the hardest part about deciding to go to grad school

5 September 2013

So deciding I want to get my MFA was easy. I mean, it was a big decision, but it just felt so right. I want to immerse myself in writing, as well as explore teaching. So an MFA just made sense. And since MFAs only really enroll for the Fall, and well, 2013 Fall semester is starting now… My next opportunity to join is Fall 2014.

I’ve always had the why. I have that what. I have then when. The how is something I’m working on. But it’s the where that has been driving me crazy. I have no idea what program to apply to.

Trying to choose which MFA program is right for me

There are a lot of good MFAs out there. There are a good handful of MFAs with full funding too. However, full funding in Chicago… not really a possibility. Because funding is important to me (it’s the how of all of this), I’ve had to come to the realization that staying in Chicago just might not be an option if I really want to get my MFA. Or at least if I want to be able to afford an MFA.

To say that this has been hard to come to terms with would be a terrible understatement. I love Chicago. I’m near my family. I love the city and its personality. I love being a part of Mucca. I just don’t feel ready to leave yet. But… my options are very limited here.

I’m researching my options. I’ve got a list of about a dozen schools. Some definitely have full funding, others I’m still trying to figure that out. I’m trying to remind myself it’s just going to be for 2 years. 3 tops. I can always return to Chicago when I’m done.

I never thought it would be this hard. And I’ve got 3 months to figure this out.

  • Ren

    I know exactly how you feel. I’ve been debating the MFA for a few years now, and I’m still not fully convinced I want to go back. I’m not fully convinced I want to go back to school period. I know how difficult college was for me the first time. I don’t want to put myself in a situation I don’t feel 100% committed to, but at the same time my first college experience is also the reason why I want to go to grad school–to have a chance to do it over and do it right. One of my former English professors, who has two BA’s, an MA, an MFA, and now working on her PhD, said she would honestly tell me to keep working, that a lot of writing students struggle with things to write about because most of their life experience comes from the classroom. I’m still debating it, because part of me really wants to go back to college and have the experience I didn’t give myself the first time, but I’m also very wary of it. I just want to make the right choice. I want to write about amazing things and be smart, and I have this idea in my head that the only way I can do that is by going back to school, even though I know that’s not necessarily true.

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