How to Navigate Applying for Graduate School

As we all know the pandemic has disrupted many of our plans for the future, this is especially true for many college students. The year we were supposed to use to explore and decide where we will go from here has been abruptly taken from us. There’s no way to talk to professors in-person and you can’t even see your friends, let alone go on campus tours. This array of obstacles has led many of us to believe (I included) that there is no way we will be able to figure out what comes after this. However, there is a light at the end of the tunnel for us, if we are willing to look for it. 

The first thing we must do is acknowledge our frustration, take time for ourselves and to air out our frustration, and then also acknowledge that frustration will get us nowhere. The best thing we can do is to walk forward with optimism. No, I'm not saying it's going to be easy or even a good time but it's much better to try than to just give up. You start tackling the negativity by taking one simple step each day. Find something to be thankful for it can be as simple as waking up or texting a friend or getting to eat your favorite chips. It's not a solve-all but it's a start. 

two Women working on a computer Photo by Brooke Cagle from Unsplash The next thing you want to do is to revisit your goals and aspirations. By doing so you’ll remind yourself that you still have an end goal and although it's under rather peculiar circumstances, you can still accomplish said goal. Figure out your timeline, do you want to go to graduate school? If so will you take a year off or do you want to go straight in? It’s definitely okay to factor in the pandemic and factors that may affect that timeline. It is good to remind yourself that not everything has to come fast and you can still achieve your goal even if it's not on a timeline you imagined. Make sure to make a list, a schedule of sorts to keep you focused, and if you ever get discouraged to remember what you want to achieve.

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants graduation scene Warner Bros. Pictures It is also good to become acquainted with the resources your school may offer. For example, if you need help planning for the future I advise you to talk to your academic advisor. This way you’ll make sure on track with graduation and all the requirements. Similarly, one of the best suggestions I can give is to take advantage of the career center. Career counselors are here to help you (plus you’re paying tuition for this!) and they are an absolute asset if you are confused or need help figuring out what you want for your future. Another great thing you can do is to email or Zoom with professors and TAs that work in the field you want to enter. Most educators are more than happy to be of assistance and more than anything want to help their students. 

people on zoom call Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels Overall, I think it's good to remember that everything will pass in due time and all you can do is keep moving forward. This year, these graduations, everything really, has been something we never imagined but that doesn’t mean we have to falter. We need to take advantage of all the help and keep moving forward. As long as we still have the drive we can still go on to achieve our goals.