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So you want to go to grad school?
Future grad students of the world unite!
Trying to choose  
17th-Feb-2014 11:05 am
Hey all,

Posting again.

I've decided to keep my writing as a hobby for now, and if I do consider it as a career, I will hold off on an MFA. That being said, I have decided I'd really like to go to graduate school to specialize my interests and marine and environmental policy.

My problem is this. I have been accepted for fall 2014 into the University of Washington's Masters of Marine Affairs, which has been a top school choice of mine for awhile. Besides the fact that I love Seattle and half my friends live there, it's perfectly focused on combining my interests in marine conservation with policy, communication, research, and activism. They're well-funded with excellent faculty, classes, and travel opportunities. I could go on if you'd like.

I have also been accepted into the University of Tasmania's Masters in Environmental Management. The reason I applied for this is because I am living there now on a Working Holiday Visa because my boyfriend is Tasmanian. I have been here for two months, unable to find decent employment, and when I visited the school, I thought I'd apply because the faculty were doing research that aligned with my interests. The problem is that I have to pay my tuition and change my work visa to my student visa within the week because their classes start on February 26.

My first choice is to defer from Tasmania and continue to apply to my other graduate school choices (still want to hear if I get accepted from another top choice of mine, Monterey Institute for International Studies, which is due on March 1.)

Although it's true my boyfriend living here is a huge draw, I also love this place and am very interested in its environmental issues. Ideally, I would get my master's in Marine Affairs and then, if I wanted to, I'd go to Tasmania for my phD because what I would get to research there interests me more than the classes and master's type work. I don't know as much about UTAS as UW because they aren't as open with what goes on there during their year and a half degree. Their website is worse, and they can't give me e-mails for any of the students who graduated there. I also apparently cannot sit in on classes until I have paid, so that option may be out as well.

Nevertheless, if I did go there, I'd have a master's degree, a master's thesis, and a professional placement all under my belt by June 2015. And I would get to stay with my partner and make this place more of my home.

If I do go to UW, my boyfriend said he would eventually chase me to the states, and we would continue our relationship, but of course it wouldn't be ideal.

I'm 24 and know I should be just thinking about my career and not my love life, but he is very important to me, and it's not like going to UTAS would throw away my life, but a master's degree is a lot of investment financially and emotionally so I don't want to make a mistake.

I should also say that financially both are equal or it is not an issue at this time.

Any advice?
17th-Feb-2014 01:31 am (UTC)
Do what makes sense economically first, and also consider your relationship.

I personally think there are only a couple circumstances where it makes sense to pay grad school tuition, and yours is not one of them. In the long run you'll do better at a funded program or by forgoing grad school and gaining work experience, even if that's just in seasonal or part-time positions. I don't think the UTAS option is a good financial move.

So that leaves you with UW and other schools, or not going. I'd encourage you to weigh your other options and find a path forward that works for your pocketbook and your relationship.

17th-Feb-2014 03:01 am (UTC)
a lot can change between two years in grad school -- relationships, career goals, research interests, etc. it's great to have an end goal of getting a phd and having x as your research interest, but 100 different internships, research papers, faculty members and people will come in your life and you'll have experiences you never could have imagined. you should never say no to these opportunities when they present themselves.

i hate to be so blunt, but your post has nothing to do with weighing the merit of two different programs. you said it yourself, you don't even know what goes on in the year and a half program in tasmania. you're faced with a big life choice of enrolling in a grad program to satisfy your short term and possibly long term goal of being with your boyfriend or enrolling at UW, a place that is highly respected in marine affairs as a field and well connected domestically and internationally, or not doing anything at all. i'm not saying that as a livejournal rando, i'm saying that as someone intimately connected to the field of marine affairs as a career and as an academic program.

17th-Feb-2014 08:01 am (UTC)
You need to seriously consider what your long-term future plans are at this point. Are you staying in Australia, or do you think you might come back to the US? If you think you might come back to the US, it's best to go for a US-based program, because a lot of places are iffy about international masters programs, especially those that are perceived as being "too short" to be useful. You also really need to find out what goes on in the UTAS degree before making this decision. There should be a department graduate admissions coordinator you can call and ask. Another problem is that it can be difficult to switch visa categories, which is something you'll need to look at. And above all else, don't pay for a masters if you don't have to.
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