Anyway, I talked to my husband today. He got a 20 minute phone call this week! Woo-hoo!
His preliminary decision about R2? "Let's wait a year so we can have some time to just spend together and more time to get the move organized."
I was kinda shocked. As you know, I expected him to say "Let's just get the fuck outta dodge."
I said I wouldn't let R2 know anything yet and that we'd discuss it on Memorial Day weekend when I get to see him face-to-face for a few days.
I have had some in-depth discussions with several of you about R2, providing additional information that I was not comfortable with sharing here because it makes the school highly identifiable. All of you with whom I have had that conversation have said "Reapply to other programs this fall."
Well, up until a few days ago I was fighting you guys tooth and nail - I don't want to re-take the GRE, I really loved the people and the place, I'd rather cut off my right arm than go through the app process again, etc., etc.
But then I sent an email off to one of the faculty members there who I am most interested in working with. I asked her about a couple of things that are very important to me. The first question was about the likelihood that I would be able to serve as a reviewer for journal articles and books, because grad student reviewers require faculty sponsors. The second question was about an idea for a research project I have had that, even though her work is only marginally related, is closest to her area of expertise.
I did not like her answers. First, she told me that students are discouraged from serving as reviewers because it is a time-suck. Second, she told me that students are not really allowed to pursue their own research projects for the first few years and instead are expected to work on multiple faculty projects while taking classes.
This would be fine, except as I mentioned before, none of these faculty members are REALLY working on the things I'm interested in. There are parallel interests, but none that intersect.
Actually, I'm lying. It's NOT fine. I will be walking into graduate school with at least 3 fully-written and conceptualized research proposals. If they're telling me that the only time I get to do my own shit is for my dissertation, that's just not cool.
Now maybe my perceptions of what grad school is like are completely wrong. If that's the case, then someone needs to enlighten me. But I thought I would be encouraged to conduct my own research, writing grant proposals and securing my own funding, publishing my own work, etc., in addition to assisting on faculty projects. I guess this is another example of me not asking the right questions during my visit.
This is an R2 without a reputation. Not a single graduate out of 90 PhDs has gone on to a faculty position at an R1. Not one. I would have a hell of a time overcoming the name game in job applications. Do I know I want to work at an R1? No, I don't. But the idea of having my qualifications discounted just because of the name of the U where I earned my degree pisses me off and there's nothing I can do about it. It's akin to Yale not looking at my grad application beyond my GRE scores when they saw my math wasn't over 700. It sucks, but I am not in a position to do anything about the way the system works.
The other aspect of this (which I was reluctant to share previously) is that the social psych program is not taught by social psychologists. In fact, there is only ONE classically-trained social psychologist on a faculty of about 15 professors. Basically, the way I see it is that I'm being taught social psychology by people who aren't qualified to teach it. Does that make me a snob? Maybe. But you bio-med folks out there probably wouldn't want to be taught bio-med by a quantum physicist.
I also, because of how the department is housed in the university, would not get the teaching experience I want. I would not likely ever get an opportunity to teach a psychology course. Sociology? Sure. HDFS? Absolutely. Apparently, if I want to teach psychology I have to do so under the table at the local community college. The other students informed me of this.
I loved the people there, especially the students. I loved the environment there and the passion that the people have for what they do. I could probably excel there given the structure. But beyond the grad school experience, it would be an uphill battle for me in my career. And I feel like I deserve better. Again, am I a snob? Maybe. But I know that I am capable of doing more than this program will allow me to do.
I really, really, really don't want to re-apply this fall. If I re-took the GRE I would probably be able to boost my math score, maybe to the point where the SFRSHS U's would notice. I really, really, really don't want to do that again either. But I am considering now whether I should.
If I get the RA job at my MRU that I just applied for, and it starts sooner rather than later, and I am able to develop a good relationship with MegaRockstar PI, I probably will do all of that again. Without more research experience, better GRE scores, and a better recommendation from a higher-up faculty member, it is pointless for me to re-apply again.
The other problem is that my husband is really excited about the idea of moving to R2. There is a great educational opportunity for him there. He is not the reason for my considering a second round of applications. Really, I would be doing it in spite of what he thinks about R2. He would support me in it, no question.
But this particular decision is mine to make. And all I can do right now is hope that some circumstances arise that allow me to have a clearer view of what my options are. It's a waiting game at this point.