Ready Steady Go
Most of my schools' deadlines are December and January, and I have sent out emails to almost all of my POIs. The results might be pretty disheartening when viewed as a whole- I'd say around 85% of the POIs I've contacted replied that they have no funding for students next year. But I grit my teeth and try to focus on the positive points- I had a short discussion with one professor and established interest in his project, a handful of professors said they would be happy to review my application once I have passed it, and one professor from one of my 'back-up' schools interviewed me and agreed that I could list him as an adviser. Yay for small victories I guess.
But sometimes, while reading yet another I have no funding email or just before clicking send, I think, who do I think I am to be applying to grad school? My grades, while meeting the minimum, aren't excellent. My undergrad department was research-light so I have never published anything. And I'm up against the kinds of people who have stellar credentials and can also probably throw hatchets while doing backflips to boot. I'm not only competing against them for slots, but also for precious funding. So really, am I just deluding myself?
I try not to go down that road. I have my motivations for applying and finishing grad school, and I think they're strong enough to see me through this application process. Whether professors and committees think my motivation and credentials combined are strong enough for acceptance is anybody's guess. So there's no harm in trying, right?
Now, I'm finalizing my school list, requirements, and my recommenders (2 out of 3 have accepted already). By this week, I already need to order transcripts and ask my recommenders to start writing my letters. And not to mention, I still have to do my personal statement. All of this while I work full-time, do projects on the side to earn more money, and am involved in a organization that is undergoing a major overhaul. I'm not complaining, I'm sure most grad school applicants also feel overwhelmed to some degree by the one-two punch of grad school application and real life. But there is nothing to do but move forward, I think. This too shall pass.