Applying to graduate school was an experience I didn’t expect to have when I first started college; before I decided to enter the field of research as a social scientist. The requirements were similar to applying to undergraduate with a couple differences. I’d have to submit a resume, a writing sample, and I’d also have to take the GRE.

The GRE is a well-known exam to those considering graduate school and it’s also known that, like most standardized exams, the GRE is written in its own language. On my first attempt, I overestimated my testing abilities and didn’t get the scores I wanted. It was eye opening and definitely lit a fire in my application process. I’ll admit, I became quite panicked by my results because it felt like I had lost my chance before even really starting. I was so close to the score I wanted, and even though that made me more frustrated, I was determined.

I studied harder and spent so much time in Starbucks, the baristas learned my name and regular order (Jessica and a vanilla latte). On my second take, I left the GRE feeling much more on track and relieved. The next hurdle was, similar to undergrad applications, the personal statement. Numbers and transcripts aren’t the only things that matter in the application but also who I am and whether I and the program could blend well together. It many edits for the statement to have the right balance and once finished, I felt more confident in my application.

Once everything was finished and sent off, I had to wait. For over two months the constant question in my head was what if I don’t get in? And not just to one school but to any of them? I had applied to three programs and the possibility of being rejected was always in the back of my mind. My backup plan was to just apply again but to spend another year not being able to pursue research, to move forward, felt awful.

Then, the first decision came and it was an acceptance, and I felt so relieved. The other programs responded shortly after the first, also acceptances, and I suddenly felt overwhelmed. For all my disaster planning I forgot to plan for this possibility. All wonderful programs with faculty I admired. It was then my turn to make a decision. I considered each program and when the financial packages arrived, there was more weight I could build off. I knew that if I were to be accepted, I would financially support myself and take out loans on top of the loans from undergrad. I’ve never been a fan of favoritism but I did have a top pick, who offered the best package, and it still feels unreal how the cards played out for me.

I can’t express how grateful I am to Chapman and the School of Communication for all the opportunities and opening the best doors available to me. I’m thankful to my professors for introducing me to the world of communication and the thrill of research. And most of all, I’m thankful to my mother for always encouraging my potential. I’m excited to say I’ll be attending the University of Kansas this fall and proud to be there as a Chapman alum.