So less than a month until the big move. I'm both excited yet freaking out at times. This whole process is about to finally end and a new journey will start and hopefully it ends as well as this one.
Anyways, as many obstacles it seems like a person confronts with this whole process they must not forget the journey isn't over until you are really there. I say this because some of the things you don't think about when applying become harder once you have made a decision. Finding an apartment has been one of these particularly difficult things I have encountered. Unfortunately, this is somewhat my fault given I simply couldn't afford to make trips back and forth just to look at places. I was finally able to work with a real estate company that has rentals which helped dramatically. I would definitely recommend this to anyone especially if you are moving more than a few hours away. This was after the fact that I had found a place and basically was screwed over. Unfortunately, at many universities on-campus housing is unreliable and most grad students can save a lot money by finding a place off campus, I know from my experience I am saving roughly 200 dollars every month, which is a lot on a graduate student's budget. Overall, I am relieved that I will at least have a place to sleep when the move finally comes.
Secondly, I am all registered for the fall. A few things may change, but I will see when I actually get to my orientation and talk to a few professors. The big thing I have to confront with this is time conflicts with my required methods courses and a course I really was just looking forward to taking. I knew this may be a problem when I made my decision to choose a smaller program over a larger one though, so still I am excited to get started.
Thirdly, the thing I am most excited about is starting my assistantship. I think after having worked so hard to get to this point I feel like I can bring something to the table really, at least I hope. I am honestly just happy to be making some money even if the majority of it is going towards my living expenses as well.
I wanted to finish this blog for the time being by noting more of my background. I applied for PhD programs in poli. sci after a year off of school. I did okay on the GRE but not spectacular like most of the people on this forum. My undergraduate gpa was pretty good at around 3.8, which I definitely believe helped with my less than stellar GRE verbal score. My research focus covers a number of issues, including energy politics, ethnic issues, and more broadly security within Central and Eastern Europe. I do have some experience in the region which I thought helped narrow my research focus, but I don't particularly believe this set me apart from others.
Overall, if I had recommend anything to anyone about this whole process, it would be to only apply to programs you would actually attend. Lastly, you don't want to have any regrets about the whole process, applying for a given program is a lot less expensive than what you will be spending after you make a final decision.
Going into this process, and throughout this whole process, I think we all encounter obstacles and while these definitely are hard at certain points, they definitely have not been the hardest for me personally. For me, the hardest part has come post-acceptance and waiting. When I originally chose the programs I applied to, I could see myself being a successful scholar at all of them. I only applied to six programs and I definitely could have been shut out but instead I have been lucky. Honestly, I never imagined I would have to choose. While I do consider myself a good applicant, just by looking on this forum it has made me realize there are many other excellent candidates. I am still in somewhat shock to have choices. Choosing now is the hardest part.
When it comes down to choosing, you do have to consider a lot of things, and when considering all of these things, the situation becomes more real. While I have dreamed of this to whole situation I never pictured having to turn down offers to programs I would love to attend. I actually chose to write a somewhat lengthy email to the one program I declined thus far, because out of all the programs I applied the staff and faculty there were always so nice. They went out of their way at times just for one person that was applying to a program that attracts around 100 applicants. To me being nice always goes a long way, and this particular program I think deserves a lot more credit than they get. Not only this, I loved the location of this particular program. I know I won't be able to eat KFC again and not think of them. LOL, just trying to draw humour into the situation after making this difficult decision. Overall, turning this particular program down, as well as considering which other offer I will eventually have to turn down, has been the hardest decision I have had to make throughout this process.
When I first begin blogging I really thought it would help me unwind and sometimes it really does, but for instance right now it is 3 AM and I am up. Why it's not even a week day so I shouldn't be worrying right? Well the thing is my brain hardly ever wants to shut off and right now it's pissing me off. On a much more random note, RIP Whitney. I never really liked her as an artist but you have to give her some credit.
I mainly wanted to talk about my admissions profile, because I guess now that I have heard back from some programs, I don't necessarily need that anonymity. My academic profile is good nut nothing spectacular like some of the people on this forum. I did extremely well on the GRE quant and on the verbal section I barely made the 50 percentile. No I am not applying to exclusively top 15 -even 30 programs, but I nonetheless good programs that fit my academic interests. My GPA on the other hand is good, around 3.9/4.0. My CV while I think is okay isn't really anything to jump up and down about. I don't have anything published. My job experience is fairly relevant but just okay, and my other skills listed on it may be relevant to my research, but I have seen much better. I am not some super human I guess although going into this process I literally thought I was the sh*t. Trust me, I think that has helped my morale because I don't think I could have handled many of the things I have gone through without the confidence I have in myself.
I also wanted to talk about acceptance and rejection obviously. After all, that is the title of this post. The first notification I received was an acceptance. I think I was a little shocked, but definitely I was happy because like many of you I have dreamed about this for a long time. Two days later, I received a rejection from my top choice. Truthfully, while originally I thought I would be extremely upset I wasn't. Who really wants to live in Pittsburgh anyways? My most shocking decision came the next day when I was accepted to another program. Originally, I thought when applying I would get accepted to maybe 1 or 2 programs and I would have been perfectly happy with that but I still have to hear from a few more programs. I am still in the game. For me this definitely is the perfect analogy, because one I chose being an academic over professional tennis, and secondly my family is heavily involved in sports, not playing them but in other ways. I think for anyone that is a former athlete this process definitely has some similarities to sports because not only is it extremely competitive, you do have good days and bad days, you can ultimately win what you most desire, etc. One thing I hate most about it though is when you do hear news and your family and friends treat it like sports.
One of the main reasons why I wrote this particular blog was out of curiosity. I wanted to see if there were any German, Russian, or Lithuanian speakers on this forum and to see where they were applying.
I think that's all for this week. Hopefully the rest of you will be hearing good news in the coming weeks.
First off, the day started off extremely frustrating given that I had received an email from two programs saying they haven't received my actual department applications. I then spent the next 3 hours checking, re-filling stuff out, checking again, and then finally submitting these department applications. They did receive all the other parts of the application so I guess I should be a little more optimistic. Ultimately, I have come to the conclusion I hate two part applications. Truthfully though, I feel a little relieved given that at least I found about this before their given deadlines.
Speaking of optimism, I definitely feel like I need to hang out with more optimistic people. I am truthfully sick of people, most of my family and friends, saying that I am just avoiding the workforce by going to grad school. It's like people haven't been listening to anything I have said for the past 25 years. On the bright side though, my former department is extremely supportive. Professors who I barely know have emailed me asking if I needed help with anything with the whole process. My mom also has always really pushed me so really I think without that little bit of support the whole process would be almost unbearable.
Finally, a little less than a month and I will start hearing my results. In all honesty, I think I am more terrified than anything. I asked the magic 8 ball on my phone and it has said, "without a doubt" when I asked if I will get in somewhere, so maybe we will finally be able to see if it is true that the magic 8 ball never lies.
Lastly, I wanted to comment on this blog overall. My blog is completely informal and truthfully half the time in jibberish, and I think really this I think shows i am more human in a way. Really, a GRE score or CGPA don't define who I am, it may help admission committees make decisions on my prospects, but really there is so much more to life than this whole process.
I had previously written that I wanted to get the rest of my apps in a few weeks ago, but after submitting my December apps I sort of lacked motivation and didn't really want to look at the stuff for awhile. I finally am finishing my apps and I am very happy to have this process almost done, with the exception of a professor sending his LOR's. Truthfully, I think with my other recs writing their letters before and my one professor just writing them now contributed to this lack of motivation some. Really it just goes to show your recs. maybe be busier than you think so really you don't want to get too discouraged with the whole process.
I have now begun to take a look more into my actual chances at various programs, because really the lack of motivation was to a point where I was thinking, what am I doing? After some minor missteps though, I am ready to get this process done with. Hopefully, I will be hearing good news from somewhere in the next couple months. In the meantime, I have been busy and will be keeping busy.
Really, just a few points to mention. I am keeping this short because I have been sick the past couple days and need to just sleep. I figure this would be good given in a few months time I won't be sleeping and will be just anxiously waiting for news.
- 2 of 6 apps done, other 4 due in Jan. but I will have them done in the next couple weeks in order of program deadline/preference. I have to budget these some.
- 12 of 18 Recs completed
- SOP revised/tailored for all but one program
- Transcripts from one school sent, will be sending others this Friday. I kind of wish I would have never had to transfer, but then again it saved me a lot of money in the long run so can't complain.
- GRE scores coming out next week, will be requesting more reports then. Again, budgeting these. (Edit: scores came out early, 11/2, Given I took the test on August 1st, I am happy that ETS was actually on progress with their score time-lines. I was somewhat surprised with my verbal score given it was lower than the estimated score. My quant. section was on the higher end though so I guess it makes up for my lackluster performance on the verbal. The overall score is still in the range I wanted it to be in so I am pushing forward. Still a little disappointed I guess)
So some people may wonder why I note budgeting almost at every point, but really I am just trying to save money so I have it when I do have to make a decision. Again, I am being confident.
So I will begin by noting when I first began this process for me it was fun. Yeah, I actually said that. After awhile though I got to a point where I almost couldn't wait until it was over. Like right now I am dreading submitting my first set of apps. I have been lucky to get a few fee waivers, so this first set isn't costing me much, but these are the most competitive programs I am applying to so some stress there. Really though, there are just so many things to stress out about in this whole process, whether it is GRE scores, LOR's, a SOP, etc. This forum can both add or decrease the stress at times just depending on certain issues. Add in everyday life, and really the process just gets tiring, so hopefully it will be worth it, fingers crossed.
So some sense of relief today. First off, I got the first good night of sleep in weeks. Then I was somewhat caught off guard when I started receiving emails saying LORs were completed by one of my recs. He immediately emailed saying he had all of the LORs completed and to let me know about when I started hearing news. Unfortunately with some apps you have to submit apps before a rec can be completed, so when I finally stop feeling nauseated about the process and hit the submit button he can do the last recommendation. For me this is not just a huge relief because they are done but because he is the rec. that most closely matches my interests. He knows me better than my other two recs, and has been the one that has helped me the most in this whole process. While he was disappointed when I told him I wasn't going to apply to his alma mater (a program where I just don't feel competitive), he did then comment some on the programs I am considering. it actually made me feel good about at least one thing in this whole process. For me, I really just realized I am actually doing this. Well obviously I am but right now I just feel really good.
On another note, a little less than two and a half weeks until GRE scores come out for some of us. Truthfully, I actually will just feel relieved that the scores will be sent out.
Edit: Yay, another good morning as I woke up seeing more LORs completed by another one of my recs. I guess the reason why I get so excited about this is because I live on the opposite side of the country/or in a complete different country where my recs are from.
I guess I will start this blog with a little introduction and telling you all about my admissions journey thus far. I will say before you continue to read, this is an informal blog, so it's basically me just jotting things down.
So a little bit about me, I graduated with a BA in Political Science this past year. Although, I wasn't planning on taking a year off, things seemed to just work out that way, and I couldn't be more thankful. I will try to elaborate on this later on. Currently, I am applying for a PhD in Political Science, and I guess like everyone else on this forum I am just getting ready for the roller coaster ride we know as the admission cycle.
My admission cycle really began last year, although I didn't discover this forum until early this year. I had planned to apply to a number of Political Science programs, focusing mostly on Comparative Political Economy, but while I was working in Eastern Europe I was hospitalized and had to end up rescheduling my GRE and ultimately just couldn't afford to apply to programs at that time because of prior arranged traveling. I guess now would be the time to note I am an American. A few more classes later and some soul searching really led me to ultimately discover more focused research interests. Since then, my professors who are writing my recommendations have been more than supportive in my search for programs to consider applying to.
So now a little bit on my application process thus far. I started writing my SOP this summer and I think I have gotten to a point now that I am tired of editing it. I despise the fact that some places want SOP’s that are 500 words or less while some programs want a few pages. When I started looking into programs and POIs this summer, I begin with a list of about 20 or so programs after some time this list cut down quite a bit and then it happened again and now I am fairly confident in my choices of programs. It is amazing how much reading can turn you off from people who you thought you would enjoy working with. As far as the programs I am applying to, I really haven't looked at rankings too much. At the beginning of August I finally was able to take the GRE. I actually was fine with my predicted results, given the only prep I did was go over some old vocab flash cards and take a few Powerpreps. I guess we will see in a few weeks how the scores translate to percentiles though. Now, I have reached a point where I feel I can begin start submitting my apps, I have requested transcripts and such, but really I am just hesitant because I hate the idea of playing the waiting game for so long. Does anyone else feel the same or am I crazy for just not feeling motivated and submitting them?