evolosophy/grad school As soon as I found a catchphrase, I placed it here.
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Publish: 2024-04-25 15:04:58
Categories: grad school

What a roller-coaster, huh? 😮

OK, so I've been doing a little research after my Michigan education. The good news is that there's ample good news. Let's discuss. 🙂

The Breakdown

Dearborn Ain't Bad

So this is clearly the most important point, so let's start here. Amongst my initial concerns when I realized my Dearborn/Ann Arbor stupidity was that not only did I confuse myself during the application process, but that I had confused the two campuses during my research. More directly: I was concerned that I researched Ann Arbor, saw it was great, applied to Dearborn and it was shit.

Good news point #1 - I did not. 🙂 Yes they're two separate campuses and two separate programs, but I went back and looked at some of the review sites I visited and I was indeed looking at Dearborn (almost) the entire time. Going back, I've confirmed two things:

  1. Dearborn's MS in Data Science is indeed a good program.
  2. University of Michigan - Dearborn, while not as highly ranked as University of Michigan - Ann Arbor, it is still considered a good school, and actually ranks higher than my alum, PSU... though, order-of-magnitude, they're more-or-less the same.

So, going in, this already feels legitimately viable again.

(maybe I'm not not top-tier)

So, let's be honest about where the record stands. While I had planned to apply to 3 top-tier schools, I ended up only applying to 2. Of those two, one rejected me altogether and the other has wait-listed me (which I'm assume is just a delayed rejection). Whether I like it or not, the facts are the facts.

Maybe it was silly to assume that, returning for a Master's in my 40's, I would have a sincere shot at getting into a top-tier program. I don't wanna sell myself short, or justify their rejection, but if Data Science is the new hotness, I'm guessing these schools are getting flooded by 4.0 assholes ready to rocket themselves into their career. So... reality check.

Silver lining here is obvious. Given the choice of being rejected by U of M-AA, or accepted by U of M-D, it may have turned out to be fortunate that I've applied to the program that gives me an actual option, you know? 🙂

Hurt Me Quickly

Early on in the year, I was chatting with a friend of mine, sharing with him that I'd applied to some Master's programs. During the conversation. we got to talking about research and getting a PhD. The truth is, I hadn't, mostly figuring I'm too fucking old for that nonsense.

Well, after a bit of thinking, I went from "no way", to "I mean, it's highly unlikely, but if the right opportunity showed up...". The real reason I hadn't considered a PhD is exactly as I stated, I just figured I'm too old and there's not time for that at this point in my career. But here's the thing... I've already missed the boat... by like twenty fucking years! How am I still worried about a career, right?? 😂

So, I very much admit that I allowed for a sliver of a possibility for, instead of getting a Master's and getting back to work, sticking around for a PhD, maybe even some Post-Doc work, and mostly spending my life tucked away in research heaven. Not a likely option, but at least a hint of possibility at a research school.

Well, at this point, that "hint of possibility", is dead. I won't get that from any of the programs left in my list. While, clearly, that's not the best news. Silver lining? It's good to keep my expectations in-line going into things. Approaching this as a two-year commitment as a direct feed back into the workplace is mentally and emotionally different than viewing it as something more than it is and being disappointed on the back end.

I know what to expect, and I'm very much happy with the possible outcome as-is. Genuinely. 🙂

Rankings Matter, Except They Don't

All this talk about college rankings and the "prestige" associated with different school names. Ugh! Who fucking gives a shit, right?

Look, I don't want to make it sound like I'm changing my tune. I don't think there's any magic that happens at any university. I definitely don't think the "top" schools produce the top anything. It's all bullshit.

But, well, it's all bullshit. I've learned that along the way, for sure. And in this bullshit world of ours, dumb people all-too-often get to make the important decisions. My goal for going returning to school is the education, but the fact is, if that's all that mattered I could do this entire thing myself faster and better without going back to school.

I'm going back for the formality so that I can peddle the paper for a job, that's modern life. I don't suddenly believe in university prestige. But I have accepted the value associated with brands in our world. So, it matters, but it doesn't really matter... and I get that.

Wanna Know What Else?

Well, so that's Dearborn. I admittedly felt like a dumbass a couple of weeks ago. Well, I still feel like a dumbass, but I'm feeling good about this dumbass's options again.

Wanna know something else though? And this is fucking hilarious. Fun Fact: I saw this coming.

So this shit is awesome. A couple of weeks ago, when I was in "WTF" mode, I start looking back at my early notes. Like I said at the start of this post, I was concerned that I confused the two campuses in my research and gave Dearborn too much credit. So... here's the thing, early, early on, in my notes, I clearly looked at both campuses separately and made the clear choice to choose Dearborn over Ann Arbor based solely on tuition costs.

So... yeah... I'm a fucking idiot. I knew it. I forgot it. I learned it again. I shit my pants. 😂

That said, do allow me the smallest amount of self defense. While I admittedly forgot that I had looked at the two as I had, I can see that even then, I didn't understand the distinction between the two campuses. If all feels very obvious now.

Now What?

Two weeks ago, I had mentally started shifting myself to Michigan already. I even started packing my place and was genuinely considering moving out by mid-May. That momentum has been squelched and, at this point, mid-to-late--June is earliest. But, earliest to go where?

Maybe I should do a full "update" post again... but as of right now, the short version is this this: Dearborn is very much likely still my best, viable option. If I got accepted to UW, I'd have to revisit this, but as of right now, I do believe that I'm still heading east. And, to be clear, if I do end up at Dearborn, I am very much happy with that as an option.

So... tentatively, I'm still heading east, but that was going to be the case in all but the UW case, I guess. Let's find out far east I'll be driving. 🙂 Time's ticking and a decision's coming, no matter what.

22 👀



one day. possibly.