Choosing a Grad School: Pros and Cons - Mothering Forums

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Old 02-21-2014, 02:22 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Hello working and student parents! I have an almost hypothetical school situation that I would love some help working through. I have applied to a few grad schools, and I think it will come down to 2. There are pros and cons with each, and I would really like to hear which option you think I should choose and why. Here they are:

 

Option 1, Pros:

- In an idea location, with great year-round weather, lots of fun stuff to do for both families and date nights. I would be very happy living here, especially because I suffer from SAD, and need to get away from cold, long, winters. 

- Low cost of living

- Family close by, and I already have friends and a support network in the area. 

- Pretty close (5 hrs) from my older kids' dad. Would make travel cheaper and easier between our 2 homes. 

- I LOVE the advisors I will be working with. When I met them, we clicked right away, and I would be very happy working with them. I also love the research that I would be able to do at this university. 

- DH can get a very comfortable-paying job in this city, very easily. 

- I can eat out in this city- lots to choose from for a GF/Veg person like myself. 

- Would be close to many fun and interesting locations to visit and take weekend trips to. We really like to travel and would love to have access to so many locations within a few hours drive. 

 

Option 1, Cons: 

- This school doesn't come with funding for first year grad students. I would have to pay for the first year, as an out-of-state grad student (which, going part time would be ~$7k). It is more possible that I would get funding the next years, but not guaranteed. 

- I got accepted into the MA program, option 2 is for a PhD. 

 

Option 2, Pros: 

- This option would come with fantastic funding: full tuition, plus about $1500/month.

- The research would be really great, and I would get paid and travel expenses paid, to travel out of the country for the research (the Prof. has an NSF grant). 

- Very low cost of living, especially compared to having a dual income with both DH and I bringing home a paycheck. 

- This program would be for a straight to PhD, getting my MA on the way. 

 

Option 2, Cons: 

- The city this university is located in is another cold, long-winter, location. I would really not like living there. 

- The job market for DH is lacking. It would be very difficult for him to find a job in his field there. He can, however, telecommute and keep the job that he has now (but it doesn't pay that well either). 

- There are no eating out food options for me. Maybe one or two, and no Indian food for 1 1/2 hours away.

- This location is very isolated. There is another city close by, but every other large city is 5-8 hours drive away. 

- It would take me an entire day to drive to my older kids' father's house, and all of our family would also be very, very far. 


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Old 02-21-2014, 02:52 PM
 
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I am not in grad school, but my husband is just finishing up his grad program, so I thought I would reply based on our circumstances.  We moved to an area we don't really enjoy for grad school, but did receive funding for the first two years and a $900 a month stipend.  For us, the funding wasn't all that beneficial, since my husband could have made more working while in classes than he did from his stipend, and he wasn't allowed to work while on the assistantship.  I don't know if this is career dependent, but for us, it has been easier for him to get a job in this area than places we would prefer to be living.  He just took a permanent job here in November and, though the job is fantastic, neither of us is happy to be living here any longer.  We are talking about me going to grad school in a few years, and will definitely go somewhere we would enjoy living long term.  If it were me, I would go with the first option, unless you really feel the PHD is something essential at this point.

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Old 02-21-2014, 03:10 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for the input mtbmomma.. I could reapply for the PhD in Option 1, they have a PhD program there. Or, I could apply somewhere else for a PhD as well. I do want a doctorate in the long run. 


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Old 05-01-2014, 04:04 PM
 
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Just my two cents: as a parent with a PhD (no kids while in grad school). PhD is a long commitment and having family/support structure would be absolutely great. It also is much better when you click with the advisors and love the work because you need commitment to finish. As for first year stipend, if you look at what you would gain from a better paying job for your husband and perhaps childcare costs for kids plus all the driving to ex-husband place, the amount you will get from option 2 probably would not amount to anything.

 

If you really want a PhD, go to the place where you would be happy and have a great support network.  

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Old 05-05-2014, 08:48 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MomGuilt View Post
 

Just my two cents: as a parent with a PhD (no kids while in grad school). PhD is a long commitment and having family/support structure would be absolutely great. It also is much better when you click with the advisors and love the work because you need commitment to finish. As for first year stipend, if you look at what you would gain from a better paying job for your husband and perhaps childcare costs for kids plus all the driving to ex-husband place, the amount you will get from option 2 probably would not amount to anything.

 

If you really want a PhD, go to the place where you would be happy and have a great support network.  

 

Thanks for the input! I did end up accepting at option one :) I am super happy about my choice and we're looking forward to our move! 


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Old 06-07-2014, 11:50 AM
 
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Where is option one, if you don't mind my asking? DH and I aren't looking to move to our "forever city" anytime soon (he's a fourth year med student, so we have this year plus 3 - 7 years of residency before we have any real say) but we're constantly daydreaming about where we'll end up. We're from San Diego but that's an expensive city and we're not sure how close we really want to live to toxic family members.

Congrats on grad school, btw. I can't wait until it's my "turn" to go back to school!
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