This is topic GRE vs MAT and other Grad School questions in forum Books, Films, Food and Culture at Hatrack River Forum.

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Posted by Belle (Member # 2314) on :
I'm going to be graduating in the spring! yay! But, since I definitely want to get my master's after I graduate I am starting to think about grad school.

Now, I don't plan on attending grad school my first year of teaching, I'd really like to start taking classes the summer after my first year, but since some programs only admit in the fall, that may not even be possible. I have thought about taking just one course each year during my first year of teaching, I think I could handle that pretty well. Anyway, on to the questions.

I've been advised that the MAT is a lot easier than the GRE. If any of you have taken both, could you let me know what you think? The math on the GRE scares me a little bit, it's been a while since I've been in a math class. I've heard the GRE is better if you intend to go further with your graduate work, but I really don't see me going beyond the master's level, so I don't know how much of a factor that is.

Now, I'm shopping programs. I have a lot of options, from a straight master's in English to an education degree to well, anything I want. I'm trying to weigh options and decide. I know you guys can't decide for me, but maybe if I list my thoughts, you can bring up something I haven't thought of?

All of the programs I'm going to list will be possible - that is, they are either taught online or close enough to home and at night and on weekends to make them feasible. Any of them would qualify me for master's level pay, which is about $5000 more per year.

So that's it. Any thoughts? Anybody see anything here I need to consider but haven't?
Posted by Zalmoxis (Member # 2327) on :
I often rail against MFA programs, but there is one advantage to earning an MFA: it is a terminal degree (meaning that you can't go higher than it).


Should you experience enough success in publishing to be considered for a tenure-track creative writing position, the MFA is the highest credential you would need.
Posted by Raventhief (Member # 9002) on :
I used to teach for Kaplan, both GRE and MAT. The math on the GRE is not particularly difficult; not much more than you did on the SAT's. Of course, the math on the MAT is a joke. Like, 7th grade level. Maximum.

What makes the GRE difficult for most people is the vocabulary. It's absurd. Really absurd. Words you have never heard before and will never hear again. I am not exaggerating. But you seem to be a lit-type person (as opposed to a math-type), so maybe that doesn't worry you.

The GRE is definitely a more difficult test, but schools know this. It's also more open ended. Oh, and the MAT is not accepted by all schools, and it's a much worse test for determining a person's level of education and thinking. This is from both personal experience and statistics that I saw when I was teaching.
Posted by Dr Strangelove (Member # 8331) on :
I haven't taken the MAT (or even considered taking it), so I can't help you there, but I just took the GRE last week. The vocab is ridiculous. I'm a history major and a English minor (nearly a English major but I couldn't bring myself to spend another semester finishing it up) and I found it difficult to say the least. I got a 770 on the Verbal for the SAT, but a 630 on the GRE.

The math is hard, but nothing studying can't get you past.
Posted by Loren (Member # 9539) on :
I taught the non-math parts of the GRE for a couple years, and I took it twice. If you're not going into a mathy or sciency field, no one really cares what your math score is.

I also, despite being at my third (and hopefully final) grad school, had never even heard of the MAT until I read this thread. So that might give you something to think about.
Posted by fugu13 (Member # 2859) on :
Yeah, don't worry at all about the math on the GRE. Not doing well on that will not prejudice your admission to a field that does not require strong math skills (and I don't see any on your list that do).

The verbal and analytical writing sections on the GRE will be more important, particularly the former, and you should do fine on those.
Posted by Belle (Member # 2314) on :
Well, every school that I am interested in apply to will accept the MAT. I've already checked.

I found out the school here doesn't offer an MFA in creative writing - they only offer an MA. I don't know if that makes a huge difference or not. I know one of the Creative writing faculty graduated with the MA from this school and is in a tenure-track position, so I guess it would still be considered a terminal degree.

At any rate, I think I'll keep looking around and talking to people. So far, all my professors I brought it up with have recommended the English degree, because it would allow me to teach freshman comp and sophomore lit courses and the AP classes in high school. It DOES makes sense, but good Lord, I'm tired of lit! However, the MA in creative writing would also be considered a degree in my subject field, so technically it woulc open up those possibilities as well.
Posted by Zalmoxis (Member # 2327) on :
It all depends on what you are doing it for, Belle.

The problem is that because the MFA is considered to be a terminal degree (the MA most definitely isn't) but it doesn't require the work that a PhD does, a ton of people have chosen that route and the market is flooded with MFAs. Which, of course, has led to further degree inflation so now you'll find people with both an MFA and a PhD (the PhD is often in literature but may have a more "creative works" oriented dissertation). I believe there are even Doctorate of Arts degrees now.

But none of these people get tenure-track positions anyway unless they become minor to major stars in the publishing world (an MFA and a decent track record may get you some adjunct opportunities, though).

If you are doing this because you want to focus on your craft (and it doesn't really hurt teaching at a K-12 level e.g. you get the bonus and that's all you really need it for), I would suggest an MFA. It shows a certain commitment to the craft, and although this wouldn't be a problem at where you are at now because they don't offer an MFA, at universities where there are both, MA students are definitely second-class citizens. The dabblers and dilettantes.

The MFA Blog seems to have some good advice about all this.
Posted by Belle (Member # 2314) on :
Thanks Zal, that's good information. I'm not really interested in teaching full time at the college level - so while the idea of having a terminal degree is nice, it's not really my goal. I mostly would like to have some options in case later I want to leave the classroom, though right now I don't see myself doing anything other than classroom teaching at the junior high or high school level. It would be nice, however, to have the option to teach part-time at junior colleges though.

And part of me thinks I should just wait, get in the classroom next year and start teaching and then decide. The only problem with that plan, is that my daughter will be a junior the first year I teach, and I'd really like to be done with my master's before she starts college, so that would mean starting pretty much right away.

*sigh* Decisions, decisions.
Posted by Zalmoxis (Member # 2327) on :
My advice is to not wait. There's really no way I could have done it. And yet...

I sometimes regret not starting an MBA after I finished my MA. Because I was working on campus, I could have added the MBA and it would have been paid for by the university and I wouldn't have had to commute to class -- just walk one building over.

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