Tuesday, September 13, 2011

600th post, or how I'm going back to school

Why, hello there, folks! It's me, Cait. Coming at you from the American Fork WIC clinic where I still have 20 minutes left of work but essentially I have absolutely no work left to do! And I feel too ill to make any more phone calls to newly breastfeeding mothers/I've called everyone and anyone I can think of and either a) they think breastfeeding is gross and plus their mom didn't make enough milk and please don't bother them again, or b) it's going so perfectly wonderful, and why the heck are you calling me? One day, I will post all about the funniest things people say about breastfeeding. Until then...

The latest news that you are all dying to hear (oh wait, you probably only care about hearing about my pregnancy). After months of deliberation, Tim and I have decided to send me on to school next fall. To get a PhD. In Sociology. It's something I considered for a long time, something that was always in the back of my mind through undergrad and has haunted me since. Haunted me because I didn't want to go back to school for 13 years, I wanted to do something practical like midwifery (but now I realize that I'm only very slightly interested in being on call all hours of the day and being up to my elbows in a woman's bodily fluids), and I did not think I was smart enough/motivated enough to do a PhD. But, now revisiting the issue two years out of school, I'm desperate to get back, and more than motivated. And hello, my calculated undergrad GPA is practically a 4.00 and if past success on standardized testing is any indicator, I should do more than fine on the GRE (taking a practice one Saturday.... so time shall tell). Plus, I've got heaps of research assistant experience and excellent recommendations.

The real challenge now is finding the right program with the right professors and the right research areas and the right living arrangements and the right cost of living and the right financial package and the right eateries.... no, ok, not eateries, but GEEZ, I didn't realize that applying to a PhD program was so complicated. It's nothing like applying to undergrad where you pick a good school and go with it. You have to contact professors and find aligning research interests and go visit and do interviews (sometimes) and write long personal statements about how you will be a good fit at their school. Applying to a PhD program is more than GPA and GRE and how brilliant you are... it's how good you "fit." But how do you even know if you fit somewhere? I'm still exploring the question.

Pretty much, it boils down to if I get into Berkeley, I'm going there. Unless I don't get in, in which I will be applying to 7 other schools I could potentially get into (many of which involve very cold winter climates, so please Berkeley, accept me!).

Also, applying to grad school is expensive. Like it's going to cost us close to $1000 at the end of the day. But no complaining, because once I'm in, I should have a fairly attractive financial package that will pay health insurance, tuition, and a stipend of living expenses (somewhere around $20,000? I think?)

Tim is thrilled with getting to be a stay-at-home dad for longer. I was pushing him hard for grad school and he wants to go but was stressed out with finishing school, taking the GRE, getting recommendations, and everything this fall. I'm more than prepared to apply, and it feels like the right decision for both of us.

So, my days consist now of researching programs, checking out the married student housing and on-campus childcare options, e-mailing professors I've never met and hoping I'm not bugging them, and spending hours trying to figure out just what the heck is going to be on the GRE (it changed last month, so the 2011 study guide book I was using is outdated, apparently... no more antonyms or analogies??)

Isn't it weird to think that three years ago when I was pregnant with Theo, I was applying for my undergrad internship? I'm getting so... old.


  1. I hope you've looked into UC Davis. http://sociology.ucdavis.edu/graduate-program
    Their Sociology program is ranked in the top 10 for the Sex and Gender specialty, according to U.S. News etc. And the overall sociology program is in the top 31.
    And Berkeley doesn't have Fluffy Donuts.

  2. I see that UW is #17... I'm sure you'll get into a top program, but maybe Washington can be your backup? :)

    And if you need anyone to edit your essays, let me know. Christopher's applying to business school was the same way, it was all about the "fit".

  3. Cait this is amazing! Congratulations!! I'm so excited for you. I've been eyeballing school options as well (although I'm kind of limited to community college since we can't go anywhere) and it makes me happy to see other people going back too.

  4. Wow, congratulations! Good luck!

  5. University of Michigan all the way. Dual PhD in Sociology and Social Work! You'd rock it.

  6. Congrats! I'm so happy for you! When I was on my mission in TN, one of the women that was baptised graduated with a bachelor's in the women's studies/sociology program and went on to UCSB. She got her PhD two or three years ago in the same. She's an amazing woman and loved the program and now teaches there. Maybe you'd enjoy it there to. Plus... Um... Santa Barbara.