Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Not for the Light-Hearted

This is a post to warn anybody out there who is planning to apply to graduate school next year, that unless you are prepared to endure under extreme exhaustion, stress, and anxiety for a period of at least six months. Unless you are prepared to spend $300 minimum on GRE exams, and at least $1000 total in application fees. Unless you are able to hold your job, and your current schoolwork load, while also having to chase professors around for letters of recommendation, while editing your writing sample all at the same time. Unless you are willing to loose at least ten pounds in weight, 300 hours of sleep, and all your friends (cause you won’t have time to see them) then, I’m warning you, don’t even try. The graduate school application process is only worth it if:

1)You would like to go to graduate school, but your entire happiness and personal identity does not depend on you getting accepted somewhere.
2)You have a back up plan in case you don’t get into a program.
3)Other professors besides the one who understands your field confirm that you are actually a strong candidate for a graduate program.
4)You are not going through the worst emotional crack up in your life while also going through this application process, and holding a job, and holding a load of schoolwork, and having no car for a month.
5)You explore with time in advance what programs would really suit you, instead of judging a graduate school by the state it is located in, and most reasonably (to you)the weather in that state.

The graduate school application process is usually not worth it if:

1)You are not sure how good your writing sample is, but you are desperate to get out of your town or city, and a PhD program sounds like a good ticket out of all your problems.
2)You are trying to prove something to somebody.
3)Your personal life is a mess, and yet you convince yourself that you are capable of making reasonable judgments. Some of these involve: Forgetting to attach your writing sample in one of the applications, sending your GRE scores to the wrong schools codes, mentioning names of professors you would “love to work with” whom are not part of the department anymore. Deciding a graduate school is the best match for you because you would enjoy the sunny weather of the state where it is located at.
4)You are doing this because your parents want you to get your PhD so that they save you from becoming a Spanish High school teacher, like them. Even if becoming a high school Spanish teacher is something you wouldn’t mind doing, as long as you could do other things on the side.

But if you are stubborn like me, and want to try it out anyway, please ignore all my advice and be prepared for the longest of months of your life. Once the deadlines are over and the waiting period begins, be prepared to feel the urge to check your e-mail 50 times a minute to see if any school has a response for you. Be prepared to postpone every single thing that could have potentially happened in your life, because you are putting your life on hold until you get a response from these schools. Be prepared to compete with 300 other students for 5 slots. Be prepared for running into your colleagues and pretending you are happy for them when they tell you how they got into, not one, but two PhD programs already, with full funding, while all you have gotten are rejection letters. Be prepared to get an acceptance letter from a somewhat ok rated graduate school, only to find out that there is no funding for you. Be prepared to get into a M.A program at a school you really like, to find out that there is no funding for you.
This is to say that applying to graduate school, is not for the light hearted people.

I’m ending this post with my favorite rejection responses posted by others, and cut and pasted from “The Grad CafĂ© Blog,” an online journal that I have gotten used to checking at least twice a day, with my commentary included.

1) Purdue UniversityPhilosophy, PhD. Rejected via Website on 3 Mar 2010A3 Mar 2010: “Well, screw you too.”

2) University Of Colorado At Boulder Philosophy, PhD. Rejected via E-mail on 3 Mar 20103 Mar 2010: “At least last time I applied, I was on the waitlist. How fickle these schools are!”

3) University Of Colorado At Boulder Philosophy, PhD. Rejected via postal service on 3 Mar 20103 Mar 2010: Shredded the letter to pieces that went inside my hamster’s cage.

4) New York University (NYU) Philosophy, PhD. Accepted via E-mail on 3 Mar 2010: “Some of the contributors to philosophicalgourmet, along with faculty at NYU, agreed that I would be accepted if they could watch me get fucked by a donkey. I wasn't hip on that at first, but Brian Leiter gave me a tube of AstroGlide... FOR FREE. So I got in. Good luck to everyone else, though.”

And you start getting used to the pain of rejection…

5) University Of Southern California (USC) Accounting, PhD. Rejected via E-mail on 3 Mar 2010: didn't hurt as much as the previous 6 rejections ---Numbed.

A lot of people who got rejected to Chapel Hill got the same generic, personalized e-mail, and thought it was really personalized for each of them, cute…

6) University Of North Carolina (UNC)Philosophy, PhD. Rejected via E-mail on 1 Mar 2010: Nice letter from Geoff...

7) University Of North Carolina, Chapel Hill (UNC)Philosophy, PhD. Rejected via E-mail on 1 Mar 201o: I almost felt bad for Geoff having to write the letter. He's a nice guy.

8) University Of North Carolina, Chapel Hill (UNC)Philosophy, PhD. Rejected via E-mail on 1 Mar 2010: The rejection was not all bad news. The rejection letter implies that Geoff (Sayre-McCord) and I are on a first-name basis. Don't be sad about not accepting me, Geoff. Somewhere out there, beneath the pale moonlight...

If it’s not enough to have to check your e-mails every five minutes during the day, guess what?

9) University Of Virginia Biomedical Engineering, PhD. Rejected via E-mail on 1 Mar 2010: "They send rejections in midnight.. " :(((((

10) University Of Virginia (UVA)Biomedical Engineering, PhD. Rejected via E-mail on 1 Mar 201o: They send reject in midnight...

Some people get creative!

11) New York University Philosophy, PhD (F10)Rejected via Other on 4 Mar 2010: had finally found the perfect sandwich. Ham, turkey, cheddar and provolone cheese, lettuce, tomato, sprouts, mustard and submarine dressing. Delicious. As I went to refill my drink, I see a shady, scraggly man run over to my table, and finish the last few bite of my heavenly sandwich. I begin to protest this when I notice that it is none other than Brian God Damn Leiter. Grinning, he begins inching towards the door, looks me straight in the eyes, and shouts so that all in the restaurant can hear him, “No one will ever believe you!!” and walks out. Later in the day, I received word from NYU that, due to recent developments, I would not be offered a position within the department.

And there is always the Christian scholar, with an anger problem…

12) Notre Dame University Theology, PhD Rejected via Other, on 2 Mar 2010: I got rejected but they will get rejected too, by GOD, as he closes the doors of heaven and sends them all to HELL.


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