By Anisha Hassan ’21
As I got my last rejection letter from all the graduate schools I applied to, I never felt so defeated and alone. I felt like I was a failure and everyone around me was just getting ahead. I had it in my head that if I couldn’t do it the first time, what were the chances of getting in the second or even a third time? To be honest, I did not think that I would be sitting here today researching programs and studying for the GRE yet again.
In my senior year of high school, my friends and I would sit in the library for hours making sure our college essays and application materials were perfect. We would celebrate when one of us had gotten into our dream college and support each other when rejection letters came through. Although the process was stressful, I never felt more connected and supported by my friends. Graduate school applications, on the other hand, were a solitary process. Not only were my programs different from my friends’ programs, we were also in the middle of a global pandemic. I ended up going through the stress of applying to graduate school alone and through the pain of rejection alone too.
So, this time around, I thought if we created a community around college applications, why not do the same for graduate schools? Although we want to get into different programs such as Psychology, English and Environmental Science, the process and timelines are still somewhat similar. We all have to study for the GREs, reach out to professors, write our personal statements, and so on and so forth. Most importantly though, we all need the support from our friends in this very difficult process.
I have found other ways to create community as well. There are Facebook groups specifically for helping students apply to graduate schools. Some even support BIPOC/First Gen/International Students or students applying to specific majors. What these groups help you understand is that believe it or not, there are hundreds of people in the same boat as you struggling to figure out this somewhat elitist process, and there are even more people who are willing to help you succeed.
Do I know if my applications will be successful this time or not? I do not. Am I super nervous about ending up in the same position as last year? Of course, I am. But what I do know is that this time around, I am not doing this alone and there are people who are also rooting for me.