It’s OCTOBER!!! October is my favorite month of the year! It’s when Fall really starts to kick in. The changing leaves, cooler weather and fashion are perf. Not to mention my fraternity, Delta Lambda Phi, was founded this month AND my chapter (Beta Rho) chartered in October as well.
Why am I only taking a year instead of working full-time for a few years and then going back?
Now that I’ve expressed love for this month, October is also Careers in Student Affairs month. Exactly one year ago, I was waist deep in student affairs related activities. I was a Senior RA, VP of NRHH, a NUFP, applying to be an OA, spearheading my fraternity’s founder’s week celebration and applying to grad school. This year, I’m only doing the latter. It’s weird, but it’s caused me to reflect more on my journey. My enthusiasm for the field has only grown since finishing school. I truly applaud everyone who has gone through the grad school application process while still in undergrad and went/are going straight through to grad school. I went through the process last year, but this gap year is necessary. As you can tell, I was doing a lot while in undergrad so adding the grad process was “doing the most.” However, I did have the chance to attend a panel last year comprised of various student affairs professionals that helped to solidify my decision to pursue a career in the field. The panel was comprised of practitioners in various levels as well as faculty from the Educational Administration graduate program. They told their stories about how they got to where they are. You could tell that they loved the field and are excited for the next generation of practitioners.
Now, more than ever, I’m confident that I will be a part of this next generation of practitioners. My grad school search process is done. I’ve picked 6 programs to apply: Miami University, University of Vermont, Ball State University, Bowling Green State University, University of Nebraska – Lincoln, and Western Illinois University. Each program is one that I can truly see myself thriving. I’ve had several conversations with current students in each program and the feeling that I’m getting from them is warm and welcoming. For me, the current students in a program are just as important as faculty and program quality because I will be spending a lot of time with all of them. I’d rather spend my time with people who are open, welcoming, and authentic than not so getting a feel for the current students helps.
Although I have decided to apply to these 6 programs, there is no guarantee that I will even be offered interviews to any of them. I’m hopeful and pretty confident, but I’m not expecting to get interview offers from all 6 programs. My hope is 3-4, but I’ll be happy with any interview offers. It will be at that point (interview days) that I will know which program is truly right for me. It is so easy to say that blank school is my top choice program, but you won’t know if it is the right fit until you visit. That is how I’m looking at it this year. Don’t get me wrong, there are definitely programs I’m a little more partial to than others on my list but that could definitely change. Take my journey last year for example. UVM was my top choice program by far. Everything was UVM. Seriously, you can check my early blog posts. In the end, I wound up not even getting an interview offer from the program. UVM is still on my list because there was a reason it was my top choice program. However, I’m not banking on UVM or bust. WIU was in my top choices, but after visiting it felt so good. It was a fit for me, but I wasn’t a fit for the program that year. I’m hoping to change that this year. Without a doubt, I know in my heart that come March/April I’ll be committing to a program. It may be one of those two or any one of the other programs. This gap year gave me the opportunity to explore more programs.
I was asked a question by a friend about my journey though. She asked “Why am you only taking a year instead of working full-time for a few years and then going back?” The question sounded strange to me at the time. Like I just went through the grad school application process meaning that I obviously want to go to grad school. Why would I want to wait any longer than I have to get there? The answer I gave was the first thing that came to my mind. After giving it some more thought, I don’t want to wait any longer to start grad school because 1) I fear that I may find something else and never go back, 2) Before I chase any other dreams I want to have my degrees in order, and 3) I love working with students and I want to be able to say that I have a degree in it. I’d love to work in an Identity Center (LGBTQIA, Multicultural, Men and Masculinities, etc.), complete research on the identity development of college students, write papers and literature to be used by the masses, read books on various theories, have dialogue about social justice, and be challenged by peers, faculty and students. All of these this can be attained while in grad school. I’m thrilled by that. I love learning and grad school is the next step in my journey as a learning addict.
In less than 2 months (December 1st), my first batch of grad school applications will be due. It’s scary and exciting at the same time. It may be year two of this process, but the anxiousness is still there. There is no way of knowing if this year will be different from last year or not. I just got to keep pushing. A lot can happen in two months. This weekend I’ll be tweaking my personal statement for each program and checking in with my recommenders to find out if they need anything from me. UVM is once again having their google hangouts starting next week so I’ll be attending a few of those. Still have to order my transcripts and submit my applications but there is still time. Gotta take it one step at a time otherwise I will be a nervous wreck worrying about the things that aren’t done and disregarding the things I have done. Well at least I know that the closer it gets to the deadlines, the more google hangouts that will be had with others on the #SAgradhunt.