wingedorange: Mr. Muggles! (Default)

My weekend, in a nutshell:

Good Weekend

Translation: Michael Jackson’s This Is It, two full bobbins of alpaca all spun up and ready to be plied, my stuffed llama buddy, and six pages of notes for the Personal Statement of DOOM.

I spent probably ten hours of my weekend – six yesterday and four today – hard at work on that damn statement. Man, this is hard. The last time I applied to grad school, during my senior year in college, I didn’t find it this difficult to write a statement about myself. I had one basic draft that I futzed with a little, but nothing like this. This go-round, I really struggled. I tried writing a coherent draft from the get-go and that just exploded in my face. I tried bulleting points to get me started, as Jacey suggested, but it wasn’t getting me anywhere. I tried walking away and leaving it alone, like Katie said. I read through Krissy’s personal statement from her applications about a gazillion times. I even looked at the other prompts for my other three schools. I think that was what ended it for me – there WERE no prompts for the other schools! Just “tell us about your professional interests and career goals”. Well, balls. What the hell was I going to do with THAT?

At some point, it dawned on me that I could, with minor adjustments, use the same statement for all four schools, since the other three had no concrete prompt for me to write from. I finally just stared at the prompt I posted the other day and broke it down into what they wanted to know. I made each one a heading in a Word file and wrote something coherent for each category: Personal & Work Experience, Research Experience & Interests, Coursework, and the Damn Diversity Crap (yes, that was my heading. I was a little bitter). I wound up with six pages of reasonably coherent thoughts, in no particular order, and with no transitions or connections to anything else in the statement. But it’s something! The max length for Lehigh (the school with the prompt) is two pages, so there’s a lot of editing that needs to be done. That’s where I stopped, because I couldn’t figure out what to cut and what to leave in. I’m going to let it be for a day or so and then come back to it to see if it makes more sense later.

I still kind of wish I could submit the version I ran past Katie: “I love my students with autism. I want to be a psychologist, so please accept me and give me funding, and I’ll knit you a sweater. I’ll even poop rainbows for you. The end.”

Yeah, that’s the state my brain was in when I was finished. So rather than do anything that required any of my neurons to actually fire, I pulled out my spinning so I could finally finish the alpaca for the Rhinebeck One-Row scarf. Halloween cake challenges on Food Network plus nice, mindless spinning helped my brain re-solidify a little. So in that picture, there’s eight ounces of alpaca – four of the brown and four of the gray – that will get plied together tomorrow after the singles have rested a bit. I’m hoping I’ll be able to start knitting by Thursday, because I have two days off work this week for NJ Teacher’s Convention. Hello, four day weekend. I’ve missed you.

Despite this year being the lamest Halloween ever, what with five trick-or-treaters, the rain, and absolutely no good movies on TV, this was still a decent weekend. I was very productive; besides the spinning and the statement-ing, I also made sugar skull dough for my Spanish lesson tomorrow on Dia de los Muertos. I went Friday and saw This Is It, which was as awesome as it could possibly have been, given the circumstances. I don’t think it’s possible for me to have any MORE love for “Smooth Criminal,” and I will probably giggle each and every time I see a cherry picker for the rest of my life. I’m going again on Thursday night with a friend, which makes me happy. Scott went to New York today and bought me a present, and that makes me happy.

It was a good weekend. :)

Mirrored from winged orange.

wingedorange: Mr. Muggles! (Default)

I sat down tonight to look at personal statement stuff for grad apps, and I’m finding it really frustrating that I can’t think of an interesting way to answer these fairly straightforward questions for one of my grad school applications:

For Ed.S. applicants:

1. Describe your professional interests and how your interests match up with our school psychology training program.
2. Tell us about your applied experiences and how these experiences relate to the field of School Psychology.
3. Describe your experiences in working with individuals and/or groups from diverse backgrounds.

Really, this should be way easy, but I’m having a hard time. Do I just answer straightforwardly? Do I include amusing anecdotes? Do I write a poem? They give me two pages to work with.  I need to give answers that show what I can do and what I’ve been doing with the last three years of my life, but also answers that show me as a strong candidate for funding, which in this case, is an autism training grant I would give my left arm for. Where’s the line between interesting and informal? Should I just write the draft and punch it up later? Sadly, this statement has to stand on its own, because the other schools are more research focused. I’m a little afraid to touch those, because the last time I wrote research-focused personal statements, I wound up sounding like, “Wheeee I wanna be a psychologist wheeeeee!” *headdesk* I just can’t process stuff anymore.

My life would be easier if I could submit a knitting sample as a personal statement. Or a sleeping hamster.

I’m just not on it these days. I think I’m coming down with something, I’m unfocused, I’m snippy, and I’m impatient. That’s spilling over into work a little; today I was really impatient (and maybe a little short) with all the kids, even the ones who are never on my nerves and really didn’t do anything out of the ordinary or annoying. On the way home today, I tried to go the back way, made a wrong turn, and wound up about half an hour out of my way. Again, this was on my way back from my job, where I have been working for three years, to my house where I have lived with few interruptions since I was six months old. I’ve been seeing things out of the corner of my eyes lately – things I know logically are probably reflections off my glasses, but that really, honestly, for all the world, resemble men running by my door or right next to my car. I’ve been smelling weird things – yesterday I came home and smelled wet dog (neither of the dogs had been out or were wet or were even in the vicinity) in the kitchen and then later, I smelled hamster cage in my room near my desk. I haven’t had a hamster in five years. Christmas is coming, and with the exception of a few, “Oh man, it’s almost Christmas and I haven’t thought about gifts yet!” moments, I haven’t really given it a second thought. I’m not on it.

I don’t know if I’m just stressed out and potentially sick, or if I’m really cracking up. It’s freaking me out, not gonna lie.

Mirrored from winged orange.

wingedorange: Who doesn't love a llama? (MJ & Louie the Llama)

I think that I’m developing ADHD these days. Seriously, I can’t do something for more than about ten minutes before I’m on to something else. Then I’m bouncing back to the first thing, and then — ooh, look, shiny! I don’t know if it’s a function of teaching kids for whom attention is an issue almost by definition. I don’t know if I just am truly losing the ability to focus. I don’t know if I do it to myself, because I allow it to continue rather than forcing myself to just shut up and, Eddie Izzard would say, “pay a-bloody-tension, all right?” I do it in conversations; I topic-hop like a madwoman. I have a hell of a time finishing knitting and spinning projects because I focus for about ten minutes before I remember something else I need to do or want to look up or have to say to someone. It’s rough. (Seriously, it’s taken me half an hour to write this paragraph because I stopped twice to look for that icon of Louie the Llama over there and then thought I didn’t have it so I went to make one and then I remembered that I did have it but had saved it as something else, and while I was at it, I really should organize my icons on LJ itself, huh?)

…Where was I going with this?

Oh, yeah. As you can imagine, this really makes a lot of things a little more difficult than they have been for me in the past. Grad school applications, for one. Because no one in a position of power has realized yet that a good deal of the application process for grad school (regardless of school or program) is the same, there’s no common application. That means that even though I’m only applying to four schools, I need to register for four different online app systems, and fill in my name, address, contact information, residency information, GRE scores, and resume/CV stuff four freaking times. Of course, none of the online app systems have the same requirements for username and password length, so I have four different usernames and passwords I have to keep track of. All four schools have different personal statement requirements and prompts. Everybody has different requirements for letters of recommendation, even!

That’s the piece I started with first. I have time yet to refine my personal statements and answer all the specific little prompts, but the rec letters are out of my control as soon as I pass them off to my letter writers. I’m a control freak, so that makes me nervous, especially because the last time I applied, I had a flaky professor who almost didn’t submit letters for me because she forgot. I don’t think I’ll have that problem this time, because two of my letter writers are my bosses and the third one is my very favorite professor from undergrad who I know is responsible and thorough and who I’ve been in touch with since I graduated and will even be invited to my wedding, whenever that show gets on the road. What worries me is giving everybody enough time to write my letters and fill out the crazy specific forms for each school. So what I’m doing today is printing out all the forms, filling in my portions, addressing envelopes, writing up instructions, and putting it all together. Sounds simple, but it totally is not. One school wants them submitted online. Another one wants them mailed with your application; a third wants it sent directly to the admissions office. Somebody else needs a cover letter included.

(Oh, and did I mention that the official forms for three out of four of my big-name schools contained typos? Not mine, but the administration’s. I’m pretty sure that the only reason the 4th one didn’t have any typos is because it didn’t have a form. That’s right up with UPenn’s “Dear Appliciant” letter, or the UC San Diego debacle, where they sent a congratulations on admission letter to students they rejected. If y’all expect my personal statement and CV to be typo-free, then please get your shit together and spellcheck your own forms. Kthnxbai. Applikayshun cat is irritated.)

I totally don’t have the organizational skills for this anymore. Part of it is that I cannot focus just on the rec letters. Along the way, while I was printing out forms, I also printed scholarship/assistantship applications for two schools, changed my mind about which program to apply to for one school, looked at faculty research, and tried to make decisions I totally am not equipped to make and truthfully don’t need to make right now. I’m kind of convinced this is the reason that I slept for maybe 60 minutes total on Friday night. There’s a reason “2000 Watts” has been looping on my iTunes this weekend:

2000 watts, 8 ohms, 200 volts, real strong / too much of that, fuse blown / be careful what you say, don’t overload

– Michael Jackson, “2000 Watts,” Invincible

Indeed. Fuse blown.

Good thing Rhinebeck is next weekend! I need a weekend away from grad school and paper and applications and forms. I need some hobo-hunting with my Lloyd, driving in the country with the volume up, yarn-buying, and llama petting!

Mirrored from winged orange.

January 2010

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