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05 August 2004 @ 03:58 pm
Higher Education Question...  
I have a serious question for anyone on here who's going to or has been through grad school. Any input would be highly appreciated.

I'm about to go into my senior year at Connecticut College. If all goes well, I'll be graduating with a degree in East Asian Studies, with a focus on Japanese, and and minor in Comparative Politics. If I'd wanted, I probably have enough credits to have had a minor in history instead, again with an Asian focus. I'm a pretty good student...I had a 3.5 GPA last semester, and a cumulative 3.34 for the past three years. I'd really like to go to graduate school, and I'm looking heavily into the University of Hawaii at Manao's Asian Studies MA, perhaps with a focus on linguistics (a field my current institution offers little in the way of courses...it's part of the Slavic Studies department it seems). There are other schools to look into still, but that's not my top concern.

The problem is paying for it. My parents have been more than gracious in paying for my undergrad education, but that's where the buck stops, understandably. For those of you doing the same as me, or who have done it, how are you/did you pay for it? What helped those out there who have assistanships get them? Is waiting a year or so before applying okay, or does it hurt your chances? Anything I'm not thinking of that I should be? How did you all figure out how to manage?

Thanks to all of you in advance for your advice and input.
Short Girlblistex on August 6th, 2004 12:54 am (UTC)
All of my friends who finance their own graduate educations have taken out cold hard cash loans plus gotten graduate assistantships, though I've no idea how. And they are split about 50/50 on waiting a year or going right away, so I'd say it probably doesn't make much difference.
(Anonymous) on August 6th, 2004 01:58 am (UTC)

i'm looking into all of this stuff now. it sucks doesn't it?

i don't know a heck of a lot right now, but i do know that you need to take your gres about a year before the date you want to enter a given grad school. i'm hoping to take mine in the next couple of weeks because i'm hoping to be accepted into a program for fall 2005, and this'll give me a month or so to do it over if i fail it (yeah wish me luck with that, the gre stuff blows).

anyway, part of why i'm graduating early is to have like 8 months to work full time before grad school to help pay for it, so taking a semester or year off might help out the finances thing (plus buff up the resume because grad schools look for resumes to supplement gre scores and school records and whatnot). i'm also looking into assistantships. so far it seems to me like they vary with each school as to how much they reimburse your tuition or how you go about getting them, but i am going to look at three or four grad schools this week and will find out specifics then. i can fill you in on all that i find out regarding a lot of this stuff. and for whatever doesn't get covered, i'm hoping to get grants or scholarships. if you're in any groups, they might give you some (i.e. i'm looking into psi chi, phi kappa phi, nscs, etc.- the cheesy academic things that do nothing other than help fund education- you'd be surprised at the number of groups offering money for furthering your education). and last choice would be a loan, which wouldn't be too bad if you don't already have loans for undergrad.

so i doubt i gave you much more than generalities, but in a few days i'll have some good solid answers that might help out more...

mindshadow on August 6th, 2004 03:13 am (UTC)
Pale grant, Suplement grant, student loans (preferably the federal one without interest), and of course scholarships.
phenyx on August 6th, 2004 05:04 am (UTC)
My understanding is that any graduate school that offers you admission *without* a corresponding offer of a TA/RA-ship that will *at least* pay for your tuition isn't worth licking the stamp to reply.

Again, my understanding is that they'll look mostly at your last 2 years.

I'd apply now - see what happens.
Flame Tiger Throwdownausterity101 on August 6th, 2004 01:02 pm (UTC)
If I may add something about my own experiences.

I'm going on to my second masters at this point, so I've gone through this process twice. I took a year off (though not willingly) between the two degrees.

It really is all about luck, I think. I mean, I think my talent got me pretty far, and I'm a really smart guy, and that helps (especially in music, where being smart isn't necessarily requisite). You're going into a field that is very unlike mine, so I bet they look for otherwise specific things.

I came to The Hartt School upon recommendation of my piano teacher. I found the composition department great, and I was given an assistantship overseeing the operations of the department. (I don't really want to teach). I'd like to say that I got it by being aggressive, forthright, and by providing more than what they were looking for at every turn. I didn't even get my undergrad degree in composition, so I think those things helped considering I was changing disciplines.

For my second masters, well, I found a posting for the assistantship online. It was really that simple. It was late in the year (May, June?) and it was still available, so I went ahead and applied. Any questions I had I spoke directly to the department via phone, not email, nor letter. This lends a personal touch to any correspondence and shows your immediate interest.

It's great that you're interested in a school, but your chances would be better if you tried to find schools that posted openings--they usually still have money to help people out and they're willing to hand it over to applicants.

Taking a year off isn't bad, especially if you can find work or experience in your field to carry on. If you can show that you are capable of continuing your education extra-curricularly, you'll be a better investment to them.

Graduate students, above other students, are indeed a financial investment, and will go on to represent the school once they have graduated. Schools want to make sure that you are what they want to represent you in the real world. So make yourself seem appealing and that you will lend favor to the school's name.

Otherwise, you can always take out loans. I had to take out a small loan to cover the bit of my education that wasn't covered through my other aid. And when applying for aid from whatever source, be as specific as possible about your financial situations.

I'd say applying early would help--in music not so much, because ultimately everyone has to audition. It might not give you a better shot of getting in, but it shows your interest. If the school has an option for early applications, by all means take it if you are very interested in the school. You will get extra attention that way.

That's about all I can think of. I don't know if that's any help at all. I mean, I went to an honors college undergrad and half my classmates couldn't get into grad schools, even with 1500+ SATs, 160+ IQs, 4.0's, study abroad and the like. Schools know what they're looking for, and if you're not it, well, try again next year?
Alex Staherskiintheblacklodge on August 6th, 2004 02:31 pm (UTC)
Damn, Peabody is fucked up. I always hear all these stories of grad students getting all this money, but they don't give financial aid to grad students at all. I could only go because of having an assistantship that I only got by being an undergrad there.
Mandafee_b on August 12th, 2004 08:27 pm (UTC)
I forgot to tell you that I snooped around, and it seems like you're going to need to apply for fellowships (outside of your grad institution). Definitely check out some fellowships for females going to grad school.

I don't think taking a break is going to hurt you at all, especially if you're working. But you might consider doing some sort of internship (maybe at Conn??) during your "free" time. Just a thought.
Mellenabsentmammoth on August 14th, 2004 03:10 pm (UTC)
HAHAHAHAHA! You think Conn has internships for a department they want to cut?
Mandafee_b on August 15th, 2004 05:23 am (UTC)
no, I meant linguistics, silly!
Mellenabsentmammoth on August 15th, 2004 04:56 pm (UTC)
We don't even have enough classes for a major in linguistics...will they have internships for it? I'm not being sarcastic, I really want to know.
Mandafee_b on August 16th, 2004 04:02 pm (UTC)
you should ask around. Maybe that Russian lady has some ideas. Drop her an email or something.
Mellenabsentmammoth on August 17th, 2004 02:09 pm (UTC)
I dunno...I've never even had one of her classes...I've tried to, but they've ALWAYS interfered with things I had to take, like Japanese.

I really think Conn probably hates me. Maybe the history dept. will be nice to me. That's where professors Queen and Dudden are, and they seem to like me alright. Oi. I suck at life.
Mellenabsentmammoth on August 14th, 2004 03:11 pm (UTC)
Thanks for being a snoop though...I appreciate it. I need lots of help, hehe.
Catalystrkenshin on August 18th, 2004 04:40 pm (UTC)
I've never really heard of someone who had to take loans for pure graduate school. As was mentioned before, if you have to pay a penny out of your pocket towards tuition because they won't give you a TA or RA position that covers tuition plus a living stipend, don't waste your time with that school. However, professional schools are a different story. Law, MBA, and Med Schools all do not offer similar compensated work programs and cost quite a hefty sum. Columbia Law is putting quite a hurtin on my wallet right now.