A Little Bit of Wonder is where I journal about the somewhat roundabout way that I have been working to establish a career and a strong sense of self--I spend a lot of time thinking and writing about "direction" and "identity." I have a Master's Degree in Literature, but I'm no longer working as an English Professor; I'm starting the next step in my life as I work to establish a career as a writer in the non-profit sector.

At my companion blog, Little Wonder's Recommended Reading, you will find reviews for both books and other blogs that I enjoy. The two blogs are inter-linked, so you can access my reviews and reading challenges from the sidebar on the left.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Demoralized by Graduate School Applications

Applying for graduate is a lot like prostituting yourself.

I had forgotten how bad it really gets, since I haven't written what is called a "Statement of Purpose" in about two years. But it gets bad.

Here, for example, are a fairly typical set of instructions that detail what a particular university might want you to include in your Statement of Purpose:

1. What are you interested in studying? You may wish to describe in more grandiose than appropriate terms the types of research that you have already undertaken, as well as your professional goals beyond earning your graduate degree.

2. Why should our institution care about you? Please explain any life experiences that you have had that make you better--both more intelligent and more ethnically diverse--than all our other applicants. Include, if possible, an explanation of how you were raised in a financially impoverished situation but have pulled yourself up by the bootstraps and have achieved academic success beyond the uneducated members of your ethnically diverse family. You may also wish to give the graduate admissions committee some examples of your determination to pursue your goals, your initiative and ability to develop ideas, and/or your capacity for working through problems independently. Please make sure, however, that that you don't sound overly egotistical. We like members of the academic community to achieve a certain amount of narcissism which prepares them to ignore their students at times, but still be able to lick the boots of the professors at our particular institution.

3. Why would you like to undertake your graduate studies at this university? In other words, why is our institution simply the best? Indicate, if applicable, which professors to whom you have tried to kiss up.

4. Please do this in 500 words or less.

So, this is what I am doing over Thanksgiving "Break": diligently working away at the fine art of prostituting myself. I mean...composing my Statement of Purpose. Heck, I'm starting to sound pretty impressive as I compose draft after draft of this thing. I might even start to admire myself if I'm not careful. The problem with that is that I'm already pretty narcissistic. By the time I'm done, my head would probably be the size of a balloon in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade--if it weren't for the fact that prostituting yourself can turn out to feel pretty humiliating. "Please pick me, please, please, please! Look at how awesome I am! I'll bake you cookies!"

Hmmm, maybe that should be my closing argument. Cookies are always a winner.

1 comment:

Max Uphaus said...

I love this, Lauren. You are my new hero. That is all.

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