Tuesday, February 27, 2007

The Lord’s Time

Last night Brinestone and I were talking, and I don’t remember exactly what she said or how it came up, but she mentioned grad school—namely, that I’d been praying about it last summer and fall and had felt that I should go and that it was the right time to apply.

But then I didn’t apply. I had just quit a nasty, horrible job, and one of the (many) reasons I quit was so that I could focus on applying to grad school. But when it came down to it, I couldn’t in good conscience spend our very precious money on application fees when we had no source of income. I guess I just didn’t have the faith.

The stupid thing is that I was in almost the identical situation exactly a year before: I had felt very strongly during the summer that I should go to grad school, but when I lost my job in the fall, I couldn’t afford to think about it. We had a baby on the way, and though we were surviving on Brinestone’s income, she was going to quit her job before the baby came. So I shelved the idea of grad school and said I’d think about it when we had the money.

You’d think I would’ve learned from the first time. I got an answer to my prayers, and I ignored it because I couldn’t be sure that everything would work out. If I’d listened the first time, I could be in school working towards a PhD in linguistics right now. If I’d listened the second time, I could be scheduled to start this fall. But now the earliest I can start is fall 2008—over a year and a half away—or maybe summer 2008 if I go to BYU for a master’s first.

All of this was going through my head over and over as I was trying and failing to fall asleep last night. Perhaps what struck me most was not that I hadn’t learned the first time around, but that the Lord had said “Okay, now!” and I had responded with “But I can’t right now!”

In the Mormon church we talk a lot about the Lord’s time, usually meaning that the blessings and answers to prayers come later, not immediately when we want them. But I think we often forget about the times when the opposite happens—when God is trying to tell us that he has a blessing for us, but we drag our feet because we don’t have the faith.

If I’d listened a year and a half ago, I’d have gotten what I wanted. But I guess I needed a little extra time to figure that out.

Graduate School, Navel Gazing 7 Replies to “The Lord’s Time”
Jonathon Owen


7 thoughts on “The Lord’s Time

    Author’s gravatar

    *confused* I thought left a comment here yesterday. Maybe it didn’t go through?

    Anyway, the jist was that life is like that and you haven’t blown anything – if you still want it, start getting ready now so it isn’t overwhelming later. You don’t actually only have one chance – life is a series of little lives, and this just means your grad school life will start in 2008.

    Now: 1. Perfect writing sample – a paper in your field that is 10-15 pages long.

    2. Research schools and select 4-6 (at least) that you want to go to. MLA is the TIGHTEST academic job market out there – if you want a job when you graduate, you need to go to the school with the best reputation you possibly can. The name counts here in a way it doesn’t in undergrad. Do everything you can to go to a top 25 school

    3. Study for, practice for, and take the GRE.
    4. Order transcripts from BYU. Get more than you think you’ll need – at least a dozen. Some schools require one but one I applied to required three.

    October: Talk to your professors and ask for recs. Tell them your plans, what schools you want to go to, and send them all the information they need. Give each a packet with addressed, stamped envelopes and the forms they’ll need to sign. Check in at least every other week until the letters are out, and then keep them informed as the letters of acceptance or rejection come rolling in.

    November: Fill out applications and mail them off. Plan at least two nights for each application – it’s an astonishing amount of work, even if you have prepared beforehand with the paper and transcripts and letters.

    When the schools e-mail you of their decision, write back immediately, thank them for the acceptance, and say something noncommital until all of the letters are in.

    The Applying for Grad School Preparation List is provided courtesy of MattB, who did it not so well for Masters but very well for PhD. Same person both times, infinitely better acceptance rate the second time.

    Author’s gravatar

    My point wasn’t that I missed my chance completely, but that I missed the chance to go earlier. I didn’t have to wait this long.

    Also, what do you mean by “MLA is the tightest academic job market”? I understand the MLA to be an association that promotes the study of literature, which is not even my field.

    Author’s gravatar

    Modern Languages – English, Linguistics, creative writing – academic jobs in this market. It’s the only field even tighter than history, and that’s horrendous. What school you go to matters overwhelmingly. Community colleges hire from state schools, state schools hire second-tier (top 25) schools, and second-tier schools hire from the Ivies. The Ivies hire academic celebrities.

    I don’t mean the advice as criticism, Jon Boy. I’m trying to help, I swear. *shrug* It helped me. If you don’t want it, don’t take it.

    Author’s gravatar

    MLA = shorthand for the disciplines that follow the MLA style guide

    Author’s gravatar

    The feeling that God has told me to do something and I have glanced upward, glared, stuck some big orange earplugs in my ears, and gone about my business is, later on, one of my least favorite feelings ever. Happily, it never lasts too long, since eventually God comes back with another idea, and the second time, I’m often much more receptive.

    Also, I have to disagree with katie just ever so slightly. Go to the grad school where you think you’ll learn what you want to learn, which has the professors you want to learn from. It’s absolutely worth it to try to get into the top 25, but loving what you study is going to do you more credit in interviews, and make you a happier person, than having the right name on your college diploma.

    Author’s gravatar

    Just thinking of the end from the beginning. You want to be able to get a job at the end of the degree.

    The following article about academics wanting to work at BYU I read today and thought of this post, only because JB went to BYU: http://www.timesandseasons.org/?p=3755#more-3755

    Author’s gravatar

    In my field, the state schools *are* the top schools, which is sort of nice because the tuition’s much more reasonable there than it would be at some overhyped Ivy League school. (If I was an Illinois resident, I actually wouldn’t be paying tuition at all, but I wanted to hurry and start the degree instead of waiting to establish residency.)

    Speaking as someone who took the irrational leap of faith a couple of years ago, I’ve been surprised at how much fun grad school’s turned out to be. Good luck with everything!

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