I have a task for you. I am considering applying for Ph.D programs for next fall (2009). This is a huge life decision that I am struggling quite a bit with. My family is very opposed to it because it will require a move even further away (right now I am about 200-250 miles away). I am looking at programs in Women's Studies and American Studies right now. I am leaning toward American Studies to make myself more marketable but ideally, I'd like to do both.
My family is also opposed because I haven't had a "real" job and if I do this I won't until I am 30+. I am okay with that but I know it is a gamble. Once I have a Ph.D I will be over-qualified for many jobs and I will be rather old to start a whole new career, which is not something I want to do anyway. Further, getting into those programs could prove difficult. I have never taken the GRE and am not sure I'd do well on it. Has anyone here taken it? Any advice? Based on what you know about me and my writing, would I even do well enough to make it worth the time, energy and money? I am no good at math! Is anyone familiar with programs that do not require GRE scores? What about foreign language proficiency? I have taken high school Spanish and I am taking a beginner course right now but would that be enough? I am in no way bilingual and am pretty sure it'd take years of intensive study for me to become bilingual.
My academic advisor said Ph.D programs typically take about four years and that I'd be a teaching assistant or research assistant during that time. I should be able to get scholarships/fellowships to cover tuition but will likely have to work an additional job to pay the bills. The bills, however, would be much lower living in a place like Ohio or Kentucky... I would have to leave all of my friends and live in a place I am pretty sure I'd hate. And I'd likely have to get a car which is so undesirable.
So those are the cons. The pros list is a bit shorter but the points are much more important. My long-term goal is to be a Women's Studies, American/Cultural Studies and/or Gender Studies professor. I know that I want to teach. I am very certain about that. I also know that I love being a student, I cannot imagine ever not being a student. I know I am a good teacher. I know I am a good student. I have no doubt that I'd be able to write a dissertation. These are things that not only am I capable of but that I'd LOVE to do. Women's Studies is my life, it is my passion. What else would I do?
What types of jobs are available to people with Bachelor's and Master's Degrees in Women's Studies? Could I work at a community college? What am I qualified to teach? I am quite sure I don't want to work in non-profits for very long. I enjoyed teaching high school students but at a college level I'd have more freedom to teach what I am passionate about.
Has anyone taken a break between a Master's and Ph.D? Is this a more desirable way to go? Does experience in the field make or break an applicants candidacy? I have not had a lot of experience working in the field because I am much more interested in the scholarship and theory.
Anyway, these are my questions and concerns. Any advice (seriously, any) would be welcome. Right now I am gathering as many opinions as I can and weighing them. For the record, I have no personal reason to stay in Chicago or even the midwest other than my friends who will likely be moving after graduation as well.
For your enjoyment here is a photo of the love of my life: Jasmine!