Despite my best efforts, I'm becoming aware of the impending doom that is grad school decision time. I've applied to two departments here at Iowa: one being the ultra-competitive Writer's Workshop and the other being the moderately-competitive English department.
I have been asked several times of late which program I would prefer. I answer, without hesitation, the same way every time:
To be honest, I've written off getting an MFA any time soon, especially from here. Do I even want to be a part of this program? Who even cares?
Every experience I've had with the English department has been a positive one. All the emails, meetings, etc. have been positive.
So why are you so nervous?
I'm not technically qualified to be in the English program. My GPA and GREs aren't what they, or for that matter, what the University of Iowa are looking for. I've been told multiple times that the writing sample and the letters of recommendation count for much more than the two numerical standards, but one can't help wonder if they might not second guess a decent essay.
And my essay is "decent". It may not blow anybody out of the water, but I've written a solid piece, read over by several people, including a former professor of mine who is currently on the English faculty at a small liberal arts college back East. I don't think he would have signed off on it unless he was OK with it.
Why else are you so touchy right now?
I told myself I was going to avoid reading LiveJournal's Who_Got_In and The Grad Cafe's results page, but I seem to have been sucked in again. The only time I looked at Grad Cafe today, however, was to show someone else what's on there. It's power, however, cannot be denied. The person I showed said he's tried to go on earlier, telling himself he knew it was wrong, but that he was drawn to it somehow. What have I done?
Two people on LiveJournal said they'd had their status on ISIS (Iowa's student system) changed from "In Progress" to "Admitted". This led me to panic and email (as I wrote below) people I should not have emailed.
It's a curse, and I can't seem to stop it or slow down or relax.
One of the professors in the English department said the following to me today:
"One part of me wants to tell you to relax and the other part wants me to smack myself for telling you such a silly thing!"
What else can destroy you?
Me. I have a horrible tendency to panic, and in each case, I have emailed those that I should probably have held back from emailing. If I annoy them, they'll probably decide I'm not worth the work. Strike two.
Back to grades, etc. If your GPA is below a certain point, the department has to petition the Dean of Admissions to let the student in. Am I worth the work? Especially if I'm annoying? I'd like to say "YES", but I have a feeling they may feel differently.
The DGS told me after my last email that the committee has yet to meet and that they will have letters out by March 15th or so. What was she responding to, you may ask?
I emailed to say that on one of those evil places where people post grad school application results, I saw two people say they'd heard from Iowa, and I emailed to ask if this was even possible.
She didn't seem annoyed at all, but in my mind, I've probably ruined my chances at getting in. I upset a Workshop faculty member last year, too.
Anyways, right now, all I want is to hear. I'm planning on not getting in, even though I still think I've got a fair chance at it. The MFA program has barely even crossed my mind in this manner as I've simply just taken it as a rejection.
So what happens if you get in both?
But seriously, WHAT IF?
Depending on how I'm feeling, I'll probably ask the English department to defer me for two years. If they say they won't, I'll start the PhD right away. It's not like I owe the Workshop anything at this point.
Are these longer entries basically an exercise for you that no one will actually spend time reading?
I think so, but then again, it's probably better that way.