There's No Need To Rush
This past December, I had a three weeks off of work and decided to use that time to complete graduate school applications. During the first week, my motivation was at a high point as I contacted all of my recommenders, requested my transcripts and began drafting my personal statement. The second week, however, was different. I noticed a drastic change in my mood as I began to finalize my applications.
The thought of graduate school no longer excited me and I couldn’t understand why. I was sitting on my couch when I thought about a conversation I had with one of my recommenders. Out of curiosity, she asked what I was planning to study in graduate school, so I told her.
She responded with, “That sounds interesting, what made you want to study that?” I hesitated and thought about my answer.
After what seemed like five minutes of silence, I finally said “I think it would be something I would enjoy.” It was clear by her expression that she was not convinced, but she completed a recommendation for me nonetheless.
Thinking back on this conversation confirmed my lingering suspicion: I didn’t really know what I wanted to study in graduate school or why I wanted to attend in the first place! I became overwhelmed with emotions that were very familiar; these emotions had consumed me as a high school junior while looking into undergraduate institutions.
At the time, I wasn’t sure where I wanted to attend college or why I was going; I just knew that I had to go. So, I did all of my college-research on my own along with scheduling visits and reaching out to admissions counselors. Being a Black, first-generation student, my parents couldn’t guide me on where to attend or what to potentially study. Because of the lack of guidance, I made an impulsive decision (which is a different story). Thankfully, everything worked out in the end, but the stakes were too high for history to repeat itself.
Immediately after my moment of self-reflection, I began to get myself together. I put my graduate school applications on hold in order to meet with a few Black faculty and staff members of alma mater. They had experienced the highs and lows of graduate school, so I knew their advice would be helpful. These conversations helped me answer the many questions that I had about pursuing graduate school and brought me to where I am today: confident in my decision to further my education.
If you are having any doubts or anxieties about graduate school, take a step back and self-reflect. Before you begin the application process, make sure your intentions and expectations are clear. Does the thought of attending cause excitement or dread? Be mindful of your emotions, don’t rush and have faith in the decision process.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Taylor Cones is a recent graduate of Calvin College where she currently serves as an admissions counselor. Throughout her undergraduate years and as a working professional, Taylor gained a multitude of information about what it means to efficiently research and prepare for graduate school. As a JTG contributor, she hopes to inspire those who are seeking insight on how to successfully further their education.