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About this blog

A 20-something's attempt at doing what feels like the impossible

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It has been a long time since I've even come onto the grad café. Moving to London and starting grad school has really taken any free time I used to have to just surf the web and engulfed it, but I am incredibly happy about that.

First term has finished and I am now progressing into my second round of courses before I hit the heavy 4 months of dissertation writing that is to come in the spring. I'm more excited about finally getting to do some research but also nervous about the prospect of finding a supervisor, and actually working on it all.

Something which has been on my mind lately is potentially moving on to doing a Ph.D. after this degree. Ideally I would be able to start as soon as I finished my Master's, but I don't think my first term has prepared me enough to be able to send in the applications for the March 14th deadline. I need more time to think, time to get a grasp on if I actually want to move away from industry and into academia, and to ensure my grades are stellar so I can get funding.

Plus I've been in postsecondary education for nearly 5 years now. Most people would agree that it is time for a break (maybe I'm wrong, but I think I deserve one . . . not sure if starting full-time work would really be considered a break though).


Facing Reality

I had induction for my course this week and they were suggesting that I needed to put in 180 hours of work (including lab time, in course time, and course work) per semester per course for my Master's. In the 11 weeks of the semester that equals to about 65 hours per week.

I spoke to a Ph.D. student who had just graduated from my course and she said "Say goodbye to your friends for 12 months. You'll have fun but you won't have time for them."

My cohort is all professionals excluding myself and another student. It's not a bad thing, but it is definitely intimidating.

Needless to say this has left me feeling really defeated. I just moved to a new city for this program, and was planning on both enjoying school and life while I was here. Based on what professors and this one previous student have told me . . . I won't be enjoying my life it seems. My life will equal grad school and nothing but grad school.

I understand that grad school is a commitment and requires a lot of time and effort. But I really want to know how much these people are exaggerating vs what the reality actually is. I won't find out until I am in the thick of it, but part of me wants to run away now before I even start.

Anyone else felt this way on their first week?

Edit: For some reason 130 hours per course turned into 180 hours in my brain. The maximum I am expected to work on the program each week is 47 hours, which is much more like what I was expecting. Freakout unnecessary.


Two weeks ago I was rejected from the University of Toronto. Thankfully their letter was not snarky or mean, but it was short and I feel like I wasted too much of my time impatiently waiting - not to mention the couple hundred dollars I spent to apply and to have a copy of my transcripts sent.

I wasn't too discouraged when I first received the rejection, it wasn't my top choice of school and I had a conditional acceptance elsewhere. But, as time passed, I soon became more and more worried about my situation come the fall. The rejection slowly ate away at my self confidence concerning my acceptance at City University London, especially since I had that panic a few weeks back.

From the realization I might not be going to grad school, to the blow of a rejection I have realized a couple of things.

I want this degree, and the career that comes with it more than anything. At first I was most excited about the prospect of moving to London, or Toronto, places that I have dreamed about moving to for years. I forgot that this was all about my education. After the scare of not going I remembered what it really was about. Education and then career. I'm not going into academia like many of the other people here, but in Canada a Master's degree is worth it's weight in Tuition.

Since I feared rejection from both schools so badly I began on my quest to learn the content I needed to succeed in the career of my choice, not an easy feat when you only possess about half the skills required (for those of you curious, I want to be a UX Designer/Researcher eventually becoming a freelance consultant in the field, something where I only possess the knowledge of Human Factors, and no design experience . . . about 50% of what I need to get a job). I could do it alone, but I'd rather go to school.

It has been a whirlwind of a month, to say the least, my emotions have been all over the place in regards to this grad school thing. Additionally I am dealing with the repercussions of graduating during an economic downturn. I haven't worked for 3 months now and my bank account is running on empty. Thankfully my parents were more than happy to have me move back into their home, even if I am stuck in the now spare bedroom (which used to belong to my sister) because my room has been transferred to someone else.

The situation has all culminated to this morning, when I got my long awaited UNCONDITIONAL ACCEPTANCE to City University London. The financial fears have long been dealt with, and I've already paid a deposit on a place to live so I needn't worry about that anymore either. AS of 12:30 today I began working on gathering my things for a Tier 4 VISA to the UK, and applying for OSAP (Ontario Student Assistance Program) once again - the fifth time in my life I've completed this task. The next couple of weeks are going to be filled with embassy and bank visits, and browsing the many websites which allow me to search for the cheapest possible flight to Heathrow. I'm feeling like a huge bundle of nerves from the excitement, and fear. But mostly I'm glad I don't have to keep trying to learn design on my own - I'll have a well versed professor helping me out in a couple of months.

Now, to start brainstorming on a dissertation topic.

Thank you to everyone who has followed along on this journey with me. I am so glad for all your kind words, and encouragement, as well as helpful advice and ideas for what I could do if I didn't make it in. This community is so wonderful and I am so glad to have found it to help me out.


Anyone who has seen my most recent post on the forum knows that I did not meet what I thought my conditional acceptance average requirement was. After speaking with someone on admissions and going over my acceptance again at 3am I realized I was never going to go to City University.

For some reason I had placed the idea that the B+ was only for fourth year in my head. It's not. I needed a B+ average over the course of my entire degree to meet the condition. This is the thing that prevented me from applying to universities in Canada; the high GPA requirement. I applied to schools in England in hopes of bypassing this and I thought I had after receiving an acceptance letter from City University London a mere 3 weeks after I had applied. It was even before my letters of recommendation were in.

Alas, I was wrong. Unless, I get some amazing exceptional email about how they want me anyway, despite my shortcomings, I am not going to London in the Fall. I will probably not even be going to grad school unless I finally hear back from University of Toronto. But, like I said, I am in the sub-3.00 GPA group; acceptances are few and far between (so I've heard). I have no desire to continue desperately take courses at the University where I've done my undergrad, and I've already taken the majority of the Psychology courses offered and I don't really have the perquisites to take things in different topics. Maybe it's not a good idea to be making such a bold statement right now about my future due to how low this had made me feel, but the way I feel at this moment is that I am never going to apply for my Master's again nor am I ever going to get a Master's degree.


Still Waiting

Just a quick entry, as I am in the midst of studying for my last exam and writing the final paper of my undergraduate degree.

I still haven't heard from the University of Toronto, my application has been under review since February 15th. I think a fair amount of people on this forum would have emailed them demanding a response by this point, but all applications were only due 6 days ago. I personally am leaning towards believing that I've been rejected by the program; the academic side of my application was less than stellar and I've come to believe more weight is placed on that part over the individual's resume, letters of recommendation, and statement of interest.

Part of me thinks that I am a maybe, if they don't fill up the school with individuals who are better suited for their requirements - a last choice, if you will, but I don't even know if I've managed to impress them that much. Maybe they're waiting for my final grades to come in, but to me I'd rather get the money back from how much it is going to cost to send the copy of my transcripts over, especially since I am so convinced I do not fit their standards. Thankfully it's not so much a blow to my self esteem as it is confirmation that heading to England next year is the right choice; I'm merely waiting for official confirmation.


Firstly, I would like to thank everyone who commented on my last article with money advice. This whole acceptance has left me with many things to think about but I definitely won't be focusing on simply one aspect anymore.

In my mind, despite still having not heard from the University of Toronto, I have decided to go to City University London.

In my parents mind, it's too far away, and they're not comfortable with me going.

When I first told them I got in their initial reaction "I don't have that kind of money." So immediately my thoughts went to that as well. As time passed I started to ignore the money thing, I can double my line of credit and deal with the negative monetary repercussions when I finish my Master's. I'll move to Alberta and work for some evil oil company 7 days a week for a year if I have to (I won't be the first Canadian to do it, and I won't be the last).

After milling over it for a week, and speaking mildly intoxicated with a group of very supportive friends (one of whom has lived in almost every large city in Canada, and in New Zealand, all through work-terms while he was in school). I have weighed that the life experience I would gain from this would far exceed what I'll be paying. Not only would I be living a dream I've had for 2 years now, but I would also get to experience the world in a way that I've never been able to before. And I would be attending a school which, from what I've read, will likely one day be a top university in the world. The program there is known for being really good as well, and I was excited about it long before getting accepted (much more excited than the other school I applied to).

Now to convince the parents. I know as an adult the decision is ultimately up to me, but while I'm away my parents will be the people making sure I am still connected to my home country, will be storing a large amount of my things for me, and will probably be taking care of my cat. Plus they're really the people I talk to the most, even more than many of my friends. I honestly think a large reason why I applied to go to school so far away is so I can distance myself from them a little . . . Either way they've moved past the money thing, but I don't think either of them are on board anyway. My dad even said "You come home, and we buy you groceries sometimes, and you come home for dinner occasionally All that helps. If you move to London we won't be able to hop on a plane and help you if you need it, if you're in Toronto we could." And my mom told my sister it's too far away as well. But she didn't even want me to go to school in British Columbia because it was too far, so that was to be expected.

I basically need to convince my parents either: 1) I am responsible enough to go away for a year somewhere very far, to live an experience that I will deeply regret not living, or 2) Convince them that people far less responsible than myself have gone away for longer to theoretically more 'dangerous' countries (the main example I am thinking of is my cousin, who moved to Austria to be a nanny for a year when she was 18 - not insulting her or anything, but obviously 21 year old me who has lived away from home for 4 years and is almost 100% financially independent (minus tuition), moving to a country where I already speak the language, is much less to worry about than a girl fresh out of high school, who has never lived away from home before, moving to a country where she doesn't speak the language to care for some stranger's children).

Sorry if that is terribly written, I'm incredibly frustrated with my parent's reaction right now. But like I said, I really can't go without their partial blessing. In the very least they'll need to cosign so I can extend my line of credit.



I got in to City University London's Msc in Human-Centered Systems on the condition that I get a B+ average this year, and send in my two references. I can't say yes right now, my dad has said he can't pay for it and I know I would have to take out massive loans to go but I'm going to look into scholarships now to see if maybe I can make this happen.

I don't even know what to say right now. I wish I could write more.


My application for the University of Toronto is 100% completed. My letters of recommendation have been sent in by my recommenders, and all my documents have arrived at the university. I'll be spending the next week and my entire reading week break wondering if I got in, despite the fact that a response probably won't be in my inbox when I get back on the 23rd.

My City University application is going to take a little longer to complete. I gave my recommenders until April to finish the letters for there for me. One said she'll have it finished next week, the other probably won't until April like I asked. I wish I had asked for him to complete it sooner, because my acceptance there (and decision to attend) is going to be something I'll really have to think through. I basically applied on a whim and because it was free. I would really like to attend, of course, but financially it may not be feasible.

I guess I'll figure it all out when the time comes. Until then I wait impatiently, and start mentally preparing myself for either a) moving, or B) rejection (and figuring out a backup plan).


Yesterday I emailed a large number of attachments to one of my recommenders so she could write me a letter, and I finished both my Letters of Intent. I picked up copies of my transcripts, and requested copies to be sent to the schools I applied to once I graduate. I only need to finish the online portions of my applications and hassle my recommenders to finish their letters then I'm done with the application process and fully begin my waiting game.

Of course, I have heard the recommenders thing can sometimes be nothing less than a huge pain in the ass - so we shall see how that goes. Presently I am waiting for one recommender to email me his phone number so I can include it in my application (U of T requires it for some reason), and I have spent all weekend impatiently waiting for his reply.

I also changed my Facebook name this week to hopefully keep myself hidden. It may or may not work, but it was worth a try, and I always wanted to be a Penelope.

With all this in mind, I still have another 3 months of school to finish up, and get good grades in. Plus there's the whole making a backup plan if the grad school situation doesn't work out. Presently I feel a calm, from having completed such a necessary and big step in my life (the grad school applications). In a week though I am sure the small amounts of panic will begin to set in again and I'll occasionally pace around my apartment muttering profanities to myself because I'll feel completely and utterly screwed if I don't get in.

I'm going to try and enjoy the calm for now.


The hardest part (for me) is over, I hope. I've sent out my emails requesting letters of recommendation. I finally did the thing I had been putting off for MONTHS (literally). My statement of interest is started (and will now be finished within the week so I can provide it to professors), and I've also begun the portions of my online applications that I can actually do right now. I'll get my transcripts once my first semester grades are in (January 18th).

What brought this sudden rush of personal grad school productivity was not the free time allotted to me thanks to Christmas vacations, but the fact that I came to my senses that if I didn't get these applications done I would DEFINITELY not have anything planned out for next year. This miniature panic was enough to get me past my nervousness with emailing professors and give me the motivation to do it. Now that it's done . . . I don't really understand why those short emails took so much time and energy for me to pump out although I do understand why I felt that way, but in the end it wasn't as big of a deal as I was expecting.

I did accidentally send a typo to one professor though . . .

In addition, after accidentally saving this entry as a draft and not publishing it, my Evolutionary Psychology seminar prof has agreed to write me a letter of recommendation! I will be finishing my Statement of Purpose(s) this week, sending those, my CV and anything else he may require. Hopefully I don't have to chase him for things, but he's already proving pretty on the ball as he replied to an email I sent Sunday.


Hello Everyone!

I'm pretty happy to have been given permission to share my grad school application process with you guys here. I've been meaning to blog about my experiences with the application anyway, so it's nice to have an audience waiting.

To introduce myself my name is Jenny hence the username, and I am in my fourth year of my Honours B.A. with Specialization in Psychology. This means not only am I applying to grad school for the first time, but I'm (attempting) to complete my final year of my undergrad which has unfortunately been the hardest year yet. Maybe it's the pressure I'm putting on myself or maybe professors have been especially cruel with their workload this year. Needless to say I am very stressed out.

My applications are thankfully not due until mid-February at the earliest so I should have at least started them by the middle of this month - or so I've been told. I've actually already begun working on my C.V. and filled out part of the online application for the Evolutionary Psychology M.Sc I am apply to, but school has gotten very busy recently and I haven't had time to do much else. I have only glanced at the application to UofTs Master of Information program even though it's due long before the Psychology application is.

To be quite honest I've had quite a few minor breakdowns these past couple of weeks. I've had one project due every week since the week of November 5th, or a midterm to study for. Now that it's December I have my last 3 days of classes, a presentation to present, and a final exam to study for this week. That is unfortunately only the beginning, as next week means 3 more final projects are due, as well as a take home exam for a course I thought would require very little effort (who knew first year cinema was going to be such a pain?). My last final exam of the semester is December 17th. On top of that I haven't spoken to my potential LORs yet, nor do I even have the confidence in myself that they'll even be willing to write a letter for me so . . . I'm not in the best mindset for that sort of thing right now. I would go into more detail, but I think it's best if I save that for an entry where I'm not just introducing myself to you all. And for a night that I don't have a powerpoint to create.

Anyway, thanks for joining me in my journey to graduate studies. I look forward to eventually sharing my triumphs with you, even if it means they don't come for a couple of years (knock on wood).