Wednesday, April 2, 2008

The Great Justification of My Attendance at BYU

Okay, I've not turned in my acceptance of a benefit and can start registering, so let's talk about defending the choice that I've made. As my gmail tagline has stated the past few days, "I'm BYU bound and BYU-bound."

Here are my reasons:

1) I don't want to get into debt for an MA in a program that I'm not particularly interested in for a non-terminal degree at a school that is okay, but not great when...

2) after getting my MA here at BYU I can apply to really good schools that weren't options this round because
a) I haven't taken te subject GRE and
b) I don't have a strong grasp on Latin, my preferred 3rd/ancient language

3) and after all, BYU is not that bad of a school--I'll get to work with some great faculty whereas MAs at schools that have PhDs tend to stiff their MA students and I'll get to teach here from semester 1 (probably) and as a single woman, I have to consider the search costs of dating outside of Happy V. and I can live at home if I further need to tighten expenses and I have a job lined up for a professor this summer.

But really, why do I have to defend myself on this? Renaissance Girl called me into her office to discuss how to fanangle my way into Chicago and warned me about the consequences this choice could have on my academic future. This is a big decision.

But here's the thing:

I'm not certain there are that many big decision, just lots and lots of little decision. There's the decision, say, to marry a certain person, but that decision may be just as equally important and inspired as the decision to praise or berate one's spouse, the decision to be selfish or selfless, etc. and if the marriage doesn't work out, was it a bad decision? If it goes swimmingly, was it a good decision? Not necessarily any more or less than any of the decisions that either party made along the way.

Same thing with my education. There were some decisions that I should have looked at earlier (the aforementioned 3rd langauge and subject test as well as choices of specific programs at a wider variety of schools) but there are a lot of decisions I get to make now and in the MA program. I can use this time to learn to write well and figure out what an academic does and how to teach students and work with administration and write my novel and get published all over and be smart. Or I can goof around. I could do these things here, or at any other school. In fact, from my brother's experience at a good school, and my sister-in-law's, it seems like both of these choices present themselves at brand-name schools too. People are generally about as educated as they want to be.

So what about Spence's Signaling model? Isn't it worth it to have a brand-name education just to be able to show off what a smarty-pants you are? Probably. I'll have to play this game with my PhD for certain, but most people just look at a terminal degree. Maybe going to BYU will mean I'll have to work extra hard to impress those looking at me for their PhD program, but I'd rather learn the skills of academia here with my MA than debt myself pre-recession at a name brand school that will benefit me primarily by fact of my getting in. I have enough confidence in my intellectual ability that I think I'll be able to pull it in the real world by going here.

So speaking of these hundred-thousand choices, I've made the choice this afternoon to eat ice cream and watch old Strong Bad email instead of correcting tests and writing papers, so I better start this journey of intellectual choices here, don't you think?

1 comment:

xister said...

I think that sticking around isn't a bad idea. Signaling model or not, in the long run, signaling effects become less pronounced. Signaling is only important just out of school because that is the best indication of how you will perform; after several years of experience, they look at your academic experience instead.

And besides, who would I play with this summer if you left?