Adulting 101: How To Get Into Grad School

I feel like this is the only actual “Adulting 101” topic I’m actually qualified to write about. I’ve gotten into grad school three times so I guess that makes me an expert. But, turns out, the process is different based on what sort of program you’re aiming for. So this is mostly for social sciences or humanities, but in general, it applies to STEM programs as well.

I’m posting this now because the grad school process starts before your last year in undergrad. A lot of the time, you should be prepping your second to last year. The first thing you have to do is research schools and programs, and most importantly, find out their application deadlines. And, application deadlines can vary within a university. While the general university deadline can be sometime in July, the program you’re aiming for can cut off applications in February. So make a note of when everything needs to be completed.

Once you have your deadlines settled, take all the tests you need to take. At the very least, this is the GRE. Some schools, especially if you’re an international student, require english proficiency tests as well. Depending on the program, you might have to do the GMAT as well. It takes about three months to study for the tests, so plan accordingly, and make a note of what your school requires, and what they admit. My university and program officially requires a 300 on the GRE, but almost everyone admitted was closer to 320 and higher. You can find that out by looking at the incoming student profiles somewhere on your university website. Unfortunately, grad schools don’t have a convenient site like LSAC to figure out where you stand like law schools do.

Another reason you should be starting this process early is because most grad programs require at least three letters of recommendation. Figuring out which professors to ask is the tricky part. Ideally, you should have multiple classes with that professor, and have gotten decent grades in them. Depending on the program, pick professors who have read your work, or required a lot of writing. Ideally you should ask in person first, but if you absolutely must, send a polite and professional email. This also depends on the relationship you have with your professor. If it’s someone you’re one of 300 students in a general education class to, go see them in their office at least a few times so they become familiar with who you are beyond your grade. But really, you shouldn’t be asking those professors for recommendations. The perfect professors to ask are the ones whose research interests are similar to your own, whose smaller, upper level classes you’ve taken. They get to know you and are genuinely interested in your success, so they’ll be willing to write a glowing recommendation. Either way, when they say yes, they would be happy to write a letter for you, send them an email that includes your grades in whatever classes you took with them, both your program and overall GPAs (so they can see you’re brilliant within the program even if you suck at math), your academic interests, and your GRE score, broken down into written, verbal, and quantitative.

Give professors plenty of time to write your letters. A month at least. If it comes to two weeks before the deadline and you have no idea if they’ve sent in the letter, sent a brief but polite reminder, implying that you’re sure they’ve already done it but the website isn’t showing that they’ve sent in their letter. And once they do, send a thank you.

When I was applying into my master’s program, I first applied as a non-degree seeking student, to get a few good grades to offset my tragic undergrad GPA and that nasty semester in law school. I had luckily maintained relationships with my undergraduate professors, so they were more than willing to send in recommendation letters. Once I did a semester there, I asked some of the professors in the master’s program to write me recommendations to be in the program as a degree seeking student. Somehow I managed to get half the admissions committee to write me letters, so I got in before I completed my application. And when I was applying into the PhD program at the same university, I asked my thesis chair, one of the professors I had asked before, and a professor who had taught three of the classes I took. And just like that, I scooped up the other half of the admissions committee.

What I do want to mention is that letters from tenured professors carry more weight than non-tenured professors, as does the level of research the professor as done. If they’ve edited a journal or two and hold an endowed chair, then their letter is worth its weight in gold. That’s not saying that letters from non-tenured or clinical professors are worthless, they are fantastic in their own right, especially if it’s a really small department and everyone knows and respects each other. But you really have to research your writers.

That’s all I’ve got for now, happy summer, I hope you’re all enjoying it. I’ve been working on my thesis, so once I’m done on that front, I’ll be posting much more regularly. In the meantime, you can find me on Twitter or Instagram, and by email, thisisnotaquickstory@gmail.com.

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Go through Kat’s stuff

I’m starting a sort of series where basically I ask people to dump out their bags and write about what’s in them. This is from my friend Kat, who I met the first day of living in the dorms in college. She’s a sweetheart. We lived together my last year at OU, and once when I burned my arm on the oven while baking cupcakes, she walked a considerable distance across a field to bring me hydrogel patches because I was carless. Kat is one of the best friends I have, and when I’m freaking out about something in my life, is one of the first to remind me that it’s not as terrible as I think it is, and even if it is exactly that terrible, it’s not going to stay that way forever.

stuff

Hello :>

My name is Kat, and I’m Vrishali’s friend from college!
The items numbered in the photo above are the things I typically have in my bag, save for my laptop.
1. The first thing I’ve numbered is my iPad Mini. I do everything on this device – things ranging from paying the phone bill or rent to playing Clash of Clans. I’ve got my calendar and to-do list synced up to my iPad, iPhone 4s, and Macbook. (My phone is in the picture, but it’s camouflaged by the notebook!) I like to document every-day occurences on Instagram.
2. This is an overpriced notebook from Walmart. It was placed on a $2 tag, but it apparently cost #7 at the counter……… anyway, in it I practice writing in Arabic. I’m not very good at it.
3. This is my wallet. I don’t have much to say about it…I can’t even remember where I got it from.
4. This is a pair of RayBans regifted to me by my father. He got them from a patient who trades these things for medicine, I guess.
5. This is my fake-Lacoste coin purse from the Philippines. I love fake brand stuff.
6. Hair clips for my short hair – in terrible need of a haircut, always.
7. A copy of my favorite prayer by Sta. Teresa de Jesús. The text goes, in Spanish:
Nada te turbe, 

nada te espante,
todo se pasa,
Dios no se muda;
la paciencia
todo lo alcanza;
quien a Dios tiene
nada le falta:
Sólo Dios basta.

Now, in English:
Let nothing disturb you,
let nothing frighten you,
everything passes,
but God stays.
Patience reaches it all;
he who has God
nothing lacks:
God alone suffices.
8. A pair of my favorite Sony earphones, also in black!
9. I’ve got to have something to write with, you know.
Obviously I like things in black and white and gray – I’m into the minimal aesthetic because of its clean feel! I actually only took this picture in grayscale because of the weird lighting in the room. Anyway, there you have it! 🙂
You can follow Kat on Tumblr at rivailev.tumblr.com.
If you’d like to submit your own, email them to thisisnotaquickstory@gmail.com. Include a picture, labelled, and a description of what everything is and why you have it. 

Things No One Tells You About College.

My younger brother is starting college this fall, an he and his friends have been asking for a list of things they should have in their dorms aside from the obvious, and of course I can’t help but attempt imparting knowledge at his face. THINGS TO TAKE TO A DORM THAT NOBODY MENTIONS

Small vacuum cleaner: Either a stick vac or a little hand held. You WILL drop things, and eventually you’ll have crumbs everywhere. You’ll make more than a few friends if you’re the only one on the hall with a vacuum cleaner.

Swiffer (if you have a tiled floor): In the winter, you’ll somehow manage to track mud, dirt, and salt in. And if you spill something sticky on your floor (you will), this is loads easier than wiping things down with water and tissues.

Lysol spray/wipes: Someone in your hall will get sick, and that will start a chain reaction of EVERYONE IN THE HALL GETTING THE PLAGUE. There is no avoiding it. But when your roommate gets sick, or the guy two doors down starts sniffling, whip out the germ killer and try to contain the epidemic. You will be hailed as a hero. Also good for if you leave for the weekend and your roommate doesn’t. You never know what’s going on all over you shit when you’re gone.

Lockbox: This is especially important if you don’t take your computer to class and everywhere you go. It’s not hard to break into a dorm room. People steal shit. Put your shit in a lockbox and hide the lockbox (or else that will get stolen too).

Pyrex containers: You know the Tupperware-esque containers made of glass instead of plastic? Get a few of those. They can be microwaved, and then you can store your leftovers in one go. And they’re easy to clean.

Dish soap: Get a small bottle to wash out the Pyrex containers, plus the bowls/mugs/cups you’ve got.

Small fan: If you can’t control the room temperature of have a rude roommate who won’t compromise and insists on having the room feel like the Sahara desert. Also good for drowning out noises from that one person in the hall who comes home at 2am and insists on chatting on their phone on the top of their lungs all the way down the hall.

Brita pitcher/extra filter: Dorm water is disgusting. Filter it before you use it to cook, make coffee, or drink. May also help to have a reusable water bottle because buying bottled water on campus is a ripoff and college towns don’t always have the best water. Also, some dorms have free filtered water machines in the lobby (mine did. It was awesome) and you can fill up before class.

THINGS ABOUT FIRST YEAR THAT YOU SHOULD KNOW

-For things like cans of pop, ramen, and other snack that you and your friends all tend to eat, make friends with someone who has a wholesale club membership, and go buy them in bulk and split the cost. But take advantage of your meal plan. Find out if you weekly allowance rolls over (mine didn’t and I never used it all) or if it has to be used up in the week. If that’s the case, find out where on campus you can use your meal plan, sometimes you can buy a few boxes of juice or other food for one meal exchange.

Set a bedtime for yourself. The first few months in the dorms is really weird and it feels like you’re supposed to stay up late and either study all the time or party all the time. Don’t be afraid to be the first person to go to bed. You’ll thank yourself in the morning.

Set homework time. Come back from class and relax, and then sit down and work, or go straight to the library or another quiet place to get things done. Since you live and study at the same place, unless you’ve been to boarding school, it’s gonna be hard to make yourself follow any sort of schedule.

Do laundry once a week. Doesn’t matter how much stuff you have to do. Pick a day and time, and treat it like any other commitment. It gives you some regularity, and dorms are small, so if it starts to pile up it’s gonna overwhelm the room fast.

Make friends with your roommate, but don’t push it. If they don’t want to be friends, keep it civil. Just keep up some sort of relationship so that you can somewhat depend on them. In case you get locked out, or run out of something important, or desperately need a ride somewhere. Also set some ground rules, like no overnight guests (trust me, make this a rule at the very beginning. Aside from the potential awkwardness, a lot of times it just isn’t allowed and you can get penalized if the RA finds out.) or no loud music/audio after 10pm.

-Get to know your RA. They’re not just an enforcer. They’re a student too, and can offer some pretty helpful advice about the building, and the school. My freshman year RA is still a good friend of mine, and was super helpful when we had an issue with someone on our hall.

Get to know a few people in your hall, especially if they’re outside your major. My best friends now all lived on my hall freshman year. I lived off campus with one of those girls each year of college, and the others joined us for my last year. The people you live with will know you better than anyone else. And if they’re outside your major, the temptation to constantly talk about school is gone, and you have other things to talk about. This is the main reason I don’t like Honors Dorms or major specific dorms. That leads people down a rabbit hole of self-doubt and worry because they’re all taking the same classes and are in some form of competition with each other.

-Don’t call home at first. You’ll be homesick, that’s a given. But give yourself a few days before you call or Skype. You’ll be able to handle it better. And don’t go home every single weekend your freshman year. That’s when everyone is making friends and going out and bonding, and you really don’t want to miss out. If you absolutely have to be home, go either once a month or every other. My freshman year I didn’t go home at all, because I was across the country. If you’re feeling homesick, text a sibling. Your parents’ first impulse will be to coddle and baby you and offer to come get you, your sibling will remind you that you that you can handle this shit, so get over yourself.

Keep in touch with your high school friends. You’ll find that soon you’re only really in touch with one or two. And they’re the ones making an effort to talk to you.  A lot of high school friendships end spring semester of your first year in college. Be prepared for that, and don’t be too upset. You don’t need them anymore, and the friends you’re making now, some of them are going to be your friends for the rest of your life. When I was going to a really rough time the year after I finished college, it was my freshman dorm mates getting me through it, not my high school best friend, who had stopped talking to me.

Join a club that has nothing to do with your academic major. It brings you close to people who are interested in the same thing as you, but who you may not have met otherwise.

Don’t be afraid to eat dinner alone. Sure, there are always groups of people going to the dining hall in swarms, chattering about banal bullshit like frat parties and chapter meetings, but don’t be afraid to be there alone. There’s no shame in having different eating schedules with your friends. Bring a book, sit with someone new (this is only okay in the first two weeks of the semester, otherwise it’s a little weird), do your thing.

Register your bike with campus police. It will likely get stolen. A friend of mine got his bike stolen seven times in one semester. Registering it with campus police may not get it back, but it will help if you have it insured or if it’s found and someone is claiming it’s theirs (happened to my friend).

Make friends with older students. They’ll subliminally help you get your study habit straightened out, can offer advice on professors, and can just generally be there for you. Since I got into a lot of upper level classes freshman year thanks to my AP credits, I made friends with a lot of older students and I wouldn’t trade them for the world.

Get to know your professors. If you’re planning on needing recommendation letters for jobs, grad school, or internships, find a few professors within your major department that you like, and take every class they offer. Get to know them, raise your hand in class, keep it professional and courteous, go to office hours, and when you ask for a rec in three years, they’ll jump your request up to the top of the pile.

Have fun. It’s school, you have to study, yes, but remember that how you feel now will affect how you feel about your career path. If you’re miserable doing it now, you won’t want to do it for a living when you have to. Take care of yourself. If that means changing your major or picking up a minor, carefully consider it and then go for it. It sounds cliché, but you really need to find what you’re passionate about.

Neighbors, Trains, or Earthquakes: the Mystery of the Shaking Apartment.

My second year in university I was able to move out of the dorms and into an apartment. Originally, Kat was going to live with us, so Anna and I signed leases for a three bedroom apartment off campus. But then things happened and Kat had to stay in the dorms, so Anna and I found a third roommate, a girl Anna had a lab with and who seemed normal at the time. That’s a story for another day.

The apartment itself was nice. Three bedrooms, three bathrooms, washer and dryer in the unit, and a shuttle to campus that usually worked. We checked it out a few times, and everything was fine.

And then we moved in.

We were both super excited, and on move in day got out keys and dragged our loads of stuff up three flights of very steep stairs. Our parents left, Anna’s to go home and my mom to go to my godmother’s house for the night, and we commenced our wild unpacking.

Suddenly everything started shaking. Anna and I looked at each other over boxes and bins, and groaned as we heard a train whistle come through the open balcony door. We hoped (in vain) that this was a rare occurrence, or that the trains only came through in the morning.

Fortunately, the trains were on a predictable schedule. Unfortunately, 2am was one of those scheduled times. I don’t know if it’s a normal train thing or the conductors in Oklahoma are especially sadistic, but we soon were aware of a long and wailing train whistle as it passed the student apartments every night. There was also a senior living community down the street, but I suppose after they took their hearing aids out they wouldn’t have much of a problem with the train whistles.

Aside from the train, there was a variety of things that would shake our little apartment. They boys across the hall, mostly. There were three of them, and they went up and down the stairs like a small herd of elephants. They set their fire alarm off almost every night, to the point where Anna and I would sneak takeout menus under their door and hope they took a hint. They didn’t.

Now, I’m not sure how common this next nugget of knowledge is, but Oklahoma is on a fault line. And along fault lines, it is common to get earthquakes. One night, as we were in our rooms, at our desks, I felt a small vibration, and thought nothing of it since it was around the time a train would go by anyway.

But then the shaking didn’t stop.

Either the boys across the hall were having a stair running contest at 10pm or it was an…earthquake.

The shrieks of the sorority girls crossing the parking lot ruled out the stair theory, so Anna and I did the last thing you should do during an earthquake: we ran down the stairs.

Guys, being outside, on seemingly solid ground, and feeling it shake under you is really bizarre.

It subsided in a few minutes, and we walked back upstairs. By the time we were settled back with our books, we got a text from the university’s emergency system telling us that there had in fact been an earthquake. Thanks, guys.

But yeah, that’s the story of the time we realized that the boys across the hall could shake the building just as must as a small earthquake.

Books You Should Read If You Like Blogs

Guys, I’m all for reading big heavy books and cerebral thrillers and all that stuff your high school AP English teacher spent hours analyzing, but let’s be real, sometimes you need a book that’s just a book. That’s not a bad thing. The best things to read are books. And now, when anyone can get a blog and start writing (like me! Who reads this shit?), books are coming out faster and faster and no one knows where to start.

So, here’s a list of books that you’ll really like if you like reading blogs. Because some of these came from blogs.

1. Let’s Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson.

First off, this chick is on WordPress (one of us, one of us), and her book was born from her blog. She’s ridiculously funny, to the point where I was in tears in my living room, and talks about things like collecting taxidermied animals and functioning as an actual adult. Which is pretty difficult, I might add.

I’d just like to crown her the queen of blogs, so here’s a link to buy her book and another one to her blog, thebloggess.com.

2. Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling.

If you don’t know who Mindy Kaling is, you’re missing out. She was on The Office, playing Kelly Kapoor, as well as writing episodes. Currently she’s on The Mindy Project, and she’s amazing. I’m partial to this book because she’s Indian, and Indian girls stick together, no matter how famous one of them is.

Her book is an autobiography, and it’s pretty damn funny. Reading it is like texting your best friend. If your best friend could spell and texted back consistently.

3. Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened by Allie Brosh

If you’ve been on the internet for longer than a week, you know who Allie Brosh is. She runs the super popular blog Hyperbole and a Half, and has made the blog into book form as well. She writes about a lot of things from her childhood, and also about her struggle with depression, which really got to me.Bonus points, lots of pictures. Which she draws, by hand, on her computer. Since it takes me approximately four hours to make a simple smiley face with my mouse, that’s incredible.

4. Anything by David Sedaris.

I started reading books by David Sedaris long before I knew who David Sedaris was. The very first one I read when I was maybe thirteen, was Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim, and I thought it was hilarious.

Since I was thirteen and couldn’t quite appreciate it, I didn’t realize how much I liked it and wanted to read more until I tried finding it years later, and it had disappeared into the abyss of my basement. The next David Sedaris book I read was during high school. In my AP English class we had to do non-fiction presentations, and one group presented from a segment of Me Talk Pretty One Day.

I had read exerpts from various places, but the book needs to be read in its entirety. And if you don’t want to buy it off Amazon, or at a bookstore, I’m sure you can find it horrendously marked up at an airport bookshop, which is where I found the next book on my little list, When You Are Engulfed In Flames

Along with the previous two books, this is also a collection of essays by David Sedaris. I can’t contain how awesome this book is in a paragraph, so I’ll let you read it yourself.

5. Stiff: the Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach.

Remember how I just mentioned I had to do a nonfiction English project in high school? My group picked this slightly morbid, seriously entertaining book. Like the title implies, it’s about dead bodies. Specifically, what happens to them when they’re donated to science. Mary Roach wrote for Reader’s Digest for a while, which is how I discovered her, since a good portion of my childhood was spent in doctor’s offices and I felt I had outgrown Highlights Magazine. This is a good book if you’re insanely curious and only a little bit squeamish.

Okay. So this book list is getting kind of long, and I figure I’ll give you a break to catch up on your reading. Let me know what you think, and leave your own recommendations in the comments.

The Marvelous Adventures of Team Indecisive: Battle of the Duckies.

For Christmas of 2012, my then-stepmother’s mom gave me a very large rubber duck. When I say “very large,” I don’t mean average. This motherfucker would not be chilling in the bathtub with Ernie and Rubber Ducky. He would eat RD and make Ernie watch. I looked it up on Amazon (god save me that’s where all my money goes), and they would classify it as a “jumbo” duckie. It’s a big duck.

Here he is next to a normal-sized fancy tea cup.
Here he is next to a normal-sized fancy tea cup.

So I took this duckie back to Oklahoma after break, with a plan formulating in my head. Kat was the only one who knew about the duckie so far, because she had texted me just as I was opening the duckie so I sent that picture as a reply. She and I were the first ones back after the break, and as such had the apartment to ourselves to wreak havoc. We unpacked our shit and tried to figure out what to do with the duckie.

Kelly was due back the next day and Anna the day after that, so since neither one of us is very patient, we decided Kelly should be the one to stumble upon the duckie. But where? Her bedroom was locked, and there weren’t many hiding places in the apartment. And then we knew: the bath tub. It was practically fate.The day she was due home, I filled the bath tub partially, set the duckie afloat, and drew the shower curtain. Then proceeded to giggle and text Kelly incessantly about when she would be home. A few flight delays and a pair of ripped jeans later (long, really funny story), she was dragging her suitcase up the stairs. She went into the bathroom a few times without noticing the floating duckie, but I guess she would have no reason to at that point.

Finally, when Kat and I were hanging out in the living room later that evening, Kelly came out and announced she was going to shower. Kat and I nodded as we tried containing our giggles, and waited with baited breath for Kelly’s reaction. Which wasn’t as spectacular as I would have hoped, but it was something. We heard her pulling back the curtain, and then uttering a simple, “What in the world?”

And that started a war.

For the rest of the semester, we found more and more creative ways of hiding the duck around the apartment to surprise each other. From setting it right in the middle of the entryway when we knew someone was bringing over a guest to hiding it in the freezer (so Anna could find it when she got ice water in the middle of the night), that duck was everywhere. Anna even slipped it into my backpack, and I didn’t notice all week (in my defense, it was the pocket I never used). My favorite place to hide it was in the corner of Kelly’s bed, so when she woke up the duck would be staring her in the face.

In February, Anna was leaving for her study abroad in Germany, so she went out an found a tiny yellow duckie to take with her, and would send us pictures of the duck having fun in Germany. Closer to spring break, Kat and I were out running errands, and we found small (normal-sized) duckies to take on our vacation. I named mine Peep Peep, and she named hers Ryan Gosling.

This is Peep Peep day drinking while on vacation at Disney World.
This is Peep Peep day drinking while on vacation at Disney World.

When I was going to Magic Kingdom, the security guy who was checking bags was wondering why a 21-year-old college kid was bringing a rubber duckie into the park. Because the duckie wanted a pictur with Donald Duck, that’s why!

After spring break, when we realized that we didn’t take as many duckie pictures as we thought we would and that our hopes of running a super popular blog of our duckies was not going to work out, we focused on hiding the big duck.

Here he is in front of the TARDIS. Which I should probably tell you about.
Here he is in front of the TARDIS. Which I should probably tell you about.

As I posted that particular picture, I felt the urge to tell you why there is a seven-foot-tall paper TARDIS on the wall. It’s a fun story, but can be summarized in one word: Anna.

More that later.

When I graduated, I took the duck home with me, and for the majority of this past fall semester, the girls were duckless. However, Kat’s sister Victoria had moved in with them, and for Kelly and Anna’s birthdays (they’re one day apart), Vic and I orchestrated an elaborate plan (not really. It was super easy.), and I ordered a jumbo duckie off Amazon and had it shipped to Vic. She hid it, and on the midnight between their birthdays, they found it (I think it might have been during the day on one of their birthdays, but the midnight thing sounds so much more magical.). So the duckie thing continues, and now poor Vic has been sucked into the abyss that is duck-hiding.

The Marvelous Adventures of Team Indecisive, Episode 2: That Time We Drove All Over Norman to Find Hot Chocolate

At some point between October of my last year at OU, when Anna and Kelly turned 21 and December of that year, when I turned 21, Anna had the brilliant idea of watching the movie Elf, while drinking hot chocolate spike with Bailey’s. So we were off. We had to buy groceries that day anyway, so the four of us (me, Anna, Kat, and Kelly) clambered into my car and went to Target. Because we were all a little scared of the local Walmart. Now, this is the part where I tell you Anna actually had her brilliant idea of drinking spiked hot chocolate as we were pulling back into the parking lot of our apartment.That is a key piece of information. We got excited, and trooped back into the apartment only to discover that we had neither hot chocolate nor Bailey’s. Oops.

We didn’t want to go all the way back to Target, because let’s be real, we’re lazy college kids. So we drove to the 7-11 that had a liquor store next to it, and Anna and Kelly, both being 21, went into the liquor store to procure Bailey’s, while Kat and I went to the 7-11 to grab a box of hot chocolate mix. We came back out to the car, Anna and Kelly triumphant with the little bottle of Bailey’s, while Kat and I were genuinely confused over why this gas station did not carry hot chocolate mix.

Our next plan of action was to go to the little grocery store in the lobby of one of the dorms. We skittered in there, laughing our asses off over something, and then abruptly stopped because they had no hot chocolate either. What the hell. It was practically December. Who doesn’t carry hot chocolate?

Determined to get hot chocolate, we drove to the Braum’s nearby, which had a grocery store in it, and a gas station/convenience store next door. Again, Kat and I went one direction (Braum’s), while Anna and Kelly went the other (gas station). Neither one had hot chocolate.

At this point, we decided we should just go back to Target and buy hot chocolate. Kelly mentioned that Walmart was closer. Anna mentioned it was getting dark and the crazies were coming out. So we went back to Target. It took us longer than we’re proud to admit to find both parking and the right aisle, but we emerged victorious, with our hot chocolate. We went back to the apartment and put in the movie, and generously spiked out hot chocolate. It was much later than we had planned, and that’s the story of hour four mature adults spent an hour and a half driving around Norman, Oklahoma, looking for hot chocolate.

The Marvelous Adventures of Team Indecisive, Part 1 of How Ever Many I Want Because This is My Blog

While I was doing my undergrad, I had the opportunity to meet [more than] two of the most incredible girls in the world. I’ve never really had super close female friends, because I grew up in a super judgy small town and apparently fat girls don’t look cute in prom pictures. But the first day I moved into the dorms at the University of Oklahoma, all of that changed. Literally within hours.

I lived on the international floor, or as they called it, the “Global Community.” The premise was that they would pair one international student into a dorm room with one American student, and they would teach each other about their cultures and traditions and all that happy camp nonsense. Really what happened was that half the girls were Chinese and half the boys were Saudi, and they all hung out in their own cliques because they all went to high school together. The first semester I didn’t have a roommate, which was awesome because I got my own room without paying for a single and I had never shared a room before in my life.

Okay. Where was I? Right. Move in day. My mom and I had shipped as much of my stuff as I could to a family friend’s house in Edmond, and flew to Oklahoma, so on move in day we loaded up the rental car and headed down to Norman. We found a parking spot in the buttcrack of nowhere because it was move in day for ALL the freshman and there were about eleven billion of us. It was also a thousand and a half degrees out because it was Oklahoma in August, and as my mom and I contemplated exactly how  we were getting all of my things from the car (in the buttcrack of nowhere) to my fourth floor dorm, I just grabbed a bag and dragged it across the parking lot. Some time later, as I was able to squeeze into an elevator to get upstairs, I was standing in my empty dorm room, a blonde head popped through my door way and chirped “Do you need help?”

That blonde head was attached to Caitlin, one of the sweetest girls in the world. She was a sophomore, so had already moved in, and she and her friends from the Baptist Student Union (more on that later) were going down the hall asking if the freshmen needed help. I blearily nodded yes, and she and her friends followed me and my mom back out to the car (in the buttcrack of nowhere), and managed to bring all my things into the dorms in one trip. It was awesome. As I was unpacking, another little (I say little, but really she’s my height. We’re all little.) blonde girl wandered down the hall to shyly say hello. This was Anna, and we have been talking on Facebook for the past few weeks in the group our RAs had made for us to get to know each other. We quietly said hello, and went back to unpacking.

Later that evening, Anna messaged me and asked if I wanted to go get dinner at the caf, since neither of us knew how our meal plans worked. I said sure, and then she asked if her roommate, Kat, could come. I said sure again, and the three of us wandered off in search of food.

We spent three hours in the caf that evening, because we could not stop talking. Kat told us about the years she had lived in the Philippines, and then about her four younger sisters. I’m pretty sure we were all best friends by the time we were shooed out by the staff.

Even though our majors were different, we were ALWAYS together. To the point where if someone saw two of us, they’d look around for the third. Anna and I ended up living together the next year, in an apartment, and then Kat joined us the next year, along with Kelly, who lived across from Kat and Anna in the dorms. The four of us went on marvelous adventures, and then I graduated. Even after graduation, I’m still close to these girls. Kat is one of the first people I turn to when I have rough decisions to make, and as a result I’ve been setting off her phone to an obnoxious extent these past few weeks. I couldn’t imagine my life without them, and even though we’ve only known each other for three and a half years, I know I’m going to be friends with them for life.

ps: Caitlin initially called us Team Indecisive because we could never make decisions about what we wanted to do. And we ran with it. I made a Facebook group and everything.

That Time I Got Kicked Out of Law School

Two weeks ago today, I packed up my little car and drove six foggy hours on the Pennsylvania Turnpike to get back to Baltimore in time for the Spring semester of my 1L year. The first semester had been more than tough. I had been dealing with constantly changing dosages of happy pills, and my dad had told me he and my stepmother were divorcing right at the end of Thanksgiving break, and as a result of all this stress and tension that had been building up from this awful semester, I did not do as well on my finals as I had been expecting to. But I definitely did not expect a curt email from the Associate Dean’s office in my inbox on Sunday afternoon telling me that my GPA was .939, which was not enough to continue for the spring semester. If I wanted to appeal their decision (which had already been made) I could petition them to give me a hearing.

First of all, who does that?! They wait until the day before class starts, when I’ve paid my tuition and bought all my books, and send an email out at 3pm on a Sunday telling me they’re dismissing me, and then NOBODY ANSWERS THEIR PHONES. Granted, in my sheer panic I may have left too many missed calls and frantic email messages, but let’s be real, panic. Secondly, I think they might have timed this out on purpose, so I couldn’t get them on the phone and babble at them in a variety of languages.

So I drafted a letter explaining all the issues I had had the previous semester, got a letter from my psychiatrist explaining the bit about my medication, and sent it all in the first chance I got. Which was Monday. I also spent Monday morning camped out in the Dean’s suite, waiting for the woman whose name had been tacked onto the dismissal email. She finally waltzed into her office at 10:30, and promptly told me that she didn’t know what I should do now, that she did not have all the answers, and her job was to send emails.

Fuck that shit.

Having found no answers in the Dean’s suite, I went up to the Academic Support office, where the awful woman with cold dead fish eyes and bangs from the nineties told me it was “a shame we’re meeting under such circumstances.” This woman was a gem. And by gem I mean useless waste of time. She essentially told me that I should just drop my petition and forget about law school because I wasn’t cut out for it. Bitch please. I am fucking brilliant. Don’t even get me started on how goddamn brilliant I am. You were lucky to have me. Sensing I was getting no help or sympathy from her, I called my parents. Mom was all on the “Okay let’s figure out your other options let’s take more tests and apply to more schools” train, while Dad was “Fuck these fuckers they don’t deserve you anyway.” Both supportive in their own way. My aunt however, called hysterically a couple times telling me “Calm down. Just calm down. You NEED to CALM DOWN.” I think she was more freaked out than I was. I kept going to classes, on the off chance that they wouldn’t dismiss me, and by Tuesday I got another curt email telling me when my hearing was.

The hearing itself was comical in how they tried intimidating me. They put me in a windowless room, at one end of a long table, with the Academic Review Committee on the other end. Very adversarial (I learned that word in undergrad, FYI). I explained why the semester was an anomaly (I had straight AP classes through high school, finished my Bachelors in three years, and had a $10,000-a-year grant to THIS FUCKING SCHOOL), and how I had already made plans to improve my grades. They weren’t very interested, and ten minutes later said they had all the information they needed and that they would email me a decision shortly.

Shortly meant Thursday, right after I sat through another Contracts II class. They dismissed me. I walked back to my apartment in a fog, called my mom and then my dad, and started packing. I couldn’t leave that night because I was more than a little emotionally compromised, and had so much shit left to do. I packed up three big bins, two suitcases, and four reusable shopping bags, and then I fell asleep. I put everything into my car, and almost a week after I had gotten there, headed back through Pennsylvania because I just could not be in Baltimore any longer.

What I realized during the six hours it took me to get back to Ohio was that no matter how much schools or other institutions preach about how they’re a family and will do anything for their students, that just is not true. It’s not feasible. They can’t reach out to everyone and make sure they’re okay. And when you’re most decidedly not okay, it’ll show up in your grades, even though you think you’re strong and can handle everyone else’s problems. And when you’re not strong enough to put out the grades they can publish, to brag to all the other schools that their students are the smartest, they drop you. They cut ties and every email you send asking about what you’re supposed to do next is ignored for a few days and then gets an impatient reply. They won’t stand by you when you’re down. So don’t expect them to.