Archive for the ‘Rants’ Category

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More Waiting

March 19, 2007

Since my last post I have received rejections from all of the other schools I applied to. That makes me 1-8, but I have applied to 3 more schools that accept late applications. Hopefully I will get into one of them because the school that accepted me gave me an awful funding package. I knew that they didn’t give out stellar funding, but this is ridiculous. When you take cost of living into account I would need to take out over $40,000 in loans to pay for the FIRST YEAR!!! They don’t give assistantships in the first semester, so I could possibly get one in the spring, but that won’t make much of a dent in the $40K. I could also get work-study, but even if I could manage a full-load AND an assistantship AND work study I would still be drowning in loans. So unless by some miracle they decide to offer me any additional funding I don’t see how I can accept. ARGHHH!!!! I finally get in and then they burst my bubble by giving horrible funding.

GRAD SCHOOL ADMISSIONS SUCK! but I’m told that it doesn’t get much better once you get in. Why did I want to go to grad school? Oh yeah, because I am a huge nerd who enjoys school and research far too much. Keep your fingers crossed that I get in to one of these last three places (hopefully with some funding– not likely).

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So maybe I won’t be going to grad school…

February 22, 2007

I haven’t updated in forever due to the most evil things I have ever encountered, grad school applications. I got them all in before the deadlines and thought that I would get in to at least a couple of schools. Apparently I was incredibly naive about the American grad school admissions process. Here is what I have learned in the last few months:

1. Grad School Admissions are completely RANDOM!
When a school receives over 300 applications (about normal for my field) and then only accept 18 people it has got to be random. Obviously most will have great GRE scores and amazing GPAs and stellar LOR. Then you have those that have research interests that “fit” well with the faculty of the department. Since applicants don’t usually apply to schools where they don’t “fit” then you have far too many applicants for very few spots. There will be those spectacular applicants who automatically get in, then you have everyone else. This is the point at which the admissions are random. If only I had known.

2. Grad Schools have hidden wait lists
I was completely unaware of this practice until I found out on a grad school forum. Apparently some schools admit their top choices and then hold onto all the other applications (except some of the outright rejections) and as the admits send in rejections of offers the schools will admit more people. This means that people are left waiting at the mercy of the other applicants to reject the offers in a timely manner. I have heard that the polite thing to do is once you have received 2 offers of admission, reject the offer you don’t want and continue doing so until you hear from all of the schools. This makes sense because if you aren’t willing to accept then you should be courteous to the department and the other applicants waiting by turning down the offer. Unfortunately, some people will get admitted to several schools, but keep them all until the deadline. Thus, screwing over all the people waiting (because there is a uniform deadline of acceptance).

3. Some schools won’t notify rejections until weeks after the acceptances.
This is distinct from the unofficial wait lists. Since there are many more rejections than acceptances, schools will send out acceptances fairly early on and then take their time sending out rejection letters. This causes panic among the other applicants who have not heard by the time the first acceptance is posted on one of the many grad school acceptance tracking websites. Flurries of posts appear on forums and livejournal communities asking if anyone knows anything. Probable rejection is assumed by many because the exact practices of each department is usually unknown.

4. Schools accept in waves
Grad schools will accept students in groups, with weeks between the groups. This is incredibly nerve-wracking due to practice 3. Since the admissions process varies significantly between schools and even departments, students are unsure whether to categorize silence as rejection, unofficial wait list status, or possible furture acceptance.

5. The application deadline in no way corresponds to the date of notification.
As I have learned from both my experience and from others is that you cannot predict when you will hear from schools based on their deadline. The first school I heard from was the first I applied to, but the next notification was from a school with a deadline a month later (and was received 2 days after the first notification). One poster in an online community said that he might have to wait 8 MONTHS to hear from one school he applied to. One would think that in less than half that period of time they could evaluate applications and send notifications.

6. You cannot always trust online postings of acceptances
Many prospective grad students rely on websites such as Yuster, Grad Cafe, and Who Got In to find out about acceptance and rejection notifications. You can look at the date, manner of notification (email, phone, postal, etc), and even the funding packages offered. This can be helpful so that you can estimate when notifications will go out (based on previous years) and if schools have begun notifying yet. However, there are people (who are possibly more evil than the application process itself) that will post hoaxes on these sites. At the beginning of February one such post said that the individual had been waitlisted by Harvard, Columbia, Chicago, and Washington. However, none of these schools had sent any notifications.

7. Nine schools may not be enough
I applied to 9 schools. I have heard definite rejections from 2 and have probable rejections from another 3 (because they sent out acceptances and I don’t have one). 1 school I applied to over-admitted last year and are taking fewer this year to compensate (and received more applications this year). So I am left with my 1 safety school (if there really is such a thing in graduate admissions) that doesn’t fund, 1 nearly impossible to get in school (10 out of 300+ apps does not bode well for me), 2 reach schools that I wasn’t sure I could get into anyway, and 3 that are most likely rejections that I will receive in the next month or so.

This is what I learned from grad school admissions this year. The application process was hard enough since I had no assistance from advisors or my department. Now I find out that I probably didn’t have a snowballs chance in hell of getting in at all. So does anyone have any suggestions for what I can do next year when I don’t get into a single school?

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Sarah: The Medical Oddity

November 15, 2006

Some of you who know me have realized that I always end up with the strangest illnesses and injuries. How many people tear their meniscus walking through a parking lot? How many people tear their MCL because their dog ran into them? How many people get deQuervain’s Tenosynovitis? How many people have all of these problems before the age of 21? I’m willing to bet that not very many people besides me have these outrageous injuries and illnesses that I have had.

My dad just laughs now when I tell him the names of the medical problems I’ve had. I constantly annoy and confuse doctors and nurses with all of my allergies. Being allergic to four of the major antibiotic families is quite problematic. Half the time I end up spelling the names of my allergies to the poor receptionists or nurses. Having a latex allergy also poses some problems. Gloves, tourniquets, bandaids, and tape are just a few of the items made with latex used in doctors offices. Once they figure out my allergies and try and work around them, I have to burst their bubble and tell them I’m allergic to the adhesive in those non-latex cloth bandaids.

Sometimes I just wish that I could be normal. That I could fill out those medical history forms as quickly as most people my age. I wish that I didn’t have to use extra space to list all of my allergies on release forms for trips. I have an orthopedic surgeon who I’ve seen more than some members of my family. I have seen almost every kind of specialist there is for my various illnesses.

Why can’t I just be healthy for more than a few weeks or months at a time? I want to be one of those people who just goes to the doctor once a year for a physical. Why can’t I be one of those people?

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Society’s Priorities

September 15, 2006

Today I joined the ranks of millions of Americans that I never thought I would join. I went to a tanning salon (I got the spray on fake tanner of course). (I figured that I might be on national television tomorrow that I wouldn’t want to look pale and pasty.) I must say that tanning salons are a much bigger business than I thought. Checking out my options online I found out that people are willing to pay thousands of dollars a year to look tan (and give themselves skin cancer). One would think that with all of the warnings about skin cancer people wouldn’t intentionally bake themselves in little ovens with stereo surround sound, but they do anyway. There were over a dozen large signs warning about the harmful affects of UV rays, but it doesn’t seem to deter people. As some of you may know, I am a devoted reader of Cosmopolitan magazine. It has some very interesting and witty articles and great fashion. One thing it has added in the last year is a strong stance against tanning (in the sun or in a salon). You would think that one of the highest selling magazines in the country might persuade its target demographic not to risk skin cancer. There was an entire issue this summer about the damage the sun (or sun lamps) can do to your skin. Even if cancer doesn’t develop, premature aging and wrinkling occurs. Human skin begins to look like leather. I personally do not tan at all anymore because I am already at an increased risk of skin cancer. I have had to have several abnormal moles biopsied in the last 2 years. Why society makes a year round tan desirable I understand. You look younger (until the wrinkles set in), you look healthier (until you have cancer), and you look slimmer (it’s just a trick of the eye). However, with all of the UV-free tanning options, why would you still choose to risk your health? Is a nice tan really worth that?

On another note, I think it speaks volumes about American society that Houston has 33 franchises of Darque Tan (one of the country’s largest tanning chains) and each location has over 20 tanning beds and is open 7 days a week from 8 am until 8 pm (11 pm M-F). Why would anyone need a tan at 10 o’clock at night?

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At least it’s over

May 13, 2006

So today and yesterday were two of the worst and most painful days of my life. Thankfully they are over and a nice long phone call made me feel better. I am a bit lost at the moment and don’t know where I’m headed, but maybe I’ll get my bearings over the summer and come back in the fall with a plan. Maybe there is no plan. Maybe I’m not supposed to know what the next 10 years hold. Either way, next year has to be better than this one has been. So to all the graduating seniors, congratulations and best wishes. For those of us continuing on, I wish you luck and happiness, wherever you might find it. Hopefully my best wishes for you all will rub off on me.

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I spoke too soon

May 12, 2006

Why is it everytime I think things are going well for me things get infinitely more screwed up??? Why can I not go ahead and get the results of the good karma already? Why is it that everytime my best friend is happy, my life sucks and vice versa? Summer better go well. I do not need a repeat of fall semester.

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Everything Happens at Once

May 1, 2006

I have finished classes, but I seem to be more busy now than I was before. I have a ton of work to do for my job, cheerleading meetings and practices, University Court Meeting, and studying for finals. Why does it all need to be right now? Everything is due before Saturday and then I have nothing to do for the rest of the time I have til I go home. I have exams on Thursday and Saturday mornings and then I have no school work left. What am I going to do around Rice for an entire week with no work and everyone leaving? Thankfully a few of my friends are staying around until graduation so I won’t be all alone. Well, I should get back to my work so I can get done and not go out of my mind. There probably won’t be any more updates until Saturday afternoon, unless I get a job for the summer.