I've learned the hard way; never tell a woman to calm down, chill, or relax.
But my relationships (thankfully) aren’t the point of this post.
I think I’m managing all the waiting pretty well. No matter what the AdCom tells me – I’ll figure out a way to live the life I want. Pffft, It’s only the first week of February. Pffft, that “Results Post” from UT Austin Rhetoric… it’s probably imaginary,
I think I’m doing well – and then I think, “they’d tell me first, right?”
I think, “I’ll get an early acceptance. It should be right around the corner – never mind that they haven’t notified until much later in the month. Never mind any of that. They’d look at my file and decide to notify me early… because I’m special.”
I need to quit thinking.
I suppose I prefer the optimistic premonitions rather than my previously pessimistic doubt filled daydreams.
But. I need to quit thinking.
Soooo – regular readers will remember that I’m a (self-described) ruggedly handsome dude.
So have at it. Tell me to calm down, chill, and relax.
It's finally here. I leave for recruitment weekend at my future home (top choice program!) in only four days. I'm not nervous, per se, but I am definitely over-preparing. I re-read all of the emails between me and my future PI, the itinerary from the department, the research section for each interviewer's webpage, and my application materials. I've also started compiling a list of questions to ask during my one-on-one meetings and the group dinners.
I've already been accepted, since I won a college fellowship after my recruitment invite was extended, so I'm not worried about that aspect, but this weekend is still important. Most of the other interviewees haven't been accepted yet, and we're all going to be fighting for the departmental fellowships whose recipients will be decided after we leave. And of course, we're all trying to make a good impression on our future departmental faculty, make strong connections for collaboration, and figure out if this really is the right place for us to call home for another five to six years.
I plan on writing a new blog post each day of my recruitment weekend. I arrive on Thursday and leave on Sunday, so be prepared to hear all about this wild ride.
Here's a breakdown of my itinerary:
Thursday: Plane. Meet with PI for dinner.
Friday: Breakfast with committee members. Overview of the department facilities. Applicant presentations of research experience and interests. Individual faculty meetings with six different faculty, including my PI., for thirty minutes each. Social event with all current students, postdocs, researchers, and faculty. Meet with PI for dinner.
Saturday: Free time to see the area or have additional faculty meetings. Lunch with committee members. Tour of the city with current students. Hockey game. Dinner and social activities with current students.
Sunday: Leave back home.
I guess this is just what comes with the whole process of grad school applications.
I'm doing my best to stay positive but I am constantly filled with doubt about how I really measure up to other applicants.
I wonder why I even put myself through this in the first place and how all the money I spent could have been put to something else.
Sometimes I think maybe this is just a defense mechanism. If I have low expectations, I won't be disappointed if I'm rejected, and will be extremely happy if I'm accepted.
I wish I could just forget about all this for a while and not remember until the admin decisions actually come out.
Hello fuzzy penguins,
Winter and I are just... we're really not friends. It's perpetually cold, I can't go outside and run, and it's always dark. So as I sit here, curled up in fleece with the space heater blaring, I find myself picturing the future and its promise of warmth. Most notably, this upcoming August and September, when I (theoretically) start grad school. ...And yeah, the last few apps I have under review are at schools with winters just as harsh as my current homestead, but I can't help but get excited for the simple prospect of a change in scenery.
In my quest for graduate admittance, meeting and talking online with applicants and current grad students coupled with a desire for better weather has possessed me with this fun and refreshing sense of adventure. I want to meet the POIs I've researched and see if they're excited about what's going on in their lab and department. I'd like to meet professors in fields I'm inexperienced in and see what cell adhesion pathways or trinucleotide repeat dynamics or parasitic biology is all about. I'm thrilled to hit the town with recruiting grad student reps to talk shop. And more than anything, I wanna make cohort friends. It's just.. it's one of those times that you know is going to have some of the cutest moments in your career.
Til then, I guess, I will need to make do with this polar-vexed season. Travel might be good. Stay warm, kids.
Sometimes my job drives me nuts but there are moments that make it worthwhile. Moments like this - where my students are inspired to build a Rube Goldberg machine outside of class after learning about potential and kinetic energy as well as machines.
If I had a time machine.
My time machine would be a sledgehammer: just a sledgehammer. Nothing elaborate. To operate it I’d stick it between my legs (like a Harry Potter riding his Firebolt) and swish off to a far away time. Or perhaps I’d stand on the hammer. I dunno, I’ll let the engineers and the designers debate. This TimeHammerMachine would smash through dimensions and temporal structure, to hell with paradox… I smash paradox. How? I’ll let the physics and philosophy students explain.
Meanwhile – my plan!
I’d go back to that Argumentation class. It was super easy – why didn’t I just follow the directions and video tape myself in the communications lab? It dropped my grade from an A to an A -.
I bet the grad committees are looking at that A- and saying, “HA! Bowties can’t even get an A in this 100 level class. How is he ever going to change the world?!?!?” (That’s what we’re doing right, didn’t we all sign up to change the world?)
Of course it’s hyperbole… I can’t change the world.
Classic misdirection! Seriously: we can all change the world. And the committees won’t care about an A minus THAT much.
(This blog has been brought to you by the font Trebuchet MS: Exterminate Smash In Style)
After spending all my free time in my sketchbook for the last week (as well as splurging with Avengers tonight, weee) I thought I should take a few moments off and try to write down some thoughts on grad school. Since I've been bad at blogging lately, I should try to rectify my lapse with at least some thoughtful words.
You people, man. You're all so smart, driven, and accomplished. Overcoming all sorts of feats, earning all sorts of accolades, so well versed and talented. And in all honesty, it is intimidating. Personally, I feel like I haven't really experienced the rest of the "field" before stumbling upon GradCafe. As a wee little undergrad, I was thrown into a world of astoundingly smart people. However, I was more exposed to computer scientists and mechanical engineers than other biology majors. This made it hard to gauge myself against my peers. College also encouraged collaboration and solidarity by snubbing the "summa cum laude" title and making p-sets so hard that you usually could not solve every question without working it out with others. Being out of school for a few years doesn't help matters much either. Comparison to peers just.. never really went down for me.
When it's your first go at the grad app grind and you don't have a good gauge of the field, you go to sites like these and see a mess of people with higher scores and more interview invites than you can imagine. Fellow applicants post their scores in threads, on the results pages, in signatures. You find yourself comparing scores of applicants to your programs of interest and seeing if your own manage to make the cut, and it gets damned dehumanizing. For people like me, this site was really scary.. at least at first. However, word on the street is that the stats people post on GradCafe are skewed from the average--people with better scores tend to be more confident in posting their wares. After some time and some talking and interaction, you find that people here want to advise, support, and inform. It's the best. And the few instances I've seen of blatant arrogance have been quickly shot down as inappropriate, which is awesome too.
All in all, I guess I would just like to say: shine on, you crazy diamonds.
I have been going crazy trying to settle on a plan B these past few weeks. I know that applying to 7 schools (a number I now think is too low) puts me at a greater risk for not gaining admission anywhere, and I need to be prepared in the case of a shutout. I'm not a kid who can just take a gap year, but I'm also not willing to go back to my old field. I think I may have found a solution.
There are 2 MPH programs that are local to me that can be finished in 1 year that have late deadlines. One application is due April 15th and the other is due in June. I feel like that gives me plenty of time to see what will happen with the PhD and then act accordingly. They aren't funded (well, one has some funding) but I have no loans thus far and feel like I could take the financial risk if need be.
I think an MPH can only bolster my chances if I have to reapply. My BA and MA degrees have emphasized theory and critical work, so I think an MPH would allow me to expand crucial practical and, obviously, medical knowledge. By filling in these gaps in my areas of interest, I would hopefully come out of an MPH program a stronger and more prepared applicant for the PhD.
I feel super relieved. Nothing is a sure thing, but having a backup I can get behind will hopefully help me sleep easier at night.
Do you have a plan B yet?
Now is the time where things are truly out of my hands. My materials are submitted and my applications are complete. There's no room to improve and there is nothing I can say or do that will influence the committee decisions.
But somehow I feel as if this point is less difficult than how things will feel a week or a month from now. None of my schools have sent out notifications of any kind, so I am comforted to know that I wait in silence with all of my fellow applicants. Other programs have sent out some notifications, but I do not envy them their news (or no news).
You see, a few years ago I applied for another discipline (a misguided attempt, I assure you) and I struck out across the board. It was humbling, sure, but when notifications went from a trickle to a tidal flow, there was no worse feeling than being left in silence. The complete absence of information was a reminder of my inferiority as an applicant, and more generally as a scholar. It seemed like everyone around me was getting happy calls and emails from encouraging POIs. I won't lie: it felt like being picked last for an elementary school sports team, except I wasn't picked at all.
So I know that it can get worse from here. I should be relishing this short period of respite, or at least working handily on my thesis! I still check my email 5,000 times a day in the hopes of an early notification, despite knowing it is unlikely given the timeline of my programs. But once interview invitations and decisions are passed around, I fear that once again I will end up empty-handed.
Do you prefer no news or bad news? How are you handling the silence?
All my apps are submitted and all my LORs got in. It turns out one of my writers was sick with the flu and he got log jammed with early semester work.
Now just comes waiting for the next few months to hear back. However, working as a teacher, I have found that time passes by so quickly. In the classroom, anyway.
In other news, a meeting today solidified my decision of wanting to leave my district. There's been many charters opening up in our district, and our enrollment been declining. Our district's solution? Change our elementary schools to K-8.
If one of the benefits for having a K-8 is stronger teacher-student relationships, what does that matter if teachers leave? Our district has terrible teacher attrition rates, and a K-8 isn't necessarily going to solve that. People are leaving our district because it sucks. Charter schools are selling an idea - we'll get your kids to college! Our schools? Um, yeah, nothing close to that. My district's solution isn't really addressing the larger issues.
Anyway, this meeting was one guy talking for 20 minutes straight about why we should build a K-8 but having no next steps. Then he opened it up to people and was like, "Well, we're getting together because we want to know your thoughts on it." His answer to everything was "well, there's no real answer to that" or "well, that's an interesting question." Then, he ended it with, "well, I'm not really sure of the next steps, but, next week is the board meeting and I urge you all to get a proposal in."
I'm so fed up with the ineffective leadership. There's so much talk but no vision or action. I want to be somewhere where people actually know what they're doing, or at least have a good idea of how to get where they want to be. I want to feel like I'm valued and that I'm actually making a difference. My district makes me feel completely frustrated.
Chances are I'm getting pink slipped again anyway, so why bother going through the same crap I've been through the last couple of years? Even if I do get called back, I'll most likely end up starting somewhere new again...this is, again, my 4th school in 3 years. (My district is notorious for sending out a ridiculous amount of pink slips each year, and then hiring teachers back and then some. Essentially, spending tremendous amounts of money on paper and in hiring processes.)
So whether it's going to grad school or working at a different district - who knows. But I'm done here. I just can't with this anymore.
Today is the deadline for Stanford. My app is in and I am just waiting on one LOR. I had asked my letter writer in November, and he agreed - he just asked me to send him reminders as the deadline approached.
Well, I've been doing that....every time I log on, though, it says 'has not started' next to his name. ;__________;
I'm hoping that I'll get an email at midnight or something letting me know it got in...just like another of my LORs did for the TIE program.
Another one of my LOR writers submitted a letter and then sent me a copy of it after. It was an amazing letter - only my name was spelled wrong all throughout.
At this point all I can really do is shake my head and accept it.
I see my fellow bloggers have taken the time to update recently. Perhaps I’m a bit narcissistic but I’d feel better if I had another of my TARDIS pictures in the blog listings.
(This is an interesting phenomenon. A lot like when your neighbor mows his law and you feel compelled to mow yours.)
So here I am – updating: My grass isn’t any greener than yours.
I have officially started my final semester of my undergrad education. For the first time in my college experience I feel confident in my abilities to contribute to the world/knowledge base. I have self-efficacy in academia. I take the classroom concepts with me when I leave campus. I can be responsible for my own education.
But in sneaks the doubts.
Not your run-of-the-mill angsty, “I’m not good enough - nobody wants me” type of doubt. To hell with that – I’m confident in myself. Instead I have this very different “academic rubber-necking” type of doubt. I think to myself, “anthropology is fascinating, I love physics, biology makes soooo much sense… I could do that. Why not philosophy?”
I’m falling in love with the concepts on the other side of the fence. But I can still cultivate my interest in Rhetoric. Hell, part of what interested me in Rhetoric to start with was the inter-disciplinary (is it cool if I say “generalist”) approach the scholars are allowed to take. I can keep my little Rhetoric lawn at home but lay out a paper proposal that looks oddly like a picnic blanket on the lush pasture of cultural psychology.
Grass metaphors? It’s winter in Michigan… I must miss my lawn.
(This update is brought to you by: Lucida Sans Unicode "when you want a font named after your Grandmother's bridge partner")
My apologies for taking so long to get this post up! I started classes and have been pretty sick. As a reminder, the more questions you ask me, the more I know what you want answers to!
The purpose of the post for today is to provide my insights into interviews and hopefully ease some fears by helping you figure out what to expect at a biomedical science, molecular biology, immunology, or similar interview. I have a few questions that were in my message box, but other than that, I'm just going to fill in the pieces.
You guys need to remember that at most institutions, if you're selected to interview, you've got a REALLY good shot at being accepted, sometimes better than 75% chance. These programs are trying to impress you on top of trying to make sure that you're going to be a successful student and a productive addition to their research institution.
This is going to sound cliché, but the most important thing to remember is to be yourself. Don't pretend to be someone who you are not; you don't want them to view you as plastic and fake.
How do you prepare for interviews?
I hit on this previously, but there are more things to hit on. I mentioned that it is important to look up the professors who will be interviewing you if the school notifies you ahead of time. You can get a general idea about them from their lab website, but note that those are also rarely updated. Because of this, projects listed on the website may already be completed by interviews and could already be published (thanks to Glow_Gene for reminding me).Your best bet would be to look at their website and then check them out on PubMed. I also looked for their students on PubMed to see what recent publications they were included on. I read some abstracts and reviews on the professors' areas of research so that I would be able to discuss it with them when the time came, and I printed a few abstracts for study material. Prep a couple of general questions based on their most recent publications, but nothing super specific. You don't want to act like you know their field... because you don't!
All of this research also comes in handy when you're finally at a school and need to pick your first rotation. I also recommend looking up a picture of the professors and program administrators so you can at least know who to expect. It makes you feel a lot more comfortable when you walk into their office! It is also a good idea to bring in updated copies of your resume or CV. Most professors are given your application, but in case they are not or they want a new copy, take them with you.
I mentioned previously that I took some powerpoint slides from my last MS committee presentation with me to demonstrate that I could generate data. This is not necessary and definitely not required. You should also not do this unless your PI that you did the work under approves what you're taking with you; it could cause some big issues if your PI ends up getting scooped, and you want to protect that data.
When you pack, keep your bags to a minimum. Sometimes professors come and pick you up, and you will have to get your bag into their car. You're only going for a couple of days, not a month!
If you're currently in school, you need to be notifying people that you'll be gone. Make sure someone can record audio for you in lectures (if that is allowed) and be sure to reschedule things like exams as soon as you find out about the interview. I also had to find someone to sub for teaching my lab class. If you're employed, you need to either have some vacation time to take or you need to get some unpaid time off.
What should you be wearing?
I went over this in the previous post, but seeing people freaking out about it in the forums suggests it is worth repeating. On the plane or traveling, nice jeans and a decent shirt are generally fine, though I changed into khakis when I arrived at the airport.
For "casual" events such as a dinner with graduate students or other evening activities, I dressed on the more casual end of business casual: Khakis and a cute blouse, brown boots.
For my actual interview day, I dressed up more, but not to the level of a high end business professional. I wore fitted grey trouser pants with black boots, a ¾ sleeved black blazer, and a blouse.
For ladies, it is important that you're comfortable.
Here are things that I feel ladies should avoid:
1. Skirts, especially those above the knee... Complaints about modesty were common from professors. If you wear pants, you don't have to worry!
2. High heels, especially stilettos. You're going to be walking so much you'll be miserable before lunch. If you do want a heel, keep it low, and make sure that it is a fat heel so it is more supportive. Short wedge heels or boots are the best. Pick shoes you know you could wear 12+ hours with a few miles worth of walking in a day.
3. Cleavage. Just cover it up, ladies. You'd rather those you're talking to to look at your face, right? V-necked tops should probably have a camisole underneath just in case.
4. Sheer fabrics: There was a girl at interviews last year with a sheer shirt on over a yellow bra. Common sense should tell you to avoid things like that.
Guys, you've got it easier, but sometimes you put patterns together that make people cringe. Just look professional, and that should be all you need to worry about. You don't have to wear a full suit; a nice shirt + tie and dress pants are fine. Just don't wear jeans.
What are the outings with grad students like?
Odds are, you'll be arriving the evening before your interviews. Schools generally like to have the current graduate students meet you and take you to dinner, and often these students are volunteers. Usually they'll take you out to a local restaurant and you'll all sit, talk, and generally have fun. This doesn't mean that you should go and get completely wasted. Have fun, have a drink (as in only one, and a small one at that), and enjoy your meal. These grad students are both your best friend and worst enemy. They'll give you insight into the professors you're meeting and will usually answer anything you want to know about the program really honestly. On the other hand, they're also directly in contact with admissions and will note things about you. If you're rude and obnoxious, they're going to tell someone. The same goes for if you're so quiet that you talk only when spoken to or if you do not seem to play well with the other applicants.
Since I am assuming most people know how to play well with others right now, these outings with the grad students are great ways to learn about the area, real expectations for students, to ask questions about classes, professors, etc.
I had a blast at one of the interviews; the students ate with us the night before, attended their student seminar the next morning, and then the night of interviews, we got to meet them around a campfire with the professors. After that, we headed to a bar, which was a test, but we all had fun. Probably the best day was the day after interviews where the students showed us their apartments and some of their favorite places in town. Everyone was happy, and everyone was enthusiastically answering our questions.The grad students really made us feel welcome and like we wouldn't shrivel up and die if we attended there.
Another interview, the students were set up to meet us the evening we got there and then for a reception right after interviews. The difference was that students were reluctant to answer questions, acted miserable, and did not do much to make us feel welcome. These kinds of things can help you solidify a decision, later if you're struggling to choose between two schools.
What is the interview like, and what are some common interview questions?
You guys need to realize that everything is fair game. The types of interviews I attended were 3-5 interviews at 30-50 minutes each individually with each professor in their office. None of them treat interviews the same. One may want to ask you a ton of questions about your SoP, your research, and where you see yourself in 10 years. Another may have seen your application and decide that he wants to see how you take to being recruited for his lab, so your interview time will be spent discussing his research. Others are a mix of the two. Many professors will make at least some time in your interview to request that you ask questions of them about research, the area, and the program. Essentially, be ready for anything. I even was assigned a short homework assignment from one PI.
The obvious thing to do to prepare is to read abstracts as discussed above and to make sure you remember everything you put in your essay.
That being said, I know all of you still want some questions to prep to help control your constant worrying.
1. Why do you want to pursue a PhD?
You would be surprised at how many people get to their interview, are asked this question, and then just sit there staring at the person who asked it completely unable to generate a response. You're applying to grad school, so surely you have a reason for doing so, and hopefully it is one other than that the "real world" is a scary place. Know why you want to do this, and be able to talk about it.
Hint: You probably hit on this in your essays!
2. Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
A good idea here is to have a couple of options already in your head.
3. Why do you want to study at "insert institution name"?
Of all questions, you really want to be sure of this! You need to be able to demonstrate that you've applied to a school for other reasons than it had a free application or has a well-known name. Were there specific PIs you wanted to work with? Be careful, here... you need to have more than one PI! Was there a specific research area, such as epigenetics, that the school is known for? They almost always ask this, often followed up by something like, "You didn't grow up in a place like this, so how do you think you will adjust?" or "Will moving away from your family be okay with you?" or "Will your significant other be moving with you, or will they remain behind?" These sound personal, and they are, but sometimes they ask to try and gauge if you're serious about the school. I know when I interviewed, I wasn't prepared for that kind of follow-up, but I had luckily already discussed it with my boyfriend and family..
4. You said "insert random thing" in your essay. Can you elaborate a little on that? Why do you feel that "thing" is so important in "whatever they correlate it to"?
This is notable because you're going to have things in your essay that make you unique. They're going to want to question you on that. It could be some anecdote from your essay, something you say you want to do with your life (like public science outreach), or even something completely random.
5. Why did you want to be interviewed by me?
If you got to select who your professors were, be able to tell them why you picked them. Telling them you just went down the list isn't nice. Pick your profs by research interests and other factors.
6. Do you have any questions for me?
Now would be a good time to ask questions about the program, or, if you haven't discussed their research, give a segue into discussing a little about it. Like anyone in science, they love talking about what they do!
(More questions will be added as I get more question ideas!)
Interview etiquette (copied from my previous post):
Make eye contact.
Shake their hands when you get there and when you leave them.
Avoid "stuff" words (like, kinda, sorta, maybe, ummm, etc) and run-on sentences (and.... and then.... but..... and.....).
Ask questions about their research, the students, AND the program (the PIs might not know, but they will see your interest).
Say thank you!
Do all of the things you know to be professional, but try not to make yourself seem plastic.
It is a great idea to have someone give you a practice interview a few times before you go. Some career services places at your university may have this service for you. It is a good idea to film and watch yourself to see where you need to improve.
Next time, we'll answer Rexzeppelin's question: "How do you determine if your potential PI is a closet psychopath?" Feel free to ask me questions in the comments or to message me questions! I'll either answer them directly or make a new post!
GOOD LUCK AT INTERVIEWS!
I'm lucky that I have a job to keep me busy throughout the week. I'm already in the midst of assessments and preparing for parent-teacher conferences.
On my down time and weekends, however, I find myself compulsively checking my email and these forums. I know March will be here soon enough, but right now, it seems so far away.
I've recently started pushing myself to go to the gym on a consistent basis in order to de-stress and get in shape. When I don't get around to going to the gym, I watch random shows on Netflix.
I've also been crocheting here and there. I have so much yarn in these plastic bins....my goal is to start using it up.
Here are some of my various projects:
This beanie was originally meant for my boyfriend's sister's baby (who is due to come in about a month, give or take) but it was too small. I put it on my cat.
A (bigger) beanie and baby booties.
These are shark booties I made for her baby.
This was a shark baby blanket/pouch thing....her mom asked me to make one for the baby shower, as it was shark themed. (my boyfriend's sister really likes sharks).
This is it in use at the baby shower....
Sometimes I wish I could make a living off crocheting....
My apps are better than good - they're done. nearly
My writing sample is solid!
My SOP sets me apart!
Everyone likes me in the GradCafe chatroom!
This overwhelming doubt and second guessing (do I really want to specialize in anything? why can't I just drink coffee and talk big theories with neck bearded folks at the local coffee shop) will fade away.
It's not a matter of IF I get accepted it is only a matter of WHEN.
I won't lose friends.
Relationships won't deteriorate.
At least I can play the guitar.
I'll get in - I'm personable, intelligent, hardworking, lucky.
WHEW! it sure feels good to admit these.
The blog is titled “The Many Flavors of Rhetoric” because they told me I could name it whatever I want and I was hungry.
So: Here I am in the middle of Grad School app season. Follow my angst, share my excitement, and (some other tagline because someone told me things look good in threes).
Male, ruggedly handsome.
Middle-of-Nowhere Uni that accepts everyone and graduates few. (GPA 3.69)
GRE V164 Q150 AW 4
I have two conference presentations.
I don’t take myself seriously.
I’m kind and easy to get along with.
I can’t promise many insights from this blog – hell it’ll probably be as much about Grad School as it is Netflix – but I hope you enjoy watching me find my future.
I've enjoyed my two weeks of holiday vacation. Alas, it has come to an end, and tomorrow it's time to return to work...
I love my job but it's definitely hard adjusting to a regular work schedule again. I bet it's just as tough for my kiddos. I am anticipating reviewing rules and procedures...two weeks is a long time for 4th graders...
On the bright side, my applications are done and submitted. At this point, there's nothing I can do except wait and see how it turns out. It brings me back to my senior year of high school, anxiously waiting for 3-4 months to hear back from schools.
I'm going to remind myself that if I don't get in, it's not the end of the world. I will have a job at least.
I'm also excited to get to use the 3D MakerBot Printer we received through DonorsChoose. It's going to be so much fun.
To anyone who is still on holiday - enjoy it! To anyone returning to reality, I feel your pain.
Hi little Otters,
When I started this grad school app silliness, pretty much everything was horrifying. I thought the feat of studying for and performing well on GREs was terrifying. The prospect of asking LORs for letters was intimidating. Bearing my experiences and shortcomings in my SOP was like facing an angry, objective mirror that kept yelling at me for mixing up effect and affect. (I still think I've probably got them switched them around wrong somewhere ) However, nothing has been nearly as distressing as that wait for that magical first response.
Gawd, that wait. That check your email/phone/application website/GradCafe every five minutes kinda wait, hoping someone somewhere in the scary world of adcomms will reach out, pat you on the head, and tell you that you happen to be what they're looking for. The emotional toll has been surprisingly harsh, and the first few weeks after getting that last app in was rough. It's just this terrible roller coaster between feeling super competent and qualified and feeling simple and mediocre (especially compared to the many fine applicants on this site, but that's another post). I'm sure that adcomms are aware of these kind of psychological stressors they're putting on us, and I'm curious about how they handle it within their admissions procedures. Relatedly, I'd kinda like to see data on the applicant pool's average stress levels and how it correlates with phone call frequency to their offices during different points in the app season, but I digress...
Personally, I think I have gotten over that initial spat with self-doubt (for the most part, anyways). After a bit you just kind of.. chill out, realize you've done all you can, and know the world won't end if the outcome isn't what you had originally planned. Also, distractions. My current favorite is splurging on pretentious 90's sitcoms with Nexflix. Other activities include getting myself to write things like this, and painting, and running and rebuilding my tiny race car and other silly things like that.
I am, however, having trouble re-establishing a cycle for meaningful productivity, and of course I still catch myself compulsively checking the results page at every spare moment. I see a lot of people complain about stress on these forums, both for application requirements and the post-app wait. However, it seems like threads that explicitly address methods for dealing with it seem few and far between: there's an occasional de-stress music thread or maybe even a game thread or two, but nothing really approaches the topic directly. My few bits of anecdotal evidence claim that the distraction of school can alleviate grad app anxieties. (Lucky you, you young'uns.) Another strategy I've heard is exercise complemented with a stringent routine. (Hopefully I'll get back on the treadmill come Monday, cold weather be damned.)
Are any of you fellow applicants having problems like these? How are you dealing with it? What do you think about GradCafe's approaches to reduce application anxiety?
One thing I've been thinking about lately is how my pets would handle the move across the country, if by some chance I actually got into HGSE.
I've had Pirate (the cat) since I was in high school and have had Gordie (the dog) for about two years. I think Gordie would adapt more easily, as he's used to going on road trips. He's experienced snow once, too. Pirate, on the other hand, would take some time to adjust. He's never seen snow; I wonder what his reaction would be.
I also wonder about the cost and how difficult it would be to find housing. It took forever trying to find an affordable place where I currently live, as many of the apartments aren't pet friendly or charge an exorbitant fee for pets. I can understand a pet deposit but monthly pet rent? Really?
If it came down to it, I know I could trust family or friends to take my pets in for a year. I wouldn't feel comfortable doing that, though. My pets are my responsibility and it wouldn't be fair to anyone. I'd like to have my pets with me, too, as they're my support system. My boyfriend would be coming, too, so they would have that extra someone to look after them while I'm in classes.
Has anyone with pets experienced this? How did it work out?
I was panicking the other day about my LOR coming in late. I had notified my writer in November, and had sent polite reminders. Around the end of December, I was really freaking out when I received a response saying she was out of town but would work on it when she got back. It hadn't been submitted yet. Today I received an email notifying me that Harvard app's deadline was extended to Monday (it was originally tomorrow), so I breathed a sigh of relief. The LOR should be on time now.
Now, I'm just having severe moments of panic and self-doubt regarding the rest of my application. I've spent so long on my statement trying to perfect it, and while I'm currently pleased with it, I can't help but wonder "what if it's still not good enough?" Then I think, "what if I'm not good enough?"
I know it's not the end of the world if I get rejected. I can always try reapplying later, or say screw it and find another way to pursue my goals. It's just the thought that after devoting so much time, effort, and money into applications, it would sure suck to get a rejection.
I guess I should just take a deep breath, hit submit and get it over with.
I figured before I delved into my journey I should provide some background information.
I'm currently an elementary school teacher at a Title 1 district. I love being in the classroom, but I aspire to be an edtech coordinator/technology specialist. I'm really passionate about education and technology, and my dream job would be supplying urban schools with technology and training educators in using it effectively.
(I come from a low socio-economic background, and this is why I want to work with this population of students.)
My original goal was to be a multimedia journalist. I do enjoy story telling, however, I felt I wasn't making as much of an impact as I wanted to. I wasn't really passionate about my work as a journalist, and felt something was lacking. I don't regret it - I learned some valuable skills - but I really didn't see myself working in that field.
During my undergrad career, I volunteered as a technology instructor at a local high school. I would bring in flipcams and laptops, and would facilitate workshops where students created their own digital stories. This is where something clicked and my journey as an educator began.
I became a teacher through Teach For America. In retrospect, I do wish I had gone through a more traditional route to become a teacher - I would have been better prepared to meet the needs of my students. At the time, however, I had already taken out loans for my BA. I didn't want to go back to school to get into even more debt. I was ready to get out and do something. TFA seemed like a viable option.
So here I am. In my time at this district, I've been pink slipped once and excessed twice. This isn't became of my performance as a teacher, but rather declining enrollment and a poorly managed district. In my three years, I've been at four different schools. It's really exhausting and frustrating, and more than anything - it's terrible for students.
The one thing I've enjoyed is working at my last two schools. They have a 1:1 device program (iPods and iPads) that they were able to implement with some grant money. I've learned a lot about the possibilities of edtech, and it's been pretty awesome trying new things out.
The downside is the poorly managed district. We have this amazing technology at my school but we're limited in how we can use it. Our district is very reluctant to adapt to the changing times. It's hard to get anything serviced or updated. They do not trust teachers with technology, and everything must be done through the IT department. However, the department takes its sweet time and even then, is not always familiar with the technology. It's things like this that makes me want to move on beyond the classroom - I think it's absolutely ridiculous that things like this are happening.
I do have an MA in Urban Education. However, I feel I need to learn more about educational technology in order to accomplish my goals. I know I'm applying to really competitive schools but I figured it's worth a shot. I'm really passionate about multimedia literacy and empowering students with technology.
Undergrad Institution: University of Southern California
Major(s): Broadcast and Digital Journalism
Minor(s): Digital Studies, Interactive Media and the Culture of New Technologies
Overall GPA: 3.43
Master's Institution: Loyola Marymount University
Concentration: Urban Education, Policy and Administration
GRE Scores (revised version): .
First time: V: 155 Q: 151 AW: 4.5
Second time: V: 160 Q: 148 AW: 4.5
Teacher of the Year, 2013
Honors in Multimedia Scholar
Pertinent Activities or Jobs:
Elementary school teaching, tutoring/mentoring, experience with technology and 1:1 device programs, volunteering in schools
Special Bonus Points:
First generation low-income minority, TFA alumni (maybe...I know it's not really respected by everyone)
Applied to Where:
The Technology, Innovation, and Education program at Harvard Graduate School of Education
The Learning, Design, and Technology program at Stanford Graduate School of Education
My Application Concerns:
GRE scores, undergrad GPA
Hey there kittens,
Recently I've been granted a blog on this here wonderful site and I thought a quick intro post was in order. While many of these blogs are documentations of personal experiences during the harrowing graduate school application process, I'm hoping to focus more on general topics that affect many of us who have been wearing down our F5 keys to nubs. I'd like to hash out the nuances of talking to other grad applicants (both in terms of peers and anonymous members of online communities, such as GradCafe), methods for dealing with anxiety, and the problems facing graduate students today like funding, funding, and funding.
For a little background on why I'm joining the application fray: I'm a little molecular/cellular biology kid. I graduated from one of those scary top 5 college a few years back, then spent the last 2 years as a lab tech. Most of my experience is in cardiomyocyte differentiation techniques/cell cycling, and I also have worked on neuronal regeneration and microbial antibiotic resistance. For apps, I've been looking at a lot of labs working on heart regeneration as well as dsDNA repair. My ultimate goal: become the sassy and wise professor I've always imagined my old self to be, and I know I can't get to that point without that pretty PhD.
Any queries about topics you all would like to address or if I'm ever missing a crucial perspective, please don't hesitate to comment. I'd love to know how you all feel about this crazy experience we all get to share!