Hello, noders.

Here are the gory details of my present dilemma. Help help help!

I need at least a Master's for my personal and career goals. As you know, I didn't get in to Berkeley. I did get admitted to Stanford, last year, but took a year deferral because I couldn't find a place to live (and I thought I might get into Berkeley in the meantime).

Now I have a place to live, but it's in Alameda, which is 30-some miles and 1.5-2.5 hrs drive (depending on the traffic) each way, from Palo Alto/Stanford. I can't move, because Marty's health (that's my cool mom, who is much older than I and has fibromyalgia, so she lives with me) has gotten worse in the last year. I've just learned that carpooling and vanpooling to Stanford exists--leaving as early as 6:45 a. m. but they only take a little more than an hour to get there because of using the much speedier carpool lanes.

There's also public transportation, but I live in Alameda, which is an island and has no BART station. I'd have to take a bus or drive to BART, take BART to Union City, take the Dumbarton Express bus across the Dumbarton Bridge (remember it from Sneakers?), and then take the Stanford "Marguerite" Shuttle from Palo Alto. I'm going to test this on Friday, but my calculations put the optimal best time at 1.5 hours (if there are no delays or missed connections).

And, of course, the real catch is the cost. Tuition was raised again this year and is now _$25,000_ a year. *gasp* I have received no financial aid, and most of the national fellowships (Mellon, etc.) are aimed at students who are already in their first year of grad school. There's no way I could work during the school year between the rigors of the Stanford curriculum and that long of a commute. And because Asian studies isn't a hot field like desperately recruited computer science, there aren't going to be TAships and other sources of money flung at me the way such opportunities have been falling into my SO's lap.

I'm almost guaranteed to get into CSU Hayward, which even if I didn't get a grant/fellowship there, costs about a tenth of what Stanford does. And it's only about 35 minutes away. However, it's not a respected school, has a tiny anthro department, no China specialists, and I'd have to make up the requirements for an anthro BA. So it might take me longer there (guessing 2 1/2 years) than at Stanford (guessing 2 years).

Additional considerations: At Stanford I'd have to quit my cool job at the museum, and I would rarely get to see my SO. Hayward's research/library facilities probably suck. Hayward is having a speaker from the TALIBAN next week (coughcough!). Stanford is one of the top three Asian Studies programs--so they have great resources, *and* it would be an extra edge in getting a rare college teaching job.

So, if you have any kind of advice on decisionmaking strategies or finding financial aid (no loans!) or your own experiences, please share them with me. I really, really need help.