A Potential Chapter: Graduate School?

As I pass my first month of unemployment my mom has once again started ‘lightly’ hammering the notion of graduate school.

Now as someone who used to plan for the next “chapter” of their life; I had three potential tracks I was floating for after graduation: (a) work for two years then go to grad school (b) work for a year, teach in South Korea for a year, then go to grad school (c) work for a year or two then move to Chicago.

If you remember my posts from a few months back; I actually applied and got accepted to teach in South Korea, but ultimately rescinded my application. I know my mom didn’t agree with the decision because she felt it was a once in a lifetime opportunity and I think since then she’s wary that I’ve maybe become complacent and won’t see things through anymore- i.e. applying to graduate school.

When it came to rescinding it really boiled down to me having to do some pesky introspection and accepting I just wasn’t in the right mind set for it. Does that mean I still feel the same way now? Yes and no. Ultimately, I won’t be able to reapply for two semesters anyway due to restrictions, but by then who knows? Spring of 2021 isn’t as far away as it may seem.

But back to graduate school. Because I have concerns.

In the year I’ve been working since graduation I’ve managed to save up enough for my full tuition (with discounts) and around a semester of housing. My initial worry with was that since I’ve been unemployed and haven’t been able to continue saving; I wasn’t sure I’d be able to save the rest. My mom’s response was to remind me she already said she’d help me with housing given how much I’ve managed on my own- I just don’t want to feel like I’m leaching off her. My second issue was deciding whether to choose a one or two year program where the difference is a twelve month internship at the end. Fortunately, tuition for the second year is extremely affordable, but unfortunately that means I’d need to cough up an extra year’s worth of housing funds…My mom’s response was whether I felt it’d be worth it or not.

In the end I came to the conclusion it would be so long as I was able to secure housing because just in case you didn’t know: the school is in “totally affordable” London, England. My mom agreed hands down since so there’d be no way for me to manage without university housing and that same day I started the application process.

Side Note: Applying to this university is so easy breezy and the best part is that it’s FREE. That’s right! No application fees! (sorry I just have a big hang up about application fees)

So, after putting the issue to rest with mom I knew the next step was bringing this up to my boyfriend. Being the great guy he is, he admitted he wouldn’t be happy with it, but would never try to hold me back from something. He explained that instead of using his PTO for cosplay conventions he would instead use it to see me which definitely made my heart warm.

As we continued to talk over dinner another concern surprisingly surfaced which had to do with work load. For the one year program you’re taking five classes both semesters with a thesis due at the end. For the two year program your thesis is due at the end of second year which you spend in an internship. I think if I was only doing school then the one year wouldn’t be an issue, but I know I’m going to have to work and make money to support myself and I don’t want to fuck up such a large investment.

I know. I know. It probably seems like a lot of overthinking on my part.

There’s this idea of “if you want it then you’ll try your best and go for it” with the undercurrent being “you only live once and if you don’t try then you’ll never know” and while I enjoy the sentiment I think there’s also that protectionist mindset in a lot of us where we need to weigh the options and then struggle with the question of “am I holding myself back? am I too scared to take a risk? will I have regrets?“.

A part of me does regret not going to South Korea (especially since I’m currently unemployed), but I’m still doing things I really wanted to do. I mean, I’m going to Chicago for New Years to see if I can hack the winter; I’m going to cosplay as Princess Kida; I’m visiting my family more. I even went to New York for the first time!

So maybe there’s something to be said in accepting the decisions we make and then making the most of it. I’ve made the decision to apply to graduate school. Are there concerns? Yes. Can I boil it down without stressing myself out? Yes: In the one year program my biggest fear would be burnout. In the two year program my biggest fear would be conjuring up the funds.

Now I just need to on that good old personal statement!

Photo by Jordan Encarnacao on Unsplash