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My mom said absolutely nothing when I called and told her I got accepted to my top choice, unfunded program. This was after I had cried happy tears for myself.

After that phone call, I kept the acceptance to myself for a few days. But most of the responses were a combination of "Yaaaay!" and "How much money are they offering you?"

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Mine was kind of sad, actually. I'd been volunteering as a tutor/mentor to some underprivileged middle school kids for about a year and a half, and I happened to be sitting in the computer lab next to

When I tell people I'm going to study English Language in Scotland they say "Scotland?! They don't even speak English there!" I know we're "two countries separated by a common language" but come on

Mom: "Proud of you!" Friends: (multiple reaction): -> "Congratz!" with huge smile and hug -> "wow...." -> "That's legit!" -> *silence* and walk away Dad: (This is the best reacti

Mom: "Congratulations. Now how are you going to pay for that?"

Me: *crickets*

Dad: "Good for you! Just know that I won't be visiting you in DC during the summer [sarcastically]."

SO: "I'm glad you got into all the schools. Let's pick one and move now! But I need to find a job before we move." (Back of her mind: Go to American so I can get a job in DC already).

My cats: "Will there be more birds/fish where we're moving? Please say we don't have to drive. Wait, a 7 hour drive? But there's birds here too you know."

Edited by tkovach05
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  • 2 weeks later...
My Professor who wrote my LoR: (when I got into my safety school) "Well at least you know you're going somewhere (emphasis on Somewhere)."(when I told him I got into Columbia) "You're kidding! You're joking, right!?" (with a stunned look on his face)

Hmmm... maybe you shouldn't have asked him for a LoR? Or did he actually write a good one?

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Fun thread!!! All my LORs and stuff. "What?! You didn't get into Harvard? In personal feedback they just told you were competitive? I'm flabergasterd not everyone loves you BUT I know you're brilliant." Me: "Well, so few of us have gone on for the Ph.D. and it was shooting in the dark, so I guess I'm happy with all the state schools I got into." Profs: "We're proud of you too!" Me: "I sure wish I'd gotten into my top programs :(" My profs "It doesn't matter!? All those schools will be drooling over you for jobs when you're done." Me: "Um. . no. I got into a good top 40 and for my program better program, but it isn't Harvard or Stanford or whatever, so that whole concern for jobs once you finish your Ph.D. program is a concern still." Undergrad advisors/fan club: "Not all all! You're just as awesome as those other kids!" Me, "Um. . .IQ doesn't matter. Apparently, their work is better, so those whole AWFUL job stats might eat my soul. . .sigh :(" May be overly dramatic/depressive but just looking at the Chronicle job stats is REALLY depressing. I've been reading lots of articles about how fucked up the American, even, Ph.D. system is. Are all the non tippity top programs doing us a disservice by presenting us with a degree that won't ultimately compete with the preferred children who get to the Ivy and (close to it) system that produce the "BEST" candidates? I don't mean for this to be the whiny part of me talking, but those recent job stats are AWFUL!!! I feel like even someone who got multiple offers to top 50 programs is still looking at destitution when there is a surplus for English Ph.D's. Reassurance please?

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Me: Got in U of Illinois.(UIUC)

Some friends: Where is it? Is it funded?....(after a while) oh BTW Congrats!

Me::blink: Umm..thanks!

*********************

Another Friend: Congrats! So are you going to attend? Aren't you a little worried of going there by yourself? (Since I live far away from US)

Me: I AM GOING TO ATTEND...URGHH (Thanks for the support BTW dry.gif )

*********************

My advisor: It's really great, WOW, Congrats!

Me:Thanks! ^_^

There is a famous saying: If you have nothing nice to say just don't say anything, it's way better.;)

Edited by GI1
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Fun thread. I thought I'd add an amusing response angle for fellowship winners to the mix.

Me: Mom, I just won a butt load of money and won't have to TA for 3 years, if ever again.

Mom: TAing is good for the soul.

Me: Thanks for that hearty congrats.

Committee Member

Me: Hey sorry, I didn't mean to interupt something...just had a quick piece of news about the NSF...I got it.

CM: What? Really? No way?...Awkward hug time.

On reflection I think I felt a little worried about the CM being "too shocked," but whatever.

Undergrad Adviser

Me:So thanks again for that letter. I got funded!

UA: That's great. Your chances for getting a job just went up, but there is a darkside. Your chances for tenure just went down. A friend of mine won one and self isolated and thus didn't create an enriched intellectual environment and couldn't come up with a second project.

Me: That sucks...(in my head: don't you need more than one point to plot a trend though? Didn't you teach me about the logic of regression analysis and degrees of freedom?)

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Fun thread!!! All my LORs and stuff. "What?! You didn't get into Harvard? In personal feedback they just told you were competitive? I'm flabergasterd not everyone loves you BUT I know you're brilliant." Me: "Well, so few of us have gone on for the Ph.D. and it was shooting in the dark, so I guess I'm happy with all the state schools I got into." Profs: "We're proud of you too!" Me: "I sure wish I'd gotten into my top programs :(" My profs "It doesn't matter!? All those schools will be drooling over you for jobs when you're done." Me: "Um. . no. I got into a good top 40 and for my program better program, but it isn't Harvard or Stanford or whatever, so that whole concern for jobs once you finish your Ph.D. program is a concern still." Undergrad advisors/fan club: "Not all all! You're just as awesome as those other kids!" Me, "Um. . .IQ doesn't matter. Apparently, their work is better, so those whole AWFUL job stats might eat my soul. . .sigh :(" May be overly dramatic/depressive but just looking at the Chronicle job stats is REALLY depressing. I've been reading lots of articles about how fucked up the American, even, Ph.D. system is. Are all the non tippity top programs doing us a disservice by presenting us with a degree that won't ultimately compete with the preferred children who get to the Ivy and (close to it) system that produce the "BEST" candidates? I don't mean for this to be the whiny part of me talking, but those recent job stats are AWFUL!!! I feel like even someone who got multiple offers to top 50 programs is still looking at destitution when there is a surplus for English Ph.D's. Reassurance please?

I was going to respond with a positive sentiment (i still will, but it's going to be preceded by a negative one) but then I read English Ph D =[ (there it is).

But seriously, it can't be as bad as all that! Like anything else, it probably depends on the work you put into it. It was extremely unlikely for me to have gotten in any Ph D program myself based on the stats (no one from the psych department at my school ever has before), but hey, I did! I'm sure all your dreams will come true.

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Parents: Yay, we're so proud!

Grandparents: What, they *pay* you to go to school?

Friend: You're quitting your REAL job??

Sister: You're moving to ALABAMA?? [banjo playing impression]

My fish met the announcement with placid silence, as usual. I didn't tell them that I'm giving them away rather than move them 800 miles.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Mine was kind of sad, actually. I'd been volunteering as a tutor/mentor to some underprivileged middle school kids for about a year and a half, and I happened to be sitting in the computer lab next to one of them when I got the acceptance from the school I eventually ended up going to.

me: "Bryan!! I just got accepted to U of X__!!!"

Bryan, with sad-puppy-middle-school-kid look on his face: "You're leaving? (even though he knew I'd been applying to schools, I guess it just hadn't sunk in)

me, feeling incredibly guilty: "Yeah, well, I mean maybe, we'll see what happens..."

Bryan: "Well, are you happy? You should be happy. I mean, good for you."

me: *wail*

I did leave and go to school, though it was damn hard to say goodbye. I still go back and visit every few months, though, and on my last visit back one of the kids told me that he's thinking about going to grad school someday. Making me so proud :-)

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  • 1 year later...

Great thread.

There is absolutely nothing more infuriating than working your ass off on application after application, going through the existential trauma that is writing an average of ten personal statements, receiving more than one acceptance, agonizing over the choices, and being met with various degrees of indifference from those around you. Here are a few of the worst reactions (and I do not just mean reactions toward the news, but also, variously, toward the decision-making process, and the general situation or combination of choices):

-Blank-faced, cold, "oh hey, congrats."

-"OK..."

-"Great... so what's the problem?"

-"I've never heard of that. You should go with <insert name of ivy league/famous school>. What's there to think about?"

-"What's the big deal? I'm not surprised you got in."

-"Sorry I keep tuning out, I'm distracted, I was thinking about my love interest whom I met at work which I started right after finishing undergrad while you were having mental breakdowns about PhD programs, and which is providing me with income while you continue to pay for applications. What were you saying?" .... "OK so they are all programs you like, and an education is an education, and funding is a factor, so just go to the school giving you the best package. What is there to think about."

-Being introduced to people like so: "This is my friend XYZ - she's going to <insert name of prestigious school> in the fall!!" upon deciding on said prestigious school. but being treated with apathy/no special introductions when I was still hung up on going to the less prestigious but more attractive option before.

-My mentor being super excited (like me) about the former option (the non-prestigious but more exciting one) but then treating me like I am politically problematic upon coming to my senses and switching programs due to financial circumstances (among other last-minute realizations/factors arising).

-In general, all the ignorant elitist assholes in the world who treated me like a pity case/nutjob or otherwise just treated me with total apathy/ blank faces when I was choosing school A (non-prestigious) and then instantly switched to grinning at me and being super celebratory when I switched decision to school B (prestigious). The commodification, itemization and valorization of your future vs. genuine concern for your wellbeing and the fulfillment of your ambitions at a program you love.

Sorry. I think I am still smarting from the behavior of certain people close to me. This was a very emotionally draining process and very few people really understood what I was going through. In fact, apart from my mother and my closest academic mentor (who now treats me like an untrustworthy problem child, though that could also be because shortly after making my decision, I quit my part-time job as their research assistant, a job I was barely doing in the first place because I was so consumed with grad school anxiety for months). Really no one else understands or wants to understand how huge this decision is. Somehow choosing a husband after undergrad is still taken very seriously - perhaps even religiously - by most urban societies, but choosing a PhD program is not taken quite so seriously. Does this annoy anyone else as much as it annoys me? I guess it doesn't quite 'annoy' me in any objective way (I understand why, for most people, PhD choices are not terribly intelligible from a certain perspective) - but I suppose even I can surprise myself with how hurt I become when friends I expect to offer their shoulders for me to cry on, will do so only tentatively, not really knowing or particularly caring about what this decision signifies. As the above-quoted friend said, "an education is an education" - the fact that we are talking about two or more substantively different programs at substantively different schools, making substantively different offers, in substantively different departments for work with substantively different professors - coupled with the facts of relocation and medium and long term commitments, immersions.... none of these things seem to make much of an impression on these people, no matter how well you think they know you, or how closely they appear to have listened to you over the last few years. And when you spend so much of your time listening carefully and respectfully to your friend go on and on about more than one love interest and you sincerely attempt to brainstorm with her about strategy, it's like - woah.

OK I'll leave it at that. Sigh....

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Older sister: "Now you have a future!"

Haha Most people have the opposite to choosing grad school. "You're throwing away your future!"

Anyway, when I told people I know reasonably well, I got a lot of "told you so." When I told other people:

Me - "I got in to grad school with full funding!"

Them - "Congrats, for what?"

Me - "Philosophy"

Them - "....well, at least you don't have to pay for it."

Edited by Hank Scorpio
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Most people were really happy for me and I also got some of the "I told you so" responses (I wasn't sure I'd get in ...). But one old friend was really negative when I told her I was planning on applying to graduate programs and did not say anything when I got in. I think our friendship has gone downhill due to her lack of support and even downright disapproval of the path my life has taken. Oh well ...

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Since I earned a PhD in Molecular Genetics and Microbiology in 2008 followed by 2 years of postdoc-hood, some people were somewhat surprised to learn of my desire for a career change which requires another graduate degree. I thought I was an iffy candidate but I sailed on through the application process.

Upon acceptance, everyone was pleased and happy for me.

Here I go again (and I thought I would never take another exam in my life)!

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Various not-so-close friends, and my former elementary school teacher: "Graduate degree in the US eh? Living off daddy's money?" Yeah, the TAship is just a volunteer gig that I'll do out of the kindness of my heart.

Close friends: "You're not going to come back, are you?" They were right.

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When I tell people I'm going to study English Language in Scotland they say "Scotland?! They don't even speak English there!"

I know we're "two countries separated by a common language" but come on, people. It's ranked in the top 10 in the world for my program, and is the alma mater of J.M. Barrie, Thomas Carlyle, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Ian Rankin, Sir Walter Scott, Alexander McCall Smith, Robert Louis Stevenson, David Hume, Adam Smith, and Charles Darwin. I think they can speak English there.

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General words of support from friends and family, none of whom (aside from my wife) who really seem to understand the point of it all. To most of them success is indicated by salary; attempting a PhD in the humanities is at best, to them, an eccentric hobby that may or may not yield financial results. Fortunately I stopped caring what most of them think long ago!

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Various not-so-close friends, and my former elementary school teacher: "Graduate degree in the US eh? Living off daddy's money?" Yeah, the TAship is just a volunteer gig that I'll do out of the kindness of my heart.

AH! My high school GUIDANCE COUNSELLOR said something to this effect... to my mum... in our town's grocery store... (I'm from a tiny village!) "Oh, so she's elected to hide from the real world for a few years eh? It must be nice to prolong the undergrad experience... if you're going to be too smart for your own good, you might as well have a piece of paper to prove it!"

Well, hello there high-school trauma, I see that you're still crushing dreams? How's that going?

Yeah, I don't get back much either.

Also, my mother is a saint.

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