Grad School Blues

Dear Dr. Darcy:

I just applied to a million graduate programs and was rejected by every school.  I don’t understand this.  I went to a great prep school, I went to an Ivy League college, and I worked for a few years only to determine that I have a passion in a different direction.  It took me so long to get here and now I feel hopeless.  I guess I just have to reconcile myself to the fact that I’m going to be in a job I hate (like most of my friends).  I’m so upset, disappointed and hopeless.

ANSWER

I’m sorry you’re feeling so down, but let me remind you that you applied to grad school during the worst economy since the Great Depression.  What do you think all the unemployed and recently graduated folk decided to focus their energy on?  Here’s a hint:  Not on getting a job.  They all applied to graduate school, making this the most competitive time in history to get accepted into a program.

You’re viewing this as an ultimate defeat and I see it as your first step.  Did you get rejected?  Yes.  Does it suck?  Yes.  Are you done trying?  If you say yes than we have a lot of work to do.  Let me tell you what I would do if I were you:  I would take this opportunity to bring my application to the next level.  I’d make sure that my letters of recommendation were written by an alumni of each school.  I’d take this time to get some hardcore volunteer experience in the field that I wanted to go to graduate school in.  I’d beef up my resume by joining professional organizations in my desired field of study.  I’d send my resume to one of those companies that specializes in making resumes amazing – and I’d let them work on it.  I’d audit a course at my top school so I could include that on my application.  Then I’d make friends with the professor and offer to volunteer for him/her.  If the opportunity ever presented itself, I might ask him/her for a letter of recommendation.

If you knew how many times each week I get rejected by an individual, organization or a company, your rejection would seem less personal and more par for the course.  You’d view this as the universe giving you time to get your application even tighter.  Successful people get rejected far more often than average people because they take more risks.  Welcome to the over-achiever’s club.  Now scrape yourself off the ground and get back to work.

Writer's Stats: Female, heterosexual.