Decision Point: Declining Admission for Grad School in 2009
September 9, 2011
As I was on the Apple Store website (no surprise here), I saw the promo about the back-to-school sale. Upon reflecting, I realized that this would have been my last year of grad school at California College of the Arts in San Francisco. Let’s take a look back at the decision to decline admission:I vividly remember getting the call from the admissions office that I have been accepted for the Master of Fines Arts (MFA) program at CCA—a very prestigious school in the heart of San Francisco. I was at my job and got the call, then called my brother Daniel to tell him about it. There was one problem: it wasn’t a full ride and I would have to either take a loan or try to bootstrap $20,000 dollars. Grad school was something I had been pursuing for three years and CCA was on my top five for schools I wanted to attend. It would be heart-breaking for me to decline something I had been working to attain.I had to make a decision of whether to go or decline admission.
Choice 1: Go to grad schoolAt the time, I wanted to become an art professor which required a MFA. If I were to go to grad school, it was a very clear path. That is, if I could find a job in 2011. Again, at the time, I had no idea what the economy would be like in 2011.Would I have to teach somewhere I didn’t want to be like South Dakota? No offense, SD. Even with such a clear path, there were unknown variables. Where I would live was a huge factor for me.
Choice 2: Defer grad school, stay at my current jobMy other choice was to defer grad school for a year and keep my admission. However, that didn’t change my financial situation and I would still have to try to come up with the $20,000. I know myself better and knew I would NOT save up that much money to go to school. Instead, I’d probably spend it on traveling or computers.To be honest, I did not like that job because it was a job, not work (that’s a different post). If I was not going to go to grad school, I wanted an opportunity that I could develop into a career. Choice number two was not an option.
Choice 3: Find something elseThe other option was to just find a new career path. It was scary because at the time all I wanted to do is paint and draw. I had many heart-to-heart conversations with my brother as he commuted from Oakland to Sacramento daily about what I should do. In the end, I decided to quit my job and figure out a new career path. If I wasn’t going to do art, I wanted to do something artistic and creative.I sometimes wonder what my life would be like if I moved to the Bay Area. Would I meet some girl at school and be married now? Would I find some booming startup to work for? Would I be $20,000 in debt now and working some job just to pay off the student loans?One thing is for certain: I would still be a student and my career wouldn’t have started yet. Many reflections. No regrets.