I have a lame joke I tell in my classes. All of their speeches are timed, so I have a little kitchen timer sitting on the podium so they can (ideally) insure that they don't talk too long (rarely do they not talk long enough). I give a mini-tutorial on how to use the timer and end by saying, "I got the one that doesn't require a college degree, you know, because you don't have one yet." Ha!
I know. The students don't laugh either.
But I thought of that joke when I was filling out the application for Texas Tech. Evidently, a PhD is not required to go to graduate school, but you still have be darn smart.
I worked all day on Tuesday on my application. I ordered my transcripts, feeling proud of myself again that I got a 4.0 in graduate school, which will hopefully cover for me getting a 3.6 in undergrad.
I wrote up a curriculum vitae, which is like a resume except not quite. Mine is pretty lame. I have no awards, no honors, no stars next to my name. Technically, I have been published twice (once in an academic journal (page 20 if you click on the link), and also as a co-author for our school's speech textbook), but they're both pretty weak. I need to work on this.
For my writing sample, I revised a paper I wrote several years ago, which was really difficult to do. The paper itself was good (according to the professor's end comments), but when I reread over it to edit it, I had a hard time. Where the professor had written "Bakhtin begs to be discussed here," I could only helplessly nod my head. I've largely forgotten the how Bakhtin relates to the paper's topic, and felt completely unprepared to discuss him in any intelligent fashion. My ego was bruised; I did what I could. Adding to the paper's complications? The professor hadn't required a works cited page, and I can't find the original essays. Meh.
But I muddled through it, and finally started the Statement of Intent. It has to be 500-1000 words. It has to explain why, of all the applicants, the program should pick me.
I wrote it. I was ready to send off the entire application but then just before I did I happened to click on a link on Texas Tech's page.
If you're applying to graduate school--whether for your masters or PhD, whether for technical communication or otherwise--you have to read this article. Even if it's practically impossible for the school to turn you down (like it was for me and my graduate school that accepts nearly everyone who applies), it's good info to read.
Considering I'm applying for a program that I suspect is more competitive than any of the previous schools I attended, I shudder to think what would have happened if I hadn't read it before I emailed my application. Well, what would have happened is that I probably wouldn't have gotten accepted because my Statement of Intent was apparently exactly what admissions people hate. Personal anecdotes? Oh dear. Demographic information? Oh my. Use of humor? Oh no.
Not to mention the fact that I didn't include anything relating to current technical communication research (yeah, that's because I haven't done any...). I even started to wonder if I had picked the wrong program.
I was horrified that I was *this close* to sending in my application.
The good news is I have a much better idea of what I need to write.
The good news is I have the first draft done...the first of a recommended 10 drafts.
And the good news is I realized they changed their deadline information, so I'm too late for the fall semester and I'll have to wait to start until January 2011. Why is that good news? Well, it's not exactly, except that now I have lots of time to work on my application because I have until September 1st.
It was a shiny light bulb moment, realizing that this is going to be work (which I knew) and that I need to prepare for it (also knew) and join an academic community that focuses on technical communication (had not even considered it previously) even if I'm not really all that excited about technical communication. This is the degree I have to get to do what I want to do. The light bulb shining above my head is a bit too bright for comfort, but two days later I feel myself breathing deeper.
I have a Statement of Intent to write, GREs to pass, and research to do. And I have eight months to do it in.
I know what I want to be when I grow up, and I'm willing to work hard to get there.
Hopefully that'll be enough. ♥