I am a 24-year old American female with some grad school questions. I'll try to keep it short because my mind is reeling and I have so much to think about.
Some background: I graduated in 2012 with a BA in Environmental Studies and Sociology from a small liberal arts college. I want to continue going in that direction, with some more practical applications towards real world skills, such as improved non-profit, management skills and basically just skills that would allow me to become a leader in the environmental/nonprofit field. I have a particular passion for empowering communities and learning/teaching/improving aquatic environments, specifically oceans and rivers. I also would love to focus on climate change as well.
A year ago, I was traveling/completing an internship in Tasmania and I met this awesome guy there. Through a long distance relationship, we've been dating a bit over a year now, and we mean a lot to each other. I'm going back there in December on a work visa, where I just want to build our relationship, while I continue to volunteer and find some part time work there and develop my resume/help out with climate-environmental issues. Not only do I love my boyfriend, I really do love it there and could see myself making a life there. Besides my friends and just natural attachments to my home, I don't mind becoming an ex-pat in the future, as most of my friends are scattered across the country anyway.
However, I am an only child and my father is pressuring me to go graduate school ASAP as he believes I will be screwed if I don't go IMMEDIATELY. I am currently an AmeriCorps volunteer with two months left at an estuarine research reserve where I've been coordinating internship programs. So, yes, I would like to go eventually, but I feel like I need to get my personal life straightened out, as well as get a better idea of where I'd like to go. Not to mention, my mother passed away 2 1/2 years ago, and it's taken me awhile to recover from that. I've had some severe anxiety issues in the past year and am only now recovering.
I'm not sure exactly how to think about graduate school. I don't want to go into research as a career field, but I wouldn't mind doing it during graduate school. So I'll end this rant with three main questions:
1. How much should I take into account my boyfriend when considering graduate school? I know it seems trite, but we really do mean a lot to each other, and having done long distance for a year now, it really is a pain in the ass. We're both 24 and are serious about each other, but I also know I couldn't compromise my own personal goals too much or else I wouldn't be happy with him. However, he does want to get a work visa over to America if I go to graduate school here because he really does want to travel after he graduates from uni there and he wants to stay with me. A few of my top choices are in relatively small towns on the west coast, where I'm afraid employment opportunities are hard to come by. I am hoping that with his degree in civil engineering and a master's in business, he'll be able to both get work visa and find a job. Do any of you know about getting a work visa to the US and how difficult it may be?
2. There is one graduate school at Humboldt State University with the absolute PERFECT faculty member there. Her description perfectly matches what I want, even if the curriculum and travel opportunities are maybe more stellar at other universities. I have, however, heard that finding the right faculty member is more important than anything else and it's the first time I read a description and screamed out YES. I also know I would love the town there. What do you think Is more important--cool sounding courses and internship opportunities or ideal faculty?
3. There is one university in Australia (Monash in Melbourne) that looks awesome; however, Australia's websites aren't as detailed with faculty or current students as most websites in the US. I will probably visit it when I go over there, but I don't know much about it except that it seems like a really good university, and my boyfriend even said that it's one of the best in the country, and the website said it's one of the best in the world. What do you all know about attending graduate schools overseas? Let's say ,for example, Humboldt might be a better fit, but this one would allow me to stay with my boyfriend, live in Melbourne, and potentially get a more Prestigious experience. What would you choose?
Any more suggestions regarding graduate schools based on what I've told you about me or general life advice would be great :p