“All our final decisions are made in a state of mind that is not going to last.” — Marcel Proust
Right now I have a decision to make, and I have very little time left to make it. I’ve applied to three schools: Liberty University, the University of Memphis, and Northeastern University. I’ve heard back positively from Liberty University and the University of Memphis, but not at all from Northeastern. The first decision was pretty easy, in that I know I would greatly prefer to attend the University of Memphis than Liberty University. But Memphis expects me to start this coming term, which is less than a month from now, and I have yet to hear back from Northeastern, and may not until the coming term at Memphis has already started.
So at this point I must do one of two things. I can either (1) start at Memphis this coming term, which would essentially mean I’ve made the decision permanently, since I’m not going to switch after that, or (2) I can try to defer Memphis for a term, see what Northeastern has to say, then decide between them.
The underlying question is whether I prefer one of these schools to the other. If I prefer Memphis, or I have no preference, I should start now with them. Only if I prefer Northeastern should I wait to see whether they accept me to start in July. The thing is, when I started out with all of these applications a few months ago, I thought I would prefer Northeastern to Memphis. But Memphis has really grown on me, for a few reasons. Their program is through an actual school of education, with a ranking and everything. (It’s a middle tier ranking, sure, but still a serviceable one.) They accepted only about half a dozen students into this program this term, which means it’s not a factory cranking out doctoral students as I fear Northeastern may be (or at least becoming). Memphis’s school of education comes recommended by my friend Tony Piña, and his opinion carries a lot of weight with me.
Interestingly, Liberty University keeps sending me email offering me inducements to enroll, like having some fees waived or a fleece jacket or a chance to win an iPad. They’re essentially saying in booming infomercial voice: “Act now and we’ll make the first payment for you!” Memphis, meanwhile, has been acting like no confirmation on my part is required. For example, they sent me information on how to get into my account in their online system, including my memphis.edu email address. And the department said they’re holding my place in the two courses for Spring term and asked me to let them know as soon as I get my student number so I can be properly registered for them. It’s almost like they’re saying, “Well shoot, of course you’re comin’ here!”
And by Christmas, I’ll have to decide whether they’re right. I hadn’t expected I wouldn’t wait to hear from Northeastern, but at this point, with how I feel, I think that may be exactly what happens.