Surprise, I'm going to Syracuse University! I was accepted into a Masters program in Arts Journalism at S. I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, top journalism school in the country!
Back in late August 2016, I decided I wanted to do something more with my life - immediately - and so I started to research artist residencies. When I realized that you still have to pay for these opportunities, I thought 'why bother, I could just go travel somewhere, myself.' Through some Googling and a website called Profellow, I stumbled upon the concept of MA/PhD programs. Four days later, I made the decision to go to graduate school.
I decided I'd apply to both MA/PhD programs and Masters programs for 'back-up.' With all the time and effort I put into my work, portfolio, and accumulated accolades over the last few years, I knew I'd get into any Masters program to which I applied, so figured I'd try for the PhD, haha. MA/PhD programs are fully funded anywhere from 4-7 years, and this gave me a huge sense of relief, as it seems finances were the foundation of my initial research. I would love to teach at the university level in the future, and knew if I'd like to teach in five years, I needed to start this process now. So naturally I chose a bunch of Ivy League schools because why not.
I studied for two weeks and took the GRE the first time in early October, then again in November. Contrary to your typical social media 'college-application-process-endless-complaint' posts, it was quick and simple, and felt like an easier version of the SATs - don't go overboard on the freak-outs.
In this time, I also learned that my undergrad, Massachusetts College of Art & Design, doesn’t give GPAs due to their dual-grading system. For applications, I manually calculated my GPA - and found I had a 3.78! After talking with some people over at MassArt, they said I "basically graduated Cum Laude," and titles tend to make everyone feel pretty good.
Come February of this year, I learned I hadn't been accepted into any PhD programs, but was indeed accepted into all the Masters programs to which I applied – UChicago, Pratt, NYU, and Syracuse. However, all of these programs have different tracks: UChicago is a one-year PhD-level program; Pratt is a two-year academic-focused Media Arts program; NYU is a two-year Masters in Media, Culture, and Communications; Syracuse is a one-year professional program in Arts Journalism. Initially, I planned these Masters programs to be a 'stepping stone' on my way to a PhD. However, when the acceptance (and decline) letters started rolling in, I reevaluated what I truly wanted in life.
After contemplation, I realized that I'd been dazzled by the PhD programs due to both the prestige and the financial relief, and had been rationalizing my desires throughout this two-month application process. I pictured how other people would look at me and respond to me based on the phrase "I'm getting my PhD," and it was a very extroverted way of looking at my future – through the perceptions and eyes of others, rather than through my own eyes and self-evaluation. What's more, I'd be moving from financial dependence on one source at home straight to financial dependence on another source – an institution. And, still, after receiving a PhD, there is no guarantee of immediate work, and I'd be in my early/mid 30s.
This was a big step for me, to not only ground myself and live in the moment as opposed to a fictional future image, but to overcome a fear of spending money based on an uncertain future. By letting a fear dictate my future, I wouldn't be living for myself, nor would I live up to my potential. I realized that, by trying to get away from something, I would never get where I wanted to be – stable and successful.
I made a pros and cons list between PhD programs and Masters programs to help determine which Masters track to take, and it really helped me see through my own eyes for a change. The list of pros for Masters programs heavily outweighed those of a PhD program for me at this point in my life, and the cons were minimal. Plus, ever since I received my acceptance from Syracuse I kept talking about how awesome their program is, so it seemed I’d already made my decision.
I also became aware that I'd been unconsciously making things in my life and work orange and blue over the last two months, which fully hit me when I attended the Newhouse Masters Program accepted students 'Preview Day.' In the back of my mind, my mind was trying to tell me something, haha.
I am beyond ecstatic with my decision to attend Syracuse, and I can’t wait to start this program. I could have the opportunity to be an Instructional Assistant for another class, plus internships! We travel together throughout the year to amazing festivals including Toronto International Film Festival and Spoleto Festival as part of the capstone project.
Syracuse, too, is the only program that sent me a physical hard-copy acceptance letter in the mail, and is the only program that had setup an online 'accepted students' group for networking and guidance between incoming and graduating students. It’s really a community-based school, and I am so happy to be part of it!
I decided to pepper the post with some orange with photos from my recent trip to the school for accepted students! I bought nine Syracuse shirts, a mug and some pens, so I'm clearly prepared for the future.
Here's a fabulous photo of me with the Goldring Arts Journalism Program Director Eric Grode! This was taken on the March 'Preview Day' for accepted students in Newhouse Master's Programs, and it was such a great time. Everyone is incredibly nice and talented, and I can't wait to be part of it. (Plus, there's this place where they make ice cream cookie sandwiches until 3am - and they deliver. I'm just sayin'.)
I'm sharing this personal story because I know a lot of thought goes into such big decisions, and it may resonate with some prospective students to any institution. The application process itself was easier for me than the internal steps I took to understand my own path. If you read this far, please feel free to reach out and say hi! I'd love to hear stories replete with personal steps and what truly led you to new places.