Thursday, December 23, 2010

What will become of me?

Greetings, Catarrhines.

Grades for this semester are out: I got three As and one A-minus.  So my GPA is still stuck at 3.889, just 0.011 points away from the summa cum laude threshold.  Yep, that's me: all 2nd best, all the time.

So I'm dog-paddling through the grad school application process, and have applied to New York University and Arizona State, and will apply to Washington University of St. Louis and UC Davis within the next few days.  The recommendation is that one should apply to a total of 6-10 grad schools.  But with sending official GRE scores ($23 per school), official transcripts ($10 per school), and application fees ($70-$90 per school), I don't know how any college kid could afford to apply to 10 schools.  That's over $1,000 just in paperwork fees.  Not to mention the labor involved with researching the faculty of each school ahead of time to make sure they're studying what you want to study, and making sure they are even taking new grad students, plus tailoring your personal statement to fit each school.  It's a bureaucratic nightmare.  I was warned of that a long time ago, but now that I'm in the thick of it, it's just...transforming me into an impatient, irritable person I don't like.  And I want to sock everyone who laughs and says, "Applying to grad school is like a full-time job!"  Dude, shut up and go make me a fucking sandwich.

So maybe next fall I will apply to Rutgers, Michigan State, and the University of New Mexico.  But for now, I only have the mental stamina for NYU, ASU, WUSL, and UC Davis.  Though I'm quite certain that I'll get rejected by all four.  Why?  Because my undergrad degree is in political science, and I'm applying to these grad schools for physical anthropology.  Why?  Because I personally find that subject more satisfying.

At first I was all jazzed to show these grad schools that despite my liberal arts education, I've taken key science and anthropology classes to prepare me for the natural sciences, and that I have lots of transferable skills and research experience.  And I was told by people with PhDs that such a transition was possible. 

Since then, cold, harsh reality has pushed into my thick skull like an orbitoclast.  As I was filling out these applications, I realized that switching fields was totally unrealistic, that this just wasn't going to work.  I couldn't help but think, God, what the hell am I doing?  I'm not qualified for any of these programs.  But figuring I'll miss 100% of the shots I never take, I continued with the applications anyway.  I'm just not going to get my hopes up, and I'm going to open those rejection letters in a lotus pose and with a detached mind.


Because of this conundrum, and because I have schools loans to pay, I've been thinking my Plan B should consist of becoming a simple worker drone after I graduate in May.  But I worry this might not work either, because I still don't feel like I have a definite, describable skill set.  I can't imagine an employer looking at my political science, linguistic, and anthropological training and thinking that could be of any use to a company, especially since most people don't even know what the words "anthropology" and "linguistics" even mean.

I recently read (I think in the New York Times) that math was by far the biggest predictor of future income.  Makes sense, right?  People with math-related degrees consistently make more money than anyone else, no matter what their race, gender, or place of employment.  But I won't have a math degree; I'll have a bachelor of arts degree.  Yeah, I might as well apply for food stamps now.  You know, even though I find math excruciatingly boring, I think I could have found a way to cope if I had known that it was the biggest predictor of future income.  And here all this time I thought income was a function of hard work, passion, ingenuity, and networking.  Well, and evil exploitation of some sort...

I don't really know what will become of me. 

I guess there's always cleaning toilets at Wal-Mart.  : /