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A few days ago in Seattle, the temperature was 12 degrees in the morning and the highest temperature in the afternoon was only 24 degrees Celsius. It was a good day in the late summer and early autumn when the white clouds flew.

It’s not cold or hot, it’s not wet, it’s not a dry Friday afternoon at the end of August in Seattle. It’s perfect timing to invite three or five friends to come to the house to have some afternoon tea and talk about life. These friends are moms who work remotely or work at home.

My good sister who came from Taiwan, Sonia, the founder of “Flower Gathering”, was healing the body and mind of several of our professional women. Sonia told these moms who are busy all day, to remember and say “I’m Happy. I’m Loved. I’m Light.”  Though short and simple three sentences, they can stimulate every individual magical inner energy.

A neighbor’s friend, Wuma, took a nearly 20-minute drive to attend the meeting and chatted with her 24-year-old daughter. She is studying the second year of the Ph.D. in molecular biology at Ohio State University. Wuma deeply blamed herself for doing something wrong for her daughter’s restless and painful situation.

(Note: The State of Molecular Biology at Ohio State University is one of the areas of the Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology (MCDB) Program, and the course is designed to be a direct path to Ph.D. program after completion of university credits.)

Wuma stated:

“Because my family is not rich, before my daughter applied for universities, I clearly warned her: You have to pay for tuition and living expenses, and I have no money for your studies at the university.”

“My daughter is also very self-aware of our financial status. Many of her high school classmates applied ten schools or more, but my daughter only applied for four to save the application fees.  Among the four schools, two of which are public universities and two are private schools.”

Wuma is proud to say that among the four prestigious schools that her daughter applied for, the State University Ohio State University (OSU) and the private Emory University gave her admission offers. Another well-known public university, the University of Washington, and Baylor University, a privately-owned Texas school, rejected her.”

I asked Wuma: “Why did my daughter choose OSU instead of Emory University?”

Wuma said, “One reason is that my daughter thinks that molecular biology graduates are better off when looking for work in the future, and OSU gives her stipends to cover tuition and living expenses.  Most of all, after four years of university education, she can enter the Ph.D program directly.  This way she can the time and cost for the master’s degree.  On the other hand, Emory University’s admission is only for a bachelor’s degree in Neuroscience, and there is no stipend like OSU’s.”

Wuma paused, and the said slowly: “At the first thought, OSU’s conditions are much better than Emory University, but recently I realized that I was wrong.”

She continued: “First, I shouldn’t have told my daughter to take care of her own tuition and living expenses, so she picked the OSU, the school with the lowest cost of education.  She ignored Emory University, the university that suits her interest.  Second, we were not aware of the trap of OSU’s direct doctoral program. So, my daughter is now in a dilemma, and she feels torn between the cost and the interest.”

Wuma continued with a resentful confession: “A year ago, my daughter finished our-year university credits at OSU with a bachelor’s degree. But after entering the doctoral program last year, I was realized that my daughter should have chosen the private Emory University’s NeuroScience.  That’s her interest, and at Emory University,  after a bachelor’s degree is obtained, it only takes two years to get a master’s degree.  Unlike now, my daughter will have to spend a lot longer in the time-consuming doctoral program.  If she can’t fulfill the required and elective courses and pass her dissertation defense, she cannot get a Ph.D.   OSU can’t issue a master’s certificate, either.”

(Tanya’s note: If a doctoral qualification test has not passed, the candidate must take another test, the number of re-tests varies from school to school. After passing the doctoral qualification test, one is qualified to work on dissertation.  After a dissertation is finished, the candidate must defend it.  American universities usually allow a doctoral candidate 10 years to complete the program.

Wuma expressed with sincere regret: “During her summer vacation, my daughter worried about her doctoral qualification test held on September 14th.  She felt extremely nervous so she vented her emotions to her closest family members.  I really regret for making the wrong choice a few years ago!”


Author: Tanya Gray
(1) “American Study Abroad Experts” blogger (2009-present)
(2) Co-founder of Access Education LLC, Bellevue WA, U.S.A. (2013-present)
(3) IBS Marketing & Public Relations, Chairman of Taiwan (1990-2016)
(4) Host of TV show “Study Abroad”, Taiwan (1997-98) TV Show
(5) Columnist of the Study Abroad Magazine (1996-2003)
(6) Publications:

– TOEFL Patterns and Analyses (1992)
– Accidental International Students (1998)