Going to Grad School: The Essay Portion


I think that of all the portions of my graduate school application, the essay portion (where you upload a previous essay that you've already written as long as it's under 30 pages) was possibly the most time consuming aspect of the application for me. I had previously written a 25 page paper my junior year of college on the novel 1984 and the theatrical adaptation compared to what was going on in the world during that time period. This was the essay that I used, however since I had written it about six years ago it needed to be edited a little bit more. 

I would definitely suggest, regardless of the paper that you're going to use, going through and really reading it closely and making edits. When you are submitting a paper for school, nine times out of ten (if you're a normal college student) you're working on a time crunch and have 2304328235 other things to do at the same time. At this point, you may not have as much to do so giving it another read through and making edits is probably a good idea. 

Personally, I had to make a ton of edits to the paper I had written. Thankfully though, I had an amazing group of friends (two in particular who put in SO much work) who ensured that the paper would be the best paper that I could write. I was very lucky in the sense that I had already written a paper that portrays what I would like to study further in graduate school. I would say that if you don't have a paper that shows exactly what you would like to go into, you should find one that you've already written that at least somewhat shows the direction you would like to go into.  

If you’re interested in graduate school and are unsure where to start, I’ve done a couple of posts describing my experience with the application and the process. You can check out these posts if you are thinking about if you want to go to graduate school, need to know how to find a graduate school once you decide to apply to graduate school, how I wrote my resume for grad schoolwant to know what the application looks likeabout the GRE, asking for letters of recommendation, or have a question about the statement of purpose.


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My Sweet Dixie


This past year has been a rough one for me, but one of the bright spots in my year was adopting my sweet kitten Dixie. She turned five months old on Christmas Day and let me just tell you has it been an experience. 

Back in March, after I had gotten my new job, I adopted two little black kittens named Buffy and Binx. They were litter mates and they both had FIP. FIP is a terrible, terrible disease that attacks the nervous system of kittens from 3 months to 9 months. I would never wish FIP on anybody ever. I spent a lot of time and money to keep them alive and healthy, however they both succumbed to FIP. 

I thought long and hard about adopting another cat, never less a kitten, for fear of FIP happening again. However a month after putting Binxy down, I decided it was time. I went to California in September, and the day I got back I went to the ASPCA near my work to go look at kittens. I was just going to look but then I fell in love with a little kitten named Felicity (now, Dixie). She was teeny tiny, spastic, and all over the place. She wasn't very vocal (and still isn't), and was very hyper. She was the perfect kitten. 

I spoke to the woman at the front desk and she gave me some paperwork to fill out. She let me know that the kittens usually tend to go pretty quickly, so if I did really want to adopt her I needed to come back at the end of the day (I had gone on my lunch break) to pick her up. I freaked out, went back to work, filled out the adoption paperwork, texted my roommate to make sure she was okay with it, and then at the end of the day went back and picked Dixie up. 

The entire ride home she didn't make a peep. I wasn't really prepared for her because I had thrown most of the kitty stuff out when Buffy and Binxy passed, so the entire ride home I was freaking out. I didn't even have a litter box. Once we got home I got her all situated in my bathroom then I sped to the store and picked up all the kitty essentials. 

I've had Dixie for almost three months now, and it's definitely been an interesting experience. With Buffy and Binxy, since they were always sick they never had a crazy amount of energy. However, Dixie is the exact opposite. She wakes me up every morning by 7am if I'm not already awake, and ensures that we play for at least an hour a day, though most the times it's more. She's not quite a snuggly kitten, but will come up and snuggle you when she wants to. I got her at the perfect time because not too long after getting her, my previous relationship ended. During that time, having my sweet Dixie kitten to cuddle with made all the difference. Having a kitten is a challenging experience to say the least, but I wouldn't trade it for the entire world. 
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Going to Grad School: Statement of Purpose


I can honestly say that the only thing that I struggled with when it came to writing my statement of purpose was keeping it to only two pages double spaced. I felt as if I had so much to say, that shaving it down to the very minimum was really hard. Luckily I have a group of really good friends who have been more than willing to help read what I've been writing. It took probably about seven or eight full edits to get it to what it was. 

Each statement of purpose will be different from the next; your story is different from mine. This is the time you really have to shine and say what you're interested, why you wanna go to that college, and why your grades/test scores/extracurricular are what they are. Because all of the other parts of the applications (for the most part) are very much the same, this is one of the very few chances that you have to actually show your personality and your dedication. 

The way that I structured my paper was the first paragraph introducing what I want to study, the middle body paragraphs about why my grades/extra curricular activities are what they are, and the final paragraph was about why I wanted to go to the specific universities, what I wanted to study, and who I would like to work under. While I can't give too much advice about the statement of purpose since it is such a personal paper you have to write, what I can say is you really should have people proofread your paper. The littlest overlooked mistake could be very critical - especially for those of us who are applying for humanities/writing based programs.


If you’re interested in graduate school and are unsure where to start, I’ve done a couple of posts describing my experience with the application and the process. You can check out these posts if you are thinking about if you want to go to graduate school, need to know how to find a graduate school once you decide to apply to graduate school, how I wrote my resume for grad school, want to know what the application looks like, about the GRE, or asking for letters of recommendation.
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Going to Grad School: Letters of Reccomendation


Today comes the Letters of Recommendation. This was one of the most nerve wracking parts for me because I am not an extrovert to say the least. In class, I wouldn't raise my hand to ask questions, if I had a question I would usually just wait until I could get one on one with the professor. I wasn't 100% sure if I even had three different professors that I could ask for letters of recommendation, truth be told. Luckily for me, I did and they all said yes.

Personally, I asked all of my professors for a letter of recommendation through email because I am currently living in Florida but went to college in Louisiana. I would say that if you have the option of asking in person, do it. My biggest fear is that they would say no, but in all honestly professors want you to thrive, so if they know you and you've been a pretty good student then the chances are that they will write a letter for you and they'll be happy to do so.

Usually, graduate schools advise you to get professors who are in your field to write letters of recommendation for you. However, if you don't have enough professors in that specific field, than you can reach out. Although I am applying for a history graduate program, I have one history professor and two Italian professors writing my letters of recommendation. It is important that you ask professors that you have a history with - a professor who you only took one class with will not know you as well as the professor who you did an internship under. 

All in all, it can be a pretty uncomfortable and terrifying experience to ask for a letter of recommendation, but you have to remember that the worst thing that they can say is no. 


If you’re interested in graduate school and are unsure where to start, I’ve done a couple of posts describing my experience with the application and the process. You can check out these posts if you are thinking about if you want to go to graduate school, need to know how to find a graduate school once you decide to apply to graduate school, how I wrote my resume for grad school  want to know what the application looks like, or about the GRE.
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