A "guide" to attending to grad school while retaining enough sanity to actually offer something to society when re-released back into it, or just enough to attend it for another five years
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Wednesday, January 25, 2012
That's the Name of the Game
With all of my applications turned in and out of my hands I am now playing the waiting game, which is actually my third favorite game behind Yahtzee and Are These Leftovers Still Good? The waiting game consists of me sitting back and doing whatever I want to do until I regrettably receive some kind of "word", meaning the waiting game is over and I have to do stuff again, stuff like make decisions—damn it.
I'm the the dog, the muffins are grad school, now where do I find the guy who accidently bumps the table?
I should point out that I actually completed my applications about a week before I made my claim as being “officially done”. The week following my applications was spent e-mailing faculty members in my creative nonfiction field from each school to let them know that I am applying. In some of these e-mails I commented on some of these profs' work, legitimately, in others I commented on their work, not so legitimately, while in others I simply said that I “enjoyed” their work and looked forward to working with them should I be admitted. Out of all of the games, sincerity may be the most dangerous game—aside from hunting human beings, of course—but if you can win that, then hurrah! But in all sincerity (is it?), it’s best to stay as honest and brief as possible because the real purpose of these e-mails is simply get on these people’s respective radars.
This = Grad School?
Upon speaking with a former undergrad professor prior to starting my application bonanza, he told me that of nearly equal importance to submitting a good app was getting my name onto the collective tongue of the selection committee. He told me about another former student who got accepted with an article detailing the origins of urinal cakes. For the ladies in the audience, and the less-observant men, urinal cakes are the scented lumps of wax in the basins of urinals that attempt to prevent urinals from smelling like, well, urinals. Maybe this piece was simply stellar and worthy of granting this guy admittance to the program on his own volition, but at the very least, it made him stand out among the hundreds of other applicants. Selection committees could put a “face” to this guy’s name;
“What about Bill?” one might ask.
“Bill? Oh, the Urinal Cake Guy, yeah, he was interesting. Very interesting.”
Good or bad, any publicity is good publicity. Maybe your piece is pretty good, but when competing with a whole load of other “pretty good” pieces, it becomes forgettable and they can’t accept you if they can’t remember you. It’d be great to believe that my pieces are unique, memorable, and flat-out good enough to merit my acceptance on their own, but with less than a 5% chance of earning that acceptance, I’m going to pump up those odds as much as I can. Some faculty members have responded, some have responded warmly, while others haven’t said nuthin'. But again, even if they only recognize my name as something they sent to the trash then I’m on the radar. And that's the name of the game--Yahtzee!