I am grappling with a substantial decision: to go to grad school, or not to go to grad school.
PRO: I have already been accepted to Erica’s Dream Program, an MA (or MFA, depending) in Poetry with an Emphasis on Versecraft. It is a highly unique program that includes classes on poetry in translation and poetry book reviewing and…
CON: …and all kinds of things that I will never, ever be paid to do. Let’s be clear: this degree would be entirely for my heart and soul, not for my wallet. It is very doubtful that this Master’s degree would make me more marketable, at least in the job that I do now (freelance writing and marketing consultation).
PRO: That is not to say the program would not open new and unexpected doors for me.
CON: I’d be paying money (potentially over $10k, even considering a scholarship I would be hell-bent on winning) to learn (more) about poetry.
CON: In a way I’d be paying more than that, as the course load would take a good deal of freelance time off of my plate.
CON: If I know outright that the degree won’t pay for itself — like, ever — do I even need the degree? Dan has suggested I consider varying various poetry workshops instead, including Western’s own Writing the Rockies. Is an MA/MFA an important goal for me? (I’m really asking. Is it?!)
PRO: But I wannnnnna…
PRO: Dan is very supportive, and reminds me often not to let money be the only factor in my decision.
CON: Let’s be honest: I am not the breadwinner in our family. How do I feel about the cost of this program being our costs, not my costs?
CON: By the time I would begin this program, I might be finished paying off my exorbitant student loans from undergrad. …Which I completed in 2005.
PRO: It is a low-residency program, meaning that I would spend two weeks on campus during the summers, and the rest I would do from home.
PRO: The Western State Colorado University campus is located in Gunnison, Colorado… a beautiful mountain haven where Dan would be delighted to join me for the summers, because it’s a mountain bike mecca. It’s a roughly 6-hour drive from home, making it a mini-vacation — far enough to feel like an adventure, close enough to drive.
PRO: The timing is perfect. Because my freelance career is new, I am not at full capacity yet, and have the flexibility to take on a program of this nature.
CON: Who knows if the same will be true when next summer rolls around, though — at which point, do I turn down paying work to go learn about villanelles?
PRO: Seriously though, villanelles are awesome.
PRO: If I don’t do it now, will I ever? I have wanted to go back to school since the moment I left school (where, if you are not aware, I also studied poetry). Will I ever stop wanting that? If I don’t take this opportunity now, will there ever be a time I stop wishing that I did?
If you’ve made it this far, you have essentially read a transcript of the mental tug-of-war that has been keeping me up at night.
I do not need to make the decision just yet. My acceptance to the program, which was originally intended for this past summer (an insane decision, considering how busy my first summer in Colorado turned out to be) has been deferred to potentially begin in the summer of 2019.
Dan and I will also make a trek to Gunnison to see how it feels. This is my idea, as I have always benefited from gut reactions. We’ll take a quick weekend to see if Gunnison is a place that speaks to us, and I also have a breakfast scheduled with my would-be department head. Whether this visit will clarify things or not remains to be seen.
In the meantime, if you have an opinion on this matter, I would love to hear it — though I reserve the right to make this decision based on a coin flip if that’s what my instinct says to do.