22 October 2012

Thinking About Being a Grad School Mom?

I am almost finished with my first semester of grad school at NC State--only about one month left. Here are some thoughts on my experience so far.

Graduate school is not for everyone; in fact, I'm trying to figure out if graduate school is right for me. This semester has been a roller coaster of making decisions and then second guessing those decisions. The truth is, grad school is expensive, especially if you are not a state resident. Click here to see the price range for tuition at NC State. I love grad school and I love the things I am learning, but is the debt worth it? I don't know yet. I am still trying to figure that out.

There are different ways to get grad school paid for (such as teaching assistantships or scholarships) but these ways are not always conducive to being a mother. Most of the time, you have to be a full time student and then work on top of that in order to qualify for or keep this type of assistance. This way is possible, but you will have to spend money on daycare and spend time away from your child (needless to say, you will have tons of homework due to a full schedule). For me personally, this is something that does not work for my family and I. I like being a full time mom and a part time student. 

So, here is my plan. I can qualify for the residency tuition price after a year of living in North Carolina (from my experience, I would always recommend becoming a resident first before starting classes). Until then, I am taking a leave of absence until next fall semester. In the meantime, I am going to be looking for jobs that I can do with my undergraduate degree in professional writing. I'm looking into part time technical writing jobs.     If I find a good job, I just might stick with it and not go back to school. Or, I might stick with the job and have it pay for my schooling. 

For any moms out there who are thinking about grad school, here is some advice for things I wish I would have done or thought about before starting school:
  • Research what your job outlook is like for what you want to go into. Also, research what grad school is like in general. I'm sure you will get varying opinions, but it is smart to know the pros and cons of going to grad school. Click here for one example of a blog that talks about the cons of grad school (it can be pretty spot on with grad school life). Yes, this is an example of the cons, but don't get discouraged! There are many, many good things about grad school as well. 
  • Become a resident of the state before starting school (you can choose to wait to apply to schools or defer for a year until you have residency).
  • Start with just one class. You may think you can handle a lot your first semester, but grad school is like undergrad on steroids--then throw being a mom into the mix.
  • Find a small way to pay for school (a way that works for you and your family) that will give you experience in the field you want to go into.
Well, there's my two cents for today. I hope it was helpful! 

Family outing to NC State's JC Raulston Arboretum (AKA really nice gardens
and amazing landscapes).  
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  1. Thanks for writing this! I keep toying with the idea of going back to school but I have a feeling I'll have to wait quite a few years. That's great you can defer for a year! Good ideas, good plan.


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