Friday, 6 January 2012

Things that make you go bleargh.

So, get this: I want to start my Masters degree in a U.S. grad school for the Fall 2013 intake. To do this, I'm required to take my Honours year, which I'll be doing at Monash University.

Okay, happy to do it.

Here's where an unexpected situation occurs: Honours results and official transcripts are released at unpredictable dates - it could be mid-December, end of December, even mid-January. There are Honours students from the 2011 cohort who still haven't received their results, and the first week of January is over already. It depends on the marking speed of your external examiners, and how far your thesis has to travel to get marked (it can be marked by international examiners).

But for the Fall 2013 intake, U.S. grad school application deadlines are as early as 15th December 2012 for some schools (University of Washington, University of Texas at Austin) and 1st January 2013 (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill). Some universities have a 15th January 2013 deadline (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign) and end of January for the rest (University of Southern California, University of Colorado at Boulder, Boston University).

While there isn't any way I can guarantee that I can meet the deadlines (especially the 15th December ones), I suppose there are some measures I can take:
  • Finish my Honours dissertation earlier - way before the deadline, and get it sent for marking by the end of October way before the holiday season begins. (Honours students usually ask for deadline extensions and submit their dissertations in December.)
  • Hope for local examiners instead of international ones - logically reducing postal time.
  • Ask shortlisted grad schools - I should have a shortlist by then of 5-10 schools - if I can submit my results when I receive them and send in everything else first (if unable to meet deadline).
  • At worst case scenario, only apply to the grad schools that I can actually make the deadlines for. Don't want to think about having my grad school plans postponed a whole year again (Fall 2014 intake?! Geez!) just because official transcripts can get in so late.
I wish things were simpler, wish I didn't feel like I have to do everything at the same time. Honours, GRE, TOEFL, essays, applications! Not a day goes by that life doesn't squeeze a lemon in your eye - or maybe this sourness is self-inflicted!