Category Archives: application

Not Good…

Today was quite possibly a disaster. I went for a tour to one of the campuses I will be applying to. Luckily, because I am pedantically punctual, I left over an hour earlier than I needed figuring I would rather sit in my car in the parking lot and read or grade than risk being late. Instead I sat on the freeway in the middle of nowhere with a flat tire and no phone reception.

The details of that were not fun, and involved me climbing a hill on the side of the freeway to get enough reception to call AAA. After everything got sorted out and I was on my merry way again, I managed to still get there on time. Which might be the only good thing about today.

During the introduction to the program I found out that their one medievalist in the department left (and will not be replaced any time soon), and should I still wish to go there I will have to concentrate on early modern English literature and take several courses in the history department since their early modernist isn’t really an early modernist, but more like a regular modernist so I need to get the historical background elsewhere. And they only have one early modernist, so should she leave before I get to the dissertation stage of things I am kind of screwed. My best bet would be to go into modern American lit because they have a lot of those. So, how exactly did this conversation get from medieval literature to modern American?

I decided I would still apply and hope for the best, just in case the other schools don’t take me. I have to realize this is a possibility. I have a great GPA and test scores, but I have no extra curricular activities, club memberships, or extended conference experience. These things are apparently very important, and I just never did any of it. Also, I haven’t taken the subject GRE yet, so who knows…

The last part of the tour was comprised of sitting in on a class. They didn’t tell me in advance which class, so I couldn’t prepare, and I found myself in a modern American literature course where they are studying an author I have never even heard of. I was asked what I knew about him and I said I didn’t know. He asked whether I meant that I was unfamiliar with the work they are studying. This was a great time for me to lie and say “yes, that is it! I just never read this particular novel.” But I didn’t and admitted I have never even heard of John Neal. I may as well have committed heresy.

Longest three hours of my life.

As if my day wasn’t exhausting enough, as I was walking back to my car I took a detour to the campus coffee shop (they don’t have very many, which seriously makes me even more hesitant to apply… yes… I know… but really, you don’t understand). Anyway… a man on a skateboard, being rather reckless ran into me, and knocked me over. The palms of my hands are totally scrapped up, and thankfully I am wearing almost all black so no one will be able to tell that I have coffee all over me. I pleasantly smell like Italian roast. Hopefully none of my students tonight get too close to me.

Since the flat tire incident completely drained my phone battery I had quite an adventure getting back to work, got lost in Pasadena, and barely just made it back in time for my office hours and the rest of my evening.

Wife of Bath will be very interesting tonight.

A Convoluted Process

I am beginning to think the doctoral program application process is more convoluted than the program itself will ever be.

Nothing they are asking is difficult, just so unbelievably annoying.

Every little step requires numerous forms that to me seem superfluous. I am sure they have their reasons, but I am not understanding them.

For example, a couple of the schools want my references to fill out a form summarizing their letters of recommendation. This reminds me of when I have students come to my office and say “I just got an email from your office, what does it say?” Um… why didn’t you just read the email? Similarly, why don’t they just read the letter?

These same schools have cover forms they want attached to my transcripts. As you can imagine, these cover forms summarize what is in my transcript. Just open the transcript! I work at a college, and part of my job requires evaluating transcripts from other institutions. I have seen thousands of them, and can look at a transcript and figure out what is going on within seconds. I am sure the admissions people at these other schools are just as capable. The forms themselves aren’t so cumbersome except that having them requires me to physically go back to each of my academic institutions and hand them to the registrar to enclose with my transcript.

I remember when my friends were going through this process years back, flying all across the country to procure transcripts in this fashion. I would ask them why they couldn’t just order them online or over the phone. Now I see.

Thankfully no cross country treks will be needed. And not all institutions have these requirements.

One school wants my CV. Um, I don’t have one. And I don’t mean I don’t physically have one made, but rather, I don’t have one. At first I thought they wanted my resume, but then realized they want my resume *and* a CV. While I have a pretty decent resume, in lieu of a CV I can just hand them a post-it note.

I understand the reasoning behind cover letters/letters of intent. That makes perfect sense. But a cover letter *of* my letter of intent? This goes with the whole “summary of the letters of recommendation” business. Why do you need a cover letter of my letter of intent? Just the instructions for such a thing should signal its redundancy.

Throw in a few extensive exams, writing samples, and full biographical information since birth and the application process has now taken more time and energy than a full college course.

Can’t I just barter and offer them my first born instead?