Thursday, 10 October 2013

What it's like to research grad school

   Imagine you've decided to run a marathon.  One you've been training for four years.  It's one you've wanted to do, but you weren't too sure if you were going to be able to do it.  With some pushes in the right direction, you decide it's finally time to lace up.  You put your shoes on and you stand at the starting line waiting for that gun to fire that it's time to go.  You take a deep breath in and close your eyes, and when the gun is pulled, you feel like you're walking the race instead of running it.  Every few miles you fall down and every time you get back up it's more of a challenge.  But you keep going.  You know at the end your prize is there, and despite the fact the beginning of your journey feels like it's beating you down, you keep doing it.  You see glimmers of hope in your future in the form of post it note flags making it to the garbage and schools getting crossed off and eliminated.  You feel yourself fall one more time by not having a prerequisite for a school you loved.  Researching grad schools is a marathon.
   It's not just a marathon though, it's also feels like your being interrogated for a crime at times.  The questions are of course, asked out of genuine curiosity of people.  But when you're feeling overwhelmed by going through 50 states and 10 provinces to find programs you're interested in, your fuze can be particularly short at times and while you're not in a tiny room with a detective sipping his cup of coffee as he goes through the same questions for the hundredth time, it can sure somtimes feel like it. Why would you pick that school?  Why would you go to America if you were a Canadian citizen? What faculty do you like? Do you have a research topic idea? Who are your references? Have you written the GREs yet? How's studying for them going? When's your application due dates?
  And then sometimes, it feels like you're on a gameshow called "what does this university offer?" where your prize is going to be the financial funding you need.  You look through the teaching assistantships, the research positions, the on campus jobs and whether they offer scholarships.  Sometimes it feels like you're going to step up there and spin the wheel and land on BANKRUPT, and sometimes it feels like you've got that million dollar spin.

It's been many hours filled with tears researching where I want to go.  But I feel like if I dream big enough and I try hard enough I'm going to get in somewhere.  My hardwork is going to be paid off.  As I've so wisely been told "there's nothing as bitter as a grad school drop out".  I will be better, and not bitter.

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