I am embarrassed to say that I had no idea at the time of how graduate school worked. I assumed that if you had decent test grades (I did) and an okay GPA (if they didn't look back any further than my masters degree), you were a shoo-in. I was so stupid.
I had two friends and co-workers who were applying to the department, and I basically joined them because one of them asked if I were interested. I thought it would be neat, the three of us going to class together and working on papers and studying together. How cute!
Anyway, I was very confident about my acceptance into the program. I've always tested well, for some reason, and I thought the interview was pretty much a formality.
I didn't realize it was like a job interview, and I had to go in there and sell myself.
It pains me to remember some of the stupid things I said in that interview.
Faculty: "What area are you interested in studying?"
Me: [Thinking: "I didn't know there was more than one."] "Oh, I don't know..... I'm not even really sure this is something I want to do."
Way to go, Your Brilliancy!!!! That's an excellent way to convince them to allow you into their program, spend time on mentoring and teaching you, serving on your committee, and guiding you through the dissertation process. You're a natural!
Needless to say, they were underwhelmed. And I was so stupid that I left the interview feeling just as confident as when I entered, sure that I had been accepted. I can still feel the warmth of the sun on my cheek as I walked down the sidewalk in my navy pantsuit and heels, headed back to where I had illegally parked my car.
I was so stupid that I was actually crushed when I got the rejection letter.
Wait. Don't I get a do-over? Can't I convince you? Give me another chance!
Katydid always says things happen for a reason, and most of the time I feel like telling her to go to Hell. Because I don't want to hear it. But damn it, she's always right.
I probably wouldn't have survived the program if I had been accepted then. Right after that my second marriage finally died a merciful death, Sweet Girl and I moved, and I changed jobs. No way could I have survived the stress of the doctoral program with all that baggage thrown in as well.
When I reapplied to the same department about six years later, you better believe I went into it with a new perspective. I did my homework and sort of knew what area I was interested in. I had typed my two friends' dissertations for them (ouch, that stung a little, but they paid me), so I knew the lingo. I knew the reputations of some of the faculty members, and I had a better picture of just what was expected. I had a whole new attitude, and having a new last name didn't hurt either.