Monday, March 05, 2007

PhD: Good News and Bad News

Which would you like first? OK, everyone always wants the good news first.

Good: I got accepted to the PhD program in Illinois (first choice).

Bad: They did not offer me an assistantship. Yet. I've been waitlisted.

Now, I should explain that I'm incredibly relieved, pissed, and conflicted...all at once.

I'm relieved that I was accepted at all because apparently it was a very competitive year. I'm pissed because the lack of assistantship is a kick in the crotch. I will be unable to attend if they don't come through because I refuse to go another 50,000 dollars in debt by paying out-of-state tuition. I'm relieved because if they don't come through I can turn the offer down without guilt and without letting Thesis Director down.

Those of you who have been following this crazy graduate school debacle for the last almost-two-years know that I'm rather burned out.

Very. Burned. Out.

There are other things going on in my life that are exciting...aside from the PhD possibilities. Estella's Revenge is truckin' right along, I'm having A LOT of ideas for writing projects (a book idea, review stuff, etc. etc.), and there's a man in my life who I'd love to be with. In short, a normal life is looking really good right now. Get a job. Pay off loans. Buy a house. Start a family.

The niggling elitist in the back of my head keeps screaming, "TERMINAL DEGREE!!!!! If you get a PhD you will have gone as far as one can go in terms of degrees!" I keep trying to squelch that fuckin' annoying voice to get to what I really want.

I really want the freedom of the normal life. As exhilarating as academia can be, the reality is that I will have to live this crazy, insane, exhausting, break-neck life for at least another 10 years if I get the PhD and go into a tenure-track position. 4 years for the PhD, and at least six to get tenure. Thinking about it sort of makes me want to die.

It's all scary.

Edit: Perhaps I should clarify the use of the word "normal." It is certainly not a negative thing, in my opinion. And I highly doubt anyone would count the life of a graduate student (filled with obscure philosophy, all-night drinking parties, rampant fornication, professional depression, etc. etc.) normal or necessarily healthy.


  1. Well . . . grad school or not, I guess what matters is that you're going to be happy, or at least try to be, which is more than some of us can say. And I still haven't heard a damn thing from anyone. At this point, I'm assuming that my applications are lining the trash cans at various academic institutions throughout the country.

    I might find myself looking at the business end of a pistol if something doesn't happen soon. This sucks.

  2. Well, first, congratulations on the acceptance. That's nothing to sneeze at. And, I agree with Jeremy that your happiness is most important. Is it possible to get a job and start taking a few classes at night or something of that nature, so you can have a little of both? That's sort of what my husband did. I think. It was a ridiculously slow process.

    Quick, go give Jeremy a hug! JEREMY, DON'T!!! I don't even know you, but hang in there, babe.

  3. Which Illinois? UofI? ISU? UIC? Inquiring minds want to know.

    Do what makes you happy. If you can figure out what that is.

  4. umm... congratulations? I know that this stuff is crazy, but normal life doesn't get any less crazy, just a different crazy. I know that I want to get out of school and start "real life" but now that I'm here I want back in school. To be honest, nothing challenges you like it does. But on the other side normallity is rewarding.

    I hope this was comforting on some level.

  5. I always want the bad news first. That way the good news seems so much better in comparison.

    Congrats on getting accepted. Maybe you could win the lottery? I know that is my plan for dealing with my future finances :)

  6. Congrats!! I do feel heavily exhausted for you though.

  7. WHOA...that makes me scared! Congratulations on your acceptance, that's a great accomplishment. I think you need to think long and hard what is more important to you - PhD and Tenure or a "normal" life...? This is a tough one that only you can figure out. Is there any way to do both?

  8. J., step awa from the gun and pass it here. I could use it. I'm still having issues with MTSU and they were supposed to be the easy-to-work-with ones. Hmmphf.

    BF, Thanks! It is possible to get a job and start slow, but I have a real problem moving to Illinois and doing that...especially when I'd be paying outrageous out-of-state tuition. For the birds, I tell ya!

    Lu, ISU. It's got a fannntastic program in my field. Probably the best in the country.

    Nik, I know it doesn't...but I think I'm ready for that real life kind of craziness as opposed to these deadlines and politics I've been working with thus far. We'll see. Blahh.

    Fence, I was just talking about winning the lottery! It would solve all my problems. I could give the finger to higher education and just start writing. At home. In my pj's!

    Thanks, Heather. :) After a good nigth's sleep I feel a little better.

    Funky...not really a way I can think of. I've just about decided to chuck the PhD and just get a job.

  9. Hey Andi!
    Long time no chat, saw your comment on my blog, trying to get back into it but an insane schedule is killing me I swear.
    Congrats on getting in, I'll keep my fingers crossed you get the apprenticeship!!! They better give it to you, because I said so! :)

    Amy :)

  10. Amy!!! It's good to see you! Thanks for the well wishes, and the same to you. I hope you get that insane schedule under control. For selfish reasons perhaps. I miss your blog. :)

  11. Do what makes you happy because you have the freedom to do so.

    The PhD will always be there if you ever change your mind.

  12. Thanks, E. On the up side, I'm writing a book! I started it a while back and picked it up again recently.

  13. Damn, I missed this yesterday! Congrats!!! I hope someone comes through and dumps a buttload of money on your lap!

    Now what's this about a guy???

  14. Thanks, Os! I'm gonna contact the director of grad studies and see what my chances are of getting $$$ and when.

    As for the guy. My lips are sealed. For now.

  15. Congrats on getting accepted. Lots of decisions- hopefully it'll all work out the best for you. Like everyone else said though, ya gotta do what makes you happy.

  16. OR ..... you could use option #2 and run away to Mexico with me!!!

  17. Thanks, Nat! I'm trying to focus on the fact that I got accepted at all. It's an honor!

    Cincy, let's go!

  18. Congratulations on being accepted - that's quite an accomplishment in and of itself.

    Your post has me alternately wishing I'd pursued additional degrees and being thankful I didn't!

    Like elise said, do what makes you happy - life's too short to do otherwise.

  19. Les, it's a tortuous process! Deciding what to do isn't easy, but I think I'm figuring it out. :)

  20. Yay accepted!!!

    If you have guy news you'd better spill it soon.

  21. Well....congrats on the acceptance! You will have to look me up if you do end up in Normal. Illinois, that is!!

    But whatever it is you decide, do it for yourself.


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