The first time I applied to graduate school I was in my fourth year of university. I knew the path I wanted to take. I wanted to become a clinical neuropsychologist. That was my dream from second year, I no longer wanted to be a therapist or listen to people’s problems.
Applying to graduate school is a lot of hard work and takes a lot of planning. There are different tests to take, places to research and letters to write. Not to mention you also need to get letters of recommendations from your supervisors (probably the hardest part if I’m honest). There’s a lot more than just clicking submit and paying your fees.
I started to prepare for the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) well in advance. I asked someone older and wiser when to do the test so I knew when they came about and when to register to take the test. I read the books. I even had to drive out to Hamilton on a Saturday morning to take the test. Then there was the general GRE in which math was one element on the test. Math has never been my strong suit, and thus some studying was required to re-learn the basics I had not taken since high school.
I even checked out other programs, I thought occupational therapy was close enough in case I didn’t get into clinical, which is a very hard feat as they accept 8 students per year in each program. I decided on staying in Toronto to save money. I applied to 3 different schools that year, along with OT. I paid $600 in application fees (which if you are asking like my grandparents, no you don’t get that money back if you don’t get in). That doesn’t even include the $600 I spent taking the two GRE tests.
Spoiler alert: I didn’t get in. Anywhere. I promised myself I wouldn’t cry if I didn’t get in, but I did. It was heart-breaking that all my hard work throughout university and the last year specifically amounted to nothing. To money wasted and a dream crushed. I decided I wouldn’t let it break me. So I applied the next year. I even made sure to apply to colleges just in case. They had my full fourth year GPA too. Still didn’t matter. The closest I got to getting in was the wait list for social work.
So where am I going right now? I’m not in grad school, I’m in a post-grad certificate at college taking publishing. Way off from a clinical neuropsychologist right? Well after applying twice to multiple programs and spending thousands of dollars just to apply. I’m not sure what I want in my life right now. When I hear things about the brain, my stomach flutters and my mind races again, I know it’s my first love. But taking this publishing course, I have realized that your first love may be passionate, but a second love can be stable and take you through life and potentially take you back to your first.