Accepting a graduate school offer

After months of researching programs, studying for the GRE, writing essays and pestering mentors for letters of recommendation, it comes down to this. The waiting (and all of the stressing out) is finally over.

I have officially accepted my offer of admission to the MSc program in International Migration and Public Policy at the London School of Economics – and I feel oddly calm about it.

Six weeks ago, I received my offer of acceptance from LSE via email. I was in awe. I had just left an English club meeting and simply could not contain my emotions. Another volunteer and I went to grab a celebratory beer (or three) at a cafe nearby, where he quickly instated a “no squealing” rule. The day before, I had received my very first acceptance from SOAS, University of London. I nearly had a panic attack at the office.

A few more acceptances and a couple of wait lists (no rejections!) later, I feel really good about my decision. Even when I was applying, LSE was always my first choice. It’s a great school with a great reputation in a great city. I was surprised to get in, and I know others were a little surprised as well. While it seemed like a no-brainer to accept almost immediately, I was tempted by other programs.

After thinking (and over-thinking) about it, and after talking to almost everyone I know, I’ve been able to figure out what my priorities are with regard to a graduate program. The fact is, I want my master’s degree in order to move forward with a career in international development. There is a glass ceiling that exists in the field and, unfortunately, my few years of experience just won’t cut it on their own. But, I don’t want to be a generalist. I’d rather focus on the areas within the field that interest me the most – migration, human trafficking, the feminization of labor and globalization. And, I want to study those things without going into crippling debt.

In the end, it really came down to finances (and my inability to turn down an opportunity to live in London). LSE’s Graduate Support Scheme offered me £12,000 in financial aid toward the £17,184 tuition fee. I will still need loans to cover the cost of living in London, but I’m pretty comfortable with that.

In choosing LSE, I am turning down a some amazing programs (including Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and Georgetown University’s MA program in Global Human Development), but I am doing what makes the most sense for me at this moment.

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11 thoughts on “Accepting a graduate school offer

  1. Pingback: LSE or SAIS | Morning Wayfarer

  2. Congratulations Catherine! I also just recently accepted my offer to attend graduate school at LSE for the 2013/14 term (MSc in Politics and Communication) and I couldn’t be more excited! The prospect of moving across the pond is definitely a little daunting, but I’m more than ready for an adventure. LSE is my dream school and, while I still have some lingering reservations, I am confident in the knowledge that I’m making the right choice.

    Out of curiosity, have you made any decisions with regard to housing?

    Anyway, thank you for the wonderfully informative and enjoyable blog posts! And again, congratulations both on your acceptance and on securing funding!

    • Thank you so much, Kirsten! And, congratulations to you as well!

      If I might ask, what reservations are you having?

      I have made a decision about housing. I’ll be living in Lilian Knowles, got myself a studio room.

      • Oh thank you! I about died of happiness when I found out! It feels so wonderful knowing that in a few short months I will be calling London home.

        That’s exciting about your housing plans! I have a studio in Grosvenor Hall, which is very convenient in terms of location but not so much in terms of finances. It has its own bathroom and kitchenette though, so that was definitely a huge draw for me.

        I suppose I’m most concerned about funding. Despite receiving a generous scholarship from the GSS, I will still have to take out a substantial amount of students loans to make up the difference. And, although I know this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, it’s very difficult for me to commit to that kind of debt. Added to that is the fact that LSE doesn’t finalize the loan status for American students until mid-July, which definitely hinders my tendency to obsessively plan everything months in advance! Oy vey…

        However, I’m about 95% confident that everything will work out for the best. I may develop a complex by the time September rolls around, but c’est la vie.

        You’ll have to let me know what you’re doing in terms of preparation – I’m sure there are hundreds of things that I’m forgetting. It’s definitely going to be an insane couple of months! However, knowing that I’m not navigating this world alone is certainly encouraging!

      • We are pretty much in the exact same situation!

        I had to have a studio, my own bathroom and kitchenette were very necessary! Grosvenor was one of my three choices, but I went with finances over location. I’m used to having a commute though, so it should be alright.

        I got much more than I expected to from GSS, but I will also be taking out some loans (though a lot less than I would be if I had gone with any of the US programs I got into). Not being able to do anything until July is definitely driving me a bit crazy as well. We need our loans finalized before starting the visa process, right? So far, all I’ve done to prepare is renew my passport (it was set to expire in February).

        Oh, and I’ve also started a list of things I’ll need to buy once I’m in London (mostly kitchen things).

  3. Although still unfortunate, it’s great to know that I’m not alone!

    Yeah, I definitely needed my own little space. I had some misgivings about Grosvenor Hall (namely its price), but I think it will best serve my needs in the long run. I like the fact that it’s only a short walk from campus, which will hopefully cut down on transportation costs. Also, I found it the most aesthetically appealing – slightly pathetic, I know, but alas, true! I guess I sort of figured that if I’m going to commit to such a large amount of debt I might as well be comfortable. HeHeHe.

    The GSS surprised me as well. Looking back, I think I would have done things a bit differently but, there’s no use dwelling on what could have been. I just feel fortunate to have received any sort of assistance at all – particularly given their “oh so encouraging” statistics about only 10% of graduate offer holders receiving funding in any form. And, when I consider the amount of debt I might have incurred had I decided to follow my original plan of going to law school, I feel slightly better.

    I must say though, these past few weeks have been driving me batty! For a while there, everything was moving so fast and the whole prospect was still so thrillingly new. Now, although the prospect is no less exciting, I’m no closer to confirming my loan status or “move in” date – and this puts me a bit on edge.

    (And I am fairly certain that we can’t start the visa process until we receive an official letter detailing our final loan status. I’ve emailed the Fees Office a couple of times and have essentially been told that their 2013/14 loan forms will not be updated until sometime in June.)

    In the meantime, I suppose I can continue to work through the massive “to-do” list I’ve compiled for myself and hope for the best! And, I can now take comfort in the fact that I will actually know someone once I arrive. Maybe we can go “flat” shopping together!

    • Here’s a question: Will you be getting a British bank account for your loans? I’ve been debating whether or not to do this.

      I’m also thinking about buying my plane tickets very very soon.

      I also thought about law school! But, the current market for lawyers, the amount of debt, and the three years it takes to get a law degree all helped convince me that that was a horrible idea.

      If you want to, send me an email at so we can continue planning and such!

      • Hello! Just thought you would like to know that the Fees Office finally updated their information, so the Cost of Attendance spreadsheet for the 2013/14 term is now available. I browsed it a bit and came away feeing very confused…

        I’m not exactly sure how they arrived at their final numbers because some of their estimates seem a tad exorbitant. Maybe you’ll have better luck deciphering it and can then help me! Seeing everything laid bare like that definitely added to my already growing stress levels – I have to keep reminding myself that the debt will all be worth it, right? LOL.

        Anyway, hope all is well!

        P.S. I sent you a rather long email a couple of weeks ago – hopefully it made it to the right place!

  4. Pingback: Year of Catherine | Morning Wayfarer

  5. Pingback: Applying for a student loan | Morning Wayfarer

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