So, I’m trying to decide which graduate schools to apply to, and I’m having trouble doing so. Partially because I don’t know where would be best, and partially because I’m concerned I’m not good enough for a lot of places, even though I know am.
There are thousands of different schools and degrees to choose from, so where do I even begin? I’ve narrowed it down to places where I can apply for a MA, rather than going straight into my PhD. I’ve been out of school a few years and would like to ease myself back into education. I’m also considering where I’ll be able to apply for grants and such, because OSAP already owns my soul, and no way in heck do I want to borrow another dime from them. What seems to be the most important consideration seems to be occurring to me last – what school has a program and environment that will suit me the best?
I’m looking for something challenging, with supportive staff, and lots of opportunities to be a TA. I know that if I want to be a professor one day, it’ll be to my advantage to have a decent number of hours in the classroom – though not too much, since I don’t want to have too little time to work on my own studies and research. I want a place where I can explore my own ideas, while still learning others’, and I want to be able to somehow combine the things which I’ve already studied, and where I can feel out the landscape, as it were, for my future PhD work.
Right now, the list looks like this:
– Pros: a small campus, large opportunities for grants, cheap (!) tuition and living expenses, this school seems to be a great place to start fresh. I also really like St. John’s, and I think it’d be great to live there for a year or two, if only to experience living somewhere else.
– Cons: The winters, I’ve been told, are horrible, it’s a very small city with a more distinct culture, and the school itself is not especially well known, so having it on my resume could be a hindrance if I want to get a job in academia straight out of my MA. We’d also be far away from, like, everything and everyone we love.
University of Toronto:
– Pros: I love U of T, my Alma Mater. The campus is amazing, there are lots of opportunities for grants, it’s got an awesome reputation for English studies, and I’ll have lots of chances to be a TA. There are also profs there that I know, so I’ll be able to ask around about advisors without having to rely purely on the school’s bios. I love Toronto and its rich culture, and we know where we would live. Also, we’d be close to my family and friends, and I’d be able to make up for everything I missed during my undergrad due to… issues.
– Cons: U of T is bloody expensive. Also, it’s a very large school, and it’s very easy to get lost in such a sea of students. According to the panel I went to yesterday, it’s not so bad as undergrad was, but as a TA I’d be working with a whole lot of students, and not as one-on-one.
– Pros: Boston is super pretty, and I would love to be able to live in the same country as my husband without feeling like I’m breaking the law. The school is medium-sized, with a good reputation and a really diverse range of study. They also have options for specialisation.
– Cons: I’ve been told it’s bad to get your MA in the US because MA students are only there to pay for PhD students. Also, US schools for me would be really, really, really expensive, and it would be far more difficult to secure funding.
– Pros: Halifax is really nice. As for the school, I’ve heard really amazing things about their program, and how selective they are. The professors are great, and because they’re more selective, there are more opportunities for individual students. Cost of living, though, would be lower, and Halifax is a diverse city. Also, Just for Laughs films out there a lot.
– Cons: Again, we’d be far away from everyone. I’m also not super excited about this school, for whatever reason. Though it has a great reputation as one of Canada’s best schools, it doesn’t seem like they’re very flexible in their program, nor very friendly.
Those are my options so far, and I have no idea what I’m doing. I’m speaking to a professor from U of T today, so hopefully he’ll be able to assist me in this decision making so I can start applying. I mean, I could just apply to all of them – I’m counting my chickens before they’ve hatched, perhaps – but I also don’t want to spend the money applying to all these schools if I know which ones I wouldn’t want to go to at the start.