Wednesday, January 23

Stanford in the Balance

Stanford is the only place I applied to for PhD school. And today will decide whether or not I get in.

I began the application process with a broad swath of schools in mind, most of them suggested by my mentors and research advisors over the last 6 years. They suggested University of Michigan, Penn State, Indiana... so I looked. I read articles. I found lab reports and research results and anecdotal stories from students who loved and hated their schools. When I took the GRE, I sent my score report to as many schools as there were spaces.

And then I fell in love.

I went to Stanford campus in October of last year, skipping school to attend the official on-campus info session for prospective graduate school candidates. I tried to set up meetings with professors while I was there, but their schedules didn't have room... and I had probably used the wrong greeting when writing to them in the first place. But, even without meeting the professors I wanted to do research with, there was an underlying theme that made me feel right about Stanford. So right that I almost bought school apparel at the bookstore. I scouted out housing and wards, even looked at the exercise and workout facilities, extracurricular opportunities, clubs, and choirs available to students. Found the best places to eat vegan food on campus. And I have told everyone I know that Stanford is my plan.


So I have a lot riding on this.

Early this morning, one of my MBA professors (who wrote me a letter of recommendation), sent me an email letting me know that he had received an email from a professor at Stanford who had questions about my application. The email from Stanford came around midnight, and mentioned that final decisions were due tomorrow. He asked me to call him as soon as possible. I did. We talked about my goals, desires, dreams, and a few of the gazillion reasons that Stanford is the only place I want to spend my life for the next 5 years, and he's planning to call the professor at Stanford to answer the questions he had.

From that moment, my adrenaline started to race. My creative nonfiction class was a blur, and my attempts to read in preparation for my PhD research course lasted for moments at a time. One day. One committee. My life and dreams and hopes and research opportunities hang in the balance of right now. Could I do other things? Of course. But this - going to Stanford and getting a PhD - has been my goal for years - since I began my undergraduate thesis in educational game design and read Situated Learning by Lave & Wenger. It colored my classes, extracurricular activities, clubs, and even my free time. It's the reason why even this semester I have a class exclusively on the development of middle-range theories for academic research and another on writing compelling nonfiction.

Sorry. That sounds like an excerpt from an overly sappy statement of purpose.

The reality is that a group of professors in California are standing in judgment on my future life, with only a few pages of text that describe who I am.

I know that, whatever happens, it will all work out for the best end result in my life. God is guiding my life.

But my prayers are that they let me in.


Anonymous said...

Good luck! Please update us as soon as you know.

TJ said...

Best wishes! I hope you get in. My daughter's dream was to go to Duke for her Ph.D. in Biochemistry. She thought they would never even look at her application. The did, she was one of 8 students accepted out of 15,000 applications. Dreams do come true! I hope yours does, too.