I am in the thick of applying to graduate school.

Anyone who was paying attention to me four years ago would be shocked to hear this. While deciding where to attend college, I threw a fit. I claimed I did not want to go to college; I had had enough formal education. I wrote an essay for class explaining why high school felt like a jail. I plotted to start a circus or go to clown school (my dad still threatens not to let me out of the house when the circus is in town). I told myself and anyone who would listen that I was not capable of making such a huge decision, choosing the course of my life for four whole years and an unknown number beyond that.

I finally calmed down and chose. But graduate school was never an option. I could do four years, no more.

Unfortunately, I met a boy who has a family history of graduate degrees (both of his parents have doctorates and two out of his six older siblings have completed or are in the process of completing graduate work). He is two months into his first semester of graduate work to earn a PhD in discreet mathematics. He is convincing me that graduate school is a viable option for life after college. And I find myself in my third year of undergrad, planning to graduate this May, taking the GRE, researching programs, figuring out what I want from them and what they want from me.

I am not really any better equipped to make a choice about continuing my education now than I was a few years ago except that I am armed with a few pieces of unconventional advice I have picked up and polished along the way. I want to share them with you in case you are in the middle of making a big decision too.

Emily’s Life Advice:

  1. There is not only one correct choice in most situations. Your life won’t fall apart apart if you don’t make the “right” choice.
  2. You do not have to have the next forty years of your life figured out to make a decision about the next four. You will have thousands of opportunities to redirect your course along the way.
  3. Do not dismiss your emotions. Emotion is not the evil twin of reason. Listen to both. (This is hard. Read a little of one woman’s efforts to do this here.)

Looking back, I might have made different choices concerning college. I might have chosen a different major. I would have applied to more schools and seriously considered them. As it is, I do not regret my choices. I like where I ended up, but I do not think it is the only option that could have turned out well.

That is a relief as I go about making plans for the next years of my life.

What advice do you hold close as you make big choices?




3 thoughts on “Advice

  1. Ugh. This is exactly what I’m trying to figure out right now and I have so many mixed feelings! Graduate school is such a massive undertaking, but maybe it’s worth it.

    Also, absolutely love Lauren Dubinsky. Great link choice. 🙂

    1. You’re getting a bit of a head start on thinking about grad school! Good for you. Never too early to think about it.

      I was struggling to find a link for this post, but you can’t really go wrong with the Dubinskys.

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