Tom Petty was right: the waiting is the hardest part. Once all of my doctoral stuff was submitted (approximately January 1, 2009), I got a pretty severe case of the “itching to find out what happens next.” Here are some dos and don’ts based on my experience managing the purgatory that was January, February, and March of my doctoral admissions process.
DO . . . make sure to take some time to ensure that everything in your personal and professional life that you fell behind on during application season gets taken care of. Wouldn’t it be a kick in the shins to have a program check your references and not have them be glowing because you’ve been distracted lately? How about a date night (or two) with that special someone who has hung in there while you practiced for the GRE, dropped hundreds of dollars on application fees, and continues to wait patiently while you decide which state you may be moving to?
DO NOT . . . start getting obsessed with all of the details related to relocating to your dream schools. I spent more time on Craigslist looking for aparements than I really should have. Figuring out the time it will take to get from that dream home to campus via public transportation is not the best use of your time, and may set you up for disappointment if things do not work out the way you hope they will.
DO . . . be aware of financial aid deadlines at the institutions you have applied to. I found that I was able to apply for departmental funding and other institutional aid once my application was in, and that those deadlines might be earlier than I would find out about an admissions decision.
DO NOT . . . hesitate to contact the programs where you have applied to ask about the status of your application, particularly if there is not an online method of checking on this. I mentioned earlier that office managers and staff assistants can be great resources, and I found them to be excellent sources of information. A quick email or phone call is OK to ask about where the process is going. But . . .
DO NOT . . . call them everyday.
In all honesty, this in-between period was kind of fun. The hardest work was over, the possibilities were bright, and there is a sense of accomplishment that goes along with getting the paperwork taken care of (particularly if you are paperwork-phobic like me). For my next post, I’m going to discuss admissions decisions, getting real about money, and trying not to burn any bridges.