It’s about 2 weeks till the start of school. But since about 2 weeks ago, I’ve already been making several trips down to SMU for various reasons. I’ve also started to receive “important” school-related mail from the faculty, which just adds to the reality that school is *really* starting now.
The frequent trips to school and the emails are – to be honest – stressing me out a lot. I know I’ve been wanting to go back to school for the longest time. But now that it’s happening, I sometimes doubt if it is the right choice? Perhaps it’s the program I’m in; it’s a rather unfamiliar field to me though it bears links to some areas of psychology (which I took as an undergrad).
I guess it’s also the level of qualification I would be graduating with. It’s not just Masters, but a PhD. In other words, it’s a research program. I am expected to be an academic or at the very least an independent researcher with an inquisitive mind, or a wealth of knowledge on a particular specialty area. And the program is training you for that right from the very start; so I feel like I am expected to already have a research interest that I want to pursue in the upcoming 4 years. One of the first questions that everyone – faculty members and students – asks is “What is your research interest?”.
The biggest problem here is, I really suck at critical thinking and asking questions; and I don’t feel like someone who can really be super passionate about something and be curious enough to keep finding out more. I feel like I’m more of someone who is just easily interested in… everything; whatever is new to me, I take an interest. How long that interest would last, or whether it would turn into something I’m passionate about is really questionable. This “trait” of mine (or whatever it should be called) is really not beneficial at all to this PhD journey that I will be embarking on; especially when I’m doing the program in an area that is not particularly familiar to me. How do I find an area of interest for research when I’m such a greenhorn and don’t exactly have the most curious mind (that researchers should have) around?
Of course with all these stress, I have doubted my acceptance into the program. Actually, even before all these; the moment I received my news of acceptance, I doubted. What the hell right haha, but seriously.
Some background on why I applied – It’s simple really; not any fanciful story about how I was soooo passionate about the field. I was just.. interested. My friend was the one who introduced this program to me, so I read up a bit and thought it sounded good, then went for it.
Anyway, my friend was also planning to apply for it for admission in the same academic year. Honestly, she had a much much better chance of getting accepted into the program. Her uni grades were top notch, and she graduated with her thesis in a very similar area to this program. She then continued working as an RA after graduation for her thesis supervisor, who knew profs in the faculty of this program and has name dropped her. Therefore, she has much experience and knowledge in this field, and at least one pretty strong recommendation! (We need 3 recommendation letters for this program application)
I on the other hand, had not as good grades (though still pretty decent), a thesis in a totally unrelated area and worked in an unrelated job. Heck, I didn’t even have a clear research interest (actually not even now)! My interview skills are like sh*t too (there are 2-3 interviews to get through. I had 2). Furthermore, in our personal statement (part of the application too), we also had to talk about our research interest a little cos we had to indicate which profs we may wanna work with and why; I just smoked my way through with a really short para (while my friend probably wrote a pretty decent idea of what she wanted cos of her experience in the field).
Oh, and the best part? My friend (one year my junior) and I graduated from the SAME MAJOR, SAME SCHOOL. What are the odds of a Singapore PhD program accepting TWO Singaporean students with such similar backgrounds?! (Just some clarification here – though same major, Psychology, we did our thesis in different areas of the subject. Hers is the one that is very closely tied to the PhD program subject).
So… how on earth did I even get accepted I really don’t know. I kept wondering/telling myself that maybe it’s because they had lesser applicants this year… Or they made a mistake haha. Perhaps I was a “replacement” for someone who rejected the offer; who knows.
But nowadays, to make myself feel a bit better, I’m try to let go and let God. I tell myself that He has a plan for me – otherwise how could I have got in, against all odds (seemingly so to me)?? And perhaps He knew it was gonna be hard for me so he put a friend in the program with me too.. I guess I just have to really trust that He will help me through. I’m trying but it’s hard :( The stress and anxiety can really get to me, and all those thoughts that I’m just not good enough (e.g. ref above para).
(Ok I can’t really remember my main point of writing this post, or if I got out everything I wanted to say cos I had to go out in between and continue like hours later >< But I guess it’s more or less there; my current thoughts about going back to school… sigh)