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What do you mean when you say the fridge had a "catastrophic failure?"



Hi little Otters,

When I started this grad school app silliness, pretty much everything was horrifying. I thought the feat of studying for and performing well on GREs was terrifying. The prospect of asking LORs for letters was intimidating. Bearing my experiences and shortcomings in my SOP was like facing an angry, objective mirror that kept yelling at me for mixing up effect and affect. (I still think I've probably got them switched them around wrong somewhere :unsure:) However, nothing has been nearly as distressing as that wait for that magical first response.

Gawd, that wait. That check your email/phone/application website/GradCafe every five minutes kinda wait, hoping someone somewhere in the scary world of adcomms will reach out, pat you on the head, and tell you that you happen to be what they're looking for. The emotional toll has been surprisingly harsh, and the first few weeks after getting that last app in was rough. It's just this terrible roller coaster between feeling super competent and qualified and feeling simple and mediocre (especially compared to the many fine applicants on this site, but that's another post). I'm sure that adcomms are aware of these kind of psychological stressors they're putting on us, and I'm curious about how they handle it within their admissions procedures. Relatedly, I'd kinda like to see data on the applicant pool's average stress levels and how it correlates with phone call frequency to their offices during different points in the app season, but I digress...

Personally, I think I have gotten over that initial spat with self-doubt (for the most part, anyways). After a bit you just kind of.. chill out, realize you've done all you can, and know the world won't end if the outcome isn't what you had originally planned. Also, distractions. My current favorite is splurging on pretentious 90's sitcoms with Nexflix. Other activities include getting myself to write things like this, and painting, and running and rebuilding my tiny race car and other silly things like that.

I am, however, having trouble re-establishing a cycle for meaningful productivity, and of course I still catch myself compulsively checking the results page at every spare moment. I see a lot of people complain about stress on these forums, both for application requirements and the post-app wait. However, it seems like threads that explicitly address methods for dealing with it seem few and far between: there's an occasional de-stress music thread or maybe even a game thread or two, but nothing really approaches the topic directly. My few bits of anecdotal evidence claim that the distraction of school can alleviate grad app anxieties. (Lucky you, you young'uns.) Another strategy I've heard is exercise complemented with a stringent routine. (Hopefully I'll get back on the treadmill come Monday, cold weather be damned.)

Are any of you fellow applicants having problems like these? How are you dealing with it? What do you think about GradCafe's approaches to reduce application anxiety?


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approach to reduce anxiety? it just makes you more stressful, especially when you see some highly qualified applicants, in you opinion, are getting rejected and you don't know why! sometimes you loose hope! sometimes you would start to think that: Oh, my safety school is very good, I hope they will admit me ( even though before submitting the applications you couldn't even see your self in there!). And sometimes you would think that you should start preparing for a Plan B! Personally I faced all what I mentioned earlier, but the funny part is that now a days I check GradCafe more than I check my e-mail/facebook !
But I am still wondering how you have time for all what you doing? I am in my second master's year and I can barely have time to eat! lol

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I'm sorry to hear that you're having a rough time, Maro, but I do really think it is very important to try and manage one's stress levels, even if it seems like more trouble than it is worth at first. It's healthier for you, and it is also a great way to know yourself better and help you to identify when you're overwhelmed. If I had understood this better in my undergraduate years, I would have been much more prepared to pick out when I needed to step back from the situation for a bit, regroup, and tackle whatever workload with a new perspective and new gusto.


Hee, I don't have all the free time in the world, I'm afraid. I am a lab tech in an academic lab at a medical college, where I'm working on my own project and figuring out my first lead-author manuscript. While it is hard work, I do schedule time for projects at my hackerspace and make sure I can put up some mileage at the gym. This trifecta of "knowledge, craft, and discipline" has helped me manage my workload and stress waaaay better than I had ever imagined. :D 


We're all in this together, Maro! Hang in there! 

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Hey Pyrocide! I definitely share your disorientation after the applications. I find myself checking the calender on my dest while studying, as if the days passed by without me realizing and I've finally reached the day that I receive an e-mail from one of the schools. I have the concentration span of a two year old and constantly day dream about how it would be to study at X, Y, Z schools. I wish I had a fast forward button or a time machine! Oh! Or I could get my memories of applying to phd programs erased and finally relax. This would also make it easier to cope with the rejections and double the surprise effect (or affect??). 

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