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Students hanging out at Traill College - Trent's Graduate Student College. They're probably procrastinating on graduate school applications. Photo credit: Trent University

Grad School? More Like AHHH School.

Written by
Madison Marvin
and
and
November 21, 2022
Grad School? More Like AHHH School.
Students hanging out at Traill College - Trent's Graduate Student College. They're probably procrastinating on graduate school applications. Photo credit: Trent University

The air is cold enough to see my breath as I step outside, the first fall of snow coming in the middle of November and still taking me by surprise. Campus is bustling with students bundled up in puffer jackets and Blundstone boots, and for some, this is that last winter at Trent. Thank God. Exams are looming over me like an overbearing parent, and Winter Break can’t come soon enough. But before all that, there’s a file waiting on my computer that I have been ignoring for the past week: my graduate portfolio. Thinking about one’s future is never a walk in the park, but if it was, it would be like going for a leisurely stroll and accidentally stepping in steaming hot dog shit. Literally, it’s a shit show. But, there’s hope! And it comes in the form of a severely under-qualified undergraduate student who has no idea what she’s doing, giving advice to other poor students who have stepped onto the same path. So, let’s get into it, shall we?

Choosing Your Program Based on Passion Vs Profitability 

First, decide what the heck you want to do. Chances are, if you’ve done your Undergraduate degree, by now you must have some semblance of an idea of what you want to do with your life. Right? Right? But if you don’t, maybe take one of those aptitude tests and let Buzzfeed decide your future. Or, go back in time and invest in Twitter so you don’t need to pay for extra schooling, to get a job to pay off the loans you took out, to pay for the aforementioned post-secondary education. Or, if you aren’t certain you’ll be able to get a job in your field of study, teach it instead! Ask any professor if teaching was their dream job. Giving up on your dreams and just settling for profit is the epitome of capitalism. Or like, pursue your passions, blah blah blah.

How Do You Apply? Why Are You Asking Me? Oh, Right. 

Okay, so you kinda sorta maybe know what you want to do. Now, you just need to apply to a school. And get in. And pay thousands of dollars. And actually study and do the work. That’s only like, four steps. It’s like the foxtrot. One, two, three, four. Anyways, applying to a grad school can be scary. It can be intimidating. It can even be anxiety-inducing. So whatever you're feeling, whether it’s nervous or scared, in the famous words of Sister Michael from Derry Girls, “please, please, do not come crying to me.” Just kidding, I’m here for you! Like a flea on a dog, or something. I will walk you through every step of applying to graduate school. So, you’ve chosen which program you want to be in and what school you want to give all your money and soul to. Now, actually getting in. While every program is different, most graduate schools will require the following things from you: a Portfolio, a Statement of Intent, a CV (Curriculum Vitae), Reference Letters, and your first born child. 

Grad Portfolio—Like a Tinder Bio, But With Higher Stakes

For your portfolio, again it’s like a dance—you want to put your best foot forward. In this case, a polished, professional looking portfolio that showcases what a hardworking, diligent student you are. So, you know, lie. Kidding, kidding! You want to be truthful about who you are and what you want from the school’s program, but you also don’t want to air out all your dirty laundry. It’s like online dating: you don’t put the picture of yourself crying over a tub of ice cream while watching Bridget Jones’ Diary; you put the one of you parasailing or volunteering at an animal shelter. So, be yourself, but a better version of yourself. You want the University to swipe right on you, right? 

What Are Your Intentions With My Student? 

Your Statement of Intent should be exactly what it says on the box—your intentions, stated clearly. Pretend you're a guy going to ask (in an outdated and sexist manner) your girlfriend’s father if you can marry her. You want to lay out your intentions with his daughter (in this case, the program you’re applying to), and show why you’re the best candidate. If you’re applying for a research program, highlight the research questions and methods you’ll be using. Talk about your experiences in your field of study, about what qualifies you as a good student. Discuss your goals—pretend it's your diary and you’re writing about your hopes and dreams and all that jazz. And be mindful of your word count, much like I am (not) doing now. You don’t want to undersell yourself, but also, don’t go over the word limit, because the evaluators will probably just stop reading at that point. Which is, hopefully, not what you’re doing now. 

CV - Coming Soon on DVD and Blu Ray

The CV is a highlight reel of your best work. Talk about any publications you’ve previously had, any research you’ve done. It's a speedrun of your academic history, relevant work experience, honours or awards, and basically just a trophy case of your accomplishments, displayed like a proud parent. The CV is like the specials on a menu, where you showcase your best work. Kinda like a résumé. But you also want to keep it short and sweet, like a first kiss. No more than two pages, and don’t bring up old exes, i.e. an award you got in middle school. Make sure the experiences are relevant and current. You don’t want it to seem like you peaked in highschool. 

References Available Upon Request

References are something you really need to have been building up for the past four years you’ve been at school. But if you haven’t, maybe get on that? Actually go to classes and talk to your professors—go to their office hours, build up a rapport with them. I’m not saying you need to be all buddy-buddy, but having your professors at least know your name and that you’re a semi-decent student will make them far more inclined to write a good reference letter for you. Or at the very least, a reference letter. 

Conclusion—Have You Tried Nepotism?

Right, so you’ve compiled a mish-mash of your grad portfolio, including a CV, Statement of Intent/Letter of Purpose, and References. Now you’ve just gotta close your eyes and hit submit. Actually, maybe keep your eyes open, in case you hit the wrong button, or something. And just a reminder, on top of the thousands of dollars you’ll be paying to even attend the University, just to apply is usually at least $100-$150 per application. So, you know, choose wisely. Maybe give up on UofT or Queens, and settle for a school more likely to accept you. Like Trent! Just kidding! I like jokes. Which is weird, cause I don’t like my life. Okay, that’s too personal. Anyways… hit that submit button, and then wait like, three months to see if you get in. Enjoy your time as an undergrad, spend time with friends, take care of yourself. School is important, but so is living your life. I don’t know, like I said. I am not qualified to give advice. But my therapist is! So as she likes to say, “that’ll be $100 per session.” But in my absolutely not-certified nor to be held legally-liable words, take a breath, and relax. Tell yourself that everything will be okay. Because it will. And being okay might not look like the way you thought it would. And that’s okay, too. 

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What’s a Rich Text element?

The rich text element allows you to create and format headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, images, and video all in one place instead of having to add and format them individually. Just double-click and easily create content.

Static and dynamic content editing

A rich text element can be used with static or dynamic content. For static content, just drop it into any page and begin editing. For dynamic content, add a rich text field to any collection and then connect a rich text element to that field in the settings panel. Voila!

How to customize formatting for each rich text

"Headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, figures, images, and figure captions can all be styled after a class is added to the rich text element using the "When inside of" nested selector system."
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