There is less than a month until my first applications are due and I am suddenly feeling the anxiety and exhilaration that comes with taking such a giant risk. Sometimes I feel fantastic, like I'm going to get into every single program on my list (of 10, if you are wondering how things are going) and sometimes I feel defeated, like I'm wasting my time yet again.
I have completed what I hope is my final draft of my statement of purpose, and cut down my thesis to a sample of about 25 pages. My letter writers are locked in, my transcripts and GRE scores have been sent, and I'm updating my CV.
I have had 2 in-person meetings with POIs, and one phone call. To be honest, the in-person meetings didn't go all that well -- and not because they didn't like me, or I didn't like them. The value in meeting a POI seems to be that they can tell me things that they couldn't otherwise. In both cases, I was told about either funding or personnel problems, and the news shifted my plans for each program significantly. Another POI told me over email about a crucial problem on the department side of things, so I know that school is now unlikely to admit me because my POI is on indefinite leave, etc, etc. I'm just saying this to underline how valuable getting in touch with POIs has been -- I've reached out to almost 30 professors, and it has been so crucial in keeping my confidence levels up and getting a feel for what faculty committees are looking for.
Feeling better about this cycle doesn't keep my from occasionally getting hit with a burst of adrenaline. It's a shock to the system. It's standing on the edge of a huge chasm and my dream is right on the other side. I can see it, but can I get there? Can I grasp it?
Only time will tell.
How are your applications going? Have you had any worthwhile or interesting talks with POIs? Are you ready to turn your applications in or are you ready to throw them out the window?