By Bright Senyo Ashimatey, Ph.D.

Applying for graduate school can be a daunting task. The journey typically starts with a simple thought of wanting to pursue further studies. Sometimes this thought may even be planted in your mind by others – as it was in my case – or out of mere curiosity. Whichever way this thought first came to your mind or whatever your motivation is, let me congratulate you for conceiving this thought – it is a good thing to pursue further studies. Between the thought of pursuing graduate studies and being in graduate school, however, requires that you convince yourself if this is the right direction for you and how you will fare on the journey.  It is fair for you to count the cost involved. Depending on what you choose to pursue – either a Masters or a PhD – two to five or more years of your life in school “again” requires a careful consideration of the consequences. The depth of information you will need to assess if this is a journey you would like to embark on can be overwhelming and can often lead to discouragement.
Whatever your concerns about pursuing graduate studies may be, the least I would want you to consider is the fear of not successfully gaining admission into the program of your choice. Although some passing grade of some sort may be required, the admission process is generally focused on identifying candidates who are determined to pursue knowledge in the field. That means what you need the most to gain admission are your determination and perseverance. There might be lots of reasons to give up – such as not receiving a reply to one of your emails or being told your application could not make it to the admission list of one of the institutions you applied for. The key is not to give up. All this seemingly discouraging events are a part of the process. It is not uncommon to find people in graduate school whose applications were not accepted by other institutions. Let your determination lead you on. Gather as much as information as you can. If there is anything you are unsure about never be afraid to look up the program’s secretary to ask, and of course, you have colleagues on this network whose experiences are a “gold mine”. I have seen one of the blogs here discussing “emailing etiquettes” by Gabriel Gihana.  I recommend you look at it.  Remember that your continent is looking up to you to contribute immensely to its development. Let your passion drive you to be the best of what you have set out to do.
Bright Senyo Ashimatey is currently a post-doctoral researcher in Optometry and Vision Science at the University of Southern California, California, USA.
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