It’s official. I have joined the ranks of the over-burdened, student loan-saddled masses of middle-income America. I GOT IN TO GRAD SCHOOL! Now what?! What have I just done?
Because I clearly do not have enough on my plate, I applied to graduate school. It shouldn’t be overwhelming considering I’m taking a class already, but this is different. This is a program; a graduate-level program. At a different University. I feel like it’s my last shot to get things right, back on track, which is, of course, ridiculous.
Know what else is ridiculous? Applying three weeks ago, getting accepted and starting class next week, that’s what. I have one week to get myself together, woman up and get to WORK. This should also not be overwhelming or intimidating in any way, yet here I sit at work paralyzed over the thought of not getting my student ID or textbook in time. Even better is the nightly debate I’ve been having over whether to purchase a backpack or not. Right now, I’m leaning backpack, because it’s pouring outside and my not inexpensive leather tote bag is weeping at the thought of being drenched on the way to my car, let along walking two blacks from the garage to class. These are serious #firstworldproblems people. I have a laptop to protect. Or do I?
There’s another panic attack for you. Do I take my laptop to class? Do I use an iPad? Do people still use paper? Do I buy a textbook or rent it? Do I get an e-edition for my kindle/iPad/tablet/phone/whatever? Why am I so old and confused and dear god what are the kids these days learning on?!?
Seriously, I cannot stress eat enough while I scour the University website for any sense of direction. I did find many opportunities for stress eating on campus, though, so I know I’ll at least be taken care of when a crisis hits.
In a stunning show of good sense, I went to an orientation for new students Tuesday evening. While I managed to get myself lost ignoring a perfectly good sign, I found my way eventually and ended up giving myself a decent campus tour along the way. The folks I encountered on my little walkabout were friendly and helpful, so I had hope that this wouldn’t be like my current educational experience, which lacks a certain aesthetic that I associate with higher education. While I love the class I’m taking now, at a different University here in Boston, and my professor there, even he thinks that the University could use a deep clean and a serious dose of funding for just about everything. My undergraduate alma mater in Virginia had acres of verdant rolling hills, bright pink cherry trees and free beer on tap in the dining hall. It hard to compare to that.
When I finally arrived at the right place, I knew I made the right decision. Rolling hills have their place, but I’m a different person now that I’ve been in the Metro area for almost 10 years. Having worked in admissions for a brief stint, I can say that I am qualified to share that what you may have noticed about admissions staff is absolutely true. It is an unspoken requirement that all admissions staff must be attractive and extremely personable. The group at at this University is no different and they were on their game that night. Check in was flawless. I worked in events for 15 years and I know flawless check in when I see it. The flow was good, the wait was minimal and there were warm smiles on faces.
Pro tip: the registration desk at your event can either save you or kill you. No matter what experience your attendees have on arrival, this is your shot to ensure they start your event well, even if they had a rough road getting there or have a questionable impression of your marketing materials. This is where you make them feel welcome so they forget all that and start over in their minds. A sincere smile and a strong hello go a long way. Do not blow it.
What followed was as expected. A good old fashioned rah-rah meeting with some basic information offered up to make us feel welcome and secure in our decision to choose them. There were opportunities to meet with representatives from key service departments and access to some professors and advisors.
The mascot was there for photos, which always makes me want to take them aside and give them my mascot pro tips from my days as the Vixen. That’s right, I said VIXEN, baby. Respect the mascot, folks. That job is not easy and it’s hot as all hell in that suit, especially if there’s fur involved.
There were some AV hiccups, but none that made it unbearable and honestly, the speakers were more flustered than we were. There’s that events background coming out again. AV not working at events really phase me anymore, it’s expected. It’s difficult when your slides or video goes out on you and you’re trying to keep a crowd’s attention, more so when that crowd is heavily comprised of international students who have varied levels of comfort with the English language. They managed well and I think they hit their intended mark, at least they did with me.
It’s been a long time since I was part of something and I left there feeling like I was definitely part of something. My anxiety gave way to the excitement of it all and morphed into motivation. They could have put a class on right then and there and I would’ve been on board. If It wasn’t closed by that point, I would’ve walked down to the bookstore and bought a t-shirt for me, Hubs and Miss O. I’m so ready I can’t stand it. One week to get set up is ridiculous, but I’ve been ridiculous for a while now and it looks pretty good on me.