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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I will be starting graduate school in the fall. My plan was to do grad school at the same place I did my undergrad. My MA would be in Written Communication, Professional Writing. We currently live a block from campus, and there is a great Kindergarten nearby for my DD to go to.

However, DD's dad and I have a split week, so she is with me from Saturday night until Thursday morning school drop off. I'm feeling a ton of guilt/anxiety/etc. over grad classes only being offered in the evenings. I'll have to be gone two nights a week out of the few that she's here, after both of us have been gone all day at school. I live with my boyfriend (not DD's dad), and so I will have someone here to watch DD, but the guilt is eating me alive.

I decided to apply to a semi-online MLIS program based in Detroit at Wayne State (about 40 minutes from where we live in Ypsilanti), with the option to go fully online, because I knew it would mean that I'd have (most) evenings free to be with my daughter. However, if I do my Masters at my current school, I will have an assistantship that would pay tuition and offer a significant stipend. If I do the MLIS program, I will be paying out of pocket with loans entirely.

Upside to doing the MA at my school: funding, and the potential for a lecturer/adjunct position post-graduation. Downside: the assistantship would be teaching, which we all know isn't over at the end of the day - there are papers to grade, meetings with my cohort that I'll have to attend, office hours, working in the writing center, conferences, and so on. I am nervous about there not being a line between school and home. This has been an issue through completing my undergrad as I am involved in many projects, and I am also working alongside the grad students who are teaching and I see how much time it takes up out of their daily life. There is the option to do a different assistantship and take a non-teaching track in my program, but the pay is significantly less.

Upside to doing the MLIS program: not having to be in class two nights a week, and potentially being able to work on my own homework during the day rather than having to be available for teaching. I might even be able to find a part-time day job that doesn't drain me after my work day has ended. Downside? Loans. More loans, and more loans.

I've thought about doing the MA and then doing the MLIS as well, just because I desperately want to do both programs, and I think the MA would be good preparation for the kind of writing that an MLIS job would require, plus I think that having both degrees would be very marketable for both library positions anywhere as well as teaching positions at say, a community college.

I try and tell myself that being gone two evenings a week for two years is a small investment, a small sacrifice, so that by the time DD is 8, 9, 10, and so on... I will be able to focus on being there for her as she enters adolescence. I know that being there in early childhood is extremely important, but I also think it's equally as important to be there during the older years too and I don't want to lose that either. I don't want to wait until she's that age to go to grad school. I want to be able to provide for my family, and being stuck with $40k in student loans with only a B.S. isn't what I want to do.

What would you do? Take the position with the funding and swallow the evenings that you have class? Would you take the teaching assistantship, or take something that pays less (we're talking like, a $9k/yr versus $7k/yr stipend)? Or, would you take the online program that allows you to be with your daughter? Any MLIS parents out there?
 

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I'd take the assistantship. Two evenings a week aren't that much, and since you do a split week, wouldn't your daughter be with dad part of that time too? And being massively in debt means that you may end up working a lot more than you want to as your daughter gets older.

The other thing is: what do you want to do when you're done with your MA? The assistantship is often a huge help in finding jobs. It shows that someone else thinks that you're worthy and hireable, especially if you want to teach. Even if you don't want to teach, it's experience that not all new MAs have.

I would cut down on your involvement with things other than your daughter, school and teaching. Do not volunteer for anything else. Period. Not until you're done with your MA. Practice saying "I'm sorry, I can't." NO explanation (an explanation gives people a chance to keep trying to persuade you. The longer the conversation goes, the lower the probability of being able to say "no" is.)

I'm a professor. Yes, my work bleeds over into my evenings. It's not that bad if I keep on top of things. It's actually easier for me to budget my time when it's tight. I've learned to cut way down on the comments I give on most papers, especially final papers because 90% of the students never pick them up! Put up a sign up sheet for your office hours (15 minute slots work well), and if no one is signed up, use that time to work on grading. Get tips from successful TAs for minimizing the workload. Set really clear boundaries early on. For example, when students want to come talk to you, give them a choice of 2-3 times that are convenient for YOU. Do not ask them "when can you come?" because they will invariably pick a time that's maximally inconvenient for you. It's possible to be responsive but not turn your entire life over to your students.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks, LynnS6. The TAship also includes work in the writing center (about 10 hours/wk), plus the TA's meet outside of class as like, a support group, and classes are usually Mon and Tues. DD's dad won't have her for any of that time; it's all on me. She's with him Thursday pm through Saturday night and everything happens in the beginning of the week when she's with me. I was hoping we could swap days, but with his work schedule and her school being near me (he's about 30 minutes away), it doesn't work. He's not incredibly reliable in terms of responsibility. So, on my days with DD, we're going to do school during the day and then my school at night. The more I type it out, the more I realize it's silly to be so upset...in two years, it will be different. In two years, everything will be different.

Thanks for the advice on time management. I do have a hard time saying no. I don't plan on taking on much extra as a grad student...much of what I do now was trying to prepare for grad school after a rough first several years of college, before I had my daughter. Trying to make up for lost time and bad grades. :) I have a 4.0 now.
 

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These next 2 years will be very very hard - keep your eyes on the end goal. It will be hard, but it will be worth it.

Try to get as much done when your dd is at her dads (prep work and such) so that all the time you have with her is quality. She will mid you, but she will be fine.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
really wondering if there are any MLIS folks on here who could offer some perspective as well. i'm not totally sure teaching is what i want to do.

and, i'm wondering, if i have an MA in written communication (professional writing, certificate in teaching of writing) but no teaching experience, what are my options? is teaching going to be impossible? i mean...there are limited GAship positions, and obviously not all of us who apply will get them, but that doesn't necessarily mean we don't still pursue the degree. what if i take a non-teaching assistantship? will i be unable to apply for teaching positions in the future? would it be terrible to take a non-teaching assistantship for the first year and then apply for a teaching assistantship in the second year? or am i going to have a much harder time getting a teaching assistantship after turning it down/not getting it the first year? we've got an applicant this year who has already completed a year of the program on her own...wondering what would make her more or less desirable than an incoming, new grad student. make sense?

thanks mamas <3
 

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I just had two thoughts -- can't you switch your schedule with DD's dad so that the nights she is with you are the nights you don't have school? I went back and forth between parents when I was little, and I remember our switching situations quite a bit. Even if it's more disruptive in some ways, at least you would have that time.

As to teaching questions, I don't have a degree in writing, but from my own grad school experience, there is no penalty for not having a teaching assistantship one year when looking for one in a later year. Also, I know there are a lot of communications jobs -- writing for companies. Would you be interested in something like that? I do think it might be hard to get a job teaching, just because there is a glut of highly trained people with PhDs in writing who are looking for work, as in most doctoral fields.

Good luck!
 
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