Should I Stay or Should I Go

February 18, 2012 § Leave a comment

So it’s game plan time.

For School:

Option 1: Plan like I’m going to stay in the program. Register for summer courses. Can cancel them with a full tuition refund before May 20th. Last year I heard about my fellowship in May, so that may work out timing-wise.

Option 2: Do the paperwork to withdraw from the program at the end of the semester. Cancel summer loan request.

If I leave school:

Option 1: Stay at my current job, stay in DC.

Option 2: Get a new job (already have a list of ones I’m considering), stay in DC.

Option 3: Get a new job, move somewhere else.

Really I suppose before I make any big decisions about school, I need to talk to some admissions people or faculty at the schools I’ll be applying to for PhD to see if leaving my Master’s program will dramatically negatively affect my application. If they think it will be a negative effect, then I guess maybe the $50,000 will be worth it… I’m hoping they’ll understand my financial situation and realize that having an assload of debt really isn’t healthy for anyone, for their education or not.

So that’s step one.

There really isn’t any harm in applying to new jobs. I don’t have to take them if I get offered anything, and it’s always good to consider other opportunities.

Another option to consider is leaving DC. There are some significant downsides to this. If I get into a PhD program, I’ll be moving in another year anyway, so I’d probably be moving just to move again. That’s expensive and kind of a pain in the ass. Learning a new city just to move again. But you could make the argument that I could move to the city where my top choice grad school is, so then I can be really involved with the department while they’re evaluating my application. I would have to pick a number one school though.

My parents want me to move home. It makes sense. It would be a lot cheaper (SOMUCHCHEAPEROMG) and there would be someone there to intervene if I got suicidal, so that would be handy. But it would be another wasted year of my life probably, because there are so few (like….zero) jobs in Birmingham that are art-related. But it would be really nice to spend some time with my family. And the cost of living is ridiculously cheap there. I could save a LOT of money, even if I don’t get a super-great paying job. I could probably temp and still afford an apartment and afford to save some money. Sometimes I really talk myself in to going back home.

The biggest downside to moving home, besides finding an enjoyable, arts-related job, would be not having a car. I don’t want a car. I like taking the train. I hate having to worry about gas, changing the oil, repairs, etc. Hate hate hate hate. There just isn’t a way to get around without a car in Birmingham, and I have to consider things like groceries, getting to work, etc. My parents would probably lend me a car, but I hate to be a burden on them (I know they won’t see it that way, but moving home is hard enough for me). I also wonder if I’ll be able to get an apartment without having proof of employment, but considering rent is so low there (average apt is about $450/mo with a mere $250 deposit) I wonder if that’s even necessary.

The breakdown:

Moving back to Alabama

Pros: lots and lots of time with my family, significantly cheaper cost of living, could save some money, could intern at the BMA, lots of time with one of my favorite people from high school, could move back sooner than later because I have enough money to pay rent for a few months (so I can get a job once I’m there, not before I move back)

Cons: it’s Alabama, would be another year working at a pointless job, probably would make less money, lack of intellectual stimulation, would have to get a car, would have to travel much farther to visit PhD programs

Staying in DC

Pros: it’s DC!, loads of intellectual stimulation, public transportation, I’m already here, closer to PhD programs (for campus visits)

Cons: loneliness (no alec, no family), stress of staying at my current job or getting a new one, super expensive, safety issues (not excited about living alone here)

So I guess just in writing this, I’ve ruled out moving somewhere besides Alabama. It just wouldn’t be worth it to totally relocate to a brand new place when I’m not sure I’ll be there for more than a year. Wanted to move to the beach, but maybe not practical. I’d have to get rental insurance anyway, which would be another expense. Anyway, guess my options are stay in school and take on $50,000 worth of debt, withdraw and stay in DC (probably looking for a new job), or withdraw and move home.

Decisions, decisions. What would you do?


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