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Grad School Officially Sucks

I was first rejected by my top choice school last year and so I went with my third choice at the time. I was pretty bummed about going there, but realized that they had more to offer than I realized. Fast forward to completing my first semester of grad school...

It sucks here! The ONLY Professor I wanted to work with has no funding now. The classes which helped defined the program and the school are NOW no longer offered. My friends (at this school) and I are pretty much pissed about the whole thing. We all actually had the same idea and that's why they chose to go here. Now we're all rethinking this decision. /end rant


I've been looking for an apartment for the past 3 - 4 days. I've searched through craigslist, yelp, rent, forrent, apartments, apartmentratings, and the university's off campus housing website. I still have no idea where I'm going to stay and the places I had an interest in turn out to be completely full. Other places which I thought were decent turned out to be worst than expected (this is all based on pictures).

When I look for an apartment, I look for certain things. The most important thing would be the bathroom. It has to be super clean!! If I spot anything dirty in the pictures, especially on the tiles, it is a definite turn off. There are also apartments which have a shared bathroom for 2 people and that's also a turn off along with a shared kitchen. I don't know these people and my cousin experienced problems with other people eating her food while she was in grad school. I don't mind roommates, but you can't really be sure of people without actually meeting them in person. I'd also like on-site laundry (in the apartment) and off street/garage parking. And all the places which fit my criteria either are already taken, won't know of availability till June, or too far from school.

Am I being too picky here? Does anyone have any suggestions on how to look for places? I don't know if I'll be able to make the trip to look at apartments in person so I've called on the help of yelpers to let me know if these places are nice or not. I've received a few recommendations, but it isn't enough.


Shattered Dream

This year I applied to a total of 10 schools. Of those 10 schools, there was really only one school I wanted to attend. If I had my way, I would have only had applied to that one school, but I felt that I needed to apply to more schools. This particular school had a very unique program different from all the rest. It was an interdisciplinary program fusing art and computer science. Employers within my industry love this program and all the students pretty much had a job waiting for them right after graduation. They also placed a heavy emphasis on research. It was my dream program...synthesis of art and computer science, excellent employment rate thanks to the classes, and great research.

I've recently learned of 6 people who were accepted into this program. Decisions were finalized a while ago and I've pretty much heard nothing from anyone. No one has responded to my emails and I guess that pretty much tells me that I have not been selected among the chosen few to attend this program. There really shouldn't be a reason why I haven't been notified if I wasn't accepted. So the dream has been shattered...I guess I'll just go to one of the other schools that accepted me. I'll probably be miserable attending, but what other choice do I have?


Only 1 week left before I have to make that final decision and I still don't even know where I'm going to go. I was accepted to 5 of the 10 schools so far, but the most important school has yet to give me a decision. Decisions were supposed to be released online yesterday, but still nothing and they finalized all decisions a couple days ago. I sent out an email to 2 different people in the department asking for an update on my status, but have yet to receive any kind of reply. I even sent it during office hours... Could this silence mean that I was rejected and they have no reason to talk to me anymore??? I did find out that 2 people received acceptances last week and in February. I want to hope for the best and not give up until I see a rejection notice, but all these thoughts of rejections and other people's acceptances is really getting to me.


Where are my decisions?

It's basically the end of March and I still have not heard from 7 of the 10 programs I applied to. When will my decisions arrive? April 15th is fast approaching and I don't want to just decide on schools because I haven't heard from the more important ones on my list.


I woke up today anxiously waiting for the mail to arrive because I didn't receive any emails from any schools this morning. The mail is finally here and I look to see that one letter is from my dream school. My heart starts beating faster and I tear open the envelope. My hand starts shaking as I slowly pull out the letter. I skim it quickly looking for keywords such as "regret", "congratulations", "accepted", and "denied". I stuff the letter back into its envelope and leave it sitting on my desk. It was nothing more than a financial aid notice and they wanted me to go online to fill out more information...


The wait is really getting to me now. The longer it takes a school to get back to me, the more I think that I've been added to the mass rejection email list which will probably be sent out near the end of this month. The thing that really irks me the most is being told that decisions will be sent at the end of March. I did a little searching to see if anyone had been accepted and I found one person. This gets me thinking back to my original thought that maybe I've been added to the mass rejection email list. Then again, perhaps I'm just being really impatient about this whole process because I'd like to just get this over with.

I've been tempted several times to email the grad admissions person I've been talking to since last year, but I'm afraid that it would annoy them since they already answered my question earlier in January about when decisions will be sent out. But since finding out about an early decision, it makes me want to email them again. Maybe if I word it in such a way. "How many people will be admitted this year and how many applications did you receive?" or maybe I'll just be direct and ask, "Was I admitted?". I know it's a bad idea and I continue to delete each draft I make because I know that I shouldn't. Then again...maybe it's okay to email them? But it's taboo to email asking about decisions, right?

joro go something something...

girl: go crazy?



I received my first acceptance today from the University of Utah which is the same school Ed Catmull, the President of Pixar and Disney Animation, graduated from. I'm very happy because I was rejected last year and I would guess that it was because of my missing LOR. I'm very glad that I decided to find another LOR to replace him when I did this time around. I would probably be reading a rejection letter if I didn't.


One of my favorite lecturers replied to my email for a letter of recommendation. She said no the first time I asked her because she only had a M.S. and she felt that I would have a better chance if I were to ask someone with a PhD. She knows me pretty well and I found her class to be really enjoyable. I sent her all my materials, hopefully she finishes it in time. I'm not sure what to do about the fellow who completely blew it. Hopefully, everything becomes a lot clearer towards the end of next week.


All Is Lost...

I have sent many emails. I have called and been directed straight to voice mail. I don't know what to do at this point. I contacted another Professor, maybe he'll have pity on me and step up to write a letter. I also emailed my dream school and asked if they would still consider my application without the 3rd letter, but I am having my doubts. It seems really pointless now to even try to find any positivity in all this.


Last year, one of my LORs failed to submit my LOR on time. I reapplied this year and was told by him that he would start on it early so that he would just have it ready for me. My deadline for a few schools was 4 days ago and I am still missing a LOR from him. I called him the day of and he told me he would be submitting it. He also said that he knows I am worried, but he will have it in. I know he is busy, but we talked about the LOR in June and he had my SOP since September. The weeks leading up to the deadline, I sent email reminders letting him know that it will be due very soon. I understand that I am not exactly high priority, but I would think that it shouldn't take him very long to write a letter.

I don't know what to do anymore. I sent another email and I will be calling again next week for an update. He didn't have my number before then so I guess he would be inclined to pick up the phone from an unknown number. Now that he has it, I am afraid he will just ignore my call. I would go to his office and just bug him, but even when I was in the same building as him last year it was really difficult to get a hold of him. Most of the time, he wasn't even in his office and I wouldn't know where he was (this was also during summer and he didn't have classes to teach from what I could tell). I remember camping out once outside his office only to be told that he will not be in for the entire week. AHHH!!! I was hoping the application this time around would be a whole lot easier. I finished everything in October and finished submitting everything online in November.

"Brick walls are there for a reason. They let us prove how badly we want things." - Randy Pausch


Over this past weekend, I came down with a stomach infection from basically worrying too much about the missing letter of recommendation. This is actually the 3rd time that this has happened. My first time applying for graduate school, I worried myself sick because of the GRE. I became really anxious and my liver started retaining fat deposits (fatty liver). After the GRE was over, I was a lot more calm till April. I started receiving rejection notices because I was unable to produce that 3rd letter of recommendation (I would blame this on myself for getting him the materials late). That time, I came down with a bad stomach infection for a week. I had to go to urgent care and such.

The same Professor said he would write one for me this year since I am reapplying and we had a one on one talk. My last day working with him, he said (in front of his colleagues and other RAs) that he would be writing me a letter. It isn't as glorious as you think. We were just hanging around as a going away "party" and he mentions to me that he will write it.

Now this past weekend, I get sick again and on my birthday. I think writing these blogs gets me even more worried because I realize how little time I have left and it gets me thinking about what I will be doing if he doesn't write one for me again out of pure negligence. It's not like I can reapply again for a 3rd time... On a better note, I am feeling a lot better than I did this past weekend.


I have concluded that even if my LOR is not able to turn it on time, I believe he will get them in eventually. I should probably concentrate on other things to be more productive instead of just worrying over this. I should have full trust in my LORs and understand that they probably procrastinate as much us as students. They also have lives of their own and possibly tons of other papers to write.

I think I am calm now. :mellow:


More Frustration!!

Sent another email this morning begging for some kind of status update for the LOR. Still nothing...I probably should start calling and even showing up at his office if I get no response by next week.

I don't believe Professors intentionally try to screw people over. I keep telling myself maybe he's busy or perhaps there's a bigger issue at hand? Maybe he wasn't satisfied with the work I did with him then decided to completely ignore me and not write the letter. :(


The graduate admissions deadlines are coming up with the first (for my applications) being on December 15. At the moment, I am missing 1 letter of recommendation for each school and I feel that it may not arrive on time. I just sent out another friendly reminder today about the missing letter and I am very hopeful that I will get a reply this week. He did promise me that he would write one in advance and WILL have it ready by the time I need it. He's a very good guy, but very busy.

I am not too fond of playing this waiting game!!!


Return of the Astro-Nut

NOTE: I believe myself to be a bit absent minded when I write things. I tend to forget to type out words or leave in words and will not take notice even after re-reading my entries. I am apologizing in advance for any errors you may come across in my writing.

For my first blog entry, I will do the basic introduction and just talk a little about myself. I graduated from a California State University (CSU) in Spring 2008 with a B.S. in Computer Science and minor in Mathematics. My GPA is a low 3.11 and my Major GPA is a bit lower than that. My GRE scores are 490V, 760Q, and 4.5AWA. I didn't spend too much time studying for the verbal section since my practice tests were between 530 - 580 which is the score I was aiming for in the first place. I believe my verbal score was lower on the actual test because I rushed to finish (bad idea). The worst part of it was that I had plenty of time to finish, but my brain interpreted the numbers incorrectly on the screen. I didn't take notice of the actual time till I had 5 questions remaining...I finished with about 10 minutes to spare. I had one internship as a software engineer at a big name company during my time as an undergraduate and a research assistant position at a top 10 University after graduating.

I originally applied for graduate study in Computer Science for Fall 2009, but things turned really sour when all my applications ended up being incomplete due to a bit of miscommunication between myself and one of my writers for a letter of recommendation. Even with this mishap, I was accepted into the University of Southern California, UC Irvine, and UC Riverside. UC Riverside even offered me a scholarship/fellowship (not really sure which) for $9k during my first year of study. It was a really tempting offer, but I felt that I should reapply for Fall 2010.

For Fall 2010, I had more time to research schools and prepare my application materials. I am reapplying to a few schools that I applied to last year and a couple new ones that I had overlooked. I started writing my SOP in July and finished it in early September. I went through about 6 - 8 revisions (with at least 5 people reading my SOP during each revision). I sent my final revision to my 3 LORs. I did tweak my essay a bit afterward for each school I was applying to and I think it turned out very well. At the moment, I am waiting for all my LORs to be submitted which is more stressful than it should be. One of my LOR has been unresponsive to my emails and it's really getting to me. Last year, I started to develop a bit of an anxiety problem because of all the stress from graduate applications. I also gained weight and there were some complications with my liver. For those reading and still applying: Get your stress under control or you may end up with anxiety issues or worse. My liver is now fine by the way, but the weight is still there. Back to my LORs, I will be bugging them starting on Monday to get their LOR in. I may even start calling, but I hope it doesn't turn them off to even submitting then I will definitely be in a world of hurt.

Now perhaps you might be wondering why I named my blog, "To infinity and beyond". I am hoping many of you know that it is Buzz's key phrase from Toy Story (if not, please rent the movie and watch it!). So how does it relate to me? As a child, I grew up watching Disney movies and fell in love with all the movies produced by Pixar. I produced my first flip book animation of a stick figure walking using a packet of sticky notes when I was at the tender age of 6. Although I didn't really get into art, I knew that I had to be involved somehow. I was actually going to double major in both art (traditional animation) and computer science, but both majors required one's full attention so I planned on finishing my degree in computer science before going back to earn a degree in art. I would say that this was a bad move on my part and that I should have just better scheduled my courses for both art and computer science. My undergraduate University implemented a policy of not allowing those who have a degree return for a second degree. I hate brick walls, don't you? Back to why my blog is named that way. Well, I'm applying to graduate school to expand my knowledge of computer graphics and hopefully contribute to the body of computer graphics research. The schools I have applied to are actively involved in the computer graphics industry and I hope to be working at Pixar one day.

I apologize for cutting this so abruptly, but it is 2am here and I'm pretty tired.