The Big ‘D’
It’s decision time. Should I go to Claremont Lincoln University in Southern California or should I go to the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley? Seriously, I want to know. If you have an answer, give it to me. I’m crowdsourcing here. I need to make a decision by Friday, this Friday. Eep!
And this is a horse race, no bones about it. I have been accepted into Claremont’s Practical Theology PhD Program, Spiritual Care and Counseling track, with a 90% tuition and fees scholarship. I have also been accepted into GTU’s Interdisciplinary Studies program, with a 70% tuition and fees scholarship. Both programs sound awesome. CLU’s program is structured around the clinical practice experience and includes 3 unites of Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE), probably done in a hospital setting somewhere. It includes good mentorship and guidance the entire way. The GTU program is highly flexible and I’d spend the first semester designing my own curriculum, which could include CPE units for credit if I want it to. Both programs give personal reflection on the practice of care sufficient weight in the actual dissertation to satisfy my need to keep my academic pursuits grounded in real life. The mentorship of the CLU program is appealing to me and the flexibility of the GTU program is appealing to me. GTU also offers all the resources of its affiliate schools including the Institute of Buddhist Studies and UC-Berkeley. CLU, on the other hand, has a great relationship with UWest and the Claremont Colleges.
Beyond the programs, there are two other considerations 1) life during and 2) job after. Life during is a risk. If I go to CLU, I can count on retaining my current job, making a descent income, and continuing to live in Southern California, which I’ve kinda gotten used to. If I go to GTU, I’ll have to try to find new work, move to a strange but fantastically exciting city, and try to make a life there. As a place to live, Berkeley is far preferable to SoCal, but it entails greater risk. Not only would I have to quit and find work, but so would Colin. I’ve been assured that when it comes to academia, there is work to be had in the Bay Area and the job postings seem to bear that out – but do I really want to go through the stress of reestablishing myself (ourselves) there?
It could be worth it. The Bay Area is where we want to be long term. Moving there now and establishing all my social networks at this stage could payoff big time in terms of a good job when I finish my degree. It’s been known to happen. On the other hand, waiting to move north after finishing a degree might leave me better positioned to create a life when we get there. It might also become harder to get my foot in the door there or detach from here, both for me and Colin.
It’s a vexing decision. Vexing. Not a common word, but in this case it really fits. When I’m in a good mood and feeling upbeat it’s Berkeley all the way. But when I’m even the slightest bit tired or irritated, I long for the comfort of Claremont. And it’s all complicated by the fact that they’re both good decisions. As far as the schools go, I don’t think I can make a bad decision. It comes down to the factors of life.
Neither Colin nor I particularly like SoCal. We both love the Bay Area. But as far as SoCal goes, we both agree that Claremont is one of the nicest areas. It’s a lovely little village with tall trees and cute shops. On the other hand, Berkeley is a bustling city of tall trees and cute shops, like Claremont x 50. Then there’s the entire Bay Area to play in.
What I like about SoCal is my work. I work for my university on accreditation and some institutional planning issues. I love my boss. I’m finally making, if not a great, at least a living wage, which is good enough to a poor student like me to make a huge difference in my quality of life. I like being involved with such a growing and evolving institution. CLU is similar, whereas GTU has a longer history and stronger institutional presence. Who knows if I’d find work for then or any one of the hundreds of schools in the Bay Area that is half as rewarding. I don’t want to start all the way at the bottom again, as a poorly paid work-study or barely scraping by on three different jobs. If we decide on Berkeley, however, I’ll have five months to search for meaningful work.
But in the end, I still don’t know what to do. I can’t ignore the excitement and potential reward of Berkeley. But I also can’t ignore the comfort and security of staying put. Both academic programs make me look forward to my continuing (never-ending) education with optimism. Now, if I can just pick one…