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To B.A. or not to B.A.? - Impressions and Expressions of Ijon
December 27th, 2003
12:22 am

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To B.A. or not to B.A.?
I have been given the opportunity to adjust my study program to give me an M.A. in four years (i.e. two more), if I'm interested. I hereby declare the deliberation season opened, and you're welcome to offer arguments for and against taking the offer.

Good Questions:
  • Am I interested?
  • Which of my two majors (Greek Classics and Theory of Literature) am I going to choose for the M.A.?
  • Do I really want the pressure and stress of writing a thesis added to my immediate future?
  • What do I want to do when I grow up?

Current Mood: quiet
Current Music: Hooverphonic -- Someone

(14 comments | Leave a comment)

Comments
 
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From:passacaglio
Date:December 26th, 2003 11:35 am (UTC)

It's only a year, and you get an M.A.!

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Plus, I think you are already inclined to it...
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From:tnok
Date:December 26th, 2003 12:14 pm (UTC)

when opportunity knocks -

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onw opens.
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From:shunra
Date:December 26th, 2003 01:19 pm (UTC)
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* Am I interested?
Yes, you are. If you start the academic education road, you're going to go all the way, on it, so squishing the B.A+M.A. into less time will just get you to the Ph.D. faster, and belonging to the program will make it just that much easier to get a scholarship to the school you'll be going to.

* Which of my two majors (Greek Classics and Theory of Literature) am I going to choose for the M.A.?
My guess is Lit. Theory, but it really doesn't matter. You could make it interdisciplinary, of course.

* Do I really want the pressure and stress of writing a thesis added to my immediate future?
No. The stress is something that you don't want. However, you will find writing a thesis creative and delightful and altogether EXACTLY the sort of thing you started the academic journey for.

* What do I want to do when I grow up?
Sorry, you have no choice. You are going to be a leader. You already are, you know. The need is so howlingling loud, any choice you may have had in the past is not there anymore.

::hugs::
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From:wildernesscat
Date:December 26th, 2003 05:49 pm (UTC)

stating the obvious...

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... but it's only you who can answer these questions.

As for myself - I'm rather business-oriented than study-oriented right now. Can't think of going back to university at this stage.
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From:emblemparade
Date:December 26th, 2003 09:49 pm (UTC)
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A question to add:

Money. You will not be able to do much else than your thesis during that time. Who's paying the rent? My very well-considered advice: DO NOT pursue a non-professional degree unless you are paid (or are rich). Living like a dog is simply not worth the dubious gifts of formalized education.

A question to remove:

I doubt an MA in classics or literature will have any effect on what you do when you grow up. Humanities masters are PURE self-indulgence. If you want to be a scholar, you will have to get a PhD. After that, if you want a good professorial job, you will have to be a genius, have a hot research topic, or do important post-doc work. If all you want is a good education, than FUCK IT, just take your BA and run. You can read a lot of books in your spare time while you advance in a job in the REAL WORLD.

And yet another thing to think about: You can always get a degree later, if needed. The fact that you are not super-absolutely sure which degree you want to get (and are not sure you want to be a professor) is a clear sign from heaven that you should take a breather and find your course. Academia can be a nice place to dilly-dally in when the economy is shite, but you don't seem to be the kind of guy who needs such escapism. Go out into the world, find out what you want to be, and then go FOCUSED back to school if it serves your purpose.
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From:gaal
Date:December 26th, 2003 10:59 pm (UTC)
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An MA from an Israeli institution will do you little good if you do your PhD in a University abroad. In the states that will take you five years whether or not you come with an MA; and in the UK your existing MA may entitle you to go straight into a PhD program, but remember an MA is (generally speaking) only one year in the UK anyway.

The above only counts time, which is of course not the only parameter. But it counts: a year in education has all the costs of rent, food, worry about stipends / cash, and "lost Academic prime time". Also, you are quite likely to find that a nominal four-year program in TAU will take you five years or longer to complete, because, for example, you are offered a TA position, or because you find many extra courses that you like.

Then again, a TA position and many extra courses could be exactly what you are looking for! Way I see it, this could be a very nice deal for you if you are willing to do two things:
  • Quit your day job. You will go insane if you don't.
  • Plan to take your PhD in TAU, or at least in Israel
All the above, of course, is Tactics. You don't necessarily have to follow anything other than your heart.
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From:emblemparade
Date:December 26th, 2003 11:55 pm (UTC)
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Gaal is right, but let me add a twist. True, an MA in Israel will not give you academic credit in American institutions, but it can definitely increase you chances to get into them with money. A girl in my program (anthropology PhD at the University of Chicago) got her MA in literature at Tel-Aviv, and she's not in a better position than I am (with an American BA). Thing is, it's getting rarer and rarer to get into PhD programs in America without already having some kind of graduate degree. The competition is HUGE, universities are getting twice as many applications as they did five years ago (people are avoiding entering the job market) but the schools do not have more scholarship money to spread around. They have begun to accept only people with MAs, except for rare circumstances. And it's rare that having an MA actually speeds up your PhD course significantly, if it all.

(All this is true only for the humanities, mind you. Other things to keep in mind: Humanities professors are the lowest paid academicians. Historians are the lowest paid of the social scientists, with anthropologists the highest. These things may not be serious concerns for you. They aren't for me.)

One more thing. Starting the PhD program from scratch later is not so bad. The MA you would get in TAU is yours and definitely adds something to your resume. You might "lose" two years of courses, but if you plan on an academic career, everything you learn may be of use.
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From:iod
Date:December 27th, 2003 08:08 pm (UTC)
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since when is history a social science? at huji, at least, it's with the humanities, and that seems sensible. Soc.Sci are political sci. (and intl. relations), sociology, anthropology, psychology, economy, possibly business, maybe education.
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From:emblemparade
Date:December 28th, 2003 09:16 am (UTC)
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When considered as a humanity, it's higher up the salary ladder. Maybe I just have a burning need to humiliate historians. If you have a man-like doll, I can show you exactly where they touched me as child.
From:raisinlike
Date:December 27th, 2003 04:21 am (UTC)

בנוגע למה אני אהיה כשאני אהיה גדול

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לרב אנחנו נוטים לשאול את עצמנו את השאלה הזאת, אבל לדעתי היא שאלה מטעה. היא באה לרמוז שמרגע שהחלטת אתה לא יכול לשנות את דעתך, אבל זה לא נכון. אתה יכול להתחרט ולשנות כיוון אלף פעמים ולנסות אלף כיוונים, כל עוד זה מה שעושה אותך מאושר. ההחלטה שתבצע בנוגע להצעה הזאת לא תקבע את גורלך, אלא את העתיד הקרוב ותמיד תוכל לעשות את השינויים וההשלמות שיחסרו לך כדי ללכת לכיוון אחר (כמו לימודים בחו"ל).

בקיצור, כמו שאמרו כבר, רק אתה יודע מה חשוב לך ומה יעשה אותך מאושר. ההצעה הזאת נשמעת מצוינת (למרות שסביר שהיא תגבה מחיר ברמת החיים הכלכלית שלך, כי יהיה קשה לעבוד כמו היום תוך כדי).

כדאי גם להתיעץ עם תלמידים שמשתתפים בתוכנית ולשמוע מהם על אופי הלימודים בה.

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From:iod
Date:December 27th, 2003 08:15 pm (UTC)
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Here are my ~0.09 NIS: Assuming you will continue to a PhD, many would suggest you drop the MA altogether and take the direct-PhD route (מסלול ישיר לדוקטורט). That is, if you intend to do it in Israel. Otherwise, as was mentioned above, you can just drop the MA.
WHEN WOULD IT BE ADVISABLE TO DO AN MA? If you don't have any idea for a PhD thesis, taking an additional year or two of mostly electable studies in your field of choice could hone your preference and give you a better idea of what you would like to write a thesis about. Also, if you are unsure about the whole ordeal or writing a thesis, an MA thesis could be good practice, with less strain and quicker results.
If you are fairly sure of your chosen subject for the thesis, and don't find the writing of a thesis in and of itself a problem, AND you plan on going on to do your PhD abroad, don't do the MA (money considerations aside). If you plan to do your PhD in Israel, you should look into your chances of getting accepted to the direct route to PhD. If those are high - trying going that way, if low, I would suggest you accept the current offer.

g'luck.
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From:lukkke
Date:December 27th, 2003 11:07 pm (UTC)
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לדעתי, עליך לדחות את ההצעה.

מהכרותי עמך, אתה נוטה בפירוש לכיוון האוטודידקטי, כך שפרוש אתה לא זקוק למטרה רחוקה באופק (להלךM.A / תזה) כדי להעשיר את חייך והשכלתך. יותר חשובות לך ההנאות הקטנות שאתה מפיק ממסלול לימודיך והדלתות שהן פותחות בפניך.

פרט לכך, תמיד אפשר לעשות M.A.

אישית, מעולם לא הייתי חסידה של תארים אקדמאים. אני יודעת כמעט בודאות שלעולם לא יהיה לי M.A והאמת שזה לא ממש מפריע לי. מעניין אותי מה אני מפיקה מעצם לימודי, ולא מה מתקבל בסוף.

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From:lukkke
Date:December 27th, 2003 11:08 pm (UTC)

להלך=להלן.

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Typos are evil.
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From:yoavb
Date:December 31st, 2003 02:41 am (UTC)

אני חושב שכדי לך לקבל את ההצעה

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יש כל כך הרבה דברים שאתה רוצה לעשות בחיים שלך וכל כך הרבה דברים שאתה עוד לא יודע שאתה רוצה לעשות בחיים שלך שחסיכת הזמן הזו שווה לך זהב.

לגבי עם מה להמשיך הלאה, אני חושב שאחרי שתתחייב לעצמך שאתה עושה את זה ותיהיה חייב להחליט עם מה אתה ממשיך אז הבחירה תיהיה ברורה יותר גם אם לא קלה יותר.

Joy.
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