My four-month saga of grad school applications is finally at a close! I’ve benefitted from a great deal of support en route. My parents reviewed every single one of my ten statements of purpose, and Sergey took on most of the housework while I was at work. Well, at least now I feel like I’ve retroactively justified the position I held in my senior year of college as “grad school application essay writing mentor”–having taken my own advice and used some of the handouts I designed in that role, I’d say most of my tips were pretty solid.

During my time as a mentor, I met with a young woman who was applying to 20 law schools to help her with the statements of purpose. I thought she was kind of crazy to apply to so many programs. Now I know that even 10 is pushing the limits of sanity. I can either feel very idealistic about the potential of higher education or cynical about the game of admissions. After trying to tailor so many boilerplate statements to make each program feel special–and calculating my GPA three different ways, obsessing over my CV formatting, trying to make part of my thesis work as a 20-page paper, and so on, I’m definitely feeling on the cynical side, as in, “Come on! I’m paying you $75 just to review this application, shouldn’t that tell you I’m actually interested in your program?” I think (and hope) that by the time the admissions decisions arrive a few months from now, I’ll have returned to the idealistic side!

The applications were not without their humor. For example, the password security questions got quite creative:

Security questions

What famous person would my mom want to meet? Where does my favorite cheese come from? Do I even have a library card? WHO AM I???

And did you know that in an effort to increase their publicity, many universities recruit celebrities as administrative assistants?

Eddie Murphy

Some application forms offered a very long list of possibilities for degrees obtained. I had some fun looking through the hundred names. I think my favorite choice was “Bachiller,” the degree awarded to very chill graduates of Surfer Dude U.

Mount Holyoke should offer this degree.

Mount Holyoke should offer this degree.

When I said humor, I also meant “frustration.” After editing my statements and writing sample until I was questioning every preposition, not to mention befuddled about the distinction between “like” and “such as,” I couldn’t help but feel a bit irked when the English department websites had obvious mistakes. I mean, just look at this horrendously unnecessary comma between “consistent” and “cooperative”! That is not a coordinating conjunction! Go watch Schoolhouse Rock!

Uncoordinated conjunction

And then there were the choices of interests, which often took the form of checkboxes in the application form. One school had the bright idea of limiting choices to only three interests, presumably because taking on students with wider-ranging curiosities would be too much work.

3 interests


Now I am left feeling that I omitted one key element of my experience from my CV: professional applicant. I hope that at some point, grad schools can unify around a single common application.

On a different topic from applications–appliances! Sergey and I have finally invested in some kitchen appliances, like the recent technological breakthrough known as “micro-waver.” I think that’s what it’s called, at least… We’re also quite excited about our new coffeemaker, a step forward from our current simple drip filter. This coffeemaker has a timer, so it can automatically start brewing coffee while we’re struggling to wake up at 6:30. Now when I stumble into the kitchen, bleary-eyed and foggy-headed, I will be guided by the comforting gurgles and familiar scent of percolation.

My Vanna White

My Vanna White

We are ready to make coffee for up to 12 guests, or a few caffeine-addicted ones (Mommy and Jasmine?).

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s