Sellin’ It: Part 2

| Part 2: Sellin’ It |

I had found my program. I had actually fallin’ in love with it already. I knew it was exactly what I wanted. Now… to apply.

For many students, this is so intimidating. It’s tedious and annoying. Of course, I had to submit the usual basic application information and transcripts. That’s the easy part. Then we had a personal statement, letters of recommendation…and GRE scores.

My GRE scores worried me. I was slightly below their average admittance scores. But honestly, this is where I fell when I applied to both my undergraduate and Master’s program. Below average. I was not a stellar standardized test taker but I can write a paper that will knock your socks off.

Advice: Come to terms with your strengths.
I was, in no way, shape or form, paying to take the GRE again after taking it twice. I had implemented a study plan and given it 100% and my scores were still not amazing. I couldn’t justify a re-take. So I accepted it. I know, and have known, for many years that standardized testing is not my strength, so for this application I decided to focus on my strength and give it my all… oh yeah, come on personal statement!

Personal statements are daunting because they are so overly simplified. For example, for my program, this was the personal statement topic: Describe why you wish to pursue this PhD program, how it connects with your personal/professional goals, and what prerequisites prepare you for this program.

Like what? You want me to describe my whole educational aspiration in 2-3 pages! HOW! I attacked this monster in the same way I advise all students to attack essays…brainstorm, address all questions and start with a story that exemplifies your point. And most importantly… SHOW OFF! 

I so wish I could find a copy of this personal statement to take a nostalgic walk down memory lane. But sadly I can’t… While my personal statement went off without a hitch, I spent an extensive amount of time stressing over my letters of recommendation…

As a student (graduate and undergraduate), I didn’t make much of a fuss over office hours or really “getting to know” my professors. I liked to cause a few laughs in class, do my work and fly generally under the radar. Thankfully, during my Master’s program, we spent all of our classes with the same group of 3-4 professors. Thus, whether I liked it or not, they knew me and my academic abilities quite well. But I still had to decipher who best would represent me in a letter of recommendation. I had a professor who wasn’t too keen on me going straight to a PhD program with no experience (def not choosing this guy), I had another professor who barely knew me (yea..NO) and lastly, I had one professor who served as my internship supervisor who had seen me in the clinical as well as classroom setting. I valued his feedback and teaching style. While I did not feel personally connected to him, intellectually and academically brother KNEW ME. I’ll call him “The Chosen One”. “The Chosen One” was more than happy to submit a letter of recommendation for me.

The application process was overwhelming for me. I began an accelerated Master’s program in May of 2013 and my doctorate program application was due on December 1st of 2013. I was balancing an advanced curriculum, graduate studies and the attempt to figure out what my next step would be. While this was the only program I applied to, I was also considering multiple options if this did not pan out. During this time I was considering jobs as a elementary teacher, as a school counselor and I was also applying for the Fulbright U.S Student Program to teach English at a high school in Italy.

To say the least, I was scressed…

What I wish I would have known…
I walked this path largely alone and now, looking back, wish I would have shared this journey with those around me. Whether asking for a review of my personal statement or even just talking out loud about my career goals and aspirations, I wish I would have allowed others to invest in this journey and lessen the burden. As I navigate this series, I come back to one piece of resounding advice… I wish I would have asked for more advice. As a student of color, as a Native American and as a woman, I felt like there was NO ONE like me that I could turn to. During the final stages of my journey I found women who had walked this same path and thankfully I was able to pick their brain but honestly, I wish I had passionately searched for them in the beginning. Because they are there. Someone has done this. Someone has been there. And they WANT to share their story. Just ask them.

My application deadlines came and passed. IMG_3692

By the blessings and mercy of God, I was accepted but then reality set in…

Until next time…

Dr. Locklear

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