Thursday, April 12, 2012

Why I'm Constantly Stressing

"Could you tell me the way to Crazy?"

So, I only have a month left this semester as far as school goes (holy crap, where does the time go?!), which means I have a month left before I'm a senior, which means I only have like 8 months before I have to turn in my Senior Thesis, which is really rocking the pants off me right now.... there's just so much to do in such a short span of time, and on top of that I have work to think about (NOOOOOOOOOOOOO).  So I've been stressing about all of this pretty much constantly.

And then I realized:  I have to apply to Grad School.

Now, I've always known I was going to apply to grad school, pretty much since I was in high school. But I was in my teens!  REGULAR college seemed a million miles away, let alone my graduate studies.  And to be honest, my plans for college took interesting turns in the last few years.  I mean, I wanted to go to New York and that didn't pan out, then I went to College of Marin, first for psychology and then for liberal arts, all the while going back and for the between applying to Cal or a CSU or going out of state before I finally decided to apply early to Mills (which surprisingly worked out) and now that I'm finally getting sort of settled, I've suddenly realized that I have ONE YEAR before I graduate with my BA.  Sure, it's a year later than anticipated, but still.  I feel accomplished.  After all of that, now I have to apply to grad school?  I mean, I think I'm working hard right now, but just wait until I start my graduate studies.

Gotta pick one....

I have many a few reservations about applying.  For one, there's no guarantee that I'll get into any of the programs I apply.  If you know me at all, you know I don't take kindly to rejection.  It's an experience that I don't like to constantly reproduce unless absolutely necessary, which is one of the reasons why I applied to so few colleges the first time around. And to be honest, I was REALLY surprised that I got into Mills because I was convinced I wasn't smart enough. So, I'm not super jazzed about having to put myself out there all over again, opening myself for rejection and a plunge in self esteem. Another reason for my apprehension (along the same vein as the first) is that I'm not exactly sure if I'm ready or willing to subject myself to such rigorous schooling.  In case you didn't know, grad school is kind of a big deal-- it costs thousands of dollars and takes many, many hours of dedication and study, in addition to work outside of school to pay for LIFE STUFF, like rent and food and clothes and all that jazz.  It's entirely possible that I might have too much work in school that I won't be able to work outside of it; so where am I going to get money?  Am I willing to take all that time out of the work force?  Am I able to justify it?  I worry that I won't be able to provide for myself, and I don't like the thought of it in the least. I'm a pretty independent woman-- I work hard and pay my bills just like every other adult.  I go to school and work full time. Being out of a job is something I can't really even imagine.  I'm also not sure if I'm ready to throw myself head first into academia, to let it fully consume my life.

The only thing I'll be able to afford on a grad student's salary...

However, there's a flip side to everything.  For one thing, I've certainly grown as a person since my last round of college apps, and I am more able to handle rejection letters than I was before.  I'm also well aware that plenty of REALLY SMART women at Mills didn't make it into any of the grad schools they applied to the first time around. They didn't let that get to them, and they applied again the next year, and they made it!  And if that happens to me, I'll just have to pick myself up by my compression stockings and do the same. If grad school is something I truly want to experience (and it is) then it's worth the wait.  I know I'm smart-- I'm high quality smart!  But I also know that it's more than just your GPA that gets you into grad school, and I can't let rejection influence the perception of my own intelligence.

Barbie after Grad School.

Also, the college I currently attend isn't exactly easy-peasy lemon squeezy as far as academics go.  Mills is rigorous in its academics, and if I can handle Mills, surely I'll be ready to handle grad school, right? I feel like Mills is really preparing me for graduate level work, which means that by the time I graduate I'm sure I'll be more than ready to take on anything grad school has to throw at me.  As far as money goes... well, grad school IS expensive, and I'll will definitely be in debt by the time I finish, but a Ph.D will give me access to high skill jobs that will allow me to fulfill my passion for work and provide for my family.  Yes, money will be tight, yes, we might have to survive on lunchables and ramen for a ten a few years, but I know with the support of Kourtney and my family and friends, I'll be able to get to the other side successfully.

So... what's the next step?  I know I'm gonna go to grad school, but I have no idea where.  Well, I have some ideas... more to come in the next few weeks. For now, I need to focus on finishing the semester.

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