Posted by: unlikelygrad | January 28, 2009

chewing my nails

Now is the time when all mediocre grad school applicants chew their nails. Sometimes figuratively, of course.

My grad school apps were all in by 12/15; all the transcripts had been ordered, and most of the letters of recommendation had been submitted. (The last one went in on 12/20.) The earliest application deadline I had was 1/5, the first Monday of the new year. Most of the other schools had deadlines of 1/15 or 2/15. You might therefore think that I got my applications in with time to spare. However, you would be wrong.

There were several factors I had forgotten about. First of all, most transcript offices are painfully slow. The registrar at my first school, BigNameU, was very punctual and got transcripts out within one day (!) but everyone else took a minimum of one week, sometimes more. By the way, that’s one business week. Because my second batch of transcript orders went out a few days before winter break, one business week, in some cases, meant early January.

Also, when admissions officers come back from winter break, they find themselves besieged by a huge mountain of transcripts, LoRs, and other paperwork that needs to be sorted through. Once winter break arrived, websites showing the status of my application suddenly ceased to be updated on a timely basis.

So even though I submitted transcript requests by 12/15, as of today, 1/28, many of my transcripts are still showing up as “not received”. So I sit here, chewing my nails, wondering if my application is really complete or not. In the mean time, all of my fellow chem Ph.D. applicants over at The Grad Cafe have received acceptances already. Is it because their applications were superior, or is it just that my application file isn’t complete?

It’s hard not to fret. It’s hard not to do something. (Several of the websites say, specifically, not to bother them by asking about the status of your application file, so I can’t even call/email to see what’s going on.)

It’s hard not to get depressed. Everyone else has an acceptance letter; does this mean that nobody’s going to want me?

My original plan for graduate school applications was to get all my stuff in by 11/30. That changed because I had a hard time getting my school list straight. However, in retrospect, I should have stuck to that deadline as much as possible–getting the apps in for my original six schools by then, and then applying to the late additions as soon as possible after that.

If I don’t make it into a Ph.D. program this year, I’ll be sure to apply earlier next time. I just hope there isn’t a next time.

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