fenderpete Posted January 1, 2011 Share Posted January 1, 2011 I guess this is maybe bad timing, as everyone will pretty much now have sent in all of their applications for the 2011 season and no longer be in need of motivation, but I figured this might make for an interesting topic. I also figured if might be a good thinking about a new year post. Everyone here has one thing in common, that they want to get into grad school. I thought it might be interesting to talk a bit about why people are applying to grad school, what they want to get out of it and what the particular hurdles are for their given course and how you keep motivation up when doing the ground work to improve that all important application. For once, this isn't necessarily a 'Look at my GRE scores!' thread, but more of a personal journey thread. I figured it'd work well in the format: What program are you applying for? Why grad school and what's your journey? What challenges does your field present and what hurdles do you need to overcome? What skills are you working on? How are you keeping motivation and what perspective have you gained from the process? So... in the interests of fairness: What program are you applying for? MA International Relations/Conflict Resolution Why grad school and what's your journey? For me it's been kind of an interesting road. I decided pretty early on as an undergrad that I wanted to go to grad school, and this was motivated by nothing more complicated than realising that for any decent job in the United Nations you needed an MA! I went through an ill-advised round of applications at the end of final year, when I applied to PhD programs (due to the fact PhDs are a lot easier to get funded for) and after that decided I'd rather get some work experience and then figure out what to do about grad school. Fast forward two years and I've now got a decent amount of experience, and talked to enough people in my field to know that an MA is well worth it and will open a lot more doors than a PhD might (and also take a lot less time!). Working out in the West Bank, Guinea and Côte d'Ivoire has really helped me hone in the area of development I want to work in, and the job profile I want (HQ vs field based). What challenges does your field present and what hurdles do you need to overcome? I'm really weak on quantitative skills. Having gone to a UK university, where my undergrad was taught in a lot more of a Politics as a humanity than Political Science. That in mind, I have zero economics background and that definitely showed in my first attempt at the GRE in 2008. This is the main thing I'm trying to overcome. I also absolutely hate maths, and that's something I'm trying to overcome too. I figure if I can make what is a huge weakness into something approximating a strength then I'm in decent shape to make it through grad school. I worked on my French a lot out in Guinea and Côte d'Ivoire and it's something I want to continue to improve, along with my Spanish and Arabic. In my field it's pretty much taken for granted that you'll be close to fluent in more than your mother tongue, and as someone who's never found that languages come naturally this is something I know I'll have to work hard on for the rest of my career. What skills are you working on? At the minute it's all maths all the time! I've signed up to do a diploma in Economics with a distance learning program, and I'm also going through what is basically remedial maths in a course online - starting small, trying to reteach myself everything and end up at Calculus and Stats (which might help with the Economics). I'm also doing all the standard GRE prep and once that's all done I'm hoping to have some time to work on some languages and read a bit more into conflicts I've been interested in but never studied. How are you keeping motivation and what perspective have you gained from the process? This is the tough one. I know from the PhD application cycle that grad apps suck, and that it takes up a large portion of your time for a long time! The main thing I learned from last time is that worrying doesn't help and that once your applications are in you might as well forget about them. Easier said than done, but I'm hoping that'll help me once I'm back in the fog of applications this time next year. I also learned that not getting in isn't the end of the world and other options are there if you don't. Motivation at the minute is coming from some positive visualisation based on my number one grad school pick. I'm trying to think of it as if I work as hard as I possibly can for the next 9 months then if I don't get in, it's not meant to be. At the minute when I'm not working, I'm thinking of 'this is my goal, if I don't work I won't get it.' Kind of fluffy and non-specific I know. In more definitive terms, I'm thinking about all the sacrifices I've made over the past few years and how I want that to translate into something concrete (hopefully a good graduate education!) and also comparing my progress to that of my peers. Finally, I got the chance to live in the USA for 5 months a year ago and it was the best time of my life. Going to grad school in the US is a huge motivator, and something I hope might translate into a career and life in the USA once I finish. So... what about everybody else? Strangefox 1 Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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