Hi! Thanks! 🙂 I hope it helped some. 🙂
That first part is difficult for me in particular, because I didn’t worry about where I went too much. It was one of those things that just happened because it was supposed to go that way.
I’d already made friends at my college before I even went there, so I had a pre-made friend group, and in addition that, I even knew some people in high school that were going there too (before and after me).
I was familiar with the campus, it was the right distance from home (close enough to visit regularly and far enough away that I could get warning before they dropped in), my sister was already there, I’d heard enough about the programs I wanted… I could go on for quite a while.
It was just the natural decision for me. Every other college I looked at really didn’t fit what I wanted, and one of the only other places I liked had mold in the dorm pipes, so I couldn’t stay there with my asthma.
The more specific your desired degree is, the narrower your search will be.
For general undergrad stuff, if you’re not going into a specialized field like nursing, then you can pretty much just go wherever will accept you. Most people aren’t going to care about where you got your bachelor’s from, especially if you’re going for your master’s.
The prospects are much more difficult for the master’s stuff. Again, I ended up in the right place at the right time. One of my good friends was getting her master’s in the exact same department as me. She talked about it, and I did the math, and it turned out I could totally do it. So I took the GRE at the end October so I could apply before the end of November.
Yes. I pushed my luck. Got my GRE done in time. Got good scores. Life seemed good.
Got my application and sent it along at an unfortunate time. I ended up having to e-mail my advisor to find out what was going on, and I didn’t get accepted into the concentration that I wanted (which was fiction). So I went and cried a whole bunch.
Then I sucked it up and agreed to do literature. What’s interesting here is that I almost applied for two concentrations at once. I wanted to include half of my writing as poetry and the other half as fiction. I decided not to risk it and only did fiction. I was told that the leaders of the program thought that I couldn’t produce a “quality, mature thesis.”
I was heartbroken. But I wasn’t ready to give up. So I started poking around in the other concentrations. I probably looked absolutely ridiculous to my advisor. I just couldn’t settle down. I’d had my heart set on fiction, but I knew it wasn’t going to happen.
Due to my anxiety, I suddenly didn’t feel confident enough to approach the poetry people to see if I could do that. I found out that I had a knack for creative non-fiction and tried to give it a shot. It didn’t stick.
I dabbled until I randomly got the courage at a faculty get-together and asked Dr. Tom if I could work with him for poetry. And he said yes! I had an idea for my thesis shortly afterward and worked on it for the next year. Finished my degree last May, and the rest is history. 🙂
You never know where you’ll end up or what you’ll end up doing. You could have your heart set on something that won’t work out for you. And it may be one of those things that you just know in your heart will never work out at that specific school.
My poetry was just… better. And so now I have this bad boy: http://digitalcommons.wku.edu/theses/1506/
((By the way, I’m actually thinking about publishing it through Barnes & Noble since their little book-printing service looks amazing. If anyone would be interested in purchasing a copy of this, please let me know so I can see if there’s even any demand for it.))
I’m really, genuinely glad I produced this particular thesis. And it never would have happened if I’d fought against the grain to get something that probably wouldn’t have turned out as well as this did.
Sometimes, you just need to let the current of life take you where you need to be. It might seem strange and upsetting at first, but it works out. Somehow, it all works out.
As far as performance anxiety goes, it is definitely stressful, but if you like a good challenge, you’ll love it! College is largely about regurgitating information to prove that you retained it, but grad school is a whole different beast.
In grad school, you create ideas and context around what you’re given. You start with your thoughts and feelings and work toward something concrete that can be discussed.
The classes are largely discussion-based (at least in the English group), and you get to do presentations and projects based on what you’ve discovered.
You learn about literary criticism and so, so much other cool stuff. You get practice with teaching, with lesson-planning, with interviews–whatever you can tailor to what you want to get out of going to school.
See how you feel after you go through college first. Grad school is nothing like the school you’re used to. Seriously.
As for going for degrees in general, I think it’s not a bad idea. I really value the experiences that I had in the classroom, and now I have documents on documents that can back me up and show me how far I’ve come.
You need to be able to interact with others if you want to take the craft of writing seriously. Get out of your comfort zone, read good books, talk to people, try new things–there’s a lot to it that you just can’t get on your own without triple the time and effort.
And if you don’t get good grades in college, you might not be cut out for grad school, unfortunately. It requires a lot more dedication. A C is essentially an F in a grad school class. If you’re getting C’s in undergrad, then grad school will prove to be a waste of time and money, simply because they’ll probably ask you to leave.
It is definitely a lot of pressure to do well, but you are given ample time and resources to do so. You have to actually push yourself.
The fact that you’re thinking about getting a master’s is significant, though. Generally, the type of people thinking about going to grad school are the ones who are actually capable of pulling it off.
Every time you feel down because you’re not doing as well as you wish, then “stop being sad and start being awesome instead,” as the great Barney Stinson once said. Buckle down and do better.
Take that energy of feeling defeated and push it toward being better. Find a way to make it work. Don’t stop and let yourself be sad–just keep going, no matter how much it sucks.
And eventually, you’ll just be better and start living up to your own expectations.
Procrastinate on feeling sad until you literally don’t have a reason to be sad.
It’s dumb, but it works.
Whatever you think you can do, you can do.
If you have any more questions, let me know! I really hope this helps you make some decisions. 🙂
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