Graduation is in 26 days. (Enter panic attack here.)

I went into my senior year ready to hit the post-graduation ground running and dive into the workforce. I thought that I was ready for a real job. I had three summer internships, great recommendations and real work experience — slaving my college life away in the dungeon that is the Pipe Dream office.

After tirelessly studying for the GRE and drastically bombing it — twice — I decided graduate school just wasn’t for me. “I don’t need it anyway,” I thought, after speaking to friends who made it as reporters straight out of undergrad. But by “don’t need it” I meant “won’t get in.”

Here’s the story of my GRE: I did better on math. Me, an English major, the Editor in Chief of Pipe Dream — where my job is literally to edit and comprehend reading passages — did better on math. I honestly thought that was the end.

No fear though, I was not alone. The national average for the GRE in 2010 was 460 for the verbal section and 590 for the quantitative section. There was still hope. But did I want this hope? Not getting into graduate programs would make my choices a bit more clear cut.

As I wrote my personal statements for the three journalism programs I was applying to, I realized I not only wanted to go to graduate school, I needed to. What was the theme of my essay you ask? How I still had so much to learn before entering the workforce.

Sure I got a great, well-rounded education out of Binghamton University, but would I have the confidence, much less the résumé, to get a job that I actually wanted? I know, I know, not everyone gets their dream job out of college, but an MA after my name can’t hurt my efforts, right?

I attended BU’s graduate fair along with hundreds of my peers, and I asked questions. I wasn’t trying to sound smart, I was actually just curious. At that point I was a nameless face, I figured this was my last chance to learn about the program without the fear of rejection.

I did end up shamelessly promoting myself by offering the representatives from both CUNY Graduate School of Journalism and Columbia Graduate School of Journalism a copy of Pipe Dream to take home. (I treated myself to their pens, it was the least I could do.)

I watched and waited as all of my friends heard back from their schools but three months later, I finally, FINALLY got the letter from CUNY and the email from Columbia.

Some say I am lucky to have options, but honestly, it would have been nice for my life to decide itself for me. Now for the tough decision: Columbia, the top journalism graduate program in the nation, and CUNY, the only three-semester journalism grad program that requires a summer internship and offers a cross-medium education. Hmm.

“Pretend money is not a factor” my parents would say. But it is.

“You got into the magazine program at Columbia and that’s exactly what you want to do,” my friends would say. But is it?

Today, at long last, I made my decision. In fall 2011, I will be taking my talents to the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism.

It’s not South Beach, but it is next to The New York Times building.