The more I have been looking over the money situation for next year, the more I feel like I’m not going to be able to afford this school (or more accurately, cost of living in Boston), even with quite a bit in student loans.
Also, I feel like I’m a pretty competitive candidate, and if I re-apply next year I can get much better funding offers from other schools (and, most likely, better schools). I can also work for year, which means more money in savings for when I start a program later – and it means not having to worry about the expenses involved with applying, which means I can apply to more schools. I’ll also be a much more competitive applicant if I wait until next year, because I’ll have finished my MA and have my full transcripts from that, plus research and awards/honors from this year that can go on my application. (This should both help me get in to better schools AND increase funding offers.)
The head of my department here told me this week that if I would like to stick around for a year and teach some classes after I finish my MA over the summer, I can do that. She might be able to get me a full-time job for a year, if not she can at least hire me to teach a couple of classes each semester. I can also still bartend at football games, and if I can only teach classes part time, I could get anther part-time job waiting tables or bartending. (Or doing “real work” . . .*)
As much as I’d like to get a PhD as soon as possible, I really feel like going into a lot of debt for it would be stupid when I am sure I can get decent funding offers from schools I like, if I just do more research and figure out which schools those are . . . .
* “Work experience” doesn’t count for much when applying to Economics PhD programs – in fact, it can often work against you if it means you’ve been out of academia for a while. Unless the research you’ve does is at, say, the Fed, or the World Bank, and directly relates to what you want to do long-term, then it’s best not to leave the realm of academia for long. So I would probably be better off waiting tables or bartending, as that pays much better than an entry-level “real work” job would, and having “work experience” here isn’t going to count for anything on my applications.