[2.12.2013 complete rewrite]
As many of you know, I am applying to Graduate School in a futile effort to be accepted as an adult by society and in order to set the stage for a second act to my so-called career. I have found the process to be very confusing, arbitrary and limiting thus far.
The impression I get is one of rigid rules and preconditions designed to winnow the applicants down to a small set of people who will act and obey as a ruling elite demand. And who have done nothing whatsoever but exactly those things they are looking for in the most conventional and unimaginative way. "Those who are like us may apply but those who are not like us should not even attempt it.", they seem to be saying. (1)
It is not a new insight that situations in elementary and jr. high school prepare us for life as an adult by putting us through apparently incomprehensible and damaging social circumstances. "Life is high school with money" goes the joke. One example of such a situation is the "prom" nightmare many of us have had to go through. Another is the weirdness of those who are accepted by a clique and those who are not.
Its been a long time since High School, however, and I was never very good at being accepted by cliques. But I have come across a 6th grader on the Internet, by name of Hayley, who has two very interesting blogs that may enlighten me on this topic. Her first blog is called "The Thoughts of an Almost Teenage Girl" and the second, "The Popularity Papers of 6th Grade", about her efforts to be accepted by an elite clique in her Elementary School in Minnesota. (The URLs for both blogs are below).
So the plan is to monitor Hayley's blog and then report back how the process of getting accepted to graduate school is like or unlike the process of being accepted by a clique in 6th Grade.
Think of it as a research paper in Cultural Anthropology.
1. In particular, I have been advised not to apply to any top school because there is virtually no chance in hell that I will be accepted. Thanks a lot, people, I appreciate your words of support! But seriously, these people who give such advice are trying to help: by being realistic about the odds, one is more likely to be accepted to a school with good people that does not get the same deluge of applications that the so-called top schools get.
Which school is a top school is different in each field, but it should not surprise you to hear that, depending on the field, Harvard, Stanford, MIT, UC Berkeley, Oxbridge are on the list. The point of the advice is that there are many other excellent schools in any field you care to name that are not one of the short list mentioned above. And that is true. The counterargument, however, is that America has always been elitist and it may only be those who attended the elite schools who will be offered a chance to participate later.