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My Quest for Admission and Funding!

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blog-0969513001362153281.pngBack again after a fairly long absence! :)

And gentlefolk, it's finally March. I know for my discipline (history), programs are probably about half-way done returning decisions. I personally applied to ten schools and actually heard from the last of them on Monday. I'm extremely relieved to be done with the waiting game, and am extremely happy with how everything turned out (despite getting rejected from six programs - heh!).

As you might know from my last update, UNC Chapel Hill accepted me all the way back on January 31st. Part of the reason I didn't want to post another entry until now, in fact, is because I got so much news during the first half of February. And since most of it was good news, I didn't feel like it would be kind to post an update with so much (probably gag-worthy) excitement when so many folks were still waiting to hear back.

...Now that people are beginning to enter their decision processes, though, I thought I would share a bit about mine! :)

I was able to eliminate two of the schools that accepted me right off the bat: one due to poor fit and the other because of ranking/some slightly rude POIs. In the end it came down to CUNY and UNC. They're both excellent fits for me - the faculty is just incredible at both programs. As much as I would love (seriously, love!) to live in NYC, though, the cost of living was a big factor in my decision. Of course, the rankings of the schools are quite different (#10 at UNC vs. #27ish at CUNY for European History), and the prestige/external funding opportunities will be very important to me.

I gave myself about a week and a half to really mull it over (and wait for rejections from other programs - ha!), fearing that I might have formed an unreasonable attachment to UNC because they gave me my first acceptance. Tallying up the pros and cons, though, I'm completely confident that UNC is the right program for on Saturday I went ahead and formally accepted their offer! :D I'm all set to go out to campus for the visiting weekend in March and absolutely couldn't be happier!

Now all I need to do is finish my thesis and complete my coursework, so I can actually - you know - *graduate* and attend my new program in the fall. That's proving easier said than done, but spring break is just a week away at my current school, so the finish line is in sight!

As you all continue the horrible wait and make your decisions, I wish you all the luck and happiness I've been lucky enough to experience the last few weeks! :) Feel free to comment and share your hopes, anxieties, decisions...whatever you like!


blog-0734221001359861413.jpgAfter a (relatively) long absence, I'm back!

This past week has marked the beginning of decision season for me. The week before that was frustrating and a bit depressing, which is one of many reasons I did not do my weekly update last weekend.

Several UC Berkeley History decisions were posted on this site around Friday, January 25th, and - knowing the general pattern of admissions/rejections for the school, via Gradcafe's results search page - I began to despair of my chances there. By last Monday, I was in a pretty foul mood (my friends and parents are saints for putting up with my constant anxiety!), and convinced that because Berkeley apparently did not want me, none of the other schools would either. Consider me a cautionary tale of the dangers of Gradcafe addiction!

I was on the verge of cutting myself off from this site entirely - going cold turkey, as it were - by the middle of the week, when yet more days had gone by without a word from any school. I had begun second-guessing everything about my applications and email/phone interactions with professors. Even with POIs I felt I had made a real connection with, and who had been undoubtedly enthusiastic about my application, I started imagining that maybe they had just been stringing me along...or that something had gone horribly wrong with my applications - like that maybe all my recommenders expressed their secretly-harbored beliefs that I'm an idiot imposter who doesn't belong in a graduate program. My imagination went completely (and horribly!) wild! :P

Thankfully, I was mistaken!

Right in the middle of my super long day on campus (Thursday), I happened to check my email as I was walking to class...and, lo and behold, my inbox presented me with a lovely email from my POI at UNC Chapel Hill, giving me the unofficial notice that I was accepted to the PhD program there with guaranteed funding for five years!

Without exaggerating, this was one of the happiest moments in my life. :D I called my mom and dad immediately, and have been celebrating ever since! I don't remember anything from my classes that evening - it was so hard not to sit there day-dreaming and grinning like a fool! Hopefully, none of my professors noticed... :P

One thing I DO remember from that evening of euphoria, however, is that I finally heard back from Berkeley that night. Thank goodness my UNC acceptance had come earlier that day because I did, indeed, get rejected from Berkeley. (I haven't heard anything from the other 8 programs I applied to.)

I can only imagine how depressed I would be feeling right now if Berkeley had rejected me without my having an admission from another school, and I'm really feeling for everyone still waiting. Try to hang in there - I'm sending you all my good luck vibes, and hoping that great news is around the corner for all of you! :D

With an option in hand, I'm happy to say I can finally sleep properly, check my email a reasonable number of times per day, and even focus better on my thesis. Now that I know I have someplace to go, I feel more motivated to finish strong at my current program. :) Though, of course, I'm also sorely tempted to distract myself by looking at apartments, etc. in Chapel we'll see how things go. I think I deserve a weekend of celebrating after this insane application process, though! My thesis can surely wait til Monday...?

In any case, I wish all of you the very best of luck! We just need to hold out a couple more weeks (for History, anyway). I have a feeling this week will be especially eventful for us. I know it's frustrating and that things might be looking really dark right now (and that nothing I say here will probably ease your mind at all), but try to hang in there (easier said than done, I know!) and stay positive! :D


blog-0541998001358657077.jpgTime for my weekly update!

It's been a bit of a wild one, since this week was my first one back in classes after the winter break. Despite the sleep deprivation that usually comes with trying to get back into the rhythm of classes, I got through the week with a minimum of stress.

I currently attend a commuter school and - because of Houston's traffic issues and my particular school's appalling parking situation - I have to get up at 5 to get to campus. The upside to this is that there's nothing to do on campus at that hour besides going to the gym. Thus, I am forced to exercise everyday I head in to school. Bad for my sleep, but good for my health, I guess! :)

My workout time in the morning is also good my mental state, though. Because of the uneven nature of course offerings in my field at my current program, I'm taking a full course load in addition to writing my MA thesis this semester. Considering how wild my semester usually are, just trying to stay on top of my normal workload, I had a moment this week during which I began freaking out over how I was ever going to finish my thesis by April.

Running around the track, though, is weirdly therapeutic and calming, and I started building a daily/weekly schedule in my head (later transferred to the computer for safekeeping!) as I wheezed my way around the gym. My workload is definitely long as I stick to the schedule. I'm realizing that I'll have to be more disciplined than ever this semester.

Thankfully (and miraculously!), in the middle of all this stressing about the semester at hand, I almost forgot to obsess about the horrible wait for PhD admission results! I've still checked the results on this site everyday, and have been checking my email rather more than usual...but I seem to have replaced one stressor for another! Not sure that's completely healthy, but I'll take it. :)

That said, I was rockclimbing (as a study break!) this afternoon, and afterwards saw I had a missed call and voice mail from an area code containing one of my top-choice schools. My heart started pounding immediately, and I had butterflies in my stomach as I checked the was a wrong number, naturally! I had a little laugh about it, but I still wish it had been from a POI!

Hopefully, my determinedly distracted mindset will last the next couple of weeks. This weekend is sort of the eve of potential admissions decisions. The earliest any of my programs notified anyone (on this site) last year was January 21st, which is two days from now. And while I'm not expecting to hear anything this week (or even possibly the week after), a not-so-small part of my brain is fervently hoping that I will hear something positive in a few days.

Those hopeful, positive thoughts are something I almost don't dare to speak out loud. Maybe it's a superstitious thing, but I almost feel like I'd be jinxing myself if I was to talk about any of my programs with confidence. I'll start imagining receiving an "admitted!" letter/email from my dream schools, and try to cut myself off. Sometimes I almost feel like expressing my wishes will prevent them from becoming realities. :P

Do any of you guys feel uncomfortable verbalizing or dreaming about your hopes for admissions decisions? How are your semesters going? Anyone else potentially hearing back from schools this week?

Hope this entry finds you all well! Good luck with classes, the waiting game, and your applications! :D


blog-0880745001358053070.jpgHello again!

After a rather longer-than-intended delay, I have returned! The reason for said delay (and my suddent absence from GradCafe) has been an unexpected illness, which has kept me couch-ridden for the better part of a week.

As unpleasant as my listless, nauseated sojourn on the sofa has been, however, I have found one or two silver linings to the situation:

1) Classes at my MA program start next week, instead of THIS week. It would have been a terrible way to get the semester started by immediately becoming behind on all of my work. I should be fit as a fiddle come Monday (God willing!), and ready for my all-out sprint toward my thesis defense and graduation. :)

2) Perhaps more importantly, being a sleepy couch potato (with no motivation to do anything beyond take a shower once a day) briefly cured me of my results-checking obsession! Though, while I'd like to say that my once/twice a day perusal of the results listings will continue into February, I know full well that I will be unable to restrain myself the closer we get to most university's history decisions.

All the same, I've rather enjoyed this brief respite from waiting-game hysteria...even if the underlying cause of my break from GradCafe was decidedly unsavory. I'm hoping that my return to class this week will provide a similar, albeit much more productive, distraction from my grad school insanity! :)

How are all of you doing with obsessing/compulsively checking the results? Has anyone heard back yet? How many of you have begun the spring term?

Hope this post finds you all well! As always, best of luck to you, and feel free to post any questions or comments you might have here (or in a PM). :D


blog-0020182001357163995.jpgHi everyone! Welcome to one future historian's quest for admissions, funding, and - eventually - a doctorate!

I heard this was a stress-relieving, cathartic-type thing to do...and since I'm feeling ever more stressed out the closer we get to hearing back from programs, I thought that now would be the perfect time to start this blog. I intend it to be a place for me to share my experiences and any advice that I think might be helpful for other folks going through the process (now or in the future).

I'm not sure just what to put in this first entry, so I guess I'll start with a bit about me and my own experience of this application season. I work on Modern German History with particular emphases on women's history and memory studies. I attended a big urban campus for my undergrad, and am currently attending another big urban campus for my MA. I'll be writing and defending my MA thesis this spring, and am hoping that working diligently on that will distract me from my obsessive, anxious wait to hear back from the PhD programs I applied to. (Just PM me if you want to know more - I'm an open book!)

I applied to 10 schools, and - like most people - I'm on a kind of rollercoaster of outlooks regarding my chances. Some days I think I'll get into at least half of the programs, and other days I think I only really have a shot at one or two of them (at best!). Perhaps foolishly, I applied almost solely to top programs in my field and may have included too few "safe schools" (no such thing anymore, though). So here I sit at the beginning of a shiny new year, second-guessing the hell out of every step I took along the way to applying!

I have thus far resisted the temptation to go back and review my applications, SOPs, and writing samples...I'm sure that would only lead to madness when I eventually discover the now-obvious typos staring me in the face. Instead, I have restricted myself merely to double-checking the receipt of all the pieces of my applications, and am now trying to affect a calm, patient disposition while I wait for the results (obviously not successfully!).

The one thing I have going for me in trying to maintain some modicum of sanity during this waiting game is that I really worked my butt off during the application season. Thankfully, a good friend of mine and I got a relatively early start on drafting SOPs, etc. We met about once a week just to work on applications, and tried our best to make progress on them during the rest of the week. For a while there, I had a rule that I would work on one thing for my coursework AND one thing for PhD applications each night. It got a bit crazy in the middle of the semester, and I had to break my rule, but - by that point - I had made enough progress to feel fairly comfortable about letting it slide a bit.

By the time my December 1st deadlines rolled around (about half of my programs), I had a really polished SOP and writing sample ready. I think I must have sent that dang thing to at least five professors, and had my parents and several friends look it over, too, just for good measure. When I applied to MA programs, I left everything to the minute and felt terribly about my chances (I still have no idea how I got into my current program). So, thankfully, this time I can (try to) rest on my proactivity and sustained effort toward these apps!

All the same, I feel anxious during this waiting period. I'm beginning to feel butterflies in my stomach every time I check my email, or I get a phone call from a number I don't recognize. And while being a part of the GradCafe community has been immensely helpful and comforting throughout this entire process, seeing just how incredibly smart and qualified other applicants are makes me question if I have a real chance at any of my programs. Being the consummate planner-type, I hate being stuck in limbo!

I'm sure many of you feel the same way, and I wish I had some words of wisdom to share...but this is my first (and hopefully last!) round of PhD apps, so I'm in the same boat as you are. I'm going to try throwing myself headlong into work on my MA thesis to distract myself from waiting, as I mentioned, and may also attempt some form of yoga or meditation to see if I can't work up a more zen-like attitude about all this. I'll let you know if I have any success!

That's about all I've got for now...I'm hoping to post here once a week or so (we'll see what happens when the semester starts up) to keep you posted on how things are going. Please feel free to share your own experiences in the comments section - I'd love for this blog to become a forum for both commiseration and communal rejoicing! :) And please feel free to PM me if there's something specific you'd like to see addressed in my upcoming entries.

Hope your new years are off to a terrific start! Best of luck to everyone!

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