Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Hunt for Affordable Degree Leads to a State College Treasure

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Hunt for Affordable Degree Leads to a State College Treasure

Article excerpt

When I decided to get my master's degree in English, I checked out many local colleges and universities, everything from Harvard to UMass-Boston.

I wanted a program that would be challenging and thorough, as well as affordable. Because we had our teenage daughter's college to save for, that last factor was high on the list.

To my surprise, the school that fit my criteria the best was Bridgewater State College. Certainly the price was right - about a fourth the cost of the private colleges and universities in the area - but its offerings also looked rigorous and thorough. According to the catalog, the program had the courses I was interested in, and it demanded both a thesis and a comprehensive exam for graduation.

I still wasn't convinced a state college could give me the quality education I wanted, so I decided to give it a trial run. I signed up for a course as a nonmatriculated student.

I chose Introduction to Graduate Study because it sounded like a gentle beginning course. My first night in class, I soon realized that I was very wrong. EN500, it turns out, is the class that separates the serious students from those who think a master's might be just a nice thing to have.

Up to my neck in bibliographic analysis, critical theory, and research followed by more research, my question, "Will a state college be tough enough?" changed quickly to "Can I survive?" Well, I did survive, and I loved it. I applied, was accepted, and graduated three years later.

It's true that state colleges don't always receive the respect they deserve. Sometimes, graduates of state schools may take a little longer to get hired after graduation, but I'm convinced that after their initial hire, most employers will find that those students' skills are comparable to those of other college graduates.

Also, state schools continue to struggle with financial issues. …

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