Thursday, January 10, 2008

"I've got to admit it's getting better..."

Um...Merry Christmas, Happy Kwanzaa, and Happy New Year.

So, how was my break? Pretty good. I finally was able to go down to New Albany and help Eric complete the Hobbyhorse album. There's lots of mixing and stuff to do on his end, but I'll certainly keep you posted with any updates.

Now, let's cut to the current event:

On the eve of my birthday, I have virtually completed my application to grad school. Recommendation letters, obtaining my transcript, taking the GRE, and the finishing touch - writing my statement of purpose.

It's been the mental equivalent of climbing Mt. Everest.

I checked several online resources, as well as conferred with a CMCL grad student about writing a good statement of purpose. All across the board I encountered these same rules again and again:

(Forrest - you're grad school material. I hope you're reading this!)

+ Take everything you ever knew about writing a formal paper and/or letter and chuck it out the window. This is because your paper needs to stand out, and the average applicant might make a formality out of it.

+ Start with an anecdote. Explain your love for what you want to study, but go beyond just saying you love it. Why do you love it?

+ Describe what you want to study. Even six months ago, I would have thought this was going to be as hard as picking a major is for the average college freshman. I owe it to several people (in CMCL and elsewhere) for inspiring me to go into studying what I have chosen.

+ Explain why you want to study your desired field at the indicated school. That might seem self-explanatory...but it's a tough question to answer without some thought.

+ If you've got some explaining to do for any academic hiccups, now's the time. What I have in mine (we're all human) is hopefully easier to rectify than an off semester, but still. Reinforce your abilities and assure your audience that whatever the slip-up was is in the past.

+ Mention potential faculty that with whom you would like to work. Home court advantage...there were a couple professors I've had whose area of expertise overlaps with my intended field, as well as another professor that I didn't have for a class. This might really only be helpful if you have some familiarity with the faculty. I can't imagine doing this on an application for a school on the other side of the country.

+ THE CARDINAL RULE: Keep your statement of purpose at the core of your statement of purpose. It's in the title: you are stating the purpose for your continued education. Stick to it and omit any excessive fat.

I would post mine, but I'm shy.

Knowing that there are on average 300 applicants for 10 slots, you better believe I'll be nervous until I get a reply. If I get accepted, I learned, I cannot stay at IU to pursue my PhD. I can only get two of the three degrees they offer here. Though I could get my M.A. somewhere else and come back for my Ph.D., but I think it would be best to stay here for my Master's degree as I become acclimated to grad school.

Now, if I don't get in, since by June or August (jury's still out on all that bullshit) all of my College of Arts & Sciences requirements will have been met, I could declare a second major and spend the 2008-2009 school year fulfilling it. During that time I can re-take the GRE and look into other grad programs, never mind that a second degree at the Bachelor's level alone opens up a lot of doors.

I love both of the minors (History, Slavic Studies) I have, but Slavic Languages & Literatures requires for the major study of a Slavic Language. My concentration has almost exclusively been film courses through the department. I would look into the West European Studies Department, Telecommunications, maybe an Individualized Major. (Anyone reading this whose name rhymes with "orrest," "elley," "aura," or "aham" could probably take a guess as to what that would be. I've got a hint: I would need to check with an instructor whose last name rhymes with "ollinden" to determine its feasibility.)

Anyway...kind of a lot on my mind. This semester has already gotten off to a great start. I don't want to bore you with all the details, but let's just say my last (expected) semester as an undergrad is going to be the best.


No comments: