A Public Response to a Text from My Sister, For Anyone Else Confused by My Considering Graduate School

“Why are you looking at grad school? You hate school and it costs a bunch of money.”

Concerning the Why

I’ll have a better shot at being able to afford to take care of a family of my own one of these days if I go to grad school and then get a job as a professor.

Concerning the “Hate”

I actually always loved school. It was not being at my best because we were royally mismanaging my OCD because no one had any clue whatsoever that I had OCD that I hated. The constant misunderstandings, the punishments that ultimately did more harm than good (notwithstanding the ones that I only recently told Dad weren’t actually punishments for me, haha), and generally being steered away from leaning into my strengths because the people around me didn’t wholly know what those strengths were let alone how to model them for me.

I spent 20+ years trying to figure out what was going on in my brain so that I could:

  1. stop believing myself to be evil/possessed by evil/inherently broken/beyond help/a lost cause;
  2. figure out how to get things done (first to get homework done and get my Bachelor’s, then to maintain a steady/productive work schedule for my own writing); and,
  3. figure out exactly what I’m capable of and what my limits are so that I can better make my way through the world.

All of what I’ve done has been a multilayered learning process. I love learning. I love what school can be when everyone is on board with learning/knowing what needs to be done and how to do it.

Concerning the Costs

The program I’ve sets my sights on (because having a singular focus is how I make things happen) is fully-funded. This means that all of their students are offered a combination of scholarships and fellowships and assistantships which cover the cost of tuition and basic living expenses. I would just need to save up for moving expenses and a car to get around (after I’ve saved up to replace my computer).

There is also the cost of leaving my current amazing community to go away to this program. But here’s how this program begins to make up for that, this particular program is:

  • in a place that similarly appreciates individuality, while MFA programs are generally designed to create tight-knit groups of creative people, neither of which replaces my current community/friends but would make such a move a little easier;
  • near enough to my sisters so that I can see them and the babies more often than twice a year; and,
  • is just far enough away from my sisters that I get to enjoy basically having my own little corner of the world (spacing is important for maintaining peace among the sisters).

But none of this matters if I can’t finish my pre-decision checklist, or if I can find/create a means of supporting myself and a family comparable to becoming a professor.

Also published on Medium.