Monday, December 6, 2010

we need a crystal ball.

Two Insane Adults Seeking Advice.

We are in such a dilemma. And I can't even exercise to get rid of the stress (due to the healing eyeball). OH MY GOSH. Sometimes, when given a choice, life becomes a bit more complicated.

Here's how we thought it would play out. We thought that Zach would get in to one dental school. Bam, decision made. Go where we got in. Easy breezy. And the Universe cackles! Oh silly, ignorant Zach and Becca! Life is so not that orderly! Here, let me give you a challenge! Oye...

Will you be our crystal ball for a moment? feel free to give advice. Let me give you the scenarios:

1) East Carolina University. Inaugural class of the brand-new school of dental medicine. Completely fresh approach on how to teach/train dentists- very "hands-on" to train general dentists. School started to address the needs of rural areas/underserved areas of NC. In a small(ish), eastern NC town. Not glitzy. public schools (for our kids) not quite as good as near the capital city of NC, but certainly not bad. No prestige yet. "ginny pig" class. waaaay low cost of living, and could live within walking/biking distance of the school and actually afford a house. tons of individual attention from professors, and this class is made up if 50 students (as opposed to 80), so more of a community feel, less competitive. but, no prestige, and many people questioning why on earth we would go to a school that is just now starting when Zach got into the best of the best, ranked in the top 5 nationally...

2)... which is UNC Chapel Hill. Arguably the best school in the nation. Huge, remarkable honor to get in. Especially in the first round of admissions. Traditional, mostly-in-the-classroom academic work (not as "hands on" as ECU). Trains students for a specialty (as of now Zach doesn't want to specialize). Housing in Chapel Hill HUGELY expensive... we'd have to live 20-30 minutes away to afford having our family together in one house. Much less family time as it is academically strenuous and much commuting involved. Everything more expensive. Great public schools. Much glitzier, sophisticated town (ha, like we'll have time/money to enjoy it...). Closer to family. People would think we were completely nuts to turn it down and take a risk on ECU... and yet, no one we've talked to had to do this with three kids in tow...

So this is our dilemma. See why we're going nuts? It's a humongous, life-altering decision... and we are 100% torn. Do we give up the BEST school to go to a brand new school? We have so many variables... many more than someone straight out of undergrad... We're flopping all over the place like fish in a boat... words of wisdom, anyone???

The strongest principle of growth lies in human choice. George Eliot


  1. Be on your knees and fast....God will hear the cries of your heart....just "give it" to Him and he will answer you.

  2. NOt sure if they are words of wisdom. But they are words of an old mom, w/ loads of kids who has also been thru the rigors of med school, internship, residency, and fellowship. But medicine and surgery, not dental. So take these FWIW, this is an opinion. Only mine.

    GO to UNC Chapel HIll. I know it smacks against your social consciousness and the exciting enticement of a new program w/ some real perks of size and attention etc. But the fact is, that the economy is poor and college and post doc programs are at some risk and the worst thing that could happen is if the program was, um, de-funded halfway through or some calamity like that. NOt that it will. But, it's kinda like buying a first edition tech item...the bugs aren't out of the system yet.

    Further, while it's enticing to have all that stuff and be a groundbreaker, you need to think of the long term. And getting into the best program in the country will help you guys more in the long run. Meaning, even if Zach doesn't want to specialize (and he might change his mind) he will have MORE OPTIONS. Meaning, more options on where to live, HOW to live, possibly more options on money opportunities and thus (to bring it back to your heart) more options to DO GOOD with that money and choices that you have before you (but they will be before you later, does this make sense?)

    So in the short term, ECU 'fits" you better. In the long term, UNC can FIT you better in that you will have more options, most likely (bc that's how the world works, like it or not, those prestigious places can open doors you don't even know exist yet), and then you can craft YOUR perfect fit.

    So UNC will not be a sellout, it's a golden opportunity and yes, I think you should take it. Especially since Vandy doesn't have a dental school so that's out. :) You just have to be patient and realize you are looking at the long view, as a mom and as a gal/couple w/ a heart for others, this chance at UNC, and the rigors of it, will enable you to do more, later. How you apply that ability, later, is totally up to you, but, dear sweet beck, that means possibly, more ways, or chances to change this world. Which is worth the biding your time during his schooling...and then setting the world on fire once you guys have all the tools which I mean, the most options in front of you.

    Sorry, I know it's now what you want to hear. And many others probably disagree. But as a mom, you want to take the long view for your kids too, bc this will be able to give them more options as well (not to mention, then you are an alum family at UNC Chapel HIll, no small thing in the college hunt....).

    So, for my two cents, I'd say, really consider UNC Chapel Hill. It's not easy to get in. If he really really feels like he's withering away there (and you do) I betcha ya can always transfer to ECU. But you most likely Cannot go the other direction. And I"m all for maxing opportunity.

    Thrilled for you both, and really, what a happy happy problem. much love, M, the opinonated

  3. Wow! Ok. I was all going to comment 'follow your heart and your world views' and then I read CoffeeMom's comment. First, it made me miss my mom like crazy! and second, I think she might be right. I mean, the worst case scenario is that you both hate it and it's not working and you transfer. I'm also guessing it's not an option to transfer the other way.
    End of the day, you are both going to have to make this decision on your own. (with God,of course, can that just be a given?)
    I know you will come to a place of more peace with one option and not everyone will be happy with whatever your decision is.

  4. OK...just because I am THAT opinionated...also, for the rest of Zach's career, folks WILL ask him, "where did you do your training?" They do. IF you are starting up a practice on your own, or if you are joining a practice , you do advertising or a little PR and you put in where you did your training too. And the bigger name helps. It just does. And, God forbid a smaller newer college decides the program isn't' working...and closes shop halfway through, then not only do you scramble to transfer into another but then you have to get your records from a defunct program for the rest of time too.

    Really, there are many angles on this. But your best option for being able to do what you want in this world, to set it on fire, is to go w/ the program that gives you the most pops and thus, freedom to choose. Now and later. So there are considerations from the positive and negative. But I'd say, UNC is one w/ most options....
    and, even tho I'm so opinionated....I'm cheering you guys on the whole way. Either way.
    And only sulking a little bit that Vandy doesn't have a dental school......
    And, feeling old as even other commentors know that I'm an OLD mom....oh well. I am. Notorious busybody.

    Praying for you guys!! love m

  5. Ok... so i think i'll go against coffeemom. Not that she doesn't bring up valid, wonderful points... but her view that UNC would definitely be better bothers me. So i'm going to offer an alternate view...

    By profession I am a school counselor, I work with high schoolers on college choice not 30 year olds, but a lot of the principles are the same. First, i think it's a mistake to keep viewing UNC as the "best school" in the country. Who decides? No doubt it is a great school and I went there myself for grad school, but the important question is whether or not it will be *best* for you and zach and your sweet three kids. Period. And that's the complicated part, right? But nothing else matters ultimately. So i wouldn't trust comments that aren't focused on what is best for your family. Grad school will be what zach makes it... from everything i can tell, he will be successful either way. And that's the important part. You can't go wrong in your decision.

    So what is best for your family? What school would allow zach to thrive? To get a great education that he can be proud of? That will allow the lifestyle that you want? What makes sense financially? (The financial part is a big have to consider what your debt burden will be...esp. in this economy.) Only you and your family can answer those questions.

    To address the concerns coffeemom mentioned... i would not worry about the dental program closing down at ECU. Not likely. I would not worry about people looking for the prestige of where their dentist went to dental school. Do you actually know where your dentist went to school? I have no clue. I just know that he's a good dentist. And as far as having more options...although i see that with undergrad, i don't see that with grad school. Zach will be a dentist at the end of 4 years at either school. What options does he need afterwards that preferably requires a degree from UNC?

    To wrap this up i'll share something from my own experience. I got into two grad schools for school counseling. A so called "friend" called me up and told me that i would be making a "huge mistake" if I went to UNC (ironic, isn't it?) and that the program was not as reputable as others (ie. the program she was going to). But UNC made sense for me... especially financially versus a prestigious out of state school... so i went for it. And i loved it! And years later, we are both school counselors doing what we love and the schools we went to make no difference.

    People look at who you are, your experience, your passion for your work. Your decision should be based on what school will best bring out that passion and dedication!

    Best of luck with your decision. Many blessings to you both.

  6. Marcia makes good points. I'm not saying that you guys won't thrive either way. You can. YOu will. I'm just saying that keeping the most options in front of you is a great idea and it seems that UNC would do that best. But, really, this is the happiest of problems, in that you will do great either way.

    One last note, someone, maybe on FB said that your family is closer to UNC. When we were deciding on residency for Tom....he was choosing tween Harvard and UCLA. We went w/ UCLA bc I was pregnant and my sis lived there. Having family close during those years saved us, and me. It was HUGE help during those long weeks of crazy long hours and being solo mom. So, if you have family close to either school (I can't remember for sure if it was UNC or ECU) then that's a big factor too. BC you can use support while he's doing all this becca.

    You guys are gonna do great! I know it! And I'll stop commenting now, laundry beckons....

  7. you ladies are very, very wise...
    thanks so much for taking time out of your busy days to help us with this!!! ultimately we know we'll land in the right place and that it will be clear... and yes michele... UNC is closer to my family and VERY close to my BFF and her sister who is also like a sister to me, and could help at a moments notice. I'm starting to think more clearly about the schools for my kids and how much better CH is for that... so..... batting it all around...
    LOVE your points friends!!! again, THANK YOU!!!

  8. Ok - so I was just going to suggest that you go back and read your post - because, based on that, it seems that you really want to choose ECU. But....isn't Coffeedoc's DH a doctor? Given that, you may really wish to consider her points (which are good ones). Who is heading up the ECU program? How reputable/inspiring is he or she?