Good news: I finally made it to grad school!
I wrote about what I learned from applying to graduate school some time ago. This was when I had my second run of applications. The success rate was reasonably low. I applied to six schools and made it to three. In two cases, I couldn’t make it because of funding issues. I eventually entered a school that ended up not being an exact fit for me. You can ask me later what happened.
In late 2021, I decided to try again after my failure with that school. I applied to three schools where I felt that I had a chance due to a potential fit with faculty and the program as a whole. Of these three, I was accepted to one school two years ago but couldn’t get a significant scholarship. Another of these schools put me on the waiting list and eventually rejected me. The last one was a new school I considered because I might work with a supervisor in my field of study there. The Australian university follows the UK and European model of a doctoral program that mainly consists of research, so I needed a supervisor to get in.
Last week, the school that accepted me two years ago finally rejected my application. I didn’t feel bad about it. I found out, for instance, that they were getting far fewer people than before. They didn’t need to, because as far as I know, their doctoral program relied heavily on student tuition and gave very few full-tuition scholarships (and zero stipend money). The program, moreover, is in one of the most expensive regions of the United States, with high housing prices and rents. The cost of living there is no joke; I’ve lived there for nearly three years and saw this for myself.
Moreover, I hear that the place is getting mildly chaotic. It’s undergoing quite a lot of change, and not necessarily for the better. I feel that it is confused about whether it wants to be a place for doing theology from a faith stance or a secular religious studies department. I won’t go into more detail because I might give away the identity. It hurts that I didn’t get in, but I don’t feel that bad in the end.
The other school, the Australian Catholic University, has yet to confirm whether I will have a supervisor and thus allow me to apply. My first choice couldn’t take any more research students. I am awaiting whether someone else could work with me. So it’s a viable option if I can successfully apply and receive a research scholarship.
That leaves us with the school to which I was accepted. Drew Theological School, a historically Methodist seminary, got me into their Ph.D. program in theological and philosophical studies. Last year, they waitlisted me, and I didn’t make it in the end. I thought that this time, I had a shot. It helped that there is always an element of randomness to the whole admissions process, and perhaps my statement of purpose was my clearest and strongest yet. This time, I really knew what I wanted to do.
The best part of it is that I will not be paying for tuition and will be receiving a stipend. I will need additional funding, though, which is now a priority for me. I am currently talking with a current student about the program, but I am ready to accept the offer right after publishing this story.
A fresh start on the US East Coast is something I welcome. It will be a different experience in many ways. At the same time, I hope that I can finally apply to the ACU if I find a supervisor. I’ll probably hear more about that later this month. This means that I have two options now.
So that’s my good news. I look forward to sharing more stories from this exciting time.