Fall semester 2017 is decidedly underway. It’s hot, I’m ordering textbooks, there are a bajillion more humans on campus than there were 3 weeks ago, and I find myself uncoordinated and floating about with general confusion until a new routine is found. Yep, sounds like August.
Many have made mention of the “Last first day of school” and over the summer, “Can you believe that by this time next year, we will have graduated” was thrown out casually in conversation (there’s nothing casual about that thought! Are you kidding me?!). For me, it feels like I just thumbed through a long book and realized I only have a couple chapters left- the true magnitude of this whole story of grad school just came screeching into perspective. In my case however, the grad school story started long before my first day at UNC… and the first several chapters had a lot of plot development and good ideas, but not a lot of action.
If you are looking at this because you’re thinking about applying to grad school, maybe you can relate.
In Augusts past, textbooks, a college campus, and figuring out a new routine were not involved. For years, August meant existential crises (kidding- sort of) and the frustration that I let another year go by without applying to a graduate program that I would or “should” have been starting around this time. What gives, man? Why do I keep kicking the can down the road?
Recently, I learned a witty description for a phenomenon that plagues many of us- “paralysis by analysis.” That was it for me. I was so hung up on :
- What degree and license should I go for? MA, PhD, MSW, LCSW, LCAS, LPC?
- Am I competitive enough to get into these programs?
- What school should I go to?
- How will I make X, Y, and Z life changes to go to school?
- What do I want to do when I get out of school?
- WHO AM I?????
It spirals out of control pretty easily and I spent years trying to figure out those questions…. And then there’s the GRE. I hate the GRE. The GRE is more useful to admissions staff by keeping thousands of potential applicants from applying at all than by providing a measuring stick for current applicants. I spent as much time trying to figure out the above questions as I did compelling myself to study for the GRE and feel confident enough to take it. Ultimately, one year, I just took it. I found out that UNC’s Distance Education program in Winston-Salem offered a GRE test-prep “crash course,” signed up for that (IT WAS AWESOME… SERIOUSLY, DR. SOUDERS WAS AMAZING), read through the test-prep book, and took the test feeling entirely unprepared. I did… ok.
So how did I end up here, starting my final year of this MSW program? Action! And there’s no recipe. What worked for me will not work for everyone else! It is unique to each person and to their circumstances. I reached out to people for advice on the above questions, and I faced the fear of standardized testing. It is not easy by any means and that took me a few years to overcome… but it’s happening! Short story-long, if you need help figuring out any of your questions, or even what questions to ask, reach out to someone at the school. Go to the SSW page (http://ssw.unc.edu/admissions) and get some perspective. Come to an info session, even if you’re not sure if an MSW is right for you!
Just starting the process may be harder than the actual schooling!