Grad school application process has been a roller coaster ride for me. Before I began filling out the apps, I had a huge fear that I might got rejected across the board because of my close-to-minimum-requirement GPA. I was totally aiming at my safety school, nevertheless, I picked a couple ambitious choices and notified my recommenders in mid september.
The first deadline was NSF GRFP. It took me a while to gather information and began writing the required essays. Surprisingly, I could not find anyone from my undergrad college to give me advice/feedback on things related to that. Good that a post doc in our group joined us with NSF postdoctoral fellowship, so he knows a thing or two on NSF essays. Broader Impacts, Intellectual Merits etc.... Everything was done and submitted but this MIA recommendation letter. I was freaking out, after many emails and phone calls, the LOR did her letter and submitted half an hour before the due time... phew..
With NSF finished, I decided which schools/programs to apply to. I started crafting out my SOP. It took me a while to distinguish "personal statement" and "statement of purpose" (oh man, Michigan's essays were very... hard to write ). Got all that done, and tailored the SOPs/PS somewhat to fit each school. Schools due on 12/01 were first submitted, followed by other schools. Everything was done by 12/08 from my part. The third recommender was once again MIA, I was once again freaking out over this letter. As deadlines came and went, this letter never reached their destined schools. I wasn't really keeping any hopes up for things... It was frustrating..
Some time at end of December, a PI from one of my choices called me. It was totally surprising because they only had two LORs on their hands, and yet I got notified of having an interview. Told my ex-labmate about this (who currently goes there for grad school) and he said he'll be there to meet me, and he ended up being my student host for the interview.. But I was still feeling insecure...
Waiting is the hardest thing to do when you care about the results so much. One month had passed since the phone call, I was back to waiting around. During this time, I've heard a lot of opinions/advices/suggestions or any other synonyms of those from everyone around me. Most of them were contradictory to each other. And the final LOR was still missing, I felt my grad school applications end there, but I asked for backup letter from a good coworker of mine. That solved the LOR crisis.. Applications complete but still no more news... And hopefully no news is no rejection at this point.
Within two days of each other, two of my schools sent me informations. One invited me to interview and the other offered me admittance... These are not my very top choices, but better than nothing still...
After going through this round of applications, I'm quite thankful for people around me. A big thank you to my letter writers, two are my coworkers, who sent letters in fast and provided me backup letters when I needed one the most. I'm very grateful for my current PI, whom being a professor and all is definitely quite busy everyday, but he still managed to send my letters on time. I learned a lot! Seriously did.. academically. Thank you, for sending letters on time and being so nice when I can't help complaining about stupid things happened in the lab.. Thanks to my group of coworkers to be there when I felt like complaining nonstop.
Finally, thank you thegradcafe for having such a place to vent. Wish that I joined this forum earlier.