What Is Meant To Be

Since I received five rejection letters, I just about forgot about the sixth school I applied to.  It was as if it never existed and I was already pulling myself out of my emotional sinkhole and didn’t feel like reintroducing the blah feelings again.  So I did the next best thing-avoided. Life was good.

I was at work when I got the email from the sixth school, and I had to go out to the parking lot into my car to read it again.  I couldn’t believe my eyes- I was being offered an interview! I called my parents screaming with excitement! Could this be it?  Only one way to find out!

I responded favorably to the email accepting the offer of an interview.  Date and time was set and I applied to take that day off from work.  I was excited beyond belief.  Just having that interview meant a lot to me, I felt like someone saw and acknowledged all the hard work I did to prepare me to even apply to school. I could not wait for interview day.  I was selective with the persons I decided to confide in about my interview.  I didn’t want over exposure, and besides, if this didn’t go well, I did not want to endure the several questions.

The interview was a successful one as it ended with me being offered the opportunity to become a student in the upcoming cohort! The feeling of relief and accomplishment cannot be described.  I was so proud of myself and ready to begin the process of ensuring that I was admitted into the program.

Upon reflection, I realized that the other five schools would not have given me some of the things I would be offered at the sixth school.  I also realized that where I would be was exactly where I needed to be. All I needed to do was believe.

I will share a few thoughts about the interview process based on my experience and observations:

– please be on time.

– be yourself.

– dress appropriately.  If you are unsure of dress code, then ask a question.

– remember that they obviously saw something in your application that made you stand out. Take pride in that, even if you don’t get accepted after the interview.  Many people do not get an interview!

– be honest, not only with the interview committee but with yourself.

– don’t repeat word for word what is on your application, resume or essay. They already read it! Be creative and think outside of the box.

– be appropriate with your words and demeanor.

– prepare at least one or two questions to ask at the end of the interview. But please don’t ask questions you can go on the website to get the answer to. Carefully thought out questions show interest and your ability to think critically.

– it’s okay to ask them to repeat a question for clarification.

– thank the interview committee at the end of the interview. I believe in living a grateful life.

Click here for a few more interview tips and guidelines.

 

~”Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore”. ~ Andre Gide

Have Faith, Don’t Give Up

After submitting applications to six universities, I patiently awaited communication from them.  I was hopeful for at least an interview! The weeks felt like years and during this waiting time I struggled with a lot of negative thinking and self defeating thoughts which significantly impacted my anxiety, “what if I don’t get in?” Sometimes we can be our worst enemy.  Don’t fall for that trap, it’s not worth it.

I received a lot of external support, motivation and encouraging words.  I found ways to distract myself from thinking about the applications.  After all, they were already submitted and there was nothing I could do.  The ship had already set sail and it was full steam ahead!

The first communication came via email informing me that I was not selected for an interview. I was crushed! I cried, got angry then deleted the email.  After that, it seemed like the rejection committee of the world decided to slap me several times.  The second rejection came in the mail, then the third, fourth and fifth.  In case you didn’t realize it, I don’t deal with rejection well, so I cried and cried and cried.  My parents comforted me and reminded me that “something would work out, don’t give up, stay faithful.”  Faithful? Did they realize that I had applied to six schools and I just read my fifth thanks-for-applying-but-no letter? There was nothing that could be said to comfort me. I had decided to forget the idea of school, and made up my mind to continue working.  I convinced myself that maybe school was not meant to be.  Remember that whole self defeating thinking? It was in full force and I was head of the negative thinking committee!

It became difficult for me to see the positive in this situation.  I couldn’t believe that they didn’t even offer me an interview! I became irritable when anyone asked if I heard from schools yet and avoided the topic as best as possible.  Reflecting on that time in my life, I now realize that there were a lot of shame based emotions and part of me felt like a failure.  I thought I was a disappointment to my parents and to myself. But the real failure was not believing that I was good enough and that maybe, just maybe what I wanted was not meant to be.

I eventually released some of the negative energy and reminded myself that things always fall into place. I was able to turn my stinking-thinking around and tried to see the positive in the situation. I saw the challenge as a test of my faith and endurance and  decided to just try again with applications the following year. My dad encouraged me to email the program directors to find out what I would need to do to become a more competitive applicant and what areas I needed to improve on before I re-apply.   As much as I didn’t want to do it, I knew he made a good point.

This challenging period taught me a few lessons that I would share with you:

– don’t send in applications too close to the deadline date.  The earlier you get your application in, the better your chances of having your application considered.

– don’t just apply to one or two schools.  Broaden your horizon for graduate study.  The higher up the educational ladder you go, the more competitive it becomes.  You want to give yourself a fair chance.

– bear in mind that you may have your “dream school” in mind, but that does not mean you will get in.  Don’t encourage tunnel vision in your life.  Explore several possibilities.

– always have a plan b.

– don’t personalize the letters of rejection.  It’s nothing against you personally.  It may simply be that they already found enough students to fill their cohort by the time you applied.

– ask questions and get answers from the right people before you make assumptions.

– if you don’t get accepted, it’s not the end of the world!

-did I mention always have a plan b?

~”failure does not define you, you define your failure” KC

The Process

When I completed my masters degree, my dad encouraged me to start thinking of taking the next step of getting a PhD.  One of the important life lessons that my parents taught me was that having a solid education is something that no one can take away.  It will always benefit me and in the end, I never want to say “I should have.”

However, I also realized the value of having work experience when pursuing higher education.  During my undergraduate degree, I volunteered at a crisis center and it was amazing to see how I could relate actual events to what was being taught in the classroom.  After graduating with a masters degree, I decided to take advantage of an employment opportunity as a clinician.  During that time I pursued continuing education credits and I obtained substance abuse and mental health therapist licenses.  I have no regrets about the course of action I took post grad school.  My experience as a clinician provided me with not only professional development but also personal growth and enabled me to decide on a doctoral program that was best suited for my needs and future goals.

As much as I enjoyed and valued my work as a clinician, I knew that I needed more.  I needed a bigger challenge and opportunity for growth.  So, after talking things over with my parents, I decided to begin the process of applying to doctoral programs.  Let me just say that in my experience, it was not an easy process and the hunt for a Phd program felt like a full time job! But I kept my word, strapped in and braced myself for the ride.

I think the most difficult aspect of this process was finding the right program.  I consulted with professors from grad school, friends in various doctoral programs that I was interested in, read a lot online and prayed that I would make the right decision.  I could safely say that the process of getting into doctoral school took one year.

After brainstorming with professors and friends, I decided that a PhD in counselor education and supervision would be the best fit.  Because I have a strong interest in wellness, I decided to also apply for health psychology programs.  I utilized the CACREP and APA websites to search for accredited programs and narrowed down my interest to 10 schools.  Yes, 10 schools.  I then emailed    the program directors of each program to give a brief background, introduce myself as a potential candidate and ask about funding opportunities.  I received favorable responses from six program directors, no responses from the other four.  I then decided to apply to the schools whose program directors made contact with me.

Since I had finalized the schools I would apply to, I scheduled to take the GRE exam.  Studying for this exam proved to be a true challenge as I found it very difficult to balance my work life with studying.  Also, in the midst of it all I moved to a new home. So between a hectic work life and chaotic space, I managed to get the exam done and send off my scores.  Now it was time to get my applications in!

I would be dishonest if I said that I enjoyed the application process.  First of all, I don’t like filling out forms so that was a buzz kill, ha! But I will be honest in saying that I am eternally grateful for my parents and a dear family friend who got me through this phase. Our family friend took the time out of his very busy and hectic professional life to assist me with editing and finalizing my essay.  I am also very grateful for a few of my friends who helped me with editing and developing my resume.

Once my applications were in, I took a breath of relief and began playing the waiting game.  I had officially begun the process of getting in to a doctoral program.  No turning back now!

As I end this post, I want to leave a few thoughts with you just in case you are considering applying for a graduate degree:

– do your research to find the best program(s) to apply for.

– talk to others who have gone through the process to get suggestions and tips.

– plan in advance for applying and give yourself enough time.  Do not rush this process!

– get supportive people in your corner who can also assist in the application process.

– avoid people who may try to discourage you. Seriously, stay away!

– be sure that you have the financial support for school, if not obtain funding.

– believe in yourself.

Here are a few helpful links for you to check out:

The Princeton Review

GradSchools

US News

 

“The struggle is real, so avoid the fake” ~ KC

Laying The Foundation

As a child, I don’t remember receiving many toys as gifts, however I do remember receiving many books. Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, Sweet Valley High and Enid Blyton books were some of the popular pages that got my attention. My aunt Merle was one person that ensured I got those books, and I looked forward to gifts from her. What was awesome about this was that she also read those books with me!

It was only in my adult years that I realized the value of the seed she planted in my life.  She provided the opportunity for me to be exposed to the beauty and power of words and in doing so, opened up my appetite for reading and learning.

Having said that, it’s no surprise that I love to read.  During my years at college, I read one book a month to give me another outlet besides textbook reading and once I graduated I continued with my reading routine.  At the start of graduate school, the non-school-related books were not as popular, but I read a lot for my classes and developed a greater love for biographies and non fiction books.  It was no surprise that I decided to write a thesis as opposed to taking a comprehensive exam at the end of my masters degree. After I graduated, my reading increased and I began giving myself reading challenges ( like read 5 books in one month etc.) Fun stuff!

My desire for knowledge was a significant factor in my decision to apply for graduate school.  After all, I had a strong reading foundation and it encouraged me to not settle for the minimal.  I also have a very strong support system in the form of my family.  My parents are my biggest supporters and they believe in me when I lack that belief in myself.  They always encourage me to reach higher and to dream big.

So, I am following my dream through doctoral school and I look forward to the day when I can say “it’s graduation time!”

I am grateful for a solid foundation and believe that everything that is built upon it will be strong.

“Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today.”  

El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz (Malcolm X)