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Hello guys and gals! While I might be new here, I do know a thing or two about writing/blogging so here we go! Welcome to the abyss. Bet you didn't expect that welcome into darkness but there it is. The abyss is simple: here is where people, most likely people applying for grad school or any college, get to spend their time waiting, pondering over "what if"'s, and wallowing in self misery. This accounts for the entire time period where you, or someone you know, has finished applying to whatever program they are interested and are waiting to hear back on a decision. Me? I've been in the abyss for a month now and still have a while before I'm going to be able to see the light at the end of the tunnel. What can I say about it? Well, no matter what people try to sell you, it doesn't get any easier no matter what you do. I want you to know, however, that the abyss is different for everyone. In fact, think of it as your own personal educational h**l on earth. One you decided to jump into head first, might I add. The abyss can (and will) bring out the best and worst in you. During this time period, you will get to discover things you probably never even knew about yourself. For example, the fact that you now have anxiety and the fact that it'll probably just get worse as time goes on, as well as the fact that you mentally created scenarios in your head about being far away in the middle of nowhere, finally getting accepted into your dream program at your dream school, and then a fire breathing dragon appears, laughing at you, screeching how you're never going to amount to anything and then throws your pathetic self into the nearest fast food chain. Okay, so that last one may have been just me, but it represents everyone's worst grad school fear...sort of. Don't get me wrong, though. The abyss isn't all bad. I'm sure that you've read somewhere that doing research and getting ahead are great ways to pass the time. It's true! They are, plus anything you can do to get ahead in your field of study is obviously a bonus. However, if you're like me, then there will be that inkling in the back of your mind about what may happen if you aren't accepted and how everything you're doing now is a waste of time. Obviously, this would put a downer on your study habits, unless you have the mental capabilities of a steal trap, to which I say...aren't you lucky (with a slight bitterness in my online voice). Studying and research are obviously great ways to go, AND they might also help you decide what specialty you may want to travel on. Then, you have the option of going on a different route, one that I suggest you think about. The back-up plan. It's this point in the abyss that no one really likes to think about and we all wish would just disappear and never see the light of day again, but no matter what you do and no matter how hard you fight it, you have to think about it. What's worse than thinking about it? Being sure that you can actually follow through when/if the time comes. The BU plan can be almost anything you want it to be, just be sure to plan for a few contingencies that may occur along the way. If your BU plan is to do a different grad school, then try it out the first time and then while you're waiting in another abyss, create a different BU plan on a different path. Whether it is settling for a job you are slightly interested in to following a different dream, make sure it is something achievable. I know it's kind of harsh for me to say this, but it needs to be said. Better you read it for yourself than hear it in person from someone you love...or someone you hate if that's what is going to help you see the method to the madness. You may or may not have an idea on what you want you BU plan to be and that is perfectly fine! Just so long as you are in fact thinking about it. Like I said, the abyss is different for everyone. I just want you to know that you aren't alone in the darkness of despair and waiting. You have friends. You have family. You have me. So, let me hear from you. Your comments, questions, advice. Everything. Even if you just wanna say, "hi." This time frame isn't fun for anyone, but...it does have some slight perks. You just have to figure them out for yourself. Sincerely, K.
For those poor, unfortunate souls taking the GRE, I bid you good luck! I few of my friends have asked me for advice and such regarding the test, to which I replied, "run away." But alas, we cannot. In fact, we have to go towards it, but no one said you had to run. In fact, take a moment to look at the actual test dates near you. Go on. But come back! You have more to read. Did you look? No? You little rebel, you! The point in looking is to better help you create a timeline. This will come in handy, believe me! If you're like me, then you have to work around your job, your family responsibilities, and pretending to have a life outside of the grad school process. The timeline helps you juggle all that with your study time. My next little piece of advice: buy a study guide! This is probably one of the most important out of everything I may, or may not, tell you in the next five minutes. Don't just buy a three year old study guide and expect it to be the same, because it won't be and you'll just end up wasting your money. Go to your local bookstore (and don't try to tell me you don't have one, I can pretend to know you better than that) and take a little while to actually skim through the different GRE study guides they have to offer. I'm going to suggest to be on the lookout for two different things: 1) make sure the main one you get goes into detail explaining all the little things on EVERY section of the exam, and 2) invest in a smaller book/set of flashcards they might have to improve your GRE vocabulary. I know that may seem a bit strange but it helped me loads!! What next? You actually have to study. I know it may seem hard to believe, and you may be the type who is reading this and thinking, "I never studied before so why should I start now?" To that I reply with (and please read in the most sarcastic voice you have in your mental arsenal): if that were truly the case, you wouldn't be sitting there reading this now. Don't be a jerk, and study. Think about it, you're spending a couple of hundred on the exam, so why not study so you don't have to double your money and retake it? Don't be an idiot. Plan accordingly and make the most out of the time you have. Even if you aren't taking the exam for 5 - 6 months down the line, the time goes by so fast so work hard and achieve greatness like I know you can! Advice during the actual testing? Take a moment to calm yourself down before the testing actually begins. I, obviously, did not do this and ended up giving myself a nosebleed before the testing began so take it from someone who knows and pray you don't end up like me. That being said, I did score pretty good on my GRE, but that's beside the point. Close you eyes, take a few deep breaths, and kill that sucker! Then let me know your experiences so that I don't feel so bad about mine. :p Good luck! K.