It’s been an incredibly stressful few months, in the best way possible. The wave of responses to my PhD applications began in January, and it has been… unexpectedly overwhelmingly positive. Really, after a crushing round of failures last year – applying for the completely different field of marketing had been a terrible idea – I wasn’t expecting much this time around, but man.
It began with an enthusiastic acceptance from the University of Illinois Institute for Communications Research and a nomination for their distinguished graduate student fellowship. This acceptance was followed by an email from Ohio State University School of Communication saying they’d like to nominate me for a fellowship… followed in a week by an official acceptance. These offers of admission were followed by invitations to visit the UCSB Department of Communication and interview for the Northwestern University School of Communication’s Media, Technology, and Society program. Following these bursts of good news, I was waitlisted at USC and Cornell and rejected by Michigan and Stanford. Then, just when I thought that the dust had settled and the decision-making could begin, I woke up hungover one morning after a night out at the bars to an email acceptance from the Annenberg School for Communication… at the University of Pennsylvania.
The month of March was spent visiting all the schools that had invited me out and/or accepted me. It’s been a helluva ride, and I’ve met so many cool, wonderful people. I learned a lot about academia, myself, and more during the travels: I’m just as much of an introvert at heart as I had always expected despite the sarcastic showboating skills I’ve built up, and my social go-go depletes quickly; professors are far more chill than their often-intimidating faculty profile pics would suggest; and traveling is tiring as hell. It’s also funny how difficult knowing that none of the options you pick would necessarily be a bad decision makes decisionmaking.
With this month of traveling and chuckling at the fact that I’ll never feel this wanted ever again over (seriously, I felt like a fucking princess being flown around and wined-and-dined so hard), I’ve made my decision. Starting in fall 2015, I will be a doctoral student at the University of Pennsylvania Annenberg School for Communication. Back in the fall of 2014 as I was prepping my apps, I would wander the halls of new Wallis Annenberg Hall at USC after work, not only to hang out with friends who were still around but to silently plead with the tides of existence to bring me back to my alma mater Annenberg, where I felt I had so much left to do. I grin at how though I was wait listed by Annenberg West, my entreaties to the flow of life must have been heard by the other Annenberg.
I’m working on thank you emails, but I’d like to leave this as an additional written record of my immense gratitude toward all my mentors throughout the years. From my high school teachers who saw me through some of my toughest times to the composers who took a chance on a young fan, from the friends and supervisors who dealt with my existential freakouts to the professors who answered my unyielding stream of spontaneous questions, to everyone in between… if this were the Academy Awards, I would be literally talking over the orchestra that kicks in to boot me off the stage to thank everyone I want, nay, need to thank. Thank you.