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hug_of_war's avatar

I was accepted into graduate school. What now?

Asked by hug_of_war (9584 points ) March 3rd, 2014 from iPhone

Some background:

I failed out of my first semester of college. Went to community college and then large public university with a degree in speech pathology (3.8 gpa from cc/public u, 3.4 when you add in my terrible semester). You need a master’s to practice. I decded to get some work experience first. It was a horrible time being unemployed for a year but I now work as a special needs teacher aide.

I’ve worked really hard to show I am capable and finally after all these years of struggle I’ve been accepted somewhere (still waiting on 2 schools). The issue? I didn’t get funding (which means it will be all loans).

This has been my dream. Speech pathology has a good career outlook, typically everyone gets a job offer (even if it’s not ideal).

I don’t want to go purely on emotion but I have worked so hard to get out of my deadend, $11 an hour job, to be able to do something I’m really passionate about.

It’s a huge decision, and I’ve got only a month and a half to figure it out.

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19 Answers

janbb's avatar

If there is a good chance you will get a job afterward doing something you love, go for it. If one of the other schools gives you some funding, go there.

muppetish's avatar

Did you accumulate any debt for your undergraduate degree? Will you continue working as you complete your MA? Are you 100% certain that this is the program that you wish to attend? (not simply the degree, but the program itself: do you want to work with the faculty? do you like the campus? etc.) Have you qualified for any state funding via the FAFSA?

Not all MA programs will provide assistantships to MA students, which is crummy. But if the program isn’t a solid fit for you, I wouldn’t accept the offer without funding. However, if you are excited to work with their faculty, and if it’s a program you believe will foster your interests and help you get the job that you desire, then I would consider accepting the offer.

You should also have until at least April 15th to make a decision. I would hold out on those other two programs to see if they make a better offer or are a better fit for your needs.

dappled_leaves's avatar

If you love your current job, find out from the admissions office if deferred enrollment is a possibility. Perhaps you can postpone beginning the graduate degree for a year. This would give you the opportunity to get some work experience, save some money, and it might even make your decision easier if you come to realize that you don’t want this job over the long term.

If you don’t love your current job, I’d recommend taking the leap, as long as what you say about the “good career outlook” is true.

BosM's avatar

The average salary for Speech-Language Pathologists/therapists was $72,730 in 2012, according to the BLS. The best-paid in the profession earned more than $107,650 in 2012, while the lowest-paid earned less than $44,380.

Worst case your income goes from $11/hour or approximately $23K per year to over $44K if you make what the lowest paid professionals in your profession do. This is an increase of $21K per year over your current earnings and would go a long way to paying off your student loans. If this is your passion, go for it, the upside is tremendous and you get to do something you love at the same time.

pleiades's avatar

You know what to do ;)

Student loans are there for a good reason.

pleiades's avatar

FYI I have a friend who went to graduate school she seems happy with her job. Oh yea she also got that job extremely fast, might have something to do with the Master’s degree and drum roll please!.... Most importantly internship!

bolwerk's avatar

What are the loan terms? Amount borrowed? How good is the school at placing graduates into positions? What is your expected income?

The thing is you want to do a little better than just have a positive NPV here. You need an income that will pay off the loans and then still improve your lot after that. Not saying that’s hard to do in your case, but that’s probably the way to evaluate whether it’s worth the loans.

gailcalled's avatar

Can’t you still work and take the degree at night or part-time? Most grad. programs try to accomodate the working poor.

hug_of_war's avatar

SLP programs cannot be done parttime (except very few). My job is okay but my position is being eliminated at the end of the school year and I’ll make less anwhere else because this school pays me for 5 more hours a week than other equivalent positions. Plus I’ve been saving for 1.5 years. So I do have some saved. I almost never do anything fun that costs money.

This is an instate public university.

gailcalled's avatar

OK. Can you accelerate the degree program?

Any chance that the two remaining schools, should they accept you, would provide some aid?

Your choices are limited;

1) Student loans and work/study.

2) Rich relatives

2) Sugar daddy or mamma

3) Abandon the dream.

hearkat's avatar

I think you already know what my answer will be. We’ve talked about the Speech and Hearing professions several times over the years. Your degree will absolutely be worth the investment of time and money.

SLPs can work in so many different environments and with all ranges of demographics. It is very rewarding making a difference in people’s lives; and it is a high-demand profession.

One thing I envied that SLPs have over Au.Ds is the travel positions. What a terrific way to gain experience in the field and see the world before you settle down, and they pay more. Also, there is a push to make student loan terms more reasonable – hopefully that will come into being in time to benefit you.

You pretty much know the answer: If you don’t do this, you know you’ll regret it. I had my son while I was in Grad School, so I couldn’t work and I paid it all with loans. I know first-hand how right those first few years are. 20+ years later, I have no regrets.

Fluthyou's avatar

I can’t imagine you will feel fulfilled or rewarded for abandoning your dream. The what-if alone could crush you. But of course consider what works best practically. Debt is awful. If you have the time, hold out and see if anyone offers scholarships.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Congratulations!!!

hearkat's avatar

Correction: … how *tight those first few years are.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

Take the leap of faith.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

Congrats! I am taking a break from grad school (I basically dropped out) Getting in is the easy part. My mistake was working full-time and taking on a teaching assistantship. It was only supposed to be 10 hours a week and it gave me a full ride + a stipend (too good to refuse) It was actually like 30+ hours a week then I had to go to classes, study for them and then keep up my full-time job. Oh, and work on my thesis. I also had two professors fighting over my time and there was a lot of pressure to help out on other non-thesis projects. That did not work obviously, after a year I had zero work done on my thesis and ended up dropping half my course load. I still learned quite a bit and as painful as that year was it has helped me tremendously in professional life. It may be tempting to take one of those offers because they can be competitive and great resume fodder but know what you are getting into ahead of time. Keep your schedule open and your head up. Good luck!

hug_of_war's avatar

I just wanted to thank everyone. I got another acceptance and I am for sure going to one of them, just deciding which now. I’m scared but excited.

gailcalled's avatar

Congratulations. How are you going to be funding it

Rolfadinho's avatar

Congrats. First, start looking for internships, because most schools require you to intern while in Grad School. Second, figure out what your thesis paper will be, because most universities require grad students to write at least one during their time in grad school. It is not short at all, and I have heard that some medical thesis papers could get to around 200 pages long. Finally, begin planning how you will celebrate when you graduate.

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