So, I've enjoyed almost 4 years of working a more or less waste of time, but well paying job. I like not being broke, shopping too much, and not spending late nights studying. However, I've gotten to the point where I'm pretty much sick of my job and the time I'm wasting and I think I'm finally ready to suck it up and apply to grad schools for next fall ('11). However, I'm a bit scared to be honest. I was a good student in college, but a quiet, shy one, and because my program was small and kind of a part of several different departments, I never really developed lasting relationships with professors since 90% of the time I only had them for one class. So needless to say I'm a rather nervous about finding recommendations this far out. Most of the schools I want to apply to require 2 or 3, yikes!
I'm taking the first step and signing up to take the GREs in October, but next I need to write my personal statement, fill out apps, find writing samples, and find people to give me recommendations.
Anyone here who decided to go back to grad school after several years in the working world have any tips?? I definitely suffer from a bit of "fear of failure" so hearing others' experiences and tips is super helpful.
I graduated with two bachelor degrees; Psychology and Communication, and moved away to another city. I tried to find a job using my Psychology degree. I was getting tons of interviews, but never the job. They always wanted experience. I still don't see how you get experience if you never get a chance in the first place. Anyway, I never found a job in my field. I ending up working out a call center for Apple. Love Apple, but working out a call center...WORST JOB EVER! I quit that for two three months to do another job, I hated that just as much or more. Then, I had to go back to the call center.
I realized that in today's economy, the bachelor degree has become the high school diploma. Everyone has one. It doesn't really help that the city I live in, is in one of the top ten cities for most educated people. I decided I hated my job, and no longer wanted to work at a call center. I deserved more. I was just wasting my time in a dead end job, and I was sick of it. After all, I went to school for a reason.
After two years of taking off, since I graduated. I started going to graduate school.
I really don't have any advice on the GRE, since my school doesn't require it. However, I did take it. I would get stuff from Kaplan. To get everything ready for sending it off to the grad schools, I would plan out everything, and make sure you make the early deadline. It was stressing me out, just trying to get everything done, because I waited so long. Is there any teachers you made a connection with or told you they would write you one? I know all programs require letters, mostly from teachers, but I know some can be from other people.
I believe you can also get letters from your adviser as long as they have a Ph.D. I'm still in my undergrad but am going to grad school right away, and I haven't gotten any letters yet because I'm afraid to ask. I'm not sure how much of a connection you have to have with the professor, and I don't want them to be like "Uhh why would I write you a letter?" Lol. So, would it be good enough if I sat in the front, always participated, got an A, and the professor knew my name? Or what does it take?
At my college, our advisors were our teachers. I went to a small, private 4 year college. So, basically all the teachers need everyone. Some better than others. We basically were on a first name basis.
I didn't ask first for teachers to write me a letter. I had a couple of teachers told me that if I ever needed a letter they would write me one. They came to me first and brought it up.
I was surprised at one teacher that said that, 'cause I only had him for classes. Another teacher wrote me a letter that I know pretty well, and I got a C in the class. He still wrote me a good letter though. Those teachers that I mentioned above weren't even in my major. I did have teachers that were in my major write me a letter. I had them just about for every class.
I'm going back in the fall to uni after a 3 year break. I was in a similar situation, where I could track down recommendations, but I didn't think it'd be that profitable/great use of time. I wrote a note to the admissions office that required one academic reference and explained my situation, saying an acceptance decision could be made immediately if they'd waive the need for an academic recommendation, otherwise it'd take another couple weeks.
About a week later, I received a phone call saying I was accepted. They never even confirmed they got my email, but obviously they did, and approved of my logic.
Allsthattosay, talk to the schools you're applying to. Explain your position. If they won't work with you before acceptance, it might be a sign of what things will be like after acceptance.
You did the right thing not going into graduate school right out of undergrad, because if you had you might have ended up feeling burned out. When you ask for recommendations, make sure you give your professors enough time to write them (at least 3-4 weeks). Some of them might ask you to send them work that you did in your classes with them, preferably work that has their grades and comments on it.
Also remember that depending on which program you go into, you might not be able to work full-time, especially because grad school takes up a LOT of time. There are grants/scholarships/loans you can apply for, and you could try for a teaching assistantship if you're getting a Ph.D. or an MFA.
Also make sure that you're going into a program that you're truly interested in and that will help you further your career, because it's something you'll have to be invested in for years. Grad school is a lot different from undergrad, because it's a lot more like a job. But on the other hand, it can be very interesting if it's what you really want to do and if it's going to help you in your career.
I'm currently going to be a senior in my undergrad program and soon will be going through all of what you're going through. I've gone to a lot of admissions talks to learn about key things to do to get in. And I know one of the most important thing is the letters of rec. Mostly everyone said that getting all of your recs from your professors that you had during undergrad is a really good thing to do. So if at all possible- i recommend that.
Other than that... I'm currently working on preparing for the GRE. A lot of people have told me that buying the prep materials is pointless- and that you can just use the free ones online. So I suggest that as well!
Anyway- good luck with everything! I definitely know how stressful this can all be- but it will be so worth it :)
Unlike the first time we went to college I hope you know why you want to go to grad school. Don't use it as a way to duck out of the real world- but do go if it's going to help you achieve a bigger goal. I'm thinking about going back and I've also been out for 4 years.
Instead of offering advice I'll show you a post that made me think:
I am also taking the GREs this summer and am super-nervous! Can't you get recommendations from your current employer? That's what I did. I did not make and personal connections with any of my college professors and would never feel comfortable enough to ask any of them.
Thanks, good luck to you too! My only apprehension when asking for recs from my bosses is that I want to go to grad school in a completely different field, and I will either be moving to a different state or going full time so won't be staying with the company. They've kind of had an idea that I won't be there forever because it's not what I really want to do, but it still feels awkward to me. But I guess that went OK for you?