Some people apply to grad school during the last year of their undergraduate studies. Some work for a year or two–maybe even more–in their chosen field before applying.
Me? I had to be difficult different.
I know, I know, there are plenty of women who go back to work, even back to school, after having kids. But most of them aren’t trying to enter the world of chemistry (or other hard-core sciences) fifteen years after getting an undergraduate degree.
When I first decided to go back to graduate school, I searched the web (of course) for advice for people in my situation. There was very little. I’ve tried to follow what little advice I have, and am learning from experience. This blog exists because I’m hoping others can learn from my example.
Why do I consider myself an unlikely grad student?
First, I pretty much failed out of college after my freshman and sophomore years. This happens to a lot of people, but they generally make up for it later with outstanding achievements.
After transferring to another school and changing majors, I did very well in school for a year, then got pregnant. Yes, I was married. Yes, we wanted a baby (although we hadn’t planned one so soon). Yes, I kept the baby. However, I was a chemistry major. I had to drop my arranged research project and stay out of labs until after I gave birth. And even then, school was a struggle.
I managed to squeak out with a BA Chemistry and considered myself lucky.
Here’s why I consider myself unlikely:
(1) Not-so-terrific GPA. I got a 3.8 or so my junior year, which is good, and closer to a 3.2 my senior year (after my son was born), which was acceptable. Don’t even ask about my sophomore year–let’s just say it was under 2.0.
(2) No undergraduate research experience. Practically a must for chemistry grad students nowadays.
(3) No work experience in my field, despite all my years away.
Don’t get me wrong: I don’t regret a single one of my 15 years away. I have four great kids and I’ve been very involved in their lives from day one. (They’re all homeschooled.)
But that doesn’t change the fact that they’ve made my life difficult. I’m working my butt off to get into grad school. I’ll share my experiences in later posts.