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And of all these things the Albino Whale was the symbol.

1Q84

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blog-0318631001428210865.jpgAnd so my long journey of graduate school applications has come to an end.

I hereby bid goodbye to the following:

Statements of purpose
Online application systems
Transcript hassles
and, last but not least, (and I have gleefully saved a special rude gesture for): [i]ETS/GRE/Standardized Testing[/i]!

(At the same time, I also welcome whatever new stressful, illogical, and inane bureaucratic hoops lay ahead of me in the Ph.D. program and beyond.)

But I digress. The subject of this post, really, is to explain a little bit about my long, circuitous journey towards graduate school. Many moons ago, I attended a high school that had a "gifted" program; though I was not chosen to be a part of it, my entire cohort of friends happened to be members. Accordingly, beautiful and wondrous things were always on their horizon (eg. one of them went to Princeton for his undergraduate work and, in short order, became an undersecretary in the Bank of Canada). Though I don't think I ever had the same pressure applied to me, I felt it all the same. I pushed myself and achieved a good entrance scholarship to attend the University of Toronto.

I went through the motions during the first few years but didn't develop much as a person. I got into a long term relationship, but it was one of those stagnant ones where we cut out all of our friends and just sat in our dorm watching tv shows. I retreated further into my social anxiety and the nonthreatening nature of my relationship. I didn't make any connections with professors, barely participated in any extracurricular activities, never in class, and sure enough, it eventually affected my grades--the one thing that I believed all this time had defined my success as a person. Though I left an impression on one or two professors with some solid essays on topics that I was passionate about, I had nothing in the way of a solid foundation for a strong graduate application. Entering my fourth year, I applied to Ph.D. programs at Toronto and other Canadian schools. The answer was a resounding

[i]Rejected.[/i]

I felt despair at the first major (academic) defeat in my life and sank into a weird, hazy limbo. Yet, with some gentle prodding from my parents, I applied again the next year. Again, the call came back:

[i]Rejected[/i].

It was a terrible blow. Like a whale biting off your leg, one might say. I [i]really[/i] gave up after that. I figured [i]H[/i][i]ey, maybe graduate school isn't for me. Most of my friends didn't go on to Ph.D.s either! Maybe I was just following a path that others had defined for me. [/i]So I entered the workforce, worked a bunch of awful, menial jobs (think two key data entry and factory work), taught overseas for a bit and lived out my repressed high school partying years, and finally settled into a retail food service funk. I was depressed. I felt like I was staring at a dead end sign. Worse yet, I was hardly making enough income to survive.

Finally, due to kismet and external forces, I decided that I needed to try again with graduate programs out west, in California. I applied to some unknown or 'unranked' MA programs, aiming for the fully funded one and--success! I was shocked and I was grateful. I knew that this was my last chance to prove myself and claw my way back to my graduate dreams. I pushed myself harder than I ever have and (thanks to a genuinely rekindled passion due to a harsh and demanding professor), after much roaming on the high seas, I finally caught up to my Moby Dick. I reapplied to the University of Toronto. I steadied my harpoon and let fly. And after many months of waiting:

[i]Accepted[/i].

Of course, the acceptance to UT is merely symbolic to me. I don't think I actually ever intended to attend. But I feel like I have done a service to that narrative arc of my life: I finally conquered the rejections that destroyed me when I was younger, and in doing so, have finally proven to the niggling voice deep down inside that[b] [/b][i]YES. I AM WORTHY OF GRADUATE SCHOOL.[/i]

This whole schpeel is my way of saying: life happens. You can get thrown off the bull many, many times and in many different ways. At 21, not everyone is going to be ready, willing, and motivated to pursue a Ph.D. [i]and that's fine[/i]. Do your best, but if it's not right at this moment, work hard to improve yourself and try again when the time [i]is[/i] right. Due to personal (familial) circumstances, I needed a lot of time to grow outside of the garden into which I had walled myself, which included academia. I lived (and kind of didn't live) enough to know that I'm ready for graduate school now and I'm so lucky to have been given the chance this time around.

Best of luck to all applicants who are preparing for the next application cycle. I look forward to congratulating you all in 2016!


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Oh that! Your entry moved me!

 

I'm almost 23, and will apply this winter to grad school for the first time. I can hardly figure me out getting into that class room somewhere far away from my place (Mexico). 

 

But I'm sure of one thing: that day will come, sooner or later.

 

Thanks for sharing!

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Agreed, very moving. Congratulations!

As someone who has done the personal development part, completed the menial labor phase, got the master's degree and is still being rejected, I can only say well done.

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Agreed, very moving. Congratulations!

As someone who has done the personal development part, completed the menial labor phase, got the master's degree and is still being rejected, I can only say well done.

 

Oh that! Your entry moved me!

 

I'm almost 23, and will apply this winter to grad school for the first time. I can hardly figure me out getting into that class room somewhere far away from my place (Mexico). 

 

But I'm sure of one thing: that day will come, sooner or later.

 

Thanks for sharing!

 

Thank you, you two. economist-to-be, I wish you the best of luck! floatingmolecule, all you have to do when you fall off the horse is get back up! Really hoping, if you decide on another app cycle, that it'll be "the one!"

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I didn't know you were a third-time applier! This gives me a measure of hope as I consider whether or not to try a third time myself. I, too, am a bit of a late bloomer and have been struggling through menial jobs since I was an undergrad. Thanks for sharing. :)

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I didn't know you were a third-time applier! This gives me a measure of hope as I consider whether or not to try a third time myself. I, too, am a bit of a late bloomer and have been struggling through menial jobs since I was an undergrad. Thanks for sharing. :)

 

I'm glad it helped :) PM me if you'd like to discuss anything (from hiatuses from academia to app strategies).

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