Hearing Back | Post 10

For about two weeks, I didn’t know what to do with myself. My applications were complete. There was no more studying for the GRE on my lunch break; no more sneaking emails to professors from my desk at work; no more late night essay planning. It was all done, and the only thing I could do was wait.

Then, I got a letter in the mail. It was from the University of Georgia. It said in big letters on the outside of the envelope, “Official Acceptance.” Way to keep me guessing, UGA. You all know what that letter said. Still, I ripped it open with the anticipation of somebody who needed to see to believe, and was delighted to see the words “We are please to inform you,” followed by lots of other good stuff that confirmed the envelope was not playing an evil trick on me.
A letter from MSU arrived shortly thereafter. It didn’t proclaim anything on the envelope, but the letter inside brought good news as well – I had been accepted to MSU! Wahooo! Now I had two schools to choose from, and I felt like the luckiest girl in the world.
Getting in was only the first part of the puzzle, though.   Acceptance does not necessarily mean funding, and I was still waiting on news regarding cost. UGA is expensive, especially for out of state students. MSU is much more affordable, but at full tuition I would need to take out student loans. My best hope was to get an assistantship at one of the schools.
Assistantships are a great option for any graduate student with financial concerns – aka, most of us. In exchange for working as a Teaching Assistant (TA) or a Research Assistant (RA), you can get tuition reduction and/or a stipend. Positions come from within your department, and they tend to fill up early - so make connections and express interest as early in the process as possible to boost your chances.
Unfortunately, I didn’t follow my own advice. I didn’t apply to either of the schools early. In fact, I applied to UGA undeniably late. Did I still have a chance at an assistantship, or would I have to resign myself to years of paying back student loans no matter what?
Rachael has a B.S. in Geography from the University of Maryland and is currently applying to graduate school for broadcast meteorology.
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