Some academic musing

Today, at noon, the youngest daughter (this is the one who graduated from college just days after me) will be taking the Graduate Record Exam (GRE).

Had she been given a choice she would not be taking this exam today, but she spent her collegiate years focused on both social and geological sciences. If you’ve been around IATIW for any time then you have heard the story of Running Start, anthropology/archaeology, 6 weeks in the Oregon desert, double majors, and passions for rocks, sediments, and stratified hillsides.

Geology will be her focus in graduate school, and graduate school geology programs require the GRE. She has been studying for months, and for months, she has been hovering between quiet acceptance and downright indignation over this exam. I have seen what is involved in this exam, which by the way, is only the general exam and not a discipline specific version. I would not pass this exam, at least not the math portion.

When this day is over the next big step is to finish up all the applications, double-check on all the recommendations, edit and finalize a CV and personal statement, send everything off by January and then sit back, definitely on pins and needles, and wait.

She has chosen four universities, with two in reserve for the future if all goes afoul this time around. One is in our state of Washington, one in Oregon, then Colorado and Arizona. She believes each program is promising, and would let her focus on a specialization area that suits her. I don’t think that she has a favorite from that group. I know she just wants to get accepted, somewhere. Plus, research funding and graduate teaching offers would be greatly appreciated and willingly accepted, and actually necessary.

I think you can imagine that stress is an understatement in describing her position right now.

So dear readers, what has been your own experience with graduate school exams like the GRE or equivalent? Any words of advice regarding grad school in general?



5 thoughts on “Some academic musing”

  1. A few observations about funding (from someone who’s been there, done that, in spades): If she’s applying to master’s level programs, receiving funding is often extremely unlikely. Fields in which the master’s is a terminal level degree–like an MFA–tend to be the only exception to this.

    If she’s going after a PhD, then she absolutely needs to be looking for–and *expecting*–support in the form of a fellowship, assistanceship, etc. It’s not just a question of her financial need (even as a TA/RA, she’s more likely than not going to take out some financial aid monies as well–just because those support lines are hard to live on for years without supplement). The issue is the other forms of departmental support that financial support represents: she only wants to go to a program where the faculty want her there enough that they put money behind their decision to admit her.

    Good luck to your daughter throughout this process!


    1. Her reality is that she only desires the terminal MA, but she knows that to get funding she must present as the PhD candidate so that’s how it will go–for now. She may be the candidate who just never quite manages to finish that dissertation…
      I think she feels good about the schools, programs and faculty of the colleges she’s chosen, and about her own abilities in the discipline as well.
      The GRE has just weighed so heavily on her, and went about as well as she expected-which was evidenced by her partial defeated, partial tearful look when I asked her how it went afterward.
      Thanks for your input btw–I appreciate it and I’m sure there will be more posts as time goes on so feel free to chime in at any time πŸ™‚


  2. I can’t even begin to imagine how stressful it must be. I have a daughter who is currently working on her doctorate, one who will be graduating from pharmacy school next year and a son-in-law who is close to completing his sociology Phd and all are working as well, which to me is absolutely mind-boggling.

    Liked by 1 person

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