The idea of continuing on for my Ph.D. has been bouncing around in the back of my skull for some time, but I made a decision today to forever (probably) scratch that off my bucket list. I've been drawn to USC's (University of Southern California) graduate program for three of reasons: 1 - If you're lucky enough to get into the program, THEY PAY YOU! Getting a Doctorate--for free??? So tempting. 2 - Unlike most Doctoral programs that offer studies only in literature, USC has a lit/creative writing hybrid. Very cool. And 3 - It's within driving distance from my house. Doable.
What are the drawbacks? I counted seven. First, they only accept 3 - yes, 3! - fiction students each year. Talk about competitive.
Second, students must select several specialized areas of study from a list. Children's literature is not on that list. Bummer.
Third, students must show a proficiency in a foreign language. What??? I'm still on level one of Rosetta Stone Spanish. I highly doubt I'll master the language between now and next summer.
Fourth, the program is five years long. That wouldn't be a problem if I was, say, 25 or even 35, but as of today I am 46 years old. I'd be over 50 by the time I get that degree, the age at which most people start thinking about retiring!
Fifth, why the heck do I need a Ph.D. anyway? It seems to me that the only reason to get a doctorate in literature is to become a university professor. And while I do intend to teach, it is not my end all goal. I will teach not because I really want to teach (though I really do enjoy it), but because I need some money to help put my five kids through college! I do not want to teach full time. I don't want tenure. I don't even want health insurance. Just a little something extra for the kids' college funds.
Sixth, I want to WRITE! My passion is writing. My dream is to make enough money as a writer SOMEDAY so that I don't have to do anything else! The M.A., the teaching, all that is my back up plan. Graduate school has seriously interrupted my writing. Tacking on another five years of doctoral studies - I might as well just stop writing all together.
Seventh, the most important reason of all. I'm a mom. During the past two years, I've spent between 5-10 hours a week going to school, one or two nights each week, not including my study time. It's not much really, but I want to spend more time with my kids, not less.
So I am not, NOT doing the Ph.D. thing. I'll soon have my back up plan securely in place with my M.A. and a part-time adjunct professorship at a local city college. I'll hang with my kids, write some more books, and hopefully give my writing career a kickstart. And when I graduate, I'm going throw myself the biggest party in the history of...whatever. I will definitely be celebrating.