I’m in the middle of applying for graduate school, and it’s been a stressful and often tedious process. I made the decision to apply for English and literature Ph.D. programs somewhat last minute, so I am obviously partly to blame for the overwhelming amounts of work I’m finding myself buried under. But, in my defense, sending transcripts and GRE scores, coordinating with professors and mentors, getting your personal statement down to a flawless science, proofreading your writing samples, studying (and trying to relearn math, in my case) for the GRE, keeping track of deadlines, and filling out the same info over and over on grad school applications can feel like a wild dumpster fire.
If you have applied to grad school, or, like me, are in the midst of it right now, the following scenarios will definitely resonate with you.
1. Feeling like you’re approaching a mental breakdown from all the GRE studying
This applies to those taking the MCAT and LSAT, of course, but since I took the GRE, I will be referencing that god-awful test. If you saw me at any point in August or early September, chances are my eyes were glazed over and I had a short temper. You could find me shuttered away in my room studying my Princeton Review prep book and wondering if I was going to die of exhaustion before I even took the exam.
2. Proofreading, proofreading again and then proofreading your supplemental documents one last time
You know that “I don’t really give a fuck at this point, I’m just going to submit my work” attitude you could cop at college when you were burnt out and ready to never see that essay again? Yeah, it doesn’t work like that on grad school applications. I’ll be damned if I’m rejected because of a spelling error.
3. Obsessing over your personal statement because, oh my God, it has to be perfect
Is it unique enough? Are the people in admissions going to be impressed or bored? Did I write enough about the research I plan to do? Does it seem too cliché? Do I even sound intelligent? These are the questions that will run through your head as you’re writing and editing your personal statement. After you submit it, you’ll probably dream about it.
4. Trying not to worry about your lack of a Plan B if you don’t get accepted somewhere
Many grad school programs are small and highly competitive, so you probably feel a lot of pressure as you’re applying. It’s scary to think about what you’ll do if you aren’t offered admission anywhere. Scary as in, “I really don’t think I have any life prospects” if you can’t go back to school. But why put yourself through more mental suffering? Try to ignore this horrible potential reality for as long as possible.
5. Letting the sticker shock of those pricey application fees sink in
There goes my entire savings account. I feel like I have to take out a loan just to apply to grad school in the first place. Paying over 100 dollars per application is painful and cruel. Also, I’m not going to be able to afford food or gas after all this.
6. Feeling incredibly honored when your past professors enthusiastically offer to write your letters of recommendation
I was super humbled and grateful, but that might also be because I’m just super cheesy. But let’s be honest, it’s a great feeling to know that someone is writing good things about you and truly wants you to succeed. Shout out to the professors who are taking the time and effort to help me out.
7. Having a sense of peace wash over you after you click the “Submit Application” button
Ahh, this harrowing part of the journey to grad school is over! What’s done is done, and you just have to hope for the best and see if your hard work pays off. It’s out of your hands! Now you get to nervously wait for the next several months to know if you got accepted.
If you’re applying to grad schools, hang in there and try to retain some sanity. If you’ve already applied or are currently enrolled in graduate courses, relish the fact that you’ve successfully navigated this difficult process.