Think about it: leaving the house to go to college should be the moment that your adult life truly begins. You no longer have mom and dad hovering over your shoulder to make sure you're getting enough sleep, eating your vegetables, and going to class every day. You finally escaped the bonds of the parental hold that has been keeping you from "doing your thing" for the past eighteen years, you can vote, and (most states) will try you as an adult in a court of law. Surely that means you have magically absorbed all of the capabilities of a fully-functioning adult, right?
Look, you don't even have to know my writing style or me as a person to know that I am being entirely facetious.
Starting college is only a brief overview of the adult world for most people. Sure, you have to monitor your own sleep habits, balance your own diet, and try your very hardest to resist the temptation to hit "snooze" on every alarm you set for the rest of your life. But think about it, the most you may have to do is do your own laundry or pay your own taxes, maybe pump your own gas and make your own doctor's appointments every now and again.
But seriously, it's not that bad because you still have "real" adults that are willing to help you because nobody truly thinks of college students as full-fledged adults just yet. People expect you to have questions and, yes, to mess up quite a few times.
In retrospect, college has not been all that scary for me. What terrifies me is the thought of actually adulting after graduation.
Some people choose to go straight to work after their undergrad and that's a perfectly valid option. For me, I have always been that nerd that just loves going to school and learning. Since I have never grown out of that "let's read all the books and learn all the things and look like a complete nerd" phase, I fully intend on going to grad school within a few semesters of finishing my undergrad.
As awesome as the promise of more school sounds to me (seriously, no sarcasm here for once), I am terrified. Going through the application process all over again has started to give me slightly horrific flashbacks of the stressful days in high school when getting into college seemed like the biggest feat I would ever accomplish—except this time it's a little different.
This time I have to submit a full portfolio of professional work, letters of recommendation (professional and academic), a personal statement, resumes, cover letters...the list goes on and on and my head begins to spin every time I think about it.
Nevertheless, I know that this decision is right for me and, thankfully, I have found solace in the one place that you would expect a millennial female to find it: Pinterest, the place where some of the best quotes lay in wait between the hordes of recipes and workouts.
They say the things worth having in life are rarely easy. If that's the case, I would say that this application experience will be extremely worth my time before it's all said in done.
In the midst of editing my own writing, I can sometimes feel the pressure to just quit and delete entire documents just because something isn't working the way I want. I have only done this a couple of times, but the temptation arises nearly every time I find myself behind a keyboard.
Thankfully, the motivation to keep going is much stronger when there are larger things (such as my future career goals) at stake.
Don't lose sight of your dreams.
No matter who you are or what you aspire to do in your life, you have had a dream at some point. Hopefully, you never gave up on that dream, but we're all human and we all decide to throw in the towel every once in a while. Sometimes it's for the better, but it's always worth a second shot.
Feeling a little frustrated with your application materials? Have too much going on in your personal life to deal with a personal statement right now? Are there simply just not enough hours in your day to maintain your sanity and make sufficient progress on your application? Take a step back, but never forget to belly up to the bar later for one more try. Things may look rough now, but it's all a part of the process of realizing the things that you want in life.
Few things are truly impossible.
So there are a couple of things in life that are genuinely impossible. I mean, just try driving past a pasture of horses without saying "horses." No? Just me.
You still get my point.
If you want something bad enough, you will find the time, the strength, and the energy to check off each of the boxes in an application. Once you send it off, you just have to wait and leave it up to the admissions board as to whether or not that program is the right fit for you. Just know that you have conquered quite the task in applying alone and rest easy knowing you have done the best you can.
Nobody ever accomplished anything by constantly putting themselves down about the things that they cannot do right now.
Instead, acknowledge the fact that your skillset may currently be lacking in a couple of areas. Focus on the strengths and look forward to tackling your weaknesses head-on once you've been accepted to the right program. Show them that you have the desire to learn and grow in your field, let that determined face of your personality shine in your application.
After all, isn't the point of going to grad school to improve?
Don't doubt your abilities.
Everyone expects the English major to have a favorite Shakespeare quote.
I hate conforming to stereotypes, but allow me to introduce you to my favorite Shakespeare quote.
Although I have taken a course on Shakespeare and, therefore, am aware of the context of this quote, I think it applies to just about any situation that makes you feel small and maybe even irrelevant in the world.
When you start to think that your application will be rejected because you are just one insignificant applicant among the masses, remember that one person can change the world. While your dedication might not immediately affect the state of global affairs, you can still change your world just by putting your best foot forward.
Seriously, DO NOT give up!
This one has been one of my favorites for quite some time.
Back in my tennis days, I would consistently get frustrated when a match was not going the way I wanted. I made up every excuse in the book as to why I just could not seem to get the upper hand. Something about the court was off, it was too hot, I hadn't eaten a big enough breakfast and I was getting hungry, I had put my socks on the wrong foot.
After a while, I started to realize that this frame of mind was getting in the way of my persistence. So, as usual, I took to Pinterest and found this quote. I quickly fell in love with it, with the idea of always fighting back and eventually winning the battle. I wrote the quote on a notecard and stuck it in the pocket of my racquet bag, where I could take a look at it between games and remind myself to keep pushing through the suck.
Spend time on each part of the application.
If you put in lackluster work, you will get lackluster results. If you submit a shoddy application, you will probably be unhappy when decision time rolls around.
Dedicate time to each portion of your application requirements and separate that time to focus solely on that aspect. Tailor your application materials to show who you are as a person, what you can do now, and what you hope to do in the future. Leave no table unturned and don't even think about taking the easy way out!
Don't be afraid to cry.
Seriously, holding in tears can only lead to a bursting dam at the worse possible moment.
If you are starting to feel stressed about impending deadlines, just take a fifteen-minute break to let it all out. You will feel better afterward. Not to mention, you will have cleared all of the distracting thoughts from your mind, leaving plenty of room for you to focus on the task at hand.
Just get the personal statement over with.
The personal statement has proven to be one of the hardest things I have ever had to write.
I recently participated in an online information session for one of the programs I am considering applying to and the instructor noted that "there must be something wrong if the personal statement takes you more than an hour."
For some people, I'm sure it's that simple. For me, I hate having to give a full impression of myself and my interests in just a one-page document. Writing has been something that has gotten me through some of the darkest days of my life and has been there for me in the way that humans simply can't. I know that this is what I want to do with my life and I know why...I just can't put it into words and I certainly cannot make those words fit into just one page.
Then there's the fact that those days got really dark. Some parts of my high school experience are still hard for me to think about, even four and five years later. There are things that I have not expressed to anyone about those days and I have a hard time believing that anyone would want to accept me into their program if I told them the full extent of those struggles and how writing helped me find my way out of that darkness.
It's been a long road for me, but writing has always helped and I know that sharing those struggles through my writing is something I have been called to do. I just haven't found the courage to get used to it just yet.
Listen to Winnie the Pooh.
Look, Winnie the Pooh is and always has been one of the greatest figures in all of history.
Who taught us to be loyal to our friends? Winnie the Pooh.
Who taught us to enjoy our favorite foods with no regrets? Winnie the Pooh.
Who taught us to see the best in every situation? Winnie the Pooh.
Who taught us to love unconditionally? Winnie the Pooh.
Who taught us to believe in ourselves? Winnie the Pooh.
I rest my case.