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, March 9, 2010

Hoping for an Over-Stuffed Mailbox

Several friends of mine sent out applications to Ph.D. programs this fall -- and it was nice to know that I was not the only one taking the GRE Subject Test, filling out forms, and prostituting my soul to any university that would listen. Now that I'm receiving rejection letters, it's nice to know that I'm not alone in that, either -- although obviously I would prefer to see my friends get accepted into school. But at least someone understands the sinking feeling in my stomach when I open one of those envelopes and start to read, "We regret to inform you... due to an usually high number of over-qualified applicants..."

One friend has dubbed these letters "thin envelopes," because the letter is a single sheet of paper -- as opposed to the nice, fat admissions packet that you were hoping to find folded, wrinkled and shoved into your mailbox: "We are pleased to inform you that you have been accepted... Will you be needing on-campus housing? Here are your options, and here is a detailed explanation of all the money that we will give you..."

Now that I have three thin envelopes, I am just waiting on one more response. I'm still hoping that I will come home one day and instead of finding another delivery from Amazon (yay, more books!), I'll find a thick manila envelope stamped George Washington University. Then I will dance all the way up the hallway stairs, back in to my apartment, where I'll make my husband open the envelope. After this happens, I will breathe a sigh of relief, knowing that I will have income to buy groceries and books, and health care to cover the cost of my allergy treatments. If I don't spend all my money on drugs, doctors and books, I might even be able to buy myself a new phone -- my cell is looking pretty shabby after I dropped it off the balcony and it landed face-down on cement patio below. So much hangs on the girth of a single envelope -- no wonder I'm having trouble sleeping.

As I try to prepare myself for that last envelope being as thin as the other three, I've been trying to come up with a positive spin on the situation. I can use the next year to focus on my art: I can take another watercolor class, or perhaps a pottery class, and have more time to make jewelry, which I sell online. I can also use the time, as I prepare another batch of applications to Ph.D. programs, to start researching my dissertation, and therefore have a more detailed application essay. I could start to learn Spanish, which I plan on doing eventually anyway, which will also make me a better candidate for a Ph.D. program. Since I will still be employed as adjunct professor, I can try out some ideas that I have for teaching developmental writing classes using themes and roll-playing games.

I can't help of thinking through the cons as well as the pros, though, the most terrifying of which is the prospect of re-taking the GRE (Graduate Record Examinations). I've been through two rounds of these awful tests already. Several years ago, I took the general test, proving my competency in math, vocabulary and writing. Then, last fall, I took the dreaded LIT GRE, which demonstrated exactly how many of the World's Greastest Books I haven't read. Your scores for these tests are considered valid for several years, but since I took the general GRE before earning my Master's degree, I might have to retake that exam if I am not accepted to a doctoral program in the next year or two. That would mean re-learning algebra -- again -- and it is that thought that gives me nightmares. These were literal nightmares, in fact, which brought me to heart palpitations almost as violent as those I experience when I dream about returning to high school gym class. Apparently, I was enrolled to re-take algebra and pre-calculus at my old high school, but I had missed the first month of classes. When I tried to find out what I had missed and how many assignments I would have to make-up, I was told that the class had already covered all the mathematical principles developed in the first several centuries of advanced human civilization, so I would have to learn all of that on my own.

I awoke in a cold sweat, and began praying that George Washington University would send me an envelope bulging with scholarship offers and complicated instructions for obtaining my Student ID card.
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