How I Wrote My Grad School Application Essay

Well, folks, if you happened to read last week's post, you already know that I had an excruciatingly difficult time writing my undergraduate application essay. If you haven't read all about the horror, click here. Given the torture that was my college application process, I expected my grad school application process to be even worse. But somehow, it wasn't. In fact, I didn't stress about it nearly as much. Don't get me wrong--I definitely had some moments of tears and complaining and phone calls home. But overall, it was...fine. Not enjoyable, certainly, but manageable. I wish I could tell you exactly how that went down. I think it was a combination of these factors:

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* I had already been through the process once and knew what to expect.

* I was already living away from home, so a second change of scenery didn't have the same emotional impact.

* I was able to use the same study techniques for my GREs as I used for my SATs, so that took some pressure off.

* I expected it to be a completely terrible process, so anything marginally better than that seemed like a picnic.

Yeah, I'm pretty sure that last one was the thing that really made the biggest difference. I calmly researched schools, identified programs I wanted to attend in cities I was eager to live in, and narrowed my focus to four schools. I'm happy to report that I was accepted by every school, two with full tuition reimbursement and TA positions. (Again, writing that down makes me cringe, but I want to prove a point here: my grades and test scores might have been enough to put me in the running for these schools, but I think my acceptances--and scholarships--were based on my essay.)

Curious to read what I wrote? I'll post it below. As with many true stories, the names have been changed to protect the innocent. And those who wore platform flip flops in the late '90s. ;)

            “Miss Rosie, do you wear those shoes just because they make you look taller?” asked one of my little urchins.

            “No Steven,” I said, “they just have thick soles.  I wear them because they keep my feet off the ground.  Shouldn’t you be on stage now?”

            When Steven ran on stage to join his other partners in crime, I really started to think about what he had been asking.  I know that he was just trying to get a laugh for his friends by poking fun at his play director, but the question seemed to have more meaning than he had ever intended.

            That summer, I was trying to make myself seem taller.  I had to put on a strong front to keep order for thirty-five active kids in the middle of their summer vacation.  Not only that, but they actually had to give a decent performance in four weeks.  Talk about pressure.  When I went home after rehearsals, I cried to my parents and asked myself why I ever took on such a huge responsibility, but every morning from nine until noon, I donned my tall shoes and became “Miss Rosie.”

            The graduate school application process again reminds me that tall shoes are an excellent foundation.  My undergraduate work has provided me with a solid basis, lending support and security to almost any future path.  With this base under my feet, I feel that I am ready to narrow my studies from a liberal arts background to English Literature and Composition.  Even more specifically, I hope to edit, publish, or review children’s literature.  Kids, like Steven, ask some darn good questions, and books either stimulate their curiosity or add to their knowledge.

            When I was younger, I always used to fill my summer hours with books of all kinds.  As I grew, I spent the school year reading and reviewing books for my mother, an elementary school reading specialist.  From sixth to ninth grades, I fell into a gap between the preteen books and the adult novels.  Since I could not find any interesting reading material, I reverted back to my mom’s elementary books.  Although this neglected spot has been partially filled since then, I want to make sure that the gap is closed permanently.     

            My play went on, of course, and many community members said that it was one of the best shows in years.  Steven, my favorite little critic, suffered from several bruised toes because he chose to wear sandals.  I told him that he should get a pair of taller shoes.

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