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Keep Your Eye On The Ball…


(Posted as “The ‘Blink’ Mentality: Grad School” on Landmark Leadership)

Now that my graduate school process has ended, all I find myself being able to say is “what a ride.”  The stress, the excitement, the nerves, the feeling of accomplishment, and now the anticipation of all that is to come in the months ahead.

Fortunately, things have fallen into place as I anticipated them, but that isn’t for a lack of disconcerting moments along the way.  Coming from a small private institution I found myself answering “why here?” countless times in response to my assistantship interviews at Texas A&M, Penn State, and Ohio State.  Thankfully, the intentionality of my grad search made these type of questions easy; and ironically it was this intentionality that stumped me the most. Now on the other side of the process, I think the Malcolm Gladwell ‘blink‘ mentality rings true once again.

I knew that I wanted to go into Student Affairs starting my sophomore year of college.  Like so many others I had the great influence of my mentor who explained what the field was like and the ways in which I could contribute, cheering me on along the way.

But what I was interested finding out along was that without the intentionality of my involvement, my professional development, and the reflection on those experiences (all from the support and guidance of student affairs professionals eager to help me into the field; #sachat shout-out!) that my experience during these phone interviews, interview conferences, and the waiting game that followed, would have been even worse had I not been prepared for them.  The process is pretty inherently brutal, but without a guiding force and a goal behind my decisions, along with some great professionals eager to give their insight, and through this, I’ve developed a pretty good sense of what I’m looking for.

But I’m 22, and there is always talk about finding out ‘what is right’ in the process, and getting the experience to decide what is right for me.  I still have a few years before I commit to my career.  While I have decided on my current life plan for the next 2 years, committing to the Student Affairs Administration in Higher Education at Texas A&M University, by no means do I feel certain about my final destination.  I will hold an assistantship in Residence Life next year, adding an internship second semester, a summer internship, the potential for a second assistantship my second year, and another internship in my final semester.

All in all, it came down to what felt right for me.  What I learned in the process was that while I had done a lot of research, prepared through years of intentional experiences, and wanted to make a logical decision about where to attend, when push comes to shove, no one faculty or staff member was going to make my decision.  No one GA or grad student should sell me on a program.  I heard it plenty when it came down to making a choice, and its true. You can research all you want, but in the end if the program doesn’t feel right, you will sell yourself short on the experience. So grad school hopefuls of 2011, research, prepare, and be intentional, but at the end of the day, follow your heart.

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