Choosing a Masters [Poll]

Last week I talked a lot about my decisions for my next step in life. Do I work? Move up at my job? Do I stay safe in my position? Should I go to school? And if I do, which avenue do I take? Which program is best for me? So many questions, not enough visions of the future!

But I think I’m getting my head straight, things are very slowly becoming clearer. You all were so, so amazing in your responses and encouragement. A lot of comments made me think, made me smile, and some even got me teary eyed. There were so many long, thoughtful comments, I truly appreciate and thank every one who took the time to vote and talk to me. Even if I didn’t reply, your comment was read and loved.

So of course, to show my gratefulness, I’m going to throw another question, another decision, and another poll at you guys.


I am almost positive that I am going to be going to grad school starting next spring. January classes are right around the corner, but I think it’ll be the right path for me. All I have to do is narrow my choices down and apply by November 1st! My plan is to go in this spring as a non-degree student. This way I will give myself 4-5 extra months to prepare my application for the actual program while still taking classes. These applications are beasts and both have some requirements I have yet to fulfill. In the mean time, those classes next spring will be towards a specific program, so I have to decide soon!

History.
I got my BA in history and honestly enjoyed my degree. It wasn’t mind blowing, but it made me think, grow, and see the world differently. It’s no surprise that I am considering getting my master’s in History. More than likely I would be getting my concentration in Enrichment, which would mean I would not need a foreign language requirement and I would get to choose between a huge variety of time periods and classes. It would be an amazing opportunity and I would learn so much in a field I thrived in as an undergrad. But when it comes to the actual teaching part, do I really want to lecture everyday for years to come about Rome and wars and people? I’ve never been faced with that challenge and I have no idea how I’d do. There’s not much leeway when it comes facts and the past. Especially in intro classes, everything is pretty cut and dry.

Pros:
Program classes will be easy due to my background.
More job possibilities in teaching both college and high school.
Acceptance to the program chances are higher in every sense.

Cons:
Must be in the top 30% in GRE scores (each test try is $200).
My future curriculum is less exciting and flexible.
No classroom experience teaching this subject.
Maybe not as much passion?

English.
I did not get my bachelor’s in English and I’ve only taken a total of five undergrad classes in this subject. I never thought I’d have anything to do with a degree in English, no matter what the level. And yet, here I am leaning towards following this path. I was thrown into this field and currently, I am assisting a whole slew of English teachers at my job. And let me tell you, I have fallen in love with it and all it has to offer.

Pros:
More flexibility and fun in my future curriculum and classes.
More job possibilities outside of teaching.
The comfort I have teaching it.
In class experience teaching this subject.

Cons:
Harder program classes (my highest level English class was 310).
Less job possibilities in teaching.
Foreign language requisite (level 300 undergrad class).
Creating a portfolio to get into the program (they either like it, and you get in or they don’t, and you are declined. no second chance).

While I have to admit, I am leaning towards English, there are some daunting cons. History would be easy. Easier classes, more jobs needed in overall social studies, and an attainable, written out goal for the GRE. While the GRE literally gives me shivers and nervous sweats, it’s a test. I can study and I can retake it as many times as I want. But my passion for the history curriculum is greatly lacking. My classroom would be far less exciting, harder lesson plans, and long lectures. While I enjoyed some amazing history professors in my college career, I can’t help but remember a lot of boring moments and droning talks.

In English you have so many possibilities. Literature discussions, small groups, poetry, writing basics like grammar and outlines, plays, research, fiction, articles, scripts, music even. You have so many different strategies in your classroom and the ability to create an amazing, creative atmosphere. I’ve seen it first hand in my school and I want to do it too.

But I am not as sure in my studies and abilities in that field. The classes might be too rigorous, I’m so used to the history setting and guidelines and expectations. Beyond all of that, I have one chance to get in, and that’s with a portfolio. What if they don’t like it? What if I’m turned away? What if I don’t get in?

I know as long as I pass my GRE, the history department will let me in with open arms. I have a great GPA, am an alumni of that program, and I’m gaining amazing job and life experience for a resume. My chances are high after lots of practice, and money spent on that test. But will I satisfied?

Here’s the thing though.

Following my heart might seem to be the right thing to do right now, but putting $30,000 towards something is no joking matter. Time and money are tight. I need to excel and be sure of my chances. What do you guys think?

Cheers,
— Brey


52 thoughts on “Choosing a Masters [Poll]

  1. Thought you might want to know reason I voted for English. Sounds like you’ve already aced history, so slay something new. Don’t take the safe road. Risk doesn’t pay every time, but if you keeping risking, it will, and safe is never as appealing when you live it as it is just thinking about it.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You probably wont like my comment, but studying English literature and history seems to me that you are looking for the easiest way in life. 90% of people discussing their future plans in the internet consider english literature and/or history. The remaining 10% usually want to study arts or design. I am wondering how the Western world will remain competitive in the future when most of its young people study exclusively what they liked so much in childhood (books, fairytales, beautiful pictures). I mean I adore great writers (Auster, Roth, Oates, Pynchon ….), but I doubt that many of them became great writers by taking classes.
    In a few years from now, who will be the scientists, engineers, doctors, mathematicians ? Shall the west recruit all of the highly skilled specialists from Asia and Eastern Europe ? I am really somehow frustrated that studying any “hard topics” (the so-called MINT-subjects for maths/ingeneering/natural science/technology) became so unthinkable.
    Michael

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  3. Wow! What a tough situation you are faced with. But after reading about how the two options make you feel, my gut instinct is telling me that English sounds like the better route. Challenging yourself if what school is all about. If one of your pro’s is that History will be “easier” than in my opinion you wouldn’t be pushing yourself enough. Also, I am always an advocate for making choices that make you feel happy! If English makes you happy, I say go for it!

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  4. You made two points about English that suggest your preference: that you have fallen in love with it, and that it has much to offer. As regards the first, I prefer to recast it this way: your experience with English is part of loving yourself. That can be because of the community that surrounds you in your current situation, or because as you engage English, you see a stronger self forming as a result. But is that the endpoint of Brey, or just another step on the road?

    The “much to offer” is also ambiguous to me. Could you be a little more concrete? Prosaically, that could mean “higher salary.” It could be related to the loving yourself business above, or it could be about loving other people – you see English having a larger impact upon the students than does history.

    The last seems important. Passion is a wonderful thing, but unless it generates value for others, it either burns out or turns to bitterness. It sounds as though you’re working as a teacher’s aide now. How do the students respond to you in the two subjects?

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    1. I really appreciate your reply.
      When I said more to offer, I meant jobs in general. With a history degree your stuck in teaching or museums mostly. English would give me more options if I decided that I was done with teaching. It’s a wider berth as far as job possibilities and options.

      That’s the other thing. I’ve taught classes in English now and I worked really well with the kids. I have no experience at all teaching history though. I don’t know if it would be as boring as I think it will be, or if I just haven’t given it a chance yet.

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  5. I have been a high school English and history teacher for 26 years now, and I love them both. I actually find more freedom to be creative in the history classes. My primary assignment is for English, but I love it when I get the opportunity to teach history because since English is a core class, it is tested far more than history, so the curriculum is more prescribed. If you’re looking for the chance to be creative, history may be your go-to.

    Now, there is also the possibility of adding endorsements after you start teaching. I teach in Tennessee, so I’m sure it’s different in your state, but once you’re certified and have taught, you can just add an endorsement area by passing the PRAXIS exam in that subject area if you’re talking about teaching in high school, and it sounds like you are.

    Since you are feeling much more confident in the history area, my advice is to go ahead and do that right now. Pursuing your passing is great, but if you’re stressed out about passing classes or getting into a program, how happy will you really be? If I were in your place, I’d do the history since it’s a more sure thing, and you do like it, right? Grad level courses are a whole different level, so it won’t be redundant. Focus on a different area. If you were mostly US before, do Europe this time. If you haven’t done much Asian history, focus there this time. Get into teaching, start working add that English certification when you’re ready.

    You will also find more doors open to you as a “former” teacher than you think, whether it’s English or history as long as you stick with it for a fair period. The key is not to choose out of fear, but out of a position of comfort. Don’t put yourself in a bind. This isn’t the last change you’ll ever be able to make. If you don’t like being in the classroom, you might transition into administration, who knows.

    Feel free to contact me at Socrates or Whimsy. I’ll be happy to email with you. I know this is a scary place to be, but it doesn’t have to be.

    Tracey

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  6. have been a high school English and history teacher for 26 years now, and I love them both. I actually find more freedom to be creative in the history classes. My primary assignment is for English, but I love it when I get the opportunity to teach history because since English is a core class, it is tested far more than history, so the curriculum is more prescribed. If you’re looking for the chance to be creative, history may be your go-to.

    Now, there is also the possibility of adding endorsements after you start teaching. I teach in Tennessee, so I’m sure it’s different in your state, but once you’re certified and have taught, you can just add an endorsement area by passing the PRAXIS exam in that subject area if you’re talking about teaching in high school, and it sounds like you are.

    Since you are feeling much more confident in the history area, my advice is to go ahead and do that right now. Pursuing your passing is great, but if you’re stressed out about passing classes or getting into a program, how happy will you really be? If I were in your place, I’d do the history since it’s a more sure thing, and you do like it, right? Grad level courses are a whole different level, so it won’t be redundant. Focus on a different area. If you were mostly US before, do Europe this time. If you haven’t done much Asian history, focus there this time. Get into teaching, start working add that English certification when you’re ready.

    You will also find more doors open to you as a “former” teacher than you think, whether it’s English or history as long as you stick with it for a fair period. The key is not to choose out of fear, but out of a position of comfort. Don’t put yourself in a bind. This isn’t the last change you’ll ever be able to make. If you don’t like being in the classroom, you might transition into administration, who knows.

    Feel free to contact me at Socrates or Whimsy. I’ll be happy to email with you.

    Tracey

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Both degrees are interesting. But since I’m an English major, I suggest you take English!! I’m currently in my junior year in college and I’ve been enjoying the courses so much and am deciding to continue to Masteral Arts. History, on the other hand, is very rich and is the one that really goes on for the longest of time. It will never leave the curriculum as everything that happens today will be important in the future.

    Well, just follow what your heart desires and you will never regret your decision in the future! Don’t pressure yourself, you’ll figure it all out 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I picked history because there was only two choices, not because I thought so. This is a typical example of the wrong type of survey. (sorry I am a marketer and I needed to look at this with a more critical eye. lol :P) Giving people only two choices will only constrain them to make bias answers and pick within the two. Having in mind that you are looking for advise, you need to at least include an open answer such as “Other suggestion? please leave a comment”. By doing so, you let people tell you exactly what they think and you can go from there. (Just an advise :P. Please don’t hate me. I know, you’ve been liking my posts every single day. 😀 and I truly appreciate.) Now, let me cut it ‘short’ and share my opinion.

    I am in the same situation as you. I am currently taking the GRE. As a native French speaker, I need to take classes as opposed to studying on my own, which increases the investment on the test as a whole. My background is in Marketing (I already have a master and experience in the beauty industry in the field), and I am planning on taking a second master in Data Science. I feel your confusion as I have been there, and still am.

    I have always felt like I needed to do what I love as opposed to anything else. But recently, I woke up with a different mind set. I wanted to be part of the future. So, what I did was researching what would be needed the most in the next 5 -10 -15 – 20 years. And it all came down to data. So, I went further by researching how data can link into what I already have (my marketing degree) as well as including at least one thing I am interested in (the beauty industry – e.g. I can be a data scientist in the beauty industry!). I am not an avid passionate of data but, I want to be part of the future. I want to add value. And what adds value to the present also pays well. Bearing in mind that I am also thinking of being financially independent in the future (aka being able to live 5-10 years or more without depending on a salary). So, I have made the firm decision on becoming a data scientist. I also checked the work/life balance and the opportunities of the subject outside of my comfort zone (will this job be relevant in other countries? places? and spaces?). With that being said, doing something I don’t fancy too much but fulfills me because it adds value to the present as well as gives me a reasonable work/life balance can allow me to still pursue my passion on the side, and if everything falls in place, I can one day open my own business.

    I hope this helps.

    Best,
    Mel.

    xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That is a very true point. Just narrowing the choices for the entire future life to 2 subjects might sonner or later appear to be not very wise. In particular if these two options are obviouly liked by so many others.
      There are thousand of other professions one can find passion and fulfillment-
      Michael

      Liked by 1 person

  9. “If you’re young and have the time, go and study. Study anthropology, sociology, economy, geopolitics. Study so that you’re actually able to understand what you’re photographing. What you can photograph and what you should photograph.” – Sabestiao Salgado, living photography legend, giving advice to a young photographer.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I actually got my BS in History and am currently getting my MA in English. I love it! A history degree prepared me for graduate English classes much more than I’d expected. It’s actually really helpful, and I have a different perspective than many of my classmates because of my academic background. Don’t let the change in fields scare you – the two go very well together!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I actually got my BS in History and am currently working towards an MA in English. I love it! Don’t let the change of fields scare you – they actually go really well together. I’ve found my history background to be really helpful in most of my English classes. The skills I developed studying history have been extremely useful in my study of English. If your experience is anything like mine, you’re probably more prepared than you think you are. I’d say go with your gut. If English is what you love, do it! I don’t regret my decision at all.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Wow, this post reminded me of when I was picking my major for my masters. I was going through a phrase of switching field from my undergraduate programme to what I love to do. So it was a bit easier for me – just shoot for what I would like to do. But picking schools and comparing different programmes are equally daunting. And oh boy, GRE was crazy. I had never studied so hard in my life before up till I had to take GRE (and my undergraduate was in Architecture…).
    Hope everything goes fine for you though! Good luck!

    xx
    Yvonne
    http://tellmeyblog.com

    Liked by 1 person

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