The Pragmatic Chicken

So, I am in the midst of applying for doctoral programs. I’ve gone back and forth on whether or not do to this for the last couple of years but I’m finally feeling ready and actually almost anxious to start (I’ve been fortunate to be doing a grad schoolish professional development thing this fall that has gotten me feeling engaged with the idea of school again).

I’ve applied for two schools, both of which feel like pretty sure bets that I’ll get into. One is here in Iowa and is the place where I’d guess 90% of the senior administrators at my college got their doctorates. It is the, in some ways, easiest option, assuming we don’t move in the next couple of years. Option two is a low-residency option in a nearby state. I’d do some course work in person during the summer and some course work online. It is a little pricier but offers flexibility that could be good if, for some reason, we don’t stick around Iowa for the next five years.

Both of these applications are done and I’m just waiting on a response.

There is a third option though and I have gone round and round about this one and I can’t tell if my hesitation to finish the application process is because I am being pragmatic or if I’m being a chicken.

Option three is out-of-state, requiring a plane ticket to get there. There is A LOT I like about the program. The structure is unique, there is a mandatory overseas portion, it is a very well regarded school, and I think I would possibly learn the most in this program. The downside is pretty big though: it is very, very, very expensive and would require monthly plane tickets in addition to steep tuition. The cost, however, isn’t what’s keeping me from applying.

I don’t know if I could get in.

This program typically have five applicants for each spot. The application is intense and my GPA from my master’s program is fine, but not perfect. I’d be on the younger side of the applicant pool, possibly one of the less experienced people applying (I’m mid-level in my career and this program is geared toward senior level people).

I just don’t know if I should invest in the application process when there is good reason to think I might not get in (and some question about if I could even afford it if I got in). I don’t know if I’d rather be mildly disappointed by opting out of the process and never having the chance to go or if I want to risk real disappointment if/when I get a rejection letter.

I thought the deadline for applications had passed but I discovered on Friday that it hadn’t. So now I circle and circle and circle around the thought of applying.

Cluck cluck.

3 thoughts on “The Pragmatic Chicken

  1. Gretchen says:

    Congratulations on starting the process! 🙂 Good luck. Can’t give you any advice on the big #3 decision, I waffle terribly on things like that.

  2. Lindsay says:

    I had a similar conundrum while getting ready to graduate from college – my choice was between taking a teaching job in Vermont or applying to a highly exclusive master’s program even though I doubted I’d ever get in. I thought about it for about a week as the application deadline rapidly advanced… and then I decided that the cost of applying would be worth it if I got in (and if not, well, at least I had a fallback). A week before my graduation, and the day before I had to make a decision on the teaching job, I got my acceptance letter; two weeks later I was starting classes abroad. 🙂

    Moral of the story: if you don’t at least try, you might spend your entire life wondering if you could have gotten in, and that’s never fun. You might end up happily surprised.

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