3 mistakes I made when applying for a doctoral program

In January, I shared that I had a goal to apply for grad school. In July, I learned I did not make the cut.

I feel it’s important to share my methods, obstacles, and mistakes because it’s an integral part of the process.

Here are some mistakes I made the first time around. I have a solid plan going forward because even though I got a not yet, it doesn’t mean I’m giving up. I plan to apply again, but this time to three different programs.

Applying to ONE program

I got really hung up on one program that was all online. I didn’t consider how that would work with my current work. Also, as much as I’d love the flexibility of online classes, is that what is best for me?

The reality hit me once I realized that I wasn’t a good fit this time, and maybe the program wasn’t a fit for me. This time, I am taking the time to learn about multiple programs and really considering how they can be a fit.

Considering the bigger picture.

Is the doctoral program going to work for me long-term or just for what I am doing now? I have a unique experience and skill set, which has allowed me to try many different things.

In that, I realized my passion lies in working with teachers. Therefore, whatever program I do needs to make the skills I have stronger. Thus, perhaps a degree in K-12 Education isn’t the way to go… Maybe it’s Higher Education?

Not utilizing my resources.

I legit work with extraordinary professors all day. I am annoyed with myself because they are so wonderful and willing to help!

I also didn’t utilize my recommenders correctly. Yes, writing a recommendation is essential, but these people know different sides of me. After I sent the email saying I didn’t get in, one of them connected me with the department chair at a major state university, who talked me through a few options, and I finally felt like I had an answer.

Ask for help. Take people out for coffee and pick their brains if you have that availability. Don’t be afraid to ask. Don’t be scared to learn more!

In all of this, make sure you take the time to really know what you want.

You’ve got this!

Success is never final, failure is never fatal, it’s courage that counts.

John Wooden

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