Pros and Cons

I just graduated with my BA in English (it’s been two months, actually).  During the graduation process, I applied and was accepted to Southern New Hampshire University's Master of Fine Arts in Fiction program.  Fully accredited, the MFA is a two-year program in which aspiring writers basically work one on one with a professor or published author to complete a manuscript.  In the process, the students are able to attend creative writing workshops, meet literary agents and publishers, and read and critique literature that is of a similar genre to the manuscript they are writing.  After graduation, they have a complete manuscript, contacts in the publishing world, and the credentials to teach.

I’m supposed to begin in January.

I received my Award Letter yesterday and was offered loans. I must admit that despite the odds I was a bit hopeful that maybe I could get some kind of grant.  A fraction of the cost, even, but something.  Turns out, no.   

So that brings me to my pros and cons list. 


1) I get a Master’s degree for writing a manuscript and reading novels (what I am doing anyway).

2) I may have a better chance of getting published someday (this is among my Top Five Goals).

3) I will be able to teach creative writing and English/Literature classes through a community school and/or online.  (Source of income to pay back debt.)

4) The MFA program is low-residency, which basically means I can do almost all of it from home (minus four week-long trips to New Hampshire resorts).   

5) I am currently a stay-at-home/work-from-home mom, so this would give me something else to do as well (I like keeping busy).


1) Debt.  If this were going to be my only debt, it wouldn’t matter quite as much.  But since Tim is in grad school and I had Isaac before I finished my bachelor’s degree, we already have some.  Actually, this is why I’m writing a Pro/Con list in the first place.

2) Debt really bugs me.  On the flip side, I lose my deposit if I don't go (nothing in comparison to the loan I'd be taking out and owing back, though).

3) I could potentially get published anyway.  Other unknowns have done it; what’s to stop me?

4) If it came down to a choice between opening my coffeehouse (for which I will have to go in debt) and getting a master’s degree (debt), I’d choose the coffeehouse in a heartbeat.  I have no way of knowing this for sure, although the one could significantly delay the other if nothing else.

5) What if I get writer’s block?  (This is just my own personal fear since I’d be required to turn in a set number of pages every four weeks.  Basically, ignore this Con.  I usually do).

So there you have it.  I didn’t write this blog post to get answers as much as to vent, but your advice is still greatly appreciated.  Mull it over with me, will you?  I’ve got to figure it out soon because I’m supposed to register for classes sometime this month.


  1. I can completely understand how feel about debt. I hope something works out. Did you know that November is National Novel Writing Month? There is a Web site you can sign up and write a novel in 30 days.

  2. Wow. I wonder if those 30-day novels are actually any good? Thanks for sharing - I'll have to take a look at that!

  3. no advice, just sympathy. i hope you come to a path you can take without regret.

    check out this video though:


  4. Thanks Ayla. I don't know how I feel about that video. But I definitely should spend less time online.

  5. i just thought of you at the junction part. :]

  6. Oh thank you. I may be in that hallway forever. And mine doesn't have sticky notes.

  7. I understand your conundrum. I too am about to face this decision. I will be finished with my Bachelor's at the end of April. My husband and I converse almost daily about "what's next." If I can't find a full-time teaching position then I will begin my graduate degree. I do not want to continue to add to already-heavy debt load, however staying in school would defer those loans...

    Regardless of my life situation (sorry to make this all about me!), your goals and aspirations for your future are so inspirational! Perhaps someday I will be able to read your book while I sip java in your coffeehouse. ;)

  8. http://blogging.yourway.net/blogging-101-how-to-get-feed-subscribers/

  9. Harmony - it seems we have much in common! I hope when April comes around that your decision will be clear for you - and also - congratulations on being so close to finished! It's such a great relief.

    Court - what an awesome blog! So useful! I set about following the instructions and found I'd already done it, although I can't for the life of me remember when. So I added the gadgets to my blog. Thanks!

  10. I totally understand where you are coming from! Let me just ask, have you ever worked at a coffee shop? If not, do you want to talk about that option? I have more experience in that department than I care to admit... Plus an English degree. Let me know if you want any advise.

  11. Advice is always appreciated!

    I have volunteered for a coffeeshop before - I'd basically just run the counter and clean up for the night and my husband ran the sound system for the bands. But it wasn't a long-lasting job or anything so anything you could tell me would be great!

    I definitely do not regret getting my English degree, and I did that with relatively small debt. I didn't realize we had the same degree though!

  12. If you want to email me click on my little email link under my posts :)

    I can't think of any advise off the top of my head, but I do have lots of answers for any questions you have.

    It seems like you have some good experience though.

  13. A lot rides on what the actual outcome will be once you have completed your masters. Would it be a guarantee of employment? In one sense, yes, because you could teach (and unless things are very, very different in the US from here in the UK) teachers will always be in demand. On the other hand if you are opening a coffeehouse, yes that will be debt, but it will also be income. A masters will be just debt until you complete it. Getting published is no longer dependent on the majors. In fact, if the majors are anything to go by, doing it yourself is a much better option. I don't even have a first degree, but I set up a publishing company, mostly because I could and also the majors really weren't producing the sort of books I like to read! www.diiarts.com. You don't need a degree to succeed, where it will be helpful is something to fall back on.

  14. This is a dilemma I can fully understand....I have been there.

    I am sure that you will end up making the right decision for you and your family.


( hippies always welcome )