I once had a career services advisor tell me not to look into graduate school if it was just to avoid the difficulties of real life—I now realize he was either a sage or dumber than an heiress debutante on a liquor-filled Friday night with a horny male friend and a video camera (I’m speaking in vagaries of course). See, with my college career coming to an end and a version of me that was surprisingly analogous to Amelia Earhart, I was keeping my options open.
“Keeping my options open – TRANSLATION – I’m really friggin’ indecisive.”
Of course one of those options was to attend a few more years and get a master’s degree because masters own plantations and bachelor’s own pads, and it was fairly clear which of those two is more desirable. What could possibly be better than owning a plantation and avoiding student loans?
Well, it turns out you don’t just show up to a school with a smile on your face and a “can do” attitude and just find yourself in graduate level classes (though if you’re carrying the several hundred thousand dollars you’ll need for tuition, your chances do go up considerably). No, there are actually a few very important things to do first and these include, among other things:
• Taking tests designed to evaluate your ability to drool at a computer screen (as well as attempting to ascertain the resilience of your bum) for extended periods of time, then provide a thorough mental stress test by forcing you to wait for months before getting results.
• Researching schools to make sure that they have your program, and that they do not have any strange and inconvenient rules like forcing you to procure a doctor’s note before growing a beard • Actually filling out applications that are a lot like work applications, if work applications were meant to scare you away rather than seem alluring and fun because 84% of it is jargon you don’t understand
The first of these upset me because I thought I was all done with standardized tests when high school ended. The problem is that I just had enough when I was still in high school and wasn’t ready to do more. I’d taken the ACT, didn’t want the GRE–thought it wasn’t risky–but schools decreed that it was a need and tough luck if I disagreed (I was disappointed to find out that there is no Dr. Seuss on the GRE). Still, I decided to suck it up and take it and did alright. Step one complete.
The next step involved learning all about the universities and colleges that I might one day avoid the homework of. This is a very important step, as it is crucial to know things like how easily accessible liquor is, if professors are typically sticklers on hard homework, and whether or not rival schools can call you by particularly creative and mean-spirited nicknames based on your school mascot (or assuredly uncreative ones if you attend the University of South Carolina). Unfortunately, it turns out that the reason for the lack of annoying and inconspicuous jargon on the applications for graduate school is a direct result of the schools instead allocating their entire jargon budget to the “school information and smokescreen” pamphlets that appear in one’s mailbox in quantities usually rivaled only by airdropping totalitarian regimes. This is the step where I began to be a little more bogged down.
Then there is the third step. This is the step that includes actually applying to graduate schools and it is the part that is designed to weed out people who are not truly interested in attending their programs. Unfortunately, their strategy for doing so utilizes a cadre of cruel tactics that include:
• Personal statements which ask for you to describe your life goals in 500 words or less in an attempt to make you feel confused and without focus
• Letters of recommendation, in which former employers and educators try to make up for all the damage you did in your personal statement
• Information on your test scores so they can examine your abilities to endure mental stress, drool capacity, and the physical fortitude of your derriere This is the step where I finally called it quits for the time being.
Faced with what seemed to be an insurmountable task of making an informed decision I crumbled, much as many Polish horses crumbled before the power of… well… tanks.
So I return to the prophetic words of my career services sage, who told me graduate school was not just an excuse to working. He could’ve gotten his point across much better by just telling me that applying to grad school was a nightmare.