Not many people know this, but about a year ago I began applying to a Ph.D. program. I didn't tell many people for two reasons, the first being an attempt to keep my day dreaming mind under control and not give my heart away to the dream, and also so that when I didn't get in, I wouldn't have to be embarassed in front of that many people. It was a long and laborious process, partly because I was also getting used to a new job at the same time. Finally, this past February all my materials were submitted and I had but one thing left to do - The Writing Exam.
This isn't any regular writing exam, like when you took a placement test in college. This is a full fledged, pop quiz essay of sorts where under a great deal of pressure you are expected to produce writing from the heavens that is better than any other applicants'.
I was ok with this test until I found out The Truth. There is no benchmark to exceed and guarantee acceptance into this program. Oh, no. That would be far too easy. In this program, you submit your materials - things you can no longer do anything about like transcripts, test scores, a goal statement, and letters of recommendation - then take the writing exam and then...here comes the bad part - they subjectively compare your submissions to the other applicants, put them in order and the top 12-24 (depending on the number of cohorts) get in. Um, excuse me? You mean, I could totally rock it all out and if someone else happens to apply for the same academic year and they rock it all out plus one, they get in and I don't!?!?! Well, jeez, that only made me feel a little bit stressed about the The Writing Exam.
I met with the Director of the program, not as a result of The Writing Exam, but more because the materials said that you should contact the Director of the program to make sure it's the one for you! Well, I had some questions, so we met. She thoughtfully, and graciously, and nicely gave me tips for The Writing Exam. They were as follows:
1. There will be 7 essay questions. You choose two to write about.
2. You choose TWO to write about. (apparently applicants forget this and run out of time)
3. Stick to the five paragraph essay
4. Read the last two issues of The Chronicle of Higher Education (which I happen to be a fan of anyway)
This made me feel better. I practically memorized the last two issue of the Chronicle.
The night before, I freaked out, went to the gas station (it was the only thing open), cursed myself for quitting smoking and bought Diet Coke and two bags of candy (Almond Joy minis and Hershey's Kisses).
The morning of, I threw up (per usual on the first day of school type stuff), and proceeded to cold sweat my way all the way to the university library where I was taking The Writing Exam. I called my best friend. I sent a text message to a bunch of other friends asking for prayer because I was freaking out and had lost my Jesus mojo (peace).
Hyperventilated my way into the computer lab at the library, sat down in the very last row, at the very last computer, in the very furthest corner of the room (my favorite spot in any occasion for meetings or classes - it allows good perspective to the room) and was washed in Jesus mojo! I felt so much better, no more butterflies. And why? Because the prayers were working! I asked for peace and it was done because He said so! Awesome, no?
So I took The Writing Exam. I wish I had a half hour more for the second question, but I finished and I lived through it and was excited at the end, not nervous, or scared, or even relieved (as that would indicate the two previous feelings) just excited!
I will post the questions and essays if you would like to read them, although I haven't re-read them and am a little afraid that they are kinda crap due to the surprise nature of the topics and all. I had the best friend read them a week later and she said I nailed them, and agreed the second one could have been a bit more polished, but who knows if she is telling the truth.