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About this blog

In improv, the key to keeping a scene going is to agree. If you deny something, you risk losing the magic and ending the scene. Instead, offer an alternative or an elaboration. 

On the road from a small university in my small hometown to a yet unknown destination for my Masters in I/O Psychology, it's important that I don't lose that momentum. I cannot risk the magic, and I'm going to fight nail and tooth to keep this scene going.

Of course, I don't know what I'm doing. That's the beauty of improv.

I hope you enjoy the show.

Entries in this blog

bugabooo

Fleet(ing) Foxes

I'm not sure if any of you listen to Fleet Foxes. They're my go-to shower singalong music, though my boyfriend calls it "weird monk music." He listens to rap. Artistic differences, I guess. Anyway, their music really hits me sometimes whether comforting or not. I have a playlist on my laptop of music that I find grounding, and it includes songs like "I Can Feel a Hot One" and some others by Manchester Orchestra, a large amount of Fleet Foxes, a taste or two of both Ingrid Michaelson and Sara Bareilles, and the like. I play that playlist when I study or do homework, or whenever I just need to get my sh*t together and calm down. 

I was not accepted into the program at WMU. I found out on Friday by way of a letter that my dad read before me because it wasn't sealed. I can't say I'm surprised at this decision-- I had a feeling the day I returned home from Interview Weekend that there wouldn't be a place for me there. I respect this decision, because I don't think I was who they were looking for. I can't handle the constant party that their department seems to encourage. Being told that the current students go out drinking multiple times a week together is not something that I'm itching to be part of. As I whine about not wanting to party, I'm soaking in the fact that I'll be moving to Chicago in six months. I have an acceptance in hand from Roosevelt and an interview lined up with Elmhurst as well as campus visits to both next week. 

That's right: Chicago! 
I held Roosevelt up as my top choice, and now it's becoming real. I need to find somewhere to live. I know very little about living in Chicago, and I'll need all the help I can get. My family knows people all over the country and world, but somehow we don't know anyone in Chicago (well, I know a couple people my age there, but no one who could save me if I ran into trouble). I'm lurking on the City Guide thread for Chicago and all the rental sites I can find. I know Roosevelt has very easy access to all the train lines because it's right by the loop. They include a CTA Ventra U-Pass in tuition, though I don't actually understand how it works. 
My limited experience in Chicago has always been great. I'm really excited to be living and going to school there, but there are so many issues I now face. Being rejected from WMU has set the ball rolling to the Windy City. Now begins a new journey filled with big decisions-- will my SO be able to move with me? Will I be working at the university or elsewhere? Where will I live? Will I get enough funding from the university to avoid major debt? 

Where before I was comfortable in the excitement of not knowing, I'm now very uncomfortable in the excitement of decision-making. Here we go. Headphones in, chin up.

bugabooo

Well, I've mostly gotten my voice back.

I've been trying to decompress and really work through my experience this past weekend, and I think I'm ready to write about it. I'm not going to focus much on the specific content of the three interviews because there are plenty of forums and threads that contain very accurate and helpful information on that. Go find it. Rehearse your answers in front of a mirror, and remember that you're being interviewed for a reason and not by chance. 

Last Thursday, I drove to WMU. It took about nine hours, and I was hungry by the time I got to campus. My host picked me up, and we went off to the first social event and dinner. My host told me right away that the most important thing for the weekend was that I network with current graduate students and make them like me. 

It was around this time that I realized that as much as I had prepared myself, I was in no way prepared for the other applicants or the current students. I'd spent hours reading my own resume and statement, the recent publications of the professors in the department and their CV's, and about the school. I even looked up the other applicants as best as I could-- but I didn't consider the current students. Looking back, I can't really say I could have know just how important it was going to be. So there I am, in my travel clothes (sweater and leggings- thank goodness it was even somewhat fashionable) in a pub/restaurant with a dozen other applicants and current students that outnumbered us. There I am, being dragged around by my host to another group of names and faces that blurred together almost immediately, and it's so loud I could barely hear the names in the first place. This person is mentored by Dr A, this one by Dr B, this one by Dr C. They study this, and that, and the other. They're from this location. Talk to him, now her, now her, now him. 
I was able to eat maybe a third of the salad I'd ordered before it was taken by a server while I was being introduced to more people. I basically used by bourbon-and-ginger-ale as a teddy bear/ comfort object as I walked around. People kept asking me questions I'd failed to expect: "are you more traditional I/O or OBM?" Dude, I only found out about I/O a year ago. I don't know the difference. "So what organization do you want to work for?" Why would I know that right this moment? "So what's your specific focus?" Man, I'm an undergrad still. I'm here to narrow my present focuses, I don't have just one. (I'd decided not to tone my personality down for this process, which only bit me in the butt once and in a minor way. I also had decided to not lie or exaggerate much, which I think came in handy.)
It kept going on like that. I kept my head above water, barely. I smiled and clutched my drink and didn't react at all when I dropped my tiny straw. Trust me, it was very impressive. 
My host was exhausted from pulling an all-nighter the evening before, and we got back to her apartment around eleven. She'd prepared her room for me to stay in, and she and her boyfriend had a futon in the living room. I didn't find it that weird, maybe because I use my bedroom as a guest room sometimes too. Anyway, we were only there for a few precious hours of sleep each night. 

Friday was a Research Day from 8-5, which meant sitting in a lecture hall listening to current graduate students present studies they'd either recently completed (mostly dissertations) or that they were still working on. I'd missed breakfast due to a miscommunication, so I was sitting at around 12 hours without eating. I was able to speak briefly to a faculty member with whom I'd be interviewing the following day, and she went out of her way to compliment me on my personal statement. That did a lot for my nerves, but my stomach was not as easily quieted. We had a two hour break for lunch and around fifteen of us to a nearby bar/restaurant. We ordered and paid immediately, citing our slight rush. An hour went by, and our server hadn't returned. Another half hour went by, and we started to get nervous. We got our food exactly twenty minutes before we needed to be back in our seats, and asked for boxes. I loaded my untouched assorted veggies and hummus into a styrofoam container and sadly headed back to the lecture. We arrived late and had to stand at the back of the room until there was a break. I tried to pay attention to the data instead of my future dinner. We wrapped up the day and went right to the dinner location.
I could not make this up: after being seated and served our drinks, largely alcoholic, we were told by a member of the staff that their chef had quit and walked out about twenty minutes before we'd arrived. Hello, 24 hours without food! One of the students made the call to move to a burger joint nearby, so we all drank our beer/whatever as quickly as possible and I started feeling tipsy right away. We got to the other place, and the only thing on the menu I could eat (meaning that didn't involve meat) was a side order of fries. I tried to choke some down, but I lost the fight. At this point I'm basically speed-dating. A current student would come chat for a bit, leave, and another would take their place. I had some great conversations and learned a lot this way, all without having to stand (which was good because I felt pretty woozy). My host and I left around eleven, and we all went to sleep. 

Saturday came, and with it came three interviews. I believe I was the only applicant with more than two interviews, which was odd. Also, I didn't know I'd have more than one-- I guess I assumed that I'd have some sort of panel interview? That wouldn't really make sense, but I hadn't fully considered it. Anyway, I nearly overslept. (By the way we are sitting pretty right at 36 hours since I've eaten. That's right. 36 very long hours.) I arrived to the "holding room," if you will, and nearly fainted from happiness when I was greeted by a full spread of bagels and fruit. Food, at last! I was the first interview of the day for Dr. A, so I actually only had time to eat a mandarin orange before our meeting but it was enough to perk me up for a moment. 
My interview with Dr. A was very conversational, and they mainly focused on my personal statement and the variety. I've been in debate groups relevant to the constitution; I've competed in events revolving around medical knowledge; I'm a founding member of a theatre honors fraternity on my campus; I'm an election inspector for the State of Michigan. I was honest with them in that I just did things that seemed interesting and fun and kept up with all of it as long as I was able to. With some things, the involvement ended when I graduated high school, and some things still float in the background of my life. We talked for our allotted 40 minutes and were interrupted by someone telling us that their next interviewee was waiting. Dr. A was very straightforward in the dire lack of funding their department has, and this was a shock to me based on the department's reputation.
I went back to our holding room and finally got to eat my bagel! And another orange! 
More networking while I waited for my next interview. By Saturday, I'd begun to bond with a few of the other applicants and the mood in the holding room was generally cheerful. As far as I know, no one really felt like we were competing directly with each other, and no one tried to hurt any other applicant's chances. The feeling I got was that it wasn't up to us, so why not be nice to each other? 
My second interview, this time with Dr. B, was also conversational but this time focused on my work history and what each job has taught me about myself and how my experiences relate to I/O. Their office was frigid, so I hid my hands while attempting to maintain a sort of "power pose" and not fold into myself. Dr. B asked how I planned to fund my MA, and they too mentioned a lack of funding. Again, we ran out of time. In both cases, I was told that running out of time was a good sign. 
Lunch was an array of delicious hot sandwiches made by the current grad students with cookies, chips, and some veggies. I was so excited about being able to eat normally that I definitely ignored the rest of the room for a few minutes while I ate. During lunch, the faculty holding interviews joined us and so, more networking. I still had another interview after lunch, so I made sure to take a short walk down the hall to clear my head after the business of lunch. 
My third interview was with Dr. C, who had some serious structure going on. They had a list of questions, with 4-5 circled for each applicant. They asked me very specific questions that I sometimes could not answer due to lack of knowledge in I/O and OBM, so I did my best to supply information that was comparable. They stated that they didn't fault me for my lack of knowledge due to my school's absence of any I/O or OBM courses, and also mentioned that they were impressed with my ability to supply the other information to substitute. They asked how I planned on getting more to read, and I replied that I legitimately didn't think I'd be able to find resources on my campus. They stood up, went to a bookshelf, and chose a book. Next thing I know I'm holding a copy of Bringing out the Best in People: How to Apply The Astonishing Power of Positive Reinforcement by Aubrey Daniels. They said "here, borrow this and let me know what you think. It's my favorite starter book in OBM." So I'm thinking, okay, they forgot that I'm not local. I sort of said that it'd be great to read on the long drive home, and they just nodded and said "Yeah, okay." So, okay maybe they didn't forget, then. This book caused quite the stir once I returned to the holding room. No one else had gotten a book. The current students even seemed shocked. I am not putting any meaning behind the book, I'm firm on that. Even if it shows some connection made on a human level, I absolutely will not believe that it in any way predicts the decision to be made. Now, Dr. C also asked me about financing, and by this time I was expecting them to bring it up. 
As I mentioned in the Venting thread, the lack of funding doesn't fit with the reputation, output of research, or the rather elite selection process (only 2-4 students are expected to be taken on this year). What's the issue? I'm not privy to the reasoning. 
For dinner we all had a chance to change to slightly less formal attire (I posted a breakdown of the attire seen in the Interview Weekend Attire thread) and went to an amazing Indian restaurant where we had a buffet style dinner of so much delicious food, I never wanted to leave. The wine was flowing, and this time the faculty was footing the bill. Everyone was more relaxed now, and many current students began questions with "so now that interviews are over, I wanted to ask..." One thing I picked up on then was that some applicants began to change their stories slightly. They'd admit to having less experience in some matter, or that they had to retake classes to get their GPA where it is-- they became more human. This was when I became so glad I'd chosen to be straightforward from the start, because people noticed that my story remained unchanged. I showed the faculty the most professionally honest picture of myself possible, and so I would have no false image to maintain. Lying is a lot of work, and I have other things to focus on. I didn't hear of anything major that was lied about, but there were a fair number of applicants who hadn't been the most honest version of themselves until after interviews. I don't think that's evil by any means, but I did make a different choice. 
After dinner, the grad students took us to a huge and super loud bar. I had bonded well with some people and stayed mostly in a group of five to ten applicants and current students. I had someone drive me to my parents' hotel around half past midnight after drinks and goodbyes.

On Sunday, I slept for nearly the entire ride home, showered, and fell asleep before dinner and slept until I had to get up for my 8am Monday class.

Overall it was a really valuable experience, but I kind of hope I don't have to go through anything like it again. I was hungry, exhausted, and always felt like I was about to be late for something. I expect to hear back by the end of the month, and made sure to send out all the thank-you notes on Monday evening. I've gotten three responses out of the five notes sent, which is decent.

I suppose that's all for now, folks. 
You know the drill: ask and I'll answer! 

bugabooo

RU up?

On this past Thursday, I came home with a plan to nap. Spoiler: I did not nap.
I checked my email, and found one from the director of the IO MA program at Roosevelt University, informing me that I had been accepted into the program. He had forwarded his decision to the Office of Admissions, and wanted to tell me now because they have someone new in Admissions and it may take a bit for the University's materials to get to me. 
I yelled for my boyfriend, who came running because he thought I was hurt (whoops, sorry) and after I told him the news and that I was uninjured (if a bit lightheaded), we called my parents. Their reactions were so typical-- my dad in the background saying "see, I've always told you how smart you are" and my mother going right for, well, a more shallow topic involving appearances. 

So, this is really cool. My first acceptance! I'm not a complete failure/ idiot/ garbage person! 
RU's program is bigger than WMU according to SIOP with an average of 25 students to WMU's 7. Granted, RU has more faculty and internships to accompany research positions, so the higher number makes sense. The program director, in our emails since Thursday, has expressed that they are excited about the possibility of having me in their program. I know that's why anyone would be accepted in the first place and isn't unique to me, but it makes me feel pretty good. He also called me a "colleague," which was weird but cool. I still feel like a kid sometimes with this, and I keep forgetting that a lot of these people see me as a real person with value and purpose. What? Nah. There are a few faculty members who research things I'm interested in, but I only have some limited contact with one who I know through my advisor at my current school. Turns out that they worked together in the late seventies and early eighties, so I did my best to reach out to this professor not long before sending in my application materials. Again, I've exchanged only a few emails with him and the most recent email from him reminded me about the competitive nature of their assistantships. I found that a little odd, but I believe it was well-intended. If I understand the meaning of "POI" correctly, then I have none anywhere and didn't know it was even a thing. So, that's probably not helping me, but I can't yet tell if it's hurting anything. 

When I told my mom the news, one of her first questions was if I'm going to decline my interview at WMU. This shows again how unfamiliar my family is with the entire process. The funding decisions won't be made by RU's IO department until the middle of Feb, and the University itself makes separate scholarship and funding decisions mid-March. I'm not going to risk anything by removing myself from WMU's applicant pool. The theme of this blog (and my life) is that I don't know what I'm doing, so I'm not about to make any cocky decisions.

Speaking of that interview, it's coming up quickly. I'll leave home on Thursday morning, drive the whole day with one or both of my parents, and arrive in Kzoo early evening. I'll have time to pack tomorrow, though I still have no clue what I'm going to pack. (Why are all of my adult-y, nice clothes mainly black?) The events are scheduled in tightly over the weekend, and I'm in the dark about how it works. How many other people are being interviewed? Who am I up against? Who pays for my meals while I'm there? Will my host have me in a bed or on a couch? When will the decision be made, and what of funding? Will I like the people and the campus? Will they like me

I know toddlers have a reputation for asking endless questions, but I'm pretty sure I could ask more right now. 

WMU: Interviewing this coming weekend
RU: Accepted, funding TBD
Elmhurst: ????

And as always, let me know if you have any thoughts or questions. My next entry may not be until after the interview unless something happens. In the meantime, I hope everyone has a good week going forward, and good luck.

bugabooo

I've never been one to sit back and wait. It's frustrating and feels distant. I'm nosy by nature, and I figure that my future university should know me as well as possible anyway. I think the universe is tired of me nosing around, because things just started moving really quickly.

I've seriously applied to three schools, grudgingly to one, and have more casually submitted partial applications to others. Let's talk about me as an applicant in general, first.

I'm female, 21 years old. I'm Hispanic and from a military family. I have a "learning disability" that seriously impacts my life. 
I have a good employment history with occasional promotions, and have worked at a large bank for the past two years.
I've been named to the Dean's List 6/7 semesters, but my first semester of freshman year (the time I was not named to the Dean's List) was also when I was going through the testing and diagnosis process for my aforementioned disability. I currently have a 3.6 cumulative GPA and 3.8 Psychology GPA. 
I studied using Kaplan's 2015 GRE prep book and took the GRE this past November. I received final scores of V: 162/ Q: 152/ A: 4.5. I found the book and accompanying materials helpful, and used the Kaplan GRE Vocab app on my phone to go through flashcards frequently. 
My minor is Communication Studies, but I've also taken courses on Criminal Justice, Business, and am a student researcher in a Neuroscience Lab on campus. I was in a community  musical theatre company from ages 5-18. I talk way too much. I'm from a rural area in Michigan, and have gone to my hometown University. I have no family history of graduate education, and am a second-generation American.

Great, moving on. Next, schools.

First, there's Western Michigan University. Though it's in MI and I'm in MI, it's farther away than my other schools. WMU does have in-state tuition, which I obviously qualify for.
I've applied to their IOBM Masters program, but they also offer a PhD. According to SIOP, they accept an average of 7 students into the IOBM MA each year.
On 1/11, Western called to offer me an interview for their program, and the weekend event is Feb 4-7. I will be hosted by a current grad student, but because I'm a wimpy scared baby my parents will be driving there with me and staying in a hotel nearby during the interview weekend. I mean, they offered, I'm not about to say no to anyone offering to keep me company on a long road trip!
My academic advisor knows one of the professors in I/O at WMU, and thinks I'd be a great match for her. 
Western seems to have a great program, and I've heard only good things from the few current students I know. I'd be able to get a nice apartment for a very reasonable rate, and staying in the state is nice for insurance and blah blah blah. However, the city of Kzoo is less than perfect for I/O, and my current employer does not have a presence in lower Michigan so I would not be able to remain with the company, no matter what.
Oh, and as I was writing this I received the detailed schedule of interview weekend. It seems that IOBM, BATS, and BA will all be present. Also, my grad student host just emailed me, and she's under the impression that she has to pick me up from the airport. Like I said, I'll be driving. Whoops! Someone gave her some bad intel, friends.

Next on my mind today is Roosevelt University in Chicago, IL. I've applied to their I/O M.A. program, and am currently working on getting my LoR gathered for the separate application for graduate assistantship and scholarships. RU does have a PhD as well. 
My employer has solid presence in the Chicago area, and I would very likely be able to transfer to a convenient location and continue my part time employment while attending RU-- especially because RU holds classes in the evenings. My advisor is "old friends" with one of the IOBM professors at RU, and I'm emailing him back and forth to arrange a time when we can skype or chat on the phone. That'll be sometime next week. 
Now, a little update. I logged on to my applicant account for RU, and today there was a new document required: official college transcript with degree. Since I haven't graduated, that's difficult to provide and the application for assistantship is due Feb 1st. So, I called their admissions office. More confusion. I spoke to a woman who was very confused about my undergraduate transcripts, and after some investigation she realized that my records were weird because my application is already pending a decision. WHAT. Like, excuse me, hold on, no. What? 
So I expressed my shock to her, but she assured me that I should proceed with the assistantship app as I am. I asked some questions about sending in my LoR, all good. It'll save me some postage the way I'm doing it anyway. 
I have to mention: I have a feeling about RU. For some reason I am drawn to their program, and feel like it would be a great fit for me. My limited exposure to Chicago has been wonderful, and weather isn't a concern of mine. It would be a huge change, but I'm not afraid of that.

The third serious application I've sent is to Elmhurst College, just outside Chicago. Their I/O Masters is highly rated by SIOP and within my preferred application area. 
Elmhurst doesn't seem to have an application fee, but they also seem to have extremely limited funding opportunity and no graduate housing resources. Their application process has been the most strange so far. I've been told I sent my GRE scores to the wrong office and that I'd have to pay to resend them only to have the scores found in the correct location later. I've gotten rather curt emails from their admissions office, and later was contacted by the assistant directer of admissions who asked me to send further correspondence directly to him. Checking my email just now, I found a new message asking me to activate my Elmhurst Technology Account that I've just been issued. What in the world does this mean? Why do I need this? Have I been quietly accepted, and the emails were sent in the wrong order? 
Besides, I haven't even sent my LoR to them yet.

Let's recap this, because my head is spinning and a lot has happened today.

1. Interview at Western. My host for WMU interview weekend thinks she needs to pick me up at the airport, even though I've indicated that I'm driving. 

2. Roosevelt already has me listed as "pending" a decision to accept or reject me, and the application for assistantship/scholarship is due Feb 1st.

3. Elmhurst issued me a Technology Account that leads to a "campus portal" and the email said that they hope I "will be an active member of the Elmhurst College community," but I haven't even sent them my LoR yet and haven't been officially accepted or rejected. Confusing.

Today has been REALLY weird. I think there's Netflix and wine in my near future. 

bugabooo

And they're off!

So, here's the thing.

I didn't grow up as a special snowflake. I grew up knowing that I'd better work my butt off to get what I want, because there's always going to be someone on my heels hoping they can beat me. That's not a bad thing, because that other person is just trying to get what they want, too. Everyone is. 

I'm currently a senior, and I'll be graduating at the end of April. I'll graduate with honors, and my family is very proud because I'm the first, ever, in my entire family to finish an undergraduate degree "on time," or in four years. I have family in two countries and (after a recount) at least six states who will be at my ceremony in April. I need to start stockpiling kleenex. Not surprising at this point, but no one in my family has ever considered grad school. It's just... not part of the world they know. My Abuelita and Abuelito have less than a full high school education between them, and the other side of the family has very limited college education. This is more foreign than the moon, to my family. 

I'm sure I'm not rare in this-- my family is so proud, right? But they can't relate, and a lot of the time they seem to think that getting into grad school is just like undergrad. Same thing at work. "Didn't I already write you a letter of recommendation? Why do you need ANOTHER one?? Can't you just go to that school I already wrote to?" 
I've never lived on campus, and I never really got into my university's culture, so I feel limited there as well. 

The thing is that I don't totally know what I'm doing at any point, but I'm trying to keep the ball rolling. I have very limited human resources to draw from, and I'm never quite sure where I stand. I'm the only student at my university who is going into I/O. This blog is about me figuring this out, for now. I mean, I'm still figuring this site out, actually. In future entries I'll discuss my GRE and prep for it, where I've sent applications, and any updates I have. I encourage readers to comment their similar experiences, ideas, or notes.

Curtain for now.

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