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Why Grad School Applications are Scarier than Tyra Banks

 
My email inbox. And so it begins.
 I'll admit it, I've been drawn into my fair share of America's Next Top Model marathons. Recently, it's been more Law and Order SVU that sucks me in while I'm trying to write papers(It teaches convincing arguments! And morality!) But there is something about ANTM that always gets me whenever I see a rerun marathon. Is it that I'm entranced by the crazy model antics and the train wreck someone inevitably falls into? (Just let her change your hair color! Do not be that girl!) Or is it the world of modeling that I find so exotic and appealing? Then again, maybe it's Tyra. She's fabulous, and knowledgable, but I'd hate to know what it'd be like to be on her bad side. She's fierce and a force to be reckoned with. 

But I'd really rather face her than my grad school applications.

It's probably been decided since before I even got into undergrad that I wanted to go to grad school. I started noticing as I went to plays throughout my childhood that all of the actors I was most impressed with had MFA degrees in acting, and I've always wanted to be able to get to that level of technique as an artist. Many students of UE's theatre program go to excellent grad schools straight out of undergrad, and it's part of what drew me to the program. So grad school is certainly something I'm very passionate about, but going through the process of applying is going to be possibly the most stressful of my life thus far. Every day is an elimination challenge, and "smizing" alone won't get you through the cut.  

Applying to grad school for acting is similar to applying for undergrad, but far more intense. Instead of a general application essay about whatever you want to write about, you only get 500 words to make a personal statement about yourself and why you love theatre and why it's what you want to do with your life. Granted, these are all questions I absolutely should know before undertaking this journey, but self-psychoanalysis at the ripe old age of 22 when I barely have anything figured out is minorly stressful. After I fill all of the applications out and get at least three letters of recommendation per school, I'll send my packet in, but oh the work is not over yet, my friends. I then have to go up to Chicago to audition for all of the schools, having ten different monologues under my belt so that when they ask me "what I've got", I can list them off and be ready to do any of them at the drop of a hat. Thankfully, my audition class this semester that all the senior actors have to take has prepared me immensely for this process. We do a monologue of a different type every week(Contemporary dramatic, contemporary comedic, Shakespeare dramatic, etc. and so now I've got a pretty nice database of monologues that I certainly didn't have at the beginning of the semester. But somehow, Tyra blatantly telling me that I need to learn how to walk in heels seems easier than thinking about my future.

My email inbox. Oh boy.




In the end though, it's all going to be worth it. I recognize that grad school isn't for everyone, but I definitely think it's going to be for me. I encourage all of you looking at college now to imagine what you'd do for a living if money were no object, whether it be the money it takes for training or the money that you'll make from it. Now I may be a silly idealistic artist, but I don't think that aiming to live a fulfilled life is wrong. You should love what you do for a living, and college is there to help you figure that out. I may get a little more familiar with the restaurant industry while waiting tables to pay off all my loans, but this is one opportunity that I'm not going to regret going for, kind of like competing for America's Next Top Model.
 
















College Survival Tip: 5 Ways to Stay Sane in the Face of Rejection

 

I don't know how it was for you in high school, but for me failure was not an option. You did the work, you got an A. And while that's not everyone's experience, I think we'd all agree that college is DIFFERENT.

Before college, I had never gotten a B on my final grade. Ever. But when I got here, that changed--there were too many demands on my time between work and school and trying to figure out a social life. I got a B. And I didn't die. It didn't even hurt that much.

The point is, in college you're probably going to have to deal with failure, with rejection. You'll apply for internships that you don't get, you'll work really hard in a tought class and still come out with a B, you'll try to balance sleep and work and food and school and sometimes you will fail (I'm writing this on 3 hours of sleep, for instance).

So how do you go on? In the face of weekly rejection letters from literary magazines and my mounting fear that no grad school will want me, here's the system I've worked out for somehow staying sane and pushing forward, even in the face of rejection.

1) Be Positive

This means two things--first, it means to stay positive. Yes, that's easier said than done, but occasionally reminding yourself that you don't suck (even if you don't believe it at the moment) can really help you stay sane. Secondly, it means to be positive about what you're going for. If you truly want something, it doesn't matter how many times someone tells you no--you'll be able to keep pushing forward because you know it'll be worth it when you're finally successful.

2) Always Give It All You've Got

It's a lot easier to deal with a bad grade or a rejection letter if you know you did the best you could. Earning a B with hard work is a very different story than getting one because you just didn't put in the full effort it would have taken to get the A.











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