My Graduate School Acceptance Story + Tips for You
If you have been following my journey, you would know that I start my graduate program in less than three weeks. I talked a little bit about that in my previous post if you want to check it out here
Although I am incredibly happy with my choice to attend graduate school, I know it is not for everyone, and that's why I wanted to share my graduate school application process and acceptance story. I hope this is fun for you to read and it can also help any college seniors out there interested in graduate school make some decisions.
IN THE BEGINNING
I honestly did not know what I wanted to do going into my senior year of college. I was torn between applying to law schools or graduate programs and applying for jobs. So, I sought some expert advice and asked a couple of professors who I was close to and knew my record as a student, what I should do. All of them unanimously agreed that I should continue with school and start looking into graduate programs. When I think back to that moment now, my push to apply to schools and immerse myself in the process, all came from getting that validation from these people who I looked up to. They trusted that I was doing the right thing and so my application process began.
To begin, I had to figure out what exactly I wanted to study and why. I knew I was interested in International Affairs and so a quick google search for "top international affairs masters degrees in America" was my starting point. I began researching the different programs the top schools offered and reasonably looked into other programs that were not considered top programs but had excellent reputations as well. I then created a spreadsheet of my top six schools that I was personally interested in, and I believed I had a good chance of getting accepted into. Those spreadsheets included relevant information about the school and that specific program, professors I was interested in working for as well as the application requirements- I could do a specific post on graduate school applications if you are interested, comment below!
Soon after I had all my schools in a spreadsheet with their requirements, I began researching the GRE (blog post soon on this nightmare of an exam) and when to take it. Most of my schools required the GRE, but a few did not, and so I made sure to put in a little bit more effort when filling out my applications into the schools that did not require a GRE. This whole process began in September of my senior year and ended in January or February because most of the scholarship deadlines were in those months. Once I had taken my GRE and submitted all my required documents, the wait began.
THE WAIT/ MY FIRST ACCEPTANCE
I knew the emails would start piling in around late March till the end of April and so for those two months, my stomach was in knots. I remember giving myself little talks in the mirror just to get me to stop thinking about grad school. Like hello! You are a Queen, and if these schools reject you it is their loss and those words lowkey, helped me stay strong.
I cannot find the proper words to describe the emotions I felt when my first letter/email came in. I was a nervous wreck and wondered what I'd do if I didn't get into any school at all or if I got into the one school that I did not want. I still have a video of me opening my first acceptance email- I will post it on my Instagram @the_odditty under my highlights just for you guys! It made me realize that all my hard work was not in vain, and then... the letters started coming and slowly I had all 6 of my acceptance letters and I could not believe it. I had gotten into all my schools.
Difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations and at that moment, sometime in May 2018... it felt like it was all finally going to be okay and that emotion I just cannot put into words. So there it is a hodgepodge of a story about my process and acceptance story. Now, as I said earlier in this post, I know graduate school is not for everyone but if you are interested in pursuing some postgraduate degree below are a couple of tips that I hope would get you started!
- Start off with figuring out what you want to study. Graduate school is very different from University because it is a lot focused and you would see that immediately when you begin researching masters programs, especially in America. So, have some idea about what degree you are interested in pursuing before you dive into the world of graduate school applications.
- Talk to your Professors. You are going to need letters of recommendations for grad applications so start early by contacting your professors that actually know your work as a student and are also really cool (my professors were terrific). Most College professors have some Masters or Doctoral degree, so they have been in your shoes! Use them!
- Make a list and get organized. Beginning the process can be chaotic so make sure you get organized. If you like spreadsheets create a spreadsheet and if you like hardcopy notes, do just that as long as you are organized. This will help you have some sanity while researching schools.
- Be realistic. You need to know your strengths with regards to what schools are you are applying to. I had a 3.8 GPA in college, so I applied to some pretty up-there schools hoping to have a shot. However, I also applied to safety schools that I knew for sure I had a great chance of getting into, and I would enjoy.
- If you have to take an Exam... study, study, study! I hate standardized tests so much and taking the GRE was a nightmare so be prepared for that. I will elaborate on this a lot more in another post but yes! Study! Study! Study!
That's all the love and advice I have for you today fam... please share this post if you know any college seniors or anyone interested in a graduate program! I just started mine, but I have a lot more knowledge where this came from and can't wait to upload some more content on this!
Love, Sofi :)
P.S Here is a FREE INFOGRAPHIC to help you remember some of those tips!