Sunday, February 26, 2006

Struggling to keep my hopes at bay

Yesterday Scott told me that I always think about all the possible outcomes of any given situation before they actually pan out. Is that true about me? I always find it interesting to hear about myself.

This eventual phone call has been occupying my mind constantly since I heard about it, and especially since Katie said that when she got a telephone call from her department head last year it was to inform her that she'd been accepted. All I've got to say about that is.. AAAHHH.

I am almost certain that whatever they're calling about is positive because if anything rubbed them too much the wrong way on my application it would be tossed in the trash immediately. Right?

So the question remains: are they (specifically, it is the acting head of the department who also happens to be a prof that I named as one who could be my supervisor) calling for more information or are they calling to congratulate. It seems rather early, just shy of a month after application duedates, for decisions to already be made.

Let's entertain the idea that I have been accepted at U of T. This changes everything in my "what if" plans because I really never thought I'd get in here. My order of acceptance has always been Western, then McGill, then Carleton. U of T was just for kicks. Imagining I get into all options, let's say, what would I do?? U of T doesn't have the strongest demography program but it does have professors with very similar interests and demography where Western does not, and it is located in the city I most want to live in. Should I let city be a determining factor considering it is just a one year program? Maybe. Connections count too.

Western has the best demography program in Canada but it's in London and I'm not all that sure how much I care about demography. I've chosen it mostly because of its practicality and my own strengths. University of Toronto is a more internationally accredited university, I think, than Western.

I'm really not sure what I'll do. I shouldn't even bother thinking too much about it at this point, but that's what I do, so I'm told. I can't help having visions of living along the subway line and a year full of spring in Toronto. Or living in Montreal and spending time with my grandparents and getting free tickets for all my brother's really great concerts.


At February 26, 2006 6:36 a.m. , Blogger Randi said...

Jess! It all sounds so exciting...Let me know what happens with this mysterious phone call...hopefully it's good news! I've begun thinking about next year...I'm thinking I'd like to get a job outside of Toronto...perhaps in Boston cause I have family and friends there...just looking for a change in scenery from Toronto, I guess! I got my new camera yesterday, so soon I'll have pictures on my blog again! I'll speak to you soon, good luck!

At February 26, 2006 8:59 a.m. , Blogger Jessica said...

I hope so too, Rand! Boston would be great, and I'd love to visit you there. You've got a place to stay wherever I am too, of course. Get those pictures coming!!!

At February 26, 2006 12:22 p.m. , Anonymous seadragon said...

Do you know if they invite prospective grads for an "interview" weekend? If so, this could be their way of inviting you to interview since you are in Korea and probably couldn't make it for a day or two of interviews and checking out the department?

I hope they're calling you to say you're in, but I wouldn't necessarily assume that's what this is. Is there any way you can check to see when the school usually makes their final decisions? Is there a department secretary you could contact to find out where they are in the process?

As for how to prepare, I would assume this phone call is an interview or a way for them to get more info on you (yet not quite an official interview). If it's really just congratulatory, then great! But if it's an interview, then you probably want to be prepared.

In my in-person interviews (and come to think of it, in a phone interview too), I was asked to describe my previous experience and what I hoped to get out of the program I was applying to (your chance to show them that you want exactly what it is they are offering). The more you can describe about your own goals that happen to match up with exactly what they do, the better. And you should also prepare some good questions to ask them. I don't know enough about the kind of program you're looking at to know what would be a good question, but in my case I asked about the process of working in research labs (do you work in one person's lab only, or move around to a couple), collaboration (with more than one professor and/or students - is it done?), opportunity to take relevant classes in other departments (is it encouraged), etc. I mean, don't ask random questions because they'll say, oh are you interested in doing that, and you want to be able to say yes if you're asking it, otherwise why were you asking! The best questions are those which end up giving information about yourself to them ("Are there opportunities to do [whatever]?" tells them you're interested in doing [whatever]), and as a bonus, they are actually really helpful for you in the end. I asked about potential collaborations across disciplines at one school where they claimed to be really interested in doing that kind of thing, but the way it was described to me sounded like a lot of the onus was on the student to make it happen and the program wasn't necessarily designed for that, so I could just imagine myself not doing these things and following along their standard program because it would be easier in the end. So I ended up not going there and chose the school where it was really really clear that interdisciplinary research was what they were all about (e.g., we are actually required to work with more than on faculty member and switch labs).

I hope that helped! Sorry I can't be more specific in your case. It is *definitely* a great sign that they are calling you. Just sound happy and enthusiastic and smart (via the questions you ask and your level of prepardness for the interview) and it will be fine.

Of course, it's also possible that they are actually admitting you already and want to give you a chance to ask questions since you wouldn't be able to visit right now. So it could even be an interview after admitting you. Who knows! Either way, just be prepared, and congratuations for whatever this phone call is about!

At February 26, 2006 6:34 p.m. , Blogger Jessica said...

Seadragon, thanks so much for the insight and advice. I was getting ready to use it.. until I checked my other email inbox. Hip hip hooray!!!


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