Thursday, October 9, 2008

Is It Really That Time Already???

It's started. The moment I've been dreading since getting my acceptance to UCL. The time I prayed would never come, but knew deep down always would as it sat there peeking around the corner of time, blowing raspberries at me.

It's time for PhD applications.

Now, normally this wouldn't seem like such a bad thing. True, it's a little soon after starting my MA, but as master's degrees in the UK are generally only 1 year long, it's only natural that I would need to start now. I only dread application season because I have spent the last 2 years of my life thoroughly ensconsed in it without escape. I made the catastrophic mistake in my first year of applications of only applying to 4 schools, all of them Ivy League (for anyone who's wondering: no, Harvard is not impressed by a 3.4 GPA from a 3rd-tier school), and thus got lots of very nicely phrased rejections letters. Last year, I broadened my horizons and tried again, having little more luck in the US (Pepperdine was the only US school to accept me), but by some stroke of luck, magic, or a severe crack addiction on the part of my advisor, I was accepted to UCL, which is really a gift from the proverbial gods, as UM is ranked about 100 spots below UCL in the international rankings, which to UCL is more important than the Gospels.

Now that I finally escaped the dreaded application process, I find myself pitched right back into it headfirst. It's not that the applications themselves are that bad; it's that I don't know if my fragile mildly narcissistic ego can take another two years of rejections. I'm sincerely hoping that as long as I do reasonably well this term, I can hide behind UCL's name and hope that some Ivy League school will assume that if I was smart enough to get in here, then they too should bank on me. I'm not sure how much stock US schools put in the ranking system (here it's a huge deal), but UCL just got pushed to #7, behind only Harvard, Yale, and CalTech in the US and Oxford, Cambridge, and Imperial internationally, so maybe that will be enough to push my application through to the top of the pile. We shall see.

As of right now, my short list of schools is comprised of Stanford, Northwestern, and Columbia. However, I REALLY don't want to make the same mistake I did the first time around, so I'll probably also apply to Catholic and Fordham as well (though they both rejected me in the past, I'm hoping a UCL MA will be enough to make them reconsider). I may also apply to UChicago. We'll see. Either way, I've really got to get going on this. I think Stanford may be my first choice; I do love Columbia, but honestly, I'd rather eat my own foot than live in New York (nice place though it is to visit). Given the choice, I would stay in London forever, as I rather love it here, but I can't get a doctorate for free here as I can in the US (discounting, of course, the sale of my soul to whatever school I attend). Maybe I'll come back when I'm 78 and am finally done with school. Who knows.

Just when I felt I was getting settled, my life shoots once again decidedly up in the air...

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