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Found 12 results

  1. I have been a longtime lurker in these forums and finally decided to join the convo. I'm writing about a topic that is relatively sensitive and in a 2019 context is highly charged so I'm hoping this dialogue can be productive and respectful. Full disclosure, I am a woman of color and this has been the most emotionally taxing process I've ever been through, and I've been through some shit. I know this is something everyone has to accept, but I feel terribly alone at the moment. The silent but toxic stress of carrying all of these identities is killing me. After being one of the few members of my immediate and extended family to complete a bachelors degree, I entered the workforce for several years and after mind numbing work, I decided to re-enter academia and apply to PhD programs. Though I am not first generation, I might as well be. My mother has an associates and my father completed his masters shortly after I entered college myself. Beyond that, I don't know anyone who has ever ventured into getting any sort of advanced degrees of any kind let alone bachelors degrees or high school diplomas. My parents, though supportive, proved quite useless during this process and many of my other family and friends didn't understand why I'd give up a great career to "go back to school." It's draining at family functions to have conversations about things no one understands and judges me heavily for. Navigating the application process was such a difficult process. I reached out to other minorities and POC (person/people of color) during the initial stages but they too vocalized how taking on this endeavor can be very difficult if you're the first to do it. Not to sound like a martyr but for much of my academic and career journeys thus far I have always been the first and only in the spaces I exist in. I am one of a few POC at work and I was one of 3 POC women in a group of about 10 total in my undergraduate program. The stress of constantly feeling like I need to represent an entire group is draining and the burden of not feeling like I can measure up is exhausting. Imposter syndrome has been real. At every step of this process I have been filled with self doubt. I waited 2 years to take the GRE just because I was afraid of failing. I did not I got 160Q/167V/5.5 Writing respectively. Then I applied to programs and felt like my statement of purpose wouldn't be good enough, I was told by many that it was great. I went to open houses and info sessions thinking I didn't belong only to walk away feeling empowered. But now, that has all come to an overflowing boil. I am at a point in the PhD application process where it's becoming more readily apparent that I will probably get a flush of denies to every program I applied. I have seen acceptances and invitations for interviews go up and my inbox remains empty save for the 4 denies I've already received. When people ask me how the process is going, i can't bring myself to tell them I've been denied so I just keep saying "I'm still waiting to hear back...". Though this is true, I have no faith that I'll get into the remaining 3 programs I'm waiting on. Even my 'safety school' denied me already. What's more frustrating is the current undertones that exist in admissions -- the Harvard case against affirmative action, the feeling that spots are "deserved" rather than earned, this idea that POC are given spots in program. I was not expecting to be admitted based on some diversity metrics, and I don't fully believe at the PhD level special considerations are made based on race, religion, ethnicity, or gender. But to continually get denied makes me feel double as bad as I feel like I truly was the worst of a group that already gets special considerations/concessions. I am not sure how to move on from these denials and face the hoards of family who thought I was crazy for considering this, the coworkers and friends who have supported me with a zeal that honestly made me even consider doing this in the first place, and the countless other marginalized groups I wanted to encourage through my application and acceptances into programs. Though I identify (and exist) as a woman of color, I know I am not alone. I know there are countless women, people of color, international students, immigrants, LGBTQ, and other underrepresented or marginalized populations who hopefully can identify with these emotions and I just wanted to allow for a space for folks to be vulnerable.
  2. Hello, I'm in my second year of my Masters program as a Biology major and I have never done a research project and have struggled to make connections with Professors. I fail to find internships for biology labs and am afraid of missing the opportunity for one. I have felt overwhelmed and my adviser wanted me to pick a Professor to mentor me on my Thesis, which I do not have. I have a new adviser now and feel like I'm back at square one. My grades have been slipping from stress and me desperately clawing for a social life, my GPA was 3.21 and I fear it dropping further. I have been feeling overwhelmed when trying to find a thesis topic, it hits me like a brick wall and I don't know how to get over it. I am trying to become a Clinical Laboratory Scientist (Medical Technician) but I have no job experience. I've never had a job before. I don't really know what job to get as a biology grad student, and if I can even get one. I really need advice on this. My College offers a Non-Thesis route, but I have gotten conflicting advice on whether to take it. I don't want to be a researcher, so is it the better option? I have terrible networking skills. I fail to keep in touch with Professors and my previous adviser, who is teaching a course I'm taking, is not impressed; she's worried about me (I have terrible depression where I'm unable to function in class group work and I can't control my emotions anymore, she has noticed my declining grades and mood). How am I going to network and connect with Professors with this mental decline on my back? The mistake I made was joining a Masters program right after completing my Bachelors degree in Biology. I wasn't prepared.
  3. Hello! So I just started my Ph.D. program in comp lit, and I've been extremely overwhelmed... I relocated to my new city only three weeks ago, found an apartment and bought furniture, and before I realized, first week of school has already passed. It seems like I'm one of the very few people in my program who didn't come in already with an MA, and I feel very behind in my classes. I'm also kind of worried about settling in the new city. My cohort is very friendly, but they seem somewhat distant and tend to just do their own things, so it's been hard to make friends. Another thing is that nobody in my department does what I do, so I feel awkward talking about my research in class. People just seem confused about why I'm here. So now I'm really struggling with how to balance between finishing all my readings and catching up, and reaching out and making new friends. It seems like grad school just doesn't allow both. I guess I didn't come super prepared for this, so any advice would be really helpful! Thanks & come hang out if you're also in LA :)
  4. How's everybody treating themselves to good stuff during the waiting game? Food, drink, pampering, whatever. Let's hear it! I have been indulging in video games, good desserts (gelato!), and good beer to unwind from each (yet another) day of waiting on admissions decisions. And if I'm gonna go get a cappuccino anyway, I'm gonna spend the extra $1.50 to go get THE GOOD ONE.
  5. Hi, I am an undergraduate student who attends a decent public university and has a good enough GPA & LSAT score to get into a top law school at my state. I am in a fortunate enough position to not be concerned with how much money I make as long as I make above $40k (as a freelance tutor, I've been making decent amount without much time commitment). I like and am good at writing, reading, speaking, analyzing, teaching, and presenting/defending arguments. Coming from a teaching background, I know that I would love to be a Philosophy professor as well as tackle the challenging process of becoming one. Another aspect of being a professor that appeals to me is not having to be in a service sector where I may experience a lot of stress due to my clients. The only thing that shies me away from this career path is the dismal job prospect, which is between 4~15% for receiving a tenured-track position. Compounding this issue is the fact that I do not want to leave my home city, which makes this 4~15% even slimmer. As for pursuing law, I understand that this process is tough and that the job prospect is not high either–although it is better than that of pursuing professorship. So the question is, should I pursue law or becoming a professor? If law, which field should I pursue or avoid and why? I am open to any field as long as it has a reasonable job prospect and does not entail agonizing stress level (i.e. having to deal with unreasonable customers who refuse to pay or put you through mental hell). Thank you for your insight.
  6. Hi all, If you read my other posts, you would have known that I am in my final months of PhD and stressed about finishing. It is not great when I also need to convince my supervisors to just focus on writing and not to do more experiments for a manuscript along with writing. I know it is normal to stress out at this stage, but somehow I feel that I am abnormally stressed out. For some reason I feel that I will not be able to finish writing and my writing will never be good enough for submission (Imposter syndrome?). I always have a feeling that I am trapped and it gets to the point that everyday life situations can be triggers, e.g. (1) The city where I live in is breezy from time to time and I should be very used to that after living for 8 years. But since last year, I started to be scared of strong wind. My whole body tenses up and it feels like I cannot move. It is challenging for me to walk back to lab from my college. I can make it, but the 10 min walk becomes 20 min on windy days. I can relate this to something unpleasant last year. My dearest co-supervisor had me to help her out with the last bit of work for one of her projects. The collaborators were procrastinating until the last min and I had to rush through a big experiment within a week. I was panicking the whole time because of the large amount of work and those 7 days were very windy. My co-supervisor did apologise to me afterwards, but the whole experience was traumatic and I got into panic mode whenever the wind strikes I feel that the wind can trap me, even though untrue! (2) I am uneasy with using the bathroom in the office. The bathroom has been there since I started my PhD and I am very used to it. Nothing has changed but I have that being trapped feeling when using the bathroom. Thankfully I don't need to be in the office most of the times as I am writing now. (3) The traffic is crazy in my city due to construction work. It would not affect me shopping around in the past, but now I don't feel comfortable with spending time on traffic and I will only go to a grocery stall within walking distances to do my shopping. My progress of writing is not that bad actually, but I feel guilty if I leave my thesis for too long. According to other PhD students, during the write-up stage they were struggling with (1) sleeping, (2) reduced immunity (catch a cold very often) and (3) panic-attack like symptoms when meeting supervisors. I got (3) too when I need to meet my co-supervisor, but not other supervisors though. None of them experienced the feeling of being trapped. I consulted professionals and they reassure me that I am just too stressed out with PhD and I am okay. But somehow I am doubting because I have never got these symptoms when I was stressed out. If you don't mind, could you share what stress symptoms did you experience when you wrote your thesis? What would be your advice to get through this critical stage? I heard that life will get back to normal after PhD. Is that true? I am worried that I will still be like that after finishing. Mental illnesses somehow run in my family Thanks. Hope.for.the.best
  7. Hi, I just received my masters in May and started a fully funded PhD program (in a mostly unrelated field) this fall. I thought it was what I want to do. I think the research will be interesting. However, just two weeks in and I hate it. I dislike the courses and their content. I can't see myself wanting to discuss this literature. The thought of being in academia, writing papers/grants, teaching these types of courses- it scares me and I don't really want that to be my life. I don't want to have to endure a 5 year PhD program and then additional years of obtaining tenure.The one thing holding me here is that I think I will like the research. But the field I'm in has very limited career options and most PhD grads go into academia. I'm a bit of a mess at the moment- extreme anxiety, depression, stress, and causing my IBS to flare up quite uncomfortably (sorry for the TMI). I am also 5 hours away from my long time boyfriend (he's just finishing up his PhD) and it's extremely hard being away from him and knowing that it will be difficult to continue our relationship as he looks for jobs post-PhD. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. I am hesitant to quit this early as I put a lot of work to get to where I am now. But, I just find more and more that I don't like my current situation. Thank you!
  8. I've been meaning to write this post (and another that is hopefully coming soon) for a while but life happens. I was able to go visit my future grad program a few weeks ago and I plan to write about that next but for now, I want to talk about something I think will be a little more universal - the mental side of the grad school process, as far as I've experienced anyway. For me, and I'm sure many others, grad school was always just a far off thing I knew I'd do eventually but didn't put an incredible amount of thought into until I was about halfway done with college (about a year in for me). Then, the time came to decide what program and school I wanted to apply to and it got exciting. I'm a higher education nerd with a bit of wanderlust so it was exciting to me to be able to check out all of these schools around the country, even if it was just through their websites. Next, it was time to apply and the pressure was on. Did I really have what it would take to get in? Did I develop the right relationships for strong letters of recommendation? Is this even the right time for me to go to grad school? It's been 4 months, will you finally just sit down and write the essay?! So after months of procrastination, I finally admitted my application. I just turned in one so that was it, no more stress, now it was just a waiting game. But then, the Internet threw a wrench in my plan to peacefully await a decision. I started looking for stats of admitted students to the program. Did I make the right decision to apply to only one. Did I put too much stock in program location. And a bunch of other things it was too late to second guess considering it was already late January and the deadline for most programs had passed. Then I made a decision that probably wasn't the best for me mentally - I joined gradcafe. I never see it mentioned here on the site but being on here, talking to (and comparing myself to) people I'm essentially competing against was nerve-wracking. That guy has way more experience than me. He conveys his passion over writing better than I do. And even when it wasn't people in my field..you applied to 3 schools? 5 schools? 14 schools?! Man, those odds were way better than what I gave myself when I only applied to one. My stress levels skyrocketed but I was still in the same exact position of not being able to do anything but sit around and wait for a decision. Finally, after what seemed like an eternity but was only actually a couple of weeks, a decision came through. I got in! I was accepted to the program of my dreams and I was thrilled. But that feeling of pure elation barely had time to settle before I started doing more stress-provoking Google searches. Now I was comparing other programs to my own. That one offers more funding? That one pays for travel to interviews? That one offers more assistantships? All things I could do nothing to change. A few weeks later, I was able to visit my new school and meet other newly accepted students. Many of my fears were soothed. I wasn't the only one worrying about those things. I couldn't have been happier with the campus, program, and professors once I was introduced to everything in person. I didn't feel imposter syndrome even when talking with all these other great people were also admitted and the current students who seemed to be on a completely different level. After that weekend, I left completely happy with the results of my progress and have barely been on gradcafe stressing, doubting, worrying since. Now this isn't to say that I think gradcafe is bad. It's great to connect with others that are in the same situation as you, have the same interests as you, and understand the struggle of putting yourself through this rigorous process. But your own mental wellness should also be taken into account. There's always going to be someone who's application is a little stronger in some area. Maybe their GPA is one point higher or they went to a brand name school in the field or they have more research experience. But you have to trust YOUR process (not the process) and realize you have just as much right to be in the admissions pool as the next guy. The grad school process is all about selling yourself, trying to get a school to realize you're a good stock to invest in. So at the end of the day, you and the work you've done up to now are all you have to rely on so don't lose faith! You're great. Now you just have to get an adcom to realize that
  9. I joined to post this thought: Maybe I am much, much weaker of a person than I initially thought, but this app season has literally made me miserable. I am angry, depressed, hostile, prone to illness, and above all, very bitter. I hear birds chirping and I want to chop down their tree. Part of it is that I have been rejected from schools I thought I had a chance of getting into, and another part is that I am still waiting on answers. It feels like the rest of the world knows what they're going to do in the Fall, yet my plans have been demolished and/or are being toyed with by late responses. At the beginning of this process, I had a "whatever happens, happens!" attitude. Now I am purely depressed about the whole thing. Hopefully the next two weeks brings some good news. Thanks for listening and allowing me to vent, gradcafe!
  10. Can we compile a list of the relevant factors to consider when picking between admissions offers? The obvious considerations (money, ranking, location, etc) are obvious, but since so far both of my programs are coming out pretty even on all those measures, I'm wondering if people have suggestions for some less-obvious, but possibly game-changing, factors to consider which will help me break this stalemate. I know most of you will cite "fit" as the most important consideration, but since "fit" is something that's impossible to determine on anything other than a very superficial level (i.e. Are there professors in the program who are doing work that I find interesting and that could support my work?) until you actually enroll in the program and experience what it's all about, I'm looking for some other metric to base a decision on. Obviously, the adcomms at the programs I got in to think I "fit", and I don't really have any way of verifying or disproving their suspicion.... I've visited both programs and had equally excellent, but very different, experiences at both. Not helpful. I can't afford to visit either school again (though I would love to). So. How the hell are you lovely people deciding where you're going to go? What am I not giving enough consideration to? What could give one program an edge over the other that I'm not realizing? Also, if you'd like to make my decision for me, you're welcome to.
  11. This might be a stupid question to ask but I do not know anyone going for their Master's in Social Work. (I know several in psych programs) How hard is grad school compared to undergrad? Should I expect to spend significantly more time on classes compared to undergrad? Is the stress level much greater? My general question is: What is it like? School has always come easy to me, and I am an A student, but I am concerned that grad school will put me in way over my head. I can't be the only one who feels like this, right?
  12. With "non-denominational winter holiday season" right around the corner, most people I know are pretty busy finishing up exams, doing shopping runs, and shoveling snow from their driveway (although, not in my part of Canada where snow is as foreign as 3 days without rain). I, on the other hand, am spending my days researching for my MA thesis and obsessively checking my PhD applications. Good news! All of my letters, transcripts, test scores, and writing samples have been received by my schools of choice. Bad news! This hasn't stopped me from checking my applications once a day for the past 4 weeks (what if I missed something? What if a professor withdrew a letter? What if ____ got lost in the mail? What if the internet conspired to delete my application from existence and crush my dreams??!!" Bottom line: I am a compulsive checker of applications. When there are no more applications to check, I am a compulsive checker of grad cafe (because who knows... someone could be looking for just the sort of unsolicited advice that I happen to specialize in!) Anyways, we have the "Welcome to the 2012 Cycle" forum but I hereby propose a much less useful and much more youthful (read: immature) forum in which we might discuss our no-doubt shared feeling of impending dread as February and March roll around. After all, there isn't anything wrong with arm-gnawing anxiety, it just shows you care. Questions/Topics for discussion: - How often do you check the status of your applications? - How often do you go on grad cafe? - What is the craziest thing you have done or written in preparation for these applications (i.e. spelling mistakes in SOPs? Hilarious personal statement teasers? Nagging emails to letter writers?) - Do you check other people's "what are my chances" posts because you want to help or because you want to know how competitive you are with them? - Have you ever responded to a "help me with my _____" post and then slightly regretted giving someone else an edge? Enjoy!
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