The tumultuous journey that has been my grad school application

16 April 2016

As most of you know by now, I’m applying to grad school. I’ll admit, I was a little lax with this process this semester, partially due to the fact that I am taking a couple graduate courses this semester. So it’s sometimes hard for me to remember that I’m not actually, officially, a grad student yet.

I started this application process back in November. Mostly because I needed to get the basic application to the graduate school in before I could enroll in those graduate courses. All I really had to do next was the departmental application and the GRE — and since they had rolling admission, it was no problem, right?

hermione_headshake

Well, apparently the department had been working on revamping their admissions policies. Sometime between when I first applied in November and when I finally got around to working on things here in April, they added a deadline. April 1. And it had already passed.

Now, when I found this out, the director of graduate admissions in our department offered an extension to me — April 18th, about 10 days from when I found out about said deadline. I would have to get my CV, Statement of Purpose, letters of recommendation, and GRE all in by the 18th. Cue freakout.

Ok. So looking at all those things: my CV was done, my statement just needed one last round of editing, I hadn’t officially asked my recommenders, and OMG in no way was I any way prepared for the GRE. Also, the only day they were offering it on campus was the day I needed to help my mom. My only option was going out of town, which was still questionable. Also, yeah. 8+ years since I’ve studied maths. At this point I was pretty much ready to give up, because I really didn’t see how I was going to get this application done, and I’d have to wait until Fall 2017 to enroll.

Hermione-cry

Just as I was settling into this idea of having to delay my dream by at least a year… I got an email from the admissions director stating that the faculty voted on it, and would allow me to have an additional extension on the GRE as long as I still got in all of my other application materials by the 18th. But rather than even considering taking the GRE with just a few days to prep for it, I have until May to complete it. Which means I can start studying now and then hardcore focus on it once finals are over. (Because, HI, we still have 2 weeks of classes left as of now.) So I did the completely unprofessional thing, and asked my professors and intern supervisor if they would write letters for me with less than 1 week to turn them in.

And as of yesterday, I had in every. single. part. of my requirements for the departmental application. (Though, when I turned them in, two of my professors still hadn’t turned in their letters, but they still have time.)

Hermione-clapping

However. The whole drama stuff isn’t done yet.

First off, my GPA from my first degree was not great. You need a 2.75, and I had a 2.55. There were a lot of reasons why my GPA is not what it really should have been: I chose social stuff (including a bad relationship) over studying, there were health issues (including my when my endo symptoms started to foreshadow future pain), and also the death of my stepmom to a year long battle to cancer. I am a very different student now than I was in my early 20s. Frankly, my institutional GPA here at BSU reflects that (3.5 — which includes a 2.0 from a bio class I took 12 years ago). Also, I’m in the national honors society for my field (Lambda Alpha).

However, because I am not completing the post-bacc degree — largely because there are a lot of gen ed requirements that didn’t transfer from my first degree that I don’t want to waste my time on (Gym again? no thank you. Also, practically none of my English or writing courses transferred, despite that those areas were 2/3rds of my undergrad major) — but because I am not finishing this degree, none of the GPA I’ve earned in the last year and half count towards my admissions. I’m pretty frustrated about that because it seems to me, if your GPA is low, a lot of universities tell you to take some undergrad courses to make sure you can handle it or that this department is a good fit, etc. Apparently that doesn’t apply here.

Also frustrating, apparently the GPA decision was just up to one person. I found this in the email trail regarding my application from the graduate school (not my department): “I will let you decide this.  I updated her pending GPA from BSU and now overall it is a 2.782.  It is up to you if you want to clear her.” So had they decided to use my current GPA (3.5) and add it to my bachelor’s GPA (2.55), I would have a 2.782 — clearly meeting the 2.75 requirements. However, they will only consider these last 4 semesters “after hours” and so I’m back to the 2.55. Like, this was all up to ONE person to clear me. And they chose not to. “As it stands right now, you would be denied but would be eligible for probation.”

Hermione_OMGseriously

So I’ve turned in the petition for probationary admissions and am waiting to hear back from my department on all of this. Basically we have to create a 9-hour plan and those are the only classes I can take in the Fall, and if I pass those with a 3.0 and also earn a “satisfactory” GRE score (according to my department), then I can be fully admitted (once the department writes the graduate school and explains that they want me in). Now, after I finish this semester, I’ll have 6 graduate credits complete. So I thought maybe if I took another course in the summer that might work for me 9-hour plan… but nope. Same person was all just like “nope, those are undergraduate hours.” (Not verbatim this time, but essentially what they said. And I’m just like, but these are transferring over to my degree, and I just.. UGH.)

The faculty in my department are going to meet yet again to discuss this. I would love for this probationary stuff to just disappear. I mean, if I have to do it this way, then so be it. But it’s just been hurdle after hurdle, it feels. Some of my own making, but these ones are a bit out of my control. If my department didn’t accept probationary admittance, then I would just be stuck. I’d either have to finish this post-bacc degree or just give up. I know finishing the degree really doesn’t seem like that big of a thing, but it’s added semesters, a lot of petitioning to get transfer credits to actually count, and added costs. It’s just kind of frustrating because it feels like the department really wants me in this program, I really want to be in this program… it’s just the graduate school I have to convince.

Hermione_stutter

Lastly… Ok. So, even though I have all of May to finish my GRE…. um, did you know the GRE costs $205? I did not. Like, I was thinking it was $50. No clue where I got that number because it’s no where close to that. I don’t have $200 to spend on the GRE right now. I’ve been racking my brain this past week on how I can get that money… Not sure if my mom can loan it to me since she’s got a lot of medical stuff going on, there’s some big changes in my dad’s life that I don’t know if I can even ask him… I thought maybe I could sell some artwork, but I question my skill and its ability to bring in what I need. I thought about doing a fundraising cooking/gaming live stream, and ask for donations through my twitch channel‘s donation feature. But again, I don’t know. Some of you may remember that I crowdsourced my tuition for the portfolio school back in 2011. My dad shamed me when I did that. And I’ve had a hard time asking people other than my mom for help financially since then. It’s like I’d rather pay fines for being late or hold off on getting things like groceries than get help.

So while I am super, SUPER excited about things looking like I’ll start my Master’s in the fall… there’s just those last hurdles to get through. It just all feels so precarious because just one of those things, not being able to afford the GRE or issues with the graduate school, could take all of this away from me.

hermione-peek

I’m so close guys. Like, this could actually all be happening. I feel like everything has really led me here. I just haven’t felt that pure joy in so long that I feel in studying anthropology. This is my place, guys. I want this so bad.

Fingers crossed I update you with good news in the following months.

  • B.

    Oh man. This all sounds so stressful and I hope it all works out in the end!

    • Thanks! Fingers crossed I get good news soon.

  • That sounds incredibly stressful – almost like as soon as you get one area in place something else slides out. Good luck though!

    • Definitely how it felt! One step forward two steps back… this really awkward dance. Hopefully everything will work out. Thanks!

  • Kay

    Wishing you all the best with it! It sounds incredibly stressful – I hope you get some stress relief soon!

    • Thanks Kay!! I hope so too!

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