Radiating Sunshine: The Odds Are Never in Your Favor: Graduate School

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The Odds Are Never in Your Favor: Graduate School

So, today I was stumbling around on the Internet doing my usual browse of journals and blog posts when I came upon The Chronicle of Higher Education. Now, most of you know I'm a res-lifer. I've been an RA for almost two full years, I've gone to several Higher Ed conferences, my on-campus job is in Student Affairs, and I spent my past summer working as a Residential Counselor. Clearly, I can't get enough of Higher Education and anything or everything that has to do with Higher Ed, hence my excitement over 'The Chronicle'.

Anyways, being the browser that I am, I came upon an interesting article written by Atlas Odinshoot; "The Odds Are Never in Your Favor." Its a well known fact that I'm a Hunger Games fanatic… so naturally this was the first link I clicked on and boy did it capture how I'm currently feeling. Odinshoot cleverly related the job search for post grads to the Hunger Games. Now, naturally you're not fighting 24 others in an arena where death is the most probable outcome. But, in today's world and in really any job market you're fighting with a ton of other applicants just to get an interview. The realities of the job market usually slap most graduates in the face, because its so difficult and competitive. When I was younger my parents told me that to get a job in their field (Sales) or really any field you needed the golden ticket. That golden ticket was a Bachelors Degree. Now, neither of my parents have that "golden ticket." I guess they got lucky, in the sense that their experience out ways what a diploma could have given them. But, as most graduates and current students know, a Bachelors Degree isn't enough anymore. Every now and then it will work out and you can get a job after you complete your undergrad, but how often do you get your dream job after graduation? More likely than not you'll end on the job hunt, which could take could stretch on for months or even years, says Odinshoot.

But, how does this apply to me? About two weeks ago my Psych Research Methods professor asked our class what each of our post graduation plans were. 80% of my class said that attending graduate school was on their agenda. So, not only are we all competing for jobs; we are also competing for graduate school acceptances that will make us "more" qualified for those jobs.

I'm a junior/ third year undergraduate student who is worried about my future. I get reassured all the time that I have "the grades", "the experiences", and "the involvement." But, no amount of reassurances can comfort me until I have some acceptance letters. And then once I'm in, I have to figure out how I'm gonna pay for grad school and (or) whether I need to re-locate. So, its a stressful process that won't have an end anytime soon. I'm boarding the train towards the arena and if I'm lucky I'll come out alive (and with a job).

Thanks to Odinshoot's article I started to analyze what steps I've made to start preparing for the application process for Graduate school and the fight for jobs after… Now, obviously I still have a year+ until I find out if any of these steps have made a difference with my applications. But, I wanted to share them with you anyways.

1) Start early… my sophomore year I attended my first Higher Education conference. I was at the Next Gen Conference in Las Vegas and was one of the youngest undergraduates present. When people asked what year I was almost every reaction I got was "I wish I started as early as you did." So, if you know what you want to do it can't hurt to get a jump start and start distinguishing yourself.

2) Do research… After the Next Gen conference I began researching grad schools. I looked into programs that I may be interested in and what their requirements were. There are so many different aspects about grad programs and the acceptance process that I began to list out my top schools. The list is constantly changing, but it definitely gives me comfort knowing I have a solid list.

3) Network with others… probably one of the most exciting things about choosing to apply to grad school is that you can talk with others who are in the same boat as you. So, whether that means studying together for the GRE or asking students who have gone through the process already for advice; networking with others is a really helpful thing to do. And if you start networking with others in your area you could make friendships with future co-workers!

4) Find great mentors… I've been so lucky to work in a Residence Life department with professional staff members who care about my future. If you have the opportunity to get to know professionals in the area of your interests then take advantage of it because they have a wealth of knowledge, can help prepare you in different ways, and can also write you great recommendations. Either way it is so crucial to start building up your references and people who have already gone through the process you're now starting.

5) Don't be discouraged… Sometimes plans don't work out, sometimes you get a bad grade on an exam. But, thats life. It is important to not stress over the minuscule things and instead make sure you continue to work on the bigger picture. So, as frustrating as it is to not get bent out of shape over an exam (trust me, I fall victim to this all the time) make sure that you are continuing to learn and you don't give up on your dreams. 

Anyways, those are just some little things I've been thinking about. 
May the odds be ever in your favor.
Odinshoot, Atlas. "The Odds Are Never in Your Favor." The Chronicle of Higher Education. 20 January 2014.


  1. OMG, this is something that I've been worrying about! I'm still not sure whether I want to look for a job or go to graduate school when I get my bachelor's degree, but oh boy, it's really competitive nowadays! I find it difficult to network with others, especially with the professionals in the field I'm looking for. To be honest I'd like to get an internship here in Germany or in the States, but even for internships companies usually take people who have connection with them! Since I come from Indonesia and my German isn't fluent yet, it's really hard to find a good internship by applying only through the job website :(

    1. Zia, well keep working on the German! And I feel ya girl. I've just been trying to network and get my name out there as much as possible! If there are ever any conferences I would recommend you go and you can hopefully network that way.

      - Alex @ Radiating Sunshine


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