For the past few years I thought I had flip-flopped between believing I had been wasting my time living and working in the real world instead of going to grad school and thinking that my choice was the correct one. I now know for certain that delaying grad school was the correct decision.
Looking back it’s amazing to see just how much I have matured since my undergrad years. Meeting other grad school applicants still in their senior year further reinforces my view that in the nearly three years since college I have come a long way and I will be a better student because of it. All those skills that are necessary to live on your own I have already learned (at least for city life) and I foresee that making grad school a much easier transition for me than for someone fresh out of college. Of course, there are hurdles I’ll have that they won’t, but I still think I have the easier route. It may have taken three years, but that was just the way I needed it to go.
I’m fairly certain I made a great impression and will be accepted into Stony Brook’s Program in Neuroscience. Though the program is fantastic and they get their graduates into amazing postdoc positions I don’t think it’s the place for me at this point in my life. The campus is on an area of Long Island that reminds me of a sprawling, solidly middle class, northern Michigan town. It’s a fairly small campus in relation to what I’m used to, which is not necessarily a bad thing, and it has the graduate to undergraduate student ratio I am looking for in a school along with an interdepartmental program with some amazing faculty exploring a diverse set of interesting questions. However, for some reason it just didn’t feel right.
I believe it was a mixture of the setting and the graduate students I met that have colored my decision most. I like Long Island, but I like it in a way that I’d want to visit, not to live and do research for five or six years. The graduate students I met seemed very bright, but they lacked the vitality and sheer enthusiasm of the students I met at Northwestern. I even detected a hint of bitterness in a few of them that was completely absent in the dozens of Northwestern students I spent two days with.
In essence, I think I’ve made my decision but I still want to give another day of thought to the matter. Looks like I’ll be here for a while though and there’s certainly nothing wrong with that.