When to visit doc program?

<p>Background: Graduated in 2009 with a B.S. in Elementary Education, will graduate May 10th with a M.Ed. in Special Ed with a Diagnostician certificate. Both degrees are from the same school. Until I applied for PhD programs, I'd never even applied elsewhere. I've been teaching the last 4.5 years.</p>

<p>I applied for PhD programs at the urging of my grad advisor. I quite honestly thought I would not get in. I interviewed last week via Skype and was told that a decision would be made the next day and to check my admission status often. I checked and checked, but heard nothing. I got an e-mail the next day from one of the professors on the interview panel that they wanted to do a follow-up this week. Due to another job interview, I ended up having to bump the university to Skype. I figured this wasn't a big deal, as it was another admissions interview, meaning I was most likely not getting in. </p>

<p>I got my acceptance letter yesterday. The interview is for placement with a professor.</p>

<p>Tomorrow is my only chance to see the school "in action" before I have to give a decision. I've driven around the campus once, but didn't get out of the truck (I was visiting my dad while he was teaching at fire school, told him I wanted to see the campus, so he drove a lap around it). I can't take off more days, especially this week.</p>

<p>Should I go visit the campus and cancel the job interview? How crucial is it to see a campus while it is inhabited?</p>

<p>Ask the PhD program for an extension, due to a work commitment</p>

<p>I would ask for an extension as well - I wouldn’t say “due to work commitment” but rather that you won’t have the opportunity to visit before the decision day. They’ve also accepted you after the typical April 15 deadline, so I think they should give you a little more leeway here. Ask if they can give you until the end of next week or whatever it’s going to take for you to visit.</p>

<p>I think it’s pretty important to visit a campus before a PhD program. You’re going to spending at least 5 years there and potentially more; your adviser is going to have a huge impact on your future career, as is any research and teaching opportunities you can get there. You want to make sure that it’s a place you can see yourself. So visit!</p>

<p>It’s vital to meet with your potential advisor to see if you are compatible. So, you really need to visit the department in person. You can schedule a visit for a day that suits your schedule (within reason).</p>

<p>I had a late acceptance and I had to call the other three programs to extend my decision deadline. All three programs were fine with that.</p>

I ended up moving my interview (which seemed to make the perspective employer very happy!) and going today. It was a great experience and I found out that I have received a “full ride” GA position. My advisors are great, I’m already in a research project that matches well with the experience I have, the facility is wonderful (OMG the library!) and the campus (while attended by more people that my home town and the adjoining town combined!) is homey. Unfortunately, the stipend isn’t enough to cover fees, housing, insurance and my car payment, so I most likely will have to decline. :(</p>

<p>That’s strange that the GA stipend wouldn’t cover room and board expenses. How do other students manage it? I would talk to them instead of quietly declining.</p>

<p>The stipend is 1700 a month. My car note is $400. Insurance is probably going to be $300 (I was quoted for student insurance to be $100 a month, but my parents want me to get more) and rent will be around $1k a month + utilities (parents want me without a roommate and in a place they deem safe). I asked about living in the dorms, but was quickly told that grad student’s don’t do that, even though they are allowed to.</p>

<p>Some colleges have specific dorms for grad students and others don’t. When they don’t you probably wouldn’t like to live with the undergraduates. And off campus living with others is usually cheaper. Your PARENTS want you without a roommate??? What do they have to do with it, you’re kidding me right? That really is a very expensive way to live that many new PhD students can’t afford. My daughter took an inexpensive room in an established household who regularly rented the room each year. Then shared a 2 story house with 3 other women and a kitchen and LR quite comfortably for a couple of years. Do you even need a car? I guess I am seeing that this is do-able if you wanted it. But you would be living like a student which is often typical. Sometimes PhD students can make some money in the summer to allow them to be a bit more comfortable.</p>

<p>I assume you are around 27 yrs old. You can make this work if you want to.</p>

<p>Parent here – why would your parents be in a position to dictate your professional choices, based on their requirements about insurance, housing etc? This sounds like you are thrilled about the program and opportunities. But the monthly stipend won’t cover your expenses because of requirements imposed by your parents regarding health insurance and housing? I don’t want to impugn your parents’ motives, but it sounds like they are either naive about the professional possibilities or are controlling your choices indirectly. </p>

<p>Take the regular insurance, investigate housing expenses in a shared apartment/house – will be housing boards in any university community – and take the position! Opportunities do not come around like this every year. If this is the right direction for you professionally, you should take control of your career. </p>

<p>Congrats on the position, and good luck.</p>

<p>At your age, what your parents want is irrelevant. Their demands are putting the doctoral program out of reach. Are they supportive of your decision to pursue a PhD? </p>

<p>Insure the car for the lowest insurance amount possible and find a housing situation with roommates; $1700 isn’t much but it’s feasible to live on that. You may want to (unfortunately) sell the car and get a cheaper one (without a car payment).</p>

<p>One last thing to think about. If your school system offers an educational leave of absence, even if it’s unpaid, take it. That way, if grad school doesn’t work out the first year (for whatever reason) you have a fallback. I did this when I applied to grad school. I ended up NOT going back to the school system, after extending my leave of absence to two years, but it was a nice mental cushion to have. </p>

<p>No, my parents are not supportive of the PhD program. Nor is just about everyone around me, other than my M.Ed grad advisor, and I actually applied to this program at her request. I thought I had no chance at getting in. I was 1 of 6 accepted. I have already resigned from my teaching job (I did so back in February, as it has been a terrible year and I knew certain things that were making me miserable weren’t going to stop until I quit. I am finishing out the year, though.), but have committed at another district. The other district is a cut in pay, but I will be able to afford to buy a house.</p>

<p>Part of me really wants to do it, but part of me is horrified that I’m going to be broke for 4 years to make the same or less than I have in the classroom. I miss having time to do non-school things (right now it’s all work-school or grad school), but this would be the time to do it. I have no husband (My grad program is my SO!) and no children. I have a dog, but she could live with my parents.</p>

<p>I know what everyone around me wants, now I just need to figure out what I want…</p>

<p>Kiki, congrats on your acceptance. What a wonderful accomplishment.</p>

<p>I can’t advise you on whether to enroll in the program or not, but you are about to get your first taste of a big grown up decision without anyone’s input except your M.Ed advisor and the folks in the PhD program.</p>

<p>First, I don’t know any grad students who live without a roommate or two. That’s how you make the stipend work. Second, I know many grad students without cars- obviously, depends on where this campus is and how you could make public transportation work, but you might talk to other students in the program to find out if cars are a necessity. My own kids did not have cars in either undergrad or grad- but they used ZipCar when they needed wheels (a few times a year to do a big Costco/Sams Club shopping trip, to attend a friends wedding, a weekend away, etc.) which ends up being much cheaper than owning, insuring, and parking a car.</p>

<p>Re: your own health insurance- this will depend on your own health and the type of plan-- but you don’t need to buy a goldplated plan because someone else tells you to. If the more expensive coverage is for things like eyeglasses and a low co-pay on drugs, you may find it much cheaper to buy that stuff out of pocket and just have a low cost policy to cover catastrophic accidents and hospitalization. The university can show you what is covered with their bare bones plan.</p>

<p>Finally, I think you need to look beyond the next couple of years as you make your decision. People with a Doctorate in education typically don’t end up going back and becoming school teachers. (nothing wrong with that- but it’s a different career track). A doctorate opens up possibilities in education policy at the state level, commissioner of education, Ed reform think tanks, district level oversight positions supervising principals and managing large budgets for both instructional and non-instructional spending, etc. So you may finish your degree and end up back in the classroom, but only for a few years to get your teaching “cred”-- and then you could end up as an educational lobbyist, senior role for a teacher’s union, or “Chief turnaround Officer” for a troubled school system. So don’t get locked into the near term compensation as a motivation- we can all debate that a gifted third grade math teacher should make more than the commissioner of education or a Vice President at a textbook development company but guess what- they don’t. There are more lucrative paths in education than classroom teaching, and by and large, the advanced degree is what gets your foot in the door for those kinds of roles.</p>

<p>Congrats to you- big, big accomplishment, especially if you aren’t getting a lot of support for this big step in your family.</p>

<p>I know a few young teachers who burned out with teaching, and strive for the MA or PhD to open pathways. One moved in with her family to save money, as she received no stipend. When they thought of teaching in a classroom for 25 years, they just knew it wasn’t right for them.</p>

<p>My son lived in grad dorms 2 years, then found an apartment with others. Grad students who live alone are often in less expensive areas or have parents chip in some money. If they have a car, then they live farther from campus where they save on rent. It sounds like your parents want you to have it all–fancy car and apartment. </p>

<p>It is sad to me that your parents are not your cheerleaders. It is fine for folks to offer opinions, but ultimately, it is your life and your choices.</p>

<p>Aside from your grad advisor requesting it, why did you apply to a PhD program? Do you want to do something with your career that requires it, or was it a whim on account of a request? Either way, you are clearly qualified and on a path to succeed if you applied and were accepted on a whim.</p>

<p>It sounds to me as though you have allowed your parents and advisor to push you in different directions without making enough personal decisions of your own. $400/mo for a car is a lot, as is $300/mo on insurance if you have a good driving record. Having a cheaper car and insurance will not detract from your quality of life. As for roommates - how do YOU feel about that? If you are comfortable with the idea - it might even be a great experience if it’s a good fit - then that’s your decision to make. </p>

<p>Take some quiet time to yourself away from your parents and advisor and think about what you want, and why you want it. Do you really want a home now, while unmarried and without kids, or do you want to pursue further career options while you’re single and able to do so? Or are you happy with your current career options and really <em>do</em> want to invest in your own home now? Or is there another choice that you’d like to explore?</p>

<p>First of all, I agree that at your age you should be making your decisions about what you want. Second of all, your parents’ expectations are unrealistic. I would agree that you probably want a comprehensive plan for long-term health insurance, but for a PhD program a lower insurance is okay for just a few years. Most graduate students share apartments with someone - why would your parents want you to live by yourself anyway? Even in NYC I have never paid $1,000 for rent on my own (although I’ve paid close), but with a little work you can find an apartment even in an expensive area for $700-800 if you share. In lower cost of living areas, you may even be able to share for cheaper (I know some friends in small college towns who have shared two-bedrooms for like $450 each). The car note is a problem, and I know it’s difficult to ditch a car you have a note on.</p>

<p>Still, though, living on $1700/month is going to be a stretch. I wouldn’t do it in my current city at all. If I were going to a grad program in a small college town, perhaps…but perhaps not.</p>

<p>I agree, though, that I don’t hear that you want to do this PhD for your own career goals. Your advisor suggested it to you so you applied. But getting a PhD should be a means to an end - there should be some career goal you have that necessitates a PhD. If that’s not true for you and you don’t want a PhD (and not just to teach - but because you want to teach teachers how to be teachers, or do educational policy research or work), then don’t go.</p>

<p>Oops, read that as $400 for the car, $300 for car insurance rather than health insurance. I still agree that $300 is quite a bit for someone your age. Unless you have specific needs, I wouldn’t be concerned to take the more affordable student insurance for the time being.</p>

<p>I also wanted to say that if you do take time to yourself and make a final decision, stick to that decision. Either way you’re going to upset someone - your parents or your advisor - and they will advocate for their side. Be ready for that. You’ll be the one who has to live with the decision and any possible regrets, expenses, etc.</p>

<p>NovaLynnx: The $300 a month is for health insurance. Car insurance is $120 a month (it was $90, but I upped the coverage when I got my car last year). My record is clean, but I live in an area with a ton of uninsured drivers and didn’t want to be in a lurch should something happen.</p>

<p>Health-wise: Have relatively severe asthma (very prone to getting bronchitis and pneumonia) and I do have glasses. My vision is stable, and I usually get new glasses every 3 years or so. I’ve gotten them more recently as I have a really good vision plan at work </p>

<p>I really did apply on a whim and didn’t think I’d get in. I’m ready to be out of the classroom (my masters can get me there) and possible away from public education. I’m undecided if I want to be a professor - my retired professor friends are some of the happiest people I know, but my friends who are in PhD programs or have just gotten out are miserable. I keep reading the statistics about how hard it is to get on full-time with a university. This program is only to prepare for getting into professorship, and they scoffed at my other ideas (SpEd Consulting/Directing, mostly). Teacher Prep sounds like the best future perk, as my research would deal mostly with children with behavior issues, and most teacher programs are shockingly light in that area.</p>

<p>The research sounds fantastic. One of my classrooms participated in an earlier version of this study, and I kept up with the published data about it until it was abandoned. The time commitment doesn’t bother me that much. The campus was REALLY big (more students than every place I’ve ever lived combined!), but nice. Lots of eligible male students in other programs (not that it matters, but it is nice). I didn’t get to look at housing while I was there, and my advisor is pushing for an answer this week (though I have until June 1 according to the uni).</p>

<p>Part of me, however, wants to be done. She’s ready to settle down, buy a house, get another dog, play the cello (I’ve wanted to play since I was 3. I started last year, took one lesson and broke my wrist the next day. Didn’t have time to go back this spring with grad school.), participate in community theatre (something I haven’t had time for since Junior year of high school!), bake cakes, craft and read books that aren’t about tests or stats or teaching (though I’ll still read them sometimes!).</p>

<p>Now that I know that I have funding the opinions of those around have changed to about 50/50, when they were negative before. My grad advisor still doesn’t know - I think I’m actually scared to tell her, as I know she’ll be disappointed if I don’t go. It’s just figuring out what I want…</p>

<p>Perhaps you could politely decline and reapply in a few years? I wouldn’t want to dedicate 5-6+ years to a program if I wasn’t entirely thrilled about the thought of going (which I personally am, but it’s not financially feasible at the moment). I’m glad I took a few years off to work and breathe outside of the classroom, and I still don’t plan to apply for another 2 years. I’ll actually have quite a bit of savings by then to help me out. It’s a big commitment, but it’s not one you <em>have</em> to make right now. It’s not a “now or never” situation. Granted, if you do settle down and start a family it may be more difficult to do later on, but by then it might not be your goal anymore. </p>

<p>You ought to discuss and debate with your advisor. Really you can’t be afraid of someone’s opinion. If she gets overbearing, ask her to consider your feelings. This input is more important than that, don’t be ridiculous and keep it a secret. My daughter lived fine on less than that amount, but she was not in an expensive city. She did do a paid internship one year which helped. You can do it on minimal loans. You have the best offer that you likely get in this field, some do it on all loans, yikes. Most people find vision insurance not worth the price, you don’t need that. Push back on the advisor and say you need some final thoughts since you are making a long term commitment. You sound a bit sheltered with the comments about the size of the college not to mention your parents choosing things for you. Just realize that is just newness, you will acclimate and likely just a portion of the campus and community will become home base to you. Good luck.</p>