing a conflict of commitment agreement that clearly delineates what is expected of the student in terms of what the commitments are. I can't speak for all schools but at some places with this policy, it isn't the intent to forbid all outside work, but that the department wants to know about it and knows there is a plan to ensure the outside work doesn't interfere with your commitment to the program. (For example, for shift work, the student might agree in the part time work to only take Friday evenings and weekend shifts, or something if that is enough for the school). 

Freelance writing isn't something in my field but I think an equivalent might be freelance tutoring. Usually this isn't going to be a problem. Some schools even create tutor databases so that those who need tutoring can search through grad student profiles to find one. I mostly wrote the above in response to the person planning to still teach part time (although I guess I was answering a question from a freelance writer!). The distinction, I think, is that as a freelance contractor you are the boss of yourself and you don't have any obligations to another employer. The school can influence how you act but they cannot do so to another employer. Although one should still be careful, since most policies don't make this distinction so a department unhappy with your progress or you for some other reason might not allow it either. 

Finally, the delineation you mention might be more clear in a program where you are paid a stipend to be there. In that case, the reasoning would be that you are being paid by the department to write the journal article, not the Salon article. For programs in my field, we are generally paid a research assistantship or fellowship to do our dissertation work. But even in programs without this, the way our funding is normally organized is that we are paid a stipend and tuition waiver to support our studies and in return we are expected to perform some hours of TA/RA work per week. So, in this case, it's not like we are only paid to do TA/RA work and nothing else---we are still expected to work towards our degree (as an experiment: consider what would happen if you stopped working towards your degree---it's likely your TA position will be terminated as well unless you have a contract that prevents it). But perhaps your particular programs may have different arrangements.

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My plan is to keep some tutoring/homeschool clients I have and work my publishing contacts to get freelance gigs. (I used to work in textbook publishing.) That and summer work should make up the hit in income I’m taking. Also a switch from my ridiculously expensive private health insurance to a kickass state setup with my TAship. 

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17 hours ago, JustPoesieAlong said:

Oh, dang. Is this in a handbook somewhere? I've never seen this before, but maybe I've missed it with other schools. Does anyone know how common this is?

In my experience (as a former student, advisor, and as a recent applicant scouring programs), this is common. The intention is that students won't take on too many outside commitments that would result in attrition from the program or stunted progress in the degree. These are two stats that departments tend to try to manage since they're a large component of rankings.

That said, some departments will give you permission to do other things. And I know some very naughty Ph.D.s who did take on extra working relationships outside of the institution without notifying anyone (very risky business, so I strongly advise against it).

 

When in doubt, just operate above the board. If funding is such an issue that you're distracted and looking for additional money, let the department know and they may be able to help you figure out viable funding alternatives or special accommodations. 

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Not married yet, but engaged. No kids yet, but hopefully after the PhD.

Fiance is incredibly supportive and willing to move wherever - he is almost done with a certification in Web Design and Development. He was with me all through my MA, so he knows what to expect when I'm in grad school again.

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I'm married and have a toddler. I became a parent while in my grad program so there wasn't a big decision around location. However, I have to do to clinical practica and an internship for my program, for which most people travel pretty far and wide, especially for the internship, so I am definitely limited to where I can apply. Tbh I'd be reluctant to commit to even an hour+ commute because I'd be concerned about it affecting my family life. My partner and I have pretty much no help and childcare is very costly in my city, especially for a student. Plus I actually want to be around for my child as much as possible. 

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No kids, but in a longterm partnership, & relieved to find a whole thread of us (presumably) not-out-of-undergrad folks. If all goes well, I'll be starting a program in my mid-thirties and I've been a little neurotic about that! 

I don't know how you people with kids do it. I'm already balking at the idea of grad school and trying to write fiction (I've just finished my MFA, and definitely want a lit PhD, not a CW one). 

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1 hour ago, merry night wanderer said:

I don't know how you people with kids do it. I'm already balking at the idea of grad school and trying to write fiction (I've just finished my MFA, and definitely want a lit PhD, not a CW one). 

Hey! You and I are in the exact same boat.

I'm starting my lit PhD in the fall after graduating from my MFA, ( I took a year off before applying), and I've already committed to continuing my writing career during my PhD. A large part of the reason I applied to Rice and Vanderbilt is that you don't teach during coursework. Since the MFA was teaching + coursework + side writing, my plan is that creative writing will occupy the space on my schedule that teaching/lesson planning/grading occupied before. It might be worth a shot to look at programs with a similar set up, especially if you have teaching experience from your masters so your CV won't be disadvantaged by having less during your PhD.

(I wrote this assuming you haven't already applied, please disregard if not so ?)

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34 minutes ago, M(allthevowels)H said:

It might be worth a shot to look at programs with a similar set up, especially if you have teaching experience from your masters so your CV won't be disadvantaged by having less during your PhD.

Hey there! I'm glad I'm not the only monster trying to juggle both. 

Unfortunately, I have no teaching experience from my MFA-- my GAship was in a literary festival. I kind of have some other relevant experience, but I'll need to make up for it in the Ph.D. However, what you're describing is exactly the considerations I had in mind, and Rice is on my list for that reason. I CANNOT imagine trying to write the first drafts of this novel I've got going while teaching-- I can imagine revising it, and eventually learning to juggle things better, but I still have a great deal to learn about writing fiction and would really prefer to just sit tight in a writing center for awhile lol. 

Definitely going to take a look at Vandy now-- thank you! 

Edited by merry night wanderer

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On 4/26/2018 at 11:47 AM, merry night wanderer said:

Hey there! I'm glad I'm not the only monster trying to juggle both. 

Unfortunately, I have no teaching experience from my MFA-- my GAship was in a literary festival. I kind of have some other relevant experience, but I'll need to make up for it in the Ph.D. However, what you're describing is exactly the considerations I had in mind, and Rice is on my list for that reason. I CANNOT imagine trying to write the first drafts of this novel I've got going while teaching-- I can imagine revising it, and eventually learning to juggle things better, but I still have a great deal to learn about writing fiction and would really prefer to just sit tight in a writing center for awhile lol. 

Definitely going to take a look at Vandy now-- thank you! 

I'd like to chime in that Washington University in St. Louis (WUSTL) also doesn't require you to teach while you take coursework. They also offer writing courses that you can take along current MFA students. :)

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Oh my, WUSTL is amazing. Such a great MFA program, too-- how gracious of them to let the lit people take classes! 

I didn't even know that was a thing. Are there other programs people know about where you can take CW coursework as electives? 

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21 hours ago, merry night wanderer said:

Oh my, WUSTL is amazing. Such a great MFA program, too-- how gracious of them to let the lit people take classes! 

I didn't even know that was a thing. Are there other programs people know about where you can take CW coursework as electives? 

WUSTL is indeed a hidden gem.

I'm unaware of any other program that offers English PHD students to take cw courses as electives and offers service-free fellowships during coursework. There are dual CW and English PHDs but they require a certain amount of workshops to be taken and are often more cw-focused than Lit-focused.

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22 hours ago, merry night wanderer said:

Oh my, WUSTL is amazing. Such a great MFA program, too-- how gracious of them to let the lit people take classes! 

I didn't even know that was a thing. Are there other programs people know about where you can take CW coursework as electives? 

University of Denver both allows and encourages their Lit Studies PhD students to take creative writing classes for at least a few of their electives, and is even willing to accept a creative component to a scholarly-track dissertation, as long as it meets all the expected standards of academic rigor and all that in the more traditional bits. I minored in CW as an undergrad and did a lot with my MA institution's university press and creative writing program, so one of the huge draws for me about DU is that I'll be able to keep double-dipping ?

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