This may not be news to most of you:
Yesterday I went to see Dr. Ervin to get some holds off my transcript so I could register and to talk a bit more about grad school. I was left completely speechless by what he said to me. Aside from mentioning several times that I was a great thinker, had a great intellect, etc, he said that I was going to make a great scholar - he said he'd actually never said that to an undergrad (always said they had the "potential"). Then he backtracked and said that I already was a great scholar. I started blushing, I couldn't even say anything. He said to let him know if I wanted him to initiate contact with faculty at potential grad schools for me. He also assured me that the faculty in our department would write me very strong recommendations (he emphasized it several times). I asked him if he thought I should stay here for my masters or if I should go directly into a Ph.D program. He said he thought I would thrive in a "sink or swim" environment like a Ph.D program and that he knew I worked best when I'm just left on my own. He said that I should do all of my research on different programs this summer, and find specific faculty members I would want to work with, contact them, and then apply to those schools starting in August. I had kinda planned to just stay here for grad school - all of the other students were confused when I said I wanted to go to a PhD program directly, so I thought that I was supposed to stay here for a masters. But Dr. Ervin knows best!
I really want to stay here and work with him and the other faculty here, though. I love this department. I guess I can just talk to them over the summer and see what they recommend, since I'd pretty much be working with everybody if I studied rubber.
Yesterday I looked into every school on US News's top graduate schools list, but I'm not really that interested in most of them. USC is still my number one, but Ohio University is standing out, too. No one has ever studied rubber before (aside from a handful of journalists) so while I'm going to stand out in my field, I'm really struggling to find a good school because....who am I supposed to work with? Since I want to put quite a bit of emphasis on the sex toys industry I don't want to choose a conservative school like Notre Dame or BYU. Notre Dame has an amazing program, but being a religious school I would have to trod on a lot of feet to get things done, and I don't want to offend anybody with my curiosity! More liberal schools like Berkeley and UC Santa Barbara are a little too extreme and don't offer good funding. USC offers solid funding to PhD candidates, is liberal enough to not be offended by my odd studies, and is close to an airport - so I can travel easily. Ohio University has a contemporary history certification program (supplementary to their PhD) which offers an entirely separate fellowship (of the same, ludicrous amount of money as the PhD), and while it's not near an airport (or anywhere else) the cost of living is low enough to make it a much better deal financially. I've only just started looking, however, and I'll try to work with Dr. Ervin and my other professors as much as I can to organize my intended research (I have a feeling I'll be working with the sociology and gender studies departments at my future school) and get some direction/contacts at other universities.
So.....it looks like I'll be starting graduate school next fall. I'll probably still apply to the masters program here, but more than likely I'll be looking to start directly in a PhD program. This will keep me around-ish for at least another year, possibly a little longer. Hopefully I'll do some traveling while I'm still an undergrad so that I can get used to doing it. I really don't enjoy it much...but it's inescapable.