Start School Now or Later
May 15, 2010 1:42 PM   Subscribe

Should I go ahead and start school while I’m here and transfer? Or should I wait for a year doing my job (and looking for a new one) and waiting to see what happens with my girlfriend’s job opportunities?

My girlfriend and I live on the east coast and she's currently in grad school for policy studies at a well known university. She's just finished her first year of a two year program. After she's done we have discussed and planned on moving to Sacramento CA because we are both from the west coast and feel that the capital would be a good place for her to find a job. However, with California being the way it is, economics and job wise, we're not sure of this plan. Washington DC also seems like it is a good job possibility and we’re not ruling that out.

I’ve been here working at a bar and at an office job, both of which are pretty unfulfilling. I’ve recently come to the realization that I’d like to go to grad school myself for social work. However, I’m not sure that I should start school here if we are just going to move in a year due to networking opportunities (I’d lose all the connections I’d made here) and the fact that classes might not transfer. I certainly don’t want to waste time or money.

On the other hand, I’d like to get started sooner rather than later and it’s not a sure thing that we’re going to move to the West Coast. It all really depends on where my gf can get work as she will be the primary earner.

We're both in our mid 30's, if that matters.
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (6 answers total)
What about the idea of doing a year of the long-distance thing with your girlfriend when she moves? That way you could start and finish your schooling where you live now.
posted by hazyjane at 1:51 PM on May 15, 2010

You realize that you've missed most application deadlines, right?

For pretty much any masters or doctoral programs, the earliest you'd be able to start is fall 2011 if your applications are submitted this winter. Very few graduate programs allow spring matriculation as far as I know, and even then you have about a month to put together your application and get recommendation letters.

Unless you've already been accepted somewhere (and it doesn't sound like it from your post), you're better off applying to schools in California for fall 2011 admission.
posted by halogen at 2:48 PM on May 15, 2010

What halogen said. You should just wait another year, find out where you're going, and then apply to schools. I can't claim to know jack about graduate school transferring, but from what I've heard about grad school in general I strongly suspect transferring isn't nearly so easy as it would be in undergrad, and coast-to-coast dating has gotta suck for your finances.

Can you look into taking some classes at a local college to help better your application in the future?
posted by jenfullmoon at 7:46 PM on May 15, 2010

Seconding halogen and jen. Because Master's programs are tuition- (i.e., revenue) based, universities are incentivized to not accept credits earned in other programs, and may even feel more justified in not doing so than they would for (more standardized) undergraduate programs. So, if you start school now and then transfer, you may find out that many of your credits are not transferable, and that you therefore wasted a bunch of money.

Of course, you could always check with your target program in advance to find out their policy on this. But it sounds like you're not sure where you're going to end up, and my experience is that many graduate programs make these decisions on an ad hoc basis anyway.
posted by underdetermined at 5:58 AM on May 16, 2010

Wait. Long distance is horrible! Why don't you use this time to find another job, something closer to what you want to do? If that's not possible, you could some volunteer work. Beef up your resume/application and find great people to write your recommendations. Make sure that you really do want to go into that field. Also use the time to study for/take the GRE. And save money! If you do all this, you'll be in great shape to apply once you know where you'll be.
posted by imalaowai at 9:47 PM on May 16, 2010

Also, just thought of another thing -- check to see if the potential programs have any pre-req's or any recommended undergrad coursework. You could take them fairly cheaply at a community college. This would also be a good way to ease back into the school thing. I don't know if you speak any foreign languages, but in social work it's always great to have foreign language skills. Spanish would probably be the most helpful, but if you're already comfortable in Spanish perhaps you could try Sign Language or Chinese.
posted by imalaowai at 9:55 PM on May 16, 2010

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