Tis the Season to be Stressing

It’s that time of the semester again! No, not midterms. Not finals either. Not yet anyway.

It’s time to apply to Graduate Schools!

I am so glad I was able to successfully go through it, but trust me, it was no smooth sailing. If I say I was stressed, that would be an understatement.

I am the first generation in my family to graduate from a University in the United States. I am also the first to apply to Graduate Schools. I remembered that in high school, there were counselors who helped us with this process. My parents did not know how to help me, and I barely knew the system at the time. I was able to apply only because we went to the workshops for high school seniors. It also helped that our majors can be undecided for undergraduate programs.

Unfortunately, this time around, I had to look for majors, schools, and application process information all on my own. My undergrad advisors helped as best as they could, but ultimately, I needed to know exactly what I wanted. In case you don’t know me, I graduated with a Public Health Science for my bachelor’s degree. My career goals are to become a program manager in a global and environmental health organization. I’m sure you can tell it will be very hard to find a major that does exactly that.

My application deadline was May 1, 2015. I wasn’t worried one bit, because I felt that I’ve done thorough research. By January, my recommenders has all sent in letters. At the end of March, I figured it was time to apply. Just when I was starting to put in my information on SOPHAS (Schools of Public Health Application Services), my advisor asked me if I got into the program I wanted. I told her I haven’t even applied yet, and she told me that students are being admitted on a rolling basis and many people are selected already! That is when my calmness shattered. I thought “Spots are filling up! I’m not going to get in.”

I wasn’t going to give up without a fight though. I submitted everything that same day. I sent the transcripts over. Of course, things weren’t going smoothly even then. A few days later, when I emailed SOPHAS to check if they received my transcripts yet, I found out I sent them to UMD Grad School instead. I sent the transcripts to SOPHAS for the second time. Once they confirmed that they have received all of my SOPHAS application materials, I had another surprise: it takes about 5-6 weeks to process! At the time, it was the first week of April. I didn’t have 5-6 weeks to make the May 1st deadline. I called and emailed SOPHAS again asking them to expedite the process. They said they can’t guarantee it but they can try because I was only missing transcripts.

Just when I was try to be breathe easy and be hopeful, I had yet another surprise: once my SOPHAS is processed, it will go to UMD. UMD will then send me a link to apply for their graduate school. No one told me it was a two part process! It’s going to take time for UMD to go over my application too. My hope dwindled.

However, I refused to let my story be a sad ending. I kept checking in with SOPHAS. Thankfully, they were very helpful. They processed my application quickly and sent it over to UMD. UMD sent me their application link within a day or two. I submitted on the same day I received it…and I was done! I was able to turn it on time. It was the second week of April! Of course, there’s still that thought: “Seats are filling up. I might not make it.”

But I did. I am beyond thankful and appreciative. I feel truly blessed. It was a tough journey. It felt like my dreams were shattering at the time, but I don’t think I would have had it any other way. Only because I went through that horrible process, I appreciate what I have even more.

If you’re going through something like this or any sort of stressful situation, you’re not alone! It does get better! Stay strong! You’re almost on the other side of things. 🙂

About Christine

Peace Corps Volunteer in the Kingdom of Wonder (2017-2019)
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