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I realize it's been some time since my last post, but there really wasn't anything exciting to write about until recently.

So now I'm in that never-ending waiting period. Every day I find myself staring at my phone, demanding the email notification light to start blinking. And then it does, and I think, "wow, it really worked!". Until I read the email, which has nothing to do with my applications, and 9 times out of 10 is something I couldn't care less about. So then I sit at my desk annoyed at that email, and start the email-light demanding cycle over again. It's usually then that I make myself do something productive which works for a good 5-10 minutes until I find myself staring at my phone again. Apparently, I have developed the attention span of a goldfish.

Of course, every so often I do hear something positive. Now, you would think that hearing something would help squelch the anxiety I feel towards my other programs, right? Oh no, actually it makes it worse! It's almost like some twisted gambler's fallacy, if one school tells me something, well then the others have to as well! So if I hear something from School A on Monday, well then Schools B-H will definitely tell me something Tuesday. And if not Tuesday, then Wednesday, and so forth. And yes, I realize the lack of logic there, and I've tried to tell myself that. But have you ever had an argument with yourself? Mine never end well. In fact, they usually end with me staring at my phone...

So at this point, I've had one in-person interview (School A), one phone interview (School B.) and I'm officially waitlisted at another school (School C). So that's 3 out of 8 programs, with no word from the rest. I think I might be waitlisted at School D, but I'm not sure yet. From what I've been told from the schools I have heard from, if there is anything positive coming my way I should hear back from School B in the next few days (for an in-person interview invite) and School A should be making admissions decisions early next week. From my experience, School C has a long waitlist so it's hard to say where I stand there if they even get to the waitlist (they didn't last year). So for now my hope is on Schools A & B. I thought that knowing when I would hear back would be helpful, but I don't know if it is. I mean I guess it is in a way since I know when to expect it, but at the same time I feel like a little kid waiting for Santa to come. Except that I don't know if I'm getting a present, or if Santa will give me a lump of coal sometime later. I know it's only 1 more week. I already waited 1.5 weeks for School A (plus 6 weeks), I can wait another week. At least that is what I keep telling myself.

I also made a decision that if I got an interview I would only tell a select group of people (less than 5 total). I thought that would help because then I wouldn't have a lot of people asking details about the interview...which just leads to questions about all the other programs to which I applied. Also, then you don't have 20 people giving you advice about the interview. Don't get me wrong, I'm far from perfect, and I am more than willing to ask others for advice. However, I like to do it on my own terms, and ask the people I trust, and know how graduate school interviews work. Hearing about how interviews work at your place of employment probably will not help me at X University. I've done a good job keeping this all quiet, but it is much harder than I thought it would be! After my phone interview yesterday all I wanted to do was tell someone...anyone...fine, everyone how it went. Once I get in somewhere I'll probably share interview details (if there are any at that point) with anyone who asks, I'm just hoping that day comes soon.

So I want to start this entry by thanking everyone who left a comment on my last entry. I was touched to see how many of you wrote such positive things, so thank you! It really meant a lot to read your encouraging words.

I haven't forgotten about this blog, in fact I've been trying to come up with an idea for an entry for the past few weeks. I always try to write an entry with either a pensive or funny message, or sometimes both, but recently I haven't been able to come up with anything. So this entry might be more of me rambling than actually something insightful, but oh well. I really haven't made a lot of progress on this round of applications, mostly because I've been too busy TAing, tutoring, working on my thesis, and studying for the GRE. I did take the GRE a little more than a week ago, and even though I thought I had bombed one of the sections I ended up raising my overall score by 100 points (old scores). To be honest, I was hoping for a little bit more, but I will take it. I really didn't need that much of an improvement anyway so any improvement would have been fine, but I was excited when I saw my scores. My school list has been basically finalized for weeks, with the exception of one or two schools, so that is another thing to check off my list.

So now I've moved on to asking my professors for LORs and writing my personal statement. I already know which profs I'm going to ask, as they were the ones who wrote letters for me last year, I just have to actually ask them. So here's the thing, I know I shouldn't complain because I know they will say "yes", but I always find it so awkward to ask them. Especially my main advisor for some reason. It always ends up being one of those cases where I know he will write a letter, and he knows I'm going to ask him (and if I didn't he would be seriously upset...he's my strongest LOR anyway), but it's still the formality that makes it awkward somehow. Did anyone else find this to be the case too? I will ask my advisor to buy something for the lab without a second thought, and yet for this it is just weird.

As far as my personal statement, ugh. I haven't even started on it and yet that's how I feel about it. I hate writing personal statements with a passion. I would rather resit the GRE two more times than write a personal statement. I think the thing that gets me the most is that, usually I'm a good writer (though don't use this particular blog entry as proof!) but when it comes to my personal statement I just can't get anything to flow together. I either come across as too humble, or too arrogant. It's the balancing act I have trouble finding. I go through 7-8 drafts before I let anyone even see it, and then it goes through a few more after that. I know I need to start working on it but ugh that's all I can say right now.

It has been several months since I last wrote in here so I guess I should start this entry with a brief update. Basically last application season did not work out. I interviewed at one school (which I thought went really well) and ended up getting on the waitlist for 4 schools (including the one I interviewed at). However, in the end I had to wait until well after April 15th to find out that I did not get in anywhere. I spent a few days weeks dealing with the disappointment, but then I had to face the fact that this is how it is and to move on. So I am...well mostly. I am human after all.

So now I am starting my fourth round of applications. Yes, you read that right, fourth. Each round I have improved my application, which has yielded more favorable results by the adcoms (more waitlists, etc.) but I haven't gotten the actual PhD acceptance letter yet. Have I mentioned that there are no glaring flaws with my application? I have had numerous people tell me that it basically was just down to bad luck that my app wasn't chosen. And yes, it is frustrating and at times I wonder why I am doing this to myself. But to put it simply, I have done a lot of soul searching and I know for a fact that if I give up on this, I will regret it down the line. So I reapply, hoping and praying that this time it will work out in my favor. And in the meantime, I continue to improve my application so that eventually it will. I am a stubborn one after all. :-)

I started blogging here several years ago because I wanted to document my experiences. I needed an outlet to express my feelings with others who really understood where I was coming from, and I think this year I will need that more than ever. Although this cycle has just started it already has been emotionally tough for me, and I know that it will most likely just get worse. But I think that's an entry for another day.

Roller coaster

By psychdork,

I've said it before that this whole process is one big emotional roller coaster. One minute you think you will be accepted to many schools & the next you will not only be rejected from all your schools, but everyone will stop talking to you, and you will end up living in a box by the freeway (or something like that).

This week has been one crazy emotional roller coaster.

And I hate roller coasters.

I started this week feeling really good about my chances. Yes, I had one rejection but I had just had a very positive interview experience (from my point of view anyway) and I was feeling very confident about my chances. Yes I would get some rejections, but this time I was going to get into a PhD program. I could feel it!

Then a few days after that I decided to check my application status for one particular program to see if it had finally changed to "rejected" as I fully expected it to. I knew this program had held an interview weekend already and I was just waiting for that notification. I logged into the application and sure enough there was my rejection. Oh well, I knew it was coming, right? Well yes I knew the rejection was coming but I didn't know that it would hit me so hard. It's not like this was my first rejection ever (this is my third time applying after all!) and really it wasn't one of my top choices, but still that rejection stung. I couldn't just shrug it off like I did my first one this year, which was to a school I really did not expect to get into (though it would have been amazing if I did!). Nope, this one stayed with me stinging away for quite some time.

Not only did it keep stinging but it made me look at the rest of my schools in a different light. Suddenly those programs that I know had sent out interviews were seen as rejections instead of "maybe/who-knows". I went through my list and all of a sudden it was cut in half. All of a sudden I had my hopes on a handful of programs (some of which were likely rejections too) instead of a long list of prospects. Needless to say this did not help my mood. In fact it made me feel even worse. I started considering my "plan B" which gets complicated now since I will have my masters degree soon. Do I throw in the towel and give up? Do I stick around and fight one more time? How many times can I hear "no" before I decide that maybe my dream career will never happen? I get the whole "try try again" thing but even then, how many times do you try before you realize you should give up?

Oh and my awesome interview? Started re-thinking that one too. Yes it was awesome, but there are several factors (that I can't go into here out of concern of revealing my identity) that all of a sudden seemed to go against my application. Yes I am qualified but given these other factors, will that even be enough?

Then yesterday I go to check the mail and find out that I am waitlisted at a school I had already written off as a rejection!

See what I mean about an emotional roller coaster?

I still hate them.

Still waiting

By psychdork,

So when I decided to continue this blog into this application season I really thought I would have a lot to blog about. So far though my email/phone have been pretty quiet. Strangely, I have not heard a word from my #1 choice and nothing has been posted on the results page either. Given the results from the past few years, notifications should have gone out a few weeks ago and so far nothing. I'm making myself wait until at least March to email the department so until then I'll be waiting (unless I hear back sooner than that). At this point I'm hoping I at least made the waitlist...I did last time so that should be a pretty good possibility given my application is even stronger this time, but we'll see.

Now to get to the good part: I had an interview Friday! My first grad school interview ever! This school is technically on my "safety schools" list, but given the location and some other aspects of the program (not including the whole "hey they like me" thing) I have pretty much moved it to my #2 choice spot. The week before my interview I was a nervous wreck, but as the day got closer, I got more excited and less nervous. I ended up having a great time at the interview. When I was interviewing with one of the professors there I actually thought, "I get to talk about my research, their research, and the field as a whole...this is so much fun!". I seemed to get along well with the faculty and grad students and the program seems to be a really good fit. This whole experience is making me a lot calmer about the whole process, though I still have to keep reminding myself that I am not in yet! I didn't ask, but it sounds like decisions will be made soon, so here's hoping I get an offer! *fingers crossed*

Speaking of acceptances, I'm still deciding how I want to tell my main professor/mentor when I do get an offer. He's guided me through all of this for the past several years and because of that I don't want to simply email/call him and say "I got in". I really want to be able to see his face when I tell him. He and I tease each other a lot, so I kind of want to surprise him but I haven't decided how yet. On the other hand, I'm not sure if this is something I should surprise him with, but I guess I'll see how I feel when this happens. If I do decide to surprise him, whatever I do will have to be short because I won't be able to keep a straight face for long! If I come up with something clever, I'll let you know.

Distractions

By psychdork,

We meet again GC!

It's been several years since I last posted, so I'm going to start this entry with a brief update.

I am currently finishing up my master's degree in psychology. Trust me, this was not the original plan, but when life hands you lemons apparently you enroll in a masters program, so I did. I am not saying that I regret it (although the application season isn't over...) but it just was not the plan. Still I think I made the best of my situation, and I am grateful for some of my profs who have helped make this detour successful.

So now that this detour is almost finished I now find myself waiting to hear back from my (PhD)schools. I really thought I was going to be able to keep myself distracted until at least the end of January, but as soon as those apps were in (end of November) I have been waiting impatiently for any kind of news. It's funny, last semester I was so busy all I wanted was some free time. Now I have it (relatively) and I'd rather be busy.

It's not like I don't have anything to do. I have class, and a job, and lab stuff, and a thesis to write. But the problem with all of those (except the class part) is that due to the nature of these tasks, I live a fairly autonomous lifestyle, which means plenty of time to check the results page and stare at my phone waiting for the "email light" to start blinking.

Because of this I've thrown myself into several other tasks, to hopefully help me obsess a little less. My New Year's resolution is to lose a specific amount of weight, and so far so good. :-) Also, I've decided to run a 5k this year, so I've been training for that. Finally, I decided to do the more complicated of the two options in regards to my master's thesis. This will require more work, but hopefully will have a bigger reward in the end.

Now if I could only find a way to distract myself when I'm too tired to work on my thesis, but not tired enough to go to sleep...I guess this blog will have to do.

Good luck everyone! My #1 choice should send out notifications any day now, so hopefully I will have good news next time.

Last time I posted an entry I heard back from three schools that week. I haven't heard anything since then though, so I'm writing just in case it will move the notification process along (well I can hope). :-)

I'm still waiting on two schools (one where I'm waitlisted, and the other is the "unknown" school...basically I have no idea where I stand with them). Good news is that I did get accepted to the masters program at my undergrad so I do have a safety net. It came at a good time too cause I got my rejection letter from my #1 choice the very next day...so that definitely softened the blow.

I called the unknown school last week and was told by the dept secretary that she did not have the lists yet and that the department is really behind this year. Honestly, I was kinda frustrated. I'm pretty certain I will be rejected there, and I was just hoping they would be able to tell me that. But no such luck. I'm calling them again tomorrow (exactly one week from my last call) so hopefully they will have it all together then.

I really want to contact my waitlisted school but I told myself I can't until April 22nd...assuming I haven't heard anything from them by then.

I know many people are in the same boat, but I am just so tired of waiting. I want the ball to be in my court again! I want to finally make my decision. I'm getting tired of listening to my advisor tell me to be patient and that no news is good. And finally I want to be able to tell everyone where I'm going next year! I know, I know, just be patient...

So here it is, March 21st, and I am still waiting.

Sigh.

I applied to 8 PhD programs and then last week I applied to a MA program at my undergrad.

Of the PhD programs:

So far:

~1 waitlist (at what I've been referring to as my "middle choice" school)

~5 rejections

Remaining:

~1 possible waitlist (at my first choice!)

~1 who even knows at this point, but most likely rejection

I should hear back from the MA program sometime this week and I've been told by several profs that it's pretty much a guaranteed acceptance but I'm still hesitant to think about it that way until I know for sure. It's not in my chosen sub-field, and the department knows that, but I think I can make that field work to my advantage anyway.

Though it does amuse me that I should hear back a little more than a week after I submitted my MA application, whereas I'm quickly approaching 4 months for my top choice PhD program.

It amazes me though how I have almost completely disassociated myself from my remaining apps. Even my first choice program. It's weird, I still want to go there, but at the same time I'm almost at the point where a rejection letter would not affect me...almost.

Back to checking my email...

Dear Grad Schools,

Since I know you all took a careful look at my application (right?), I am sure you are all aware that my birthday is this Saturday. However, I am sure you are not aware that my past few birthdays have, well, sucked. I am determined to end this streak ASAP and in order to do so, the following is effective immediately.

I will NOT allow rejection letters on this day. This goes for any type of deliverly method including (but certainly not limited to) phone, email, postal mail, smoke signal, or owl. Please plan accordingly.

To make you aware of the seriousness of this memo, if you fail to follow the above rule, you will agree to pay my bar tab for the night, as well as all receipts from any impulsive chocolate purchases.

Not to mention my therapy sessions to be held at a later date...

In case there is any confusion, this notice is only limited to rejection letters, I will of course accept any type of admittance letter on this day, especially if accompanied by full funding.

Thank you for your cooperation,

Me

Frozen

By psychdork,

So yesterday my usually reliable cell phone completely froze. I tried the usual ways of alleviating this type of situation: flipping it closed, hitting the power button, throwing it against the wall (just kidding on the last one), and nothing worked. So I went to pull the battery and couldn't get it out (keep in mind I'm sitting in my car in the dark in a CVS parking lot at the time).

I decided to forget about my phone and go run into the store like I had planned all along. As I'm walking into the store I'm starting to think worst case scenario, that I would need a new phone, and since it's worst case, all my contacts would be lost, along with all the photos I've been meaning to transfer for years. So I'm starting to think about how relatively easy it would be to get all my numbers back (or at least the important ones) and then it hits me. Grad schools.

I gave that number on all my grad school apps. What if someone calls me in the next couple days (before I can get a new phone) and I don't answer? Ahhhhhh! Now I quickly realized that they could always email me (did I write the correct email address???) but it did send me into panic mode for a while.

Fortunately I was able to pull the battery when I got home and my phone is back to normal. *insert huge sigh of relief*

So grad schools, if you can hear me, you are more than welcome to call me now...(please?).

When I signed up to write a blog, I figured that I would have a lot of things to write about. So far though, except for the occasional "your application is complete" email, I have heard nothing from my grad schools.

However...

I know about four people from my undergrad who are also applying this year, 3 to PhD programs, and 1 to masters programs. Of the PhD people: one has more interviews than I can count, one has a couple interviews with a possible acceptance, and one just got accepted yesterday. And the masters person: she just got accepted to a top school in her field.

I am happy for them.

Really I am (no sarcasm font, I swear). They are all great students and people, and truly deserve it.

But...

And I don't like to whine...and I hate feeling this way.

This is their first time applying.

And they all asked me for my advice last semester.

And yet, they all have acceptances (or at least on the verge of them), and I have nothing.

And I know it is still really early, I post that here at least once a day.

But when is it my turn?

I've been waiting a long time, where are my "good things"?

Mulligans

By psychdork,

Ever since I submitted my applications, I've been having flashbacks to last year. Watching the ball drop on New Years Eve thinking that 2009 was going to be the year, getting my first rejection letter, the heartfelt conversations I had with my profs about being rejected, conferences, etc. In a way, I feel like this year is a do-over. While things have changed, while I have changed, here it is Jan 14 and I am (once again) waiting to hear back from grad schools. It's almost like last year never happened, as crazy as that sounds.

Now of course last year happened, and while there were bad parts about it, there were also good things. But when we all look at our applications, there are things we don't like, little blemishes of whatever nature, we would like to fix. Well I was given the chance. I didn't see it that way at first, but now I do.

So what did I do differently? Well I don't want to get into specifics, as I am a private person (well as private as a person with a blog can be), however, since some people asked I will disclose some basic information.

Last year my application was relatively solid. My GPA was high. My GREs were borderline. I had 1.5 years of research experience + a honors thesis in progress + a research setting internship. One conference presentation, with 2 abstracts submitted (and later approved). I was involved in several student orgs/honor societies, including my chapter's Psi Chi president for two years. And my LORs were strong. I ended up applying to 5 schools.

This year I applied to 8 schools (4 I reapplied to, 4 "new"). I improved my GREs, and while they aren't amazing, they are still strong. I now work in 3 labs and have accumulated approx 4 years of research experience between the three. My honors thesis is complete. I have four conference presentations done, with 4 coming up. I'm in the process of getting a publication. My LORs are once again strong (I did change one of my writers, to one who now knows me better than the previous writer). I have a job in a research setting. And my personal statement is one of the best things I have ever written.

We'll have to wait and see what happens. But no one can say that I didn't go out fighting.

Hello :-)

By psychdork,

So I know I'm starting this blog late in the application cycle, but I, like many of you, simply haven't had any time the past couple of months. Anyway, I decided to start this blog for several reasons:

1. this is my second time applying to PhD programs (I was unsuccessful last year)

2. I'd rather write about my anxiety here instead of my other blog, so I don't annoy my friends too much

I graduated in May from a university in the Midwest with a major in Psychology. I decided to get my PhD in Social Psychology. I did everything I was supposed to (high gpa, research assistant for 2 years, honors thesis, conference presentations, president of student orgs, internships, etc). My GRE scores were lower than I wanted but I (and my profs) felt that I had so many other strengths that it wouldn't matter in the long run. Maybe in a different economy it wouldn't have...but in the current one, it did. I was flat out rejected from all 5 schools. To say my ego took a beating is putting it lightly. I was crushed. I was one of say 5 of the psych students on campus who as one prof put it, should be in a PhD program, and I didn't get in.

Fortunately, my fav prof-mentor was really supportive through the whole thing (I think he was more upset that I didn't get in, than I was). The whole thing made me realize how important this is to me, and how much I want to be a part of this field. So I decided to apply again, which brings me back to this website as I anxiously wait to hear something, anything positive!

Happy New Year everyone! May the New Year bring you happiness, health, prosperity, and an admission letter from your #1 choice!