Advice for applying to grad school and coming up with a backup plan.
July 16, 2013 11:32 AM Subscribe
I need to figure out what I'll do if I don't get in.
posted by winterportage to Education (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
So I graduated in December 2011, and since then I've been teaching piano lessons, volunteering, and doing temp office work when I can find it. I want to go back to school for something in a health care profession.
I have a bachelor of arts double major in liberal arts and music. My first three and a half years, I got decent grades, but in my last two semesters I had a major depression and, while I still managed to pass all my courses, I got a couple of grades in the 50s and 60s and I also withdrew from my honours program, which shows on my transcript. So I finished with a double major instead of an honours degree, and my average is about 80%.
I've been considering nursing for the past few years and was on the verge of applying for January when a health care professional at my doctor's office mentioned Occupational Therapy to me. She said it would be a good option for me because I could earn a master's degree in one year, instead of spending four more years in college and undergrad to get the nursing degree. I also think it would suit my personality more; I work better on a one-on-one basis with people, I am a good teacher (I teach piano), and as I am introverted I work better when I have the chance to get to know the people I am working with over time. As far as I know, Occupational therapists work with individual clients over long periods of time rather than with many clients for short periods, like nurses do. There don't seem to be very many prerequisites for the program, so I think it would be reasonable for me to apply this year.
The master's programs for Occupational therapy seem competitive and only accept about 60 to 90 students per year. I am worried that even though I meet the admission requirements of a 70% overall average, my last couple semesters in my undergrad will reflect very poorly on my academic ability. I know who I will ask for the letters of reference, that shouldn't be a problem, and I started volunteering in a psychiatric hospital this past month, which I intend to emphasize on my application. I still think that there will be many other candidates whose grades will make their applications more competitive than mine.
My plan for now is to apply to 3 schools so that I would start in 2014. I know that if I don't get in, then that's $300 down the drain. But I'm starting a fulltime job next week so I think it would be ok to spend that money. My worry is just that if I don't get in, then I'll be waiting 8-10 months on something that doesn't pan out, and I'll be no further ahead than I am now. I know I am still in my 20's and everything, but I really don't like the feeling that I am letting time pass without putting down any career foundations for my future self. So I really really need to come up with a solid backup plan and stick to it.
My backup plan at the moment would be that if, come May 2014, I haven't been accepted into any grad program for occupational therapy, I would go back to CEGEP (I live in Quebec) to do the DEC in nursing and then transition into the university degree in Nursing. The problem with this, is that it would take 4-5 years, AND I wouldn't end up with a higher level of education than I already have ( I already have a CEGEP diploma in Social Science and a university degree). I'm not dead set on getting a master's just for the sake of having it, and I'm open to the 5 year option starting at ground zero, I am just wondering if someone has a better idea for me as my backup plan. Other things I've considered : music teacher in public school (but I work better with individual students), marketing or communications for arts festivals/ non profits (totally different direction which doesn't have a lot of jobs available), music therapy ( seems cool but kind of a flaky profession?), or being an administrative assistant while teaching piano at night.
1) If the application deadline for grad school admission is January 15, 2014, when should I begin emailing my former professors to request reference letters?
2) Should I try to do a few online university courses right now so that my average goes a little higher before the application deadline of January 2014?
3) Given the possibility that I may not get in to grad school, what should I have in place as a backup plan? Should I try applying again the next year or should I just go with my original not-ideal plan of going back to CEGEP and then undergrad to become an RN? How do I deal with the feeling that I'm treading water ... not progressing or giving myself options, if I don't get into the program? How do I make sure not to waste the 8ish months that I would spend waiting to see if I get in?