Category Archives: requirements

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?

I Intend To…

I am in the middle of applying to doctoral programs. And by middle, I mean I am looking at the million things I will be doing all summer in order to get my applications in. So basically by “middle” I mean I am staring blankly at a screen trying to piece it all together in my head.
The good news is that all the schools seem to want just about the same thing. I only have to do this once.
For the most part it is pretty straightforward. Letters of recommendation. Ok, not hard, just have to ask.
Foreign language requirements. I am sure there are tests for that, if I haven’t fulfilled them already. Ok, good.
Giant test thing. Not a problem.
Letter of intent. Well, I am pretty sure I know what I want to do, and why I want to do it, so basically I have to write it. However, I am not sure if I need 7200 words to state my intentions. What kind of intentions require that many words? Maybe they want an approximation of every intention I will have from now until death. Still, 7200 words? I am not sure I intend to do that much. Someone once told me the road to hell is paved with good intentions. So maybe for good luck I will just write down all of my bad intentions. Still not 7200 words worth. Maybe I will outline all of the bad intentions I may potentially have, but will never go through with. Does that mean they are not really intentions then? Well, if I am going to come up with 7200 words worth of intentions (good or bad), then I better start writing.
If this whole letter of intent business wasn’t upsetting enough, they want a large paper I have written recently within the field I wish to specialize. Well, um… they don’t have those here. I have never even heard of a class remotely related to my potential field having been offered in the last two years. A little late now. So basically I am going to just write a paper, unsupervised, and pray for the best (and really, I should *never* be left unsupervised).
Then there are the schools that don’t necessarily require a paper within any specific topic, but even there I have slim pickings. I have all of three papers to choose from, and one of them I haven’t even finished writing yet. I feel like a girl who only has one dress and changes it a bit each time to make it look different. I have redone, rearranged, rewritten, and undone the same two and a half papers more times than I can count.
Granted I have gotten quite a bit of use out of them, it is sad to think that I have taken 11 classes, and this is all I have to show for it. This is not to say I haven’t written many little papers, but what I am supposed to do with those? Paste them all together in some sort of patchwork of literary analysis and try to pass it off as some sort of experiment with literature? Yes, yes, I know some of them could be developed further into larger papers. But that is not the problem. Yes, they could be, but how much do I really want to discuss these things? Obviously not very, otherwise I would have probably done something about it.
So I am off to beginning my massive list of (potential) intentions, while writing imaginary papers (and I think this right here counts as an intention, maybe even two… totally off to a good start!).