Wednesday, October 1, 2008

New York or Chicago?

Meeting with former professors is the trippiest thing ever. Rather than seeing them as I used to - i.e. as people who Must Be Respected, lest they give me a poor grade - I can now see them as people.

And then I can charm the pants off them so they will write me a strong letter of recommendation.

Well, not quite. But I will say: I am so, so thankful these profs are here to give me moral support when all I want to do is crawl into bed and give up on this whole PhD thing.

Also, it's fun to hear female professors talk about their kids. It really is possible to succeed in academia while having a family!

Anyway, I met with one of my former writing profs yesterday and after hearing my sob story, her message was pretty much along the lines of: go forth and kick ass! You're young and single and might as well move to a fabulous city and take some classes at whatever top university is lucky to be graced with your presence!

Which is a message I can't really argue with.

Some backstory: I may still apply to PhD programs this year, but I'm also entertaining the idea of taking some master's level classes (at a top program, of course) without actually enrolling in a degree program. Apparently, this is totally possible, and the barriers to entry are quite low (the major downside, of course, is tuition fees). The goal would be to make lots of great contacts outside of class, so I'm much stronger when appplying to PhD programs.

As it happens, the top programs I have my eye on are in Chicago and New York. I can keep my job and work remotely, so what's keeping me from moving tomorrow and seeing how the academics shake out? Not much, really.

So...if you were young and single and a nut for books, good food and sociology, which city would you choose?

1 comment:

drwende said...

I'd lean toward Chicago, but that's because I'm secretly a Midwesterner, despite growing up in California.

Write down your assumptions about what you'll have for income and free time. I did grad school the traditional way (supported by teaching assistantships, so broke but with surprising amounts of free time), but if you have a real job, you may have decent cash but barely any time at all. You want the city that does better at supporting your lifestyle, as the one thing you won't have is boundless energy for tedious errands.