Tuesday, March 17, 2009

A Tang Thang

There is something about the graduate school admissions process that resembles the state of nature. I'm not even talking Hobbes/Locke/Rousseau here -- though by all means nasty and brutish, the admissions game is by no means short, and reason most definitely does not govern it. I mean the state of nature which preceded such "natural precepts" as striving for peace in favor of the natural precept "I want that banana, so gimme it or I will end you", where a funded acceptance might serve as the proverbial plantain.

Let us examine the following possible scenarios of the process. In honor of fellow crazed student Maggie's impending birthday, I have solicited the help of her favorites, the orangutans (afterward Tang), to provide a visual component to this study.

There are four general outcomes to the process, with each having several substages. If I can get a social scientist to diagram that for me later, we can explore those further. For now, we'll stick to the main categories: Acceptance, Waitlist, Rejection, and Nuttin'.

The good news first! Acceptance!

In the state of nature it resembles this:

Go, you! You're in! You are on your way to the highest tree in the forest, the ivory tower of nature, if you will. You might as well go beserk from the treetops and let everybody know: you are going to be Dr. Tang!

Less immediately enthralling is the Waitlist...

Which looks, both in the state of nature and in whatever state you reside in, like this:

Sad Tang. You are ranked somewhere between first alternate and eightieth. The admissions committee may or may not tell you this information. It is also possible that they may be lying to you. About everything. Adding to your misery is the fact that the goddang Accepted Tang is swinging about the jungle, throwing nuts and berries all over the place, and you just wish his vine would break already.

Still, it could be worse.

It could be Rejection.

I need no words. Big Aman here is taking care of it.

A lot of programs receive 200-plus applications for about 10 slots. That means each program produces at least 190 Big Amans annually between January and April. Multiply 190 and the hundreds and hundreds of programs, and add in Yale which rejects roughly a gajillion people per annum, for the total number of rejected applicants in the Big Aman army. The result is terrifying.

So it isn't really a wonder why the Adcoms like to play their Wild Card: Total Lack of Information!

No, Sad Eyes and Pouty Lip won't make the DGS return your calls, answer your emails, update the status website, or otherwise acknowledge you as a human/primate/whatever being. It is better for them if you exist in a state of anxiety, constantly refreshing the webpage and hitting redial, than for them to give any concrete information that might result in them a) having to prepare the campus for the giddy swingers, b) having to deal with Eternal Waitlistees, or c) facing their Big Amans.

It remains unclear if the graduate school itself is a civil society. I will report more on this in the future. In the meantime, I will give a shoutout to Wildcat U, which has ensured that this blog can exist for the next 5-15 years. ::throws nuts and berries::

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Before and After: Spring Break Open the Wine

It's "break or be broken" over here! If Cancun ever sounded good to me, it doesn't anymore, and I will instead retreat to a mid-Atlantic hideaway where the Interlibrary Loan people will never, ever find me.

Back in a week or so!

Monday, March 2, 2009

Snow Day! Finally, Time to Waste!

Classes canceled! This is even better than the second grade snow day because we don't have to go a day longer in summer and miss the annual field trip to the zoo. As a side note, there should totally be a grad school field trip to the zoo.

Because I brought you the virtual zoo yesterday, I will instead discuss the beauty of procrastination through self-enlightenment, reflection, and the predictive abilities of The Google. This morning, once I realized I had all day to peruse the stack of books by my bed instead of the usual Monday Two Hour Crunch, I came across an omniscient comic strip that predicts my future. A good use of my time, for sure.

Here it is!

Fine, fine, I'm already hitting up Happy Hour despite my technical first-year status. I seem to be straddling "Revolutionize your Field" and "Hope they have Pepperoni Pizza", trying desperately not to fall into the pit of "Get a Job".

This little doozy and more can be found at the PhD Comics website, http://www.phdcomics.com/comics.php. We should all thank Jorge Cham for providing these cartoon likenesses of ourselves.

Also, we should all thank the snow, without which my future would not have been told to me.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

The Power of the Cute and Fuzzy

As the grad school notifications began to roll in this week, I found myself in a state of total anxiety. There are few things as nerve-wracking as "waiting for the postman to deliver your future", as an anonymous grad hopeful put it. After the first waitlist followed by a rejection, I turned to the only thing that would make me smile.

Freakin' cute animals.

I stumbled across Buddy by accident. Here he is:

Completely adorable, yes? He is like a hug on a webpage.

I then moved on to cover several more categories of wonderfully cute baby animals.

Little chickies:


Baby Wild Animals:

Barnyard Babies:

How wonderful! All of these photos came from the fantastic website www.babyanimalz.com, and many more photos await the panicky applicant. Seriously, you'd have to get rejected from approximately 195 programs to run out of photos to pacify you.

Just in case that does occur, my roommate discovered that the children's section of the library holds a ridiculous number of books devoted to baby animals, the purpose of which is likely split between second graders doing reports on baby monkeys and parents getting sick and tired of reading Seuss every night. Ark selected "Harp Seal Pups" by Downs Matthews (Simon and Schuster, 1997), to calm me down. The book now resides on the bottom shelf of my nightstand, and it is a highly effective relaxation tool. I'm probably going to have her renew it...sorry, 7-10 year-olds this book is actually intended for.