I expected that the transition from salaried, government employee to graduate student would be frustrating, but I did not expect just how many expenses would find their way into the budget. One such expense is the upcoming cost of doctoral applications. I am anticipating this by researching the 2017-2018 application costs for each school to which I intend to apply this autumn. However, as an extra evaluation tool for calculating the anticipated fees, I decided to review how much I spent on master’s applications. Here is a breakdown:
- Graduate Record Examination
- Test Fee – $205
- Additional Score Reports – $27 each x 3 schools = $81 (I didn’t even complete two of the applications as I received an offer from JHU in early December.)
- Prep Materials
- Princeton Review GRE Premium Edition – $23.29
- ETS Official GRE Quantitative Reasoning Practice Questions – $10.56
- ETS Official GRE Verbal Reasoning Practice Questions – $14.66
- Manhattan Prep 5 lb. Book of GRE Practice Problems – $11.96
- Test Day Transportation – $8.00
- Application Fees
- Johns Hopkins University – $80.00
- Iowa State University – $60.00
- Ohio State University – $60.00
- University of Colorado – Boulder – $60.00
- University of Indiana – Bloomington – $55.00
I spent $660.47 to apply to master’s programs. That is more than $600 just to apply. That number would have tripled if my work schedule and location hadn’t prevented me from attending an examination preparation course, and there was the possibility that I wouldn’t receive any offers. Where would I be then? I think honest discussions are important to developing financial health, and one of the topics regularly posted here will be how I am managing the financial aspect of graduate education.
While preparing this post I was reminded of the scene from Seinfeld when George pretended to be a marine biologist in order to impress a love interest. He charged into the ocean to do a good deed (albeit reluctantly) and save a beached whale, aware that his scheme was teetering on the brink and that his folly could be exposed at any moment. Fortunately, he was able to save the whale by extricating one of Kramer’s golf balls from the blowhole. He ultimately confessed his deception, but his lack of remorse or change in life direction was as unsettling as it was humorous.
My goal for this blog and my graduate education is not to be George Costanza. Fellow fans of the show will contend that this is a rather low bar to set, and I would have to agree, but I wish to be genuine and deserving of any achievements. I intend to be transparent about not only the hardships I face but the privileges from which I benefit. I strive to be a responsible, conscientious human being. I hope to be successful without that nudge from Chance.
Despite seeking growth and appreciating meticulous organization and routine, so far I have stumbled over my shoelaces fairly consistently. I have the best of intentions, I really do. I create a grocery list to remember everything I need, but I forget or lose the list and return home with a haphazardly purchased bag of La Croix Grapefruit, almond milk, mustard, and Teddy Grahams. I diligently use my planner, yet I allow my rabbit to sit on my desk and rip out pages. Most embarrassing of all, I spent my final undergraduate semester painstakingly completing a field notebook only to drown it in coffee less than a week before the submission. The consequences of this absentmindedness never are enjoyable. This pattern, while potentially endearing, should be better contained.
Therefore, I have spent the evening creating a schedule for the upcoming semester. It includes some of the following activities:
- Twenty minutes of Duolingo German and Russian per day
- One hour of exercise per day
- Two hours of doctoral application preparation per week
- Three blog posts per week
- Three no-spend days per week
Of course there are other things on this list. I require time for reading the newspapers, time for completing school obligations, and definitely time for Netflix and bunny snuggles. I value time for reading fiction, cooking, and playing Mario. Neglecting self-care is the express lane to burnout, and I have six or seven intense years ahead of me. I hope that by scheduling relaxation as carefully as prioritizing tasks I can make it through graduate school in one piece.
I must admit that I was undecided about starting a blog. Writing never has been my favorite activity, but after due consideration I decided that I should record my journey through graduate school. I intend to keep this blog anonymous, at least for the time being, so I can speak candidly. Out of respect for the people in my life, I will be using nicknames to preserve their anonymity as well.
Shall we begin?
I have 4.5 years of experience in an elementary classroom, 4.5 years of experience as a personal tutor, 3 years of experience as a volunteer teacher, and 3 years of experience as a freelance editor. (There was overlap with some of these activities as I am in my late twenties.) Although I thoroughly enjoyed every moment with my students, I fell in love with research while working as an undergraduate research assistant in Linguistics. The long-term goal is to work in educational research. My areas of interest are counter-hegemonic ESL/EFL education, military influence on foreign language curriculum design, heritage language retention and loss, and the relationships joining STEM education, ESL/EFL education, and educational policy with a focus on underserved, underprivileged areas.
I am beginning this adventure in graduate education at the Johns Hopkins University School of Education. I will take you through my master program, doctoral application, and doctoral program. Plus, you know, all of the other fun things Life might decide to throw my way.