First Day of Graduate School

Woo! Yesterday I had my first day of graduate school and it was amazing!

For awhile I’d been worried that I wouldn’t like going back to school once the semester started. All of those worries went away once I stepped out of my car onto campus.

I unfortunately arrived late to my first class. I live in Davis and driving to Sacramento has never taken this long in the past.

I thought I’d budgeted enough for rush hour traffic. I guessed the time accurately except for the time to leave the freeway.

Everyone and their mother wanted to get off the freeway at the Howe Ave exit right by Sacramento State.

Next time I go in the morning I’ll get off at an earlier exit and dodge all that traffic. Hopefully that will get me to school with time to spare.

Anyways! I got approved to be a TA in a lab course which meets Tuesday mornings. This semester I’m in training, but in the future I’ll be paid.

The lab class is a GE fulfilling course, so its filled with students who are not biology majors.

The course is also taught by my graduate adviser, which is a huge plus. We’ll get to know more about each through teaching together which will help a lot later in the graduate school process.

I assisted the students with a simple discussion lab which tried to define what life is.

After the discussion each student took a sterile swabbed and rubbed it on something before rubbing it on a petri dish. Whatever they rubbed onto it will grow over the week and we can take a look at it next Tuesday.

When the lab finished I walked around campus. I found the bookstore, the activities fair (no I don’t want to join a fraternity), the student union, and the library. I at my lunch on the quad and then went to read in the library til my next class.

I have two other classes on Tuesday. The first was about how to be a better TA. I met the other students and the teacher told us a little bit about herself, her teaching style, and some resources we could use to improve ourselves as teachers.

My last class, Molecular Biology, was in the same room as the class on how to be a TA. I was surprised when the teacher walked in because I recognized him!

The teacher for my Molecular Biology class is also the post-doc who works in the same worm lab as me at Davis!

It was a pretty cool coincidence. Apparently he had already known for awhile, but hadn’t told me yet.

I was unfortunately the only person who consistently raised my hand to answer questions in his class. I’m hoping that will change in the future. Maybe everyone else was just shy because they hadn’t met the instructor yet.

At the end of the day the instructor and I discussed carpooling together.

Turns out that won’t work because he lives in Sacramento and I live in Davis. At the end of the day we want to be in different places.

Altogether it was a great day. I loved being back on campus as a student and as a teacher. I love learning and helping other people learn. I’m looking forward to the next two or three years at Sac State!

-Mister Ed

Rejection Wall

This morning I was making a mustard deli meat sandwich. I normally make peanut butter and honey sandwiches where I can put down as much peanut butter as I want and then put it back in the jar. I got really disappointed when I couldn’t put my mustard back in the squeeze bottle.

My first and hopefully only reject letter for 2014.
My first and hopefully only reject letter for 2014.

Just like I got really disappointed when I got this in my email inbox today.

There was a cool tradition at my high school. Everyone took their rejection letters from colleges and taped them to the windows inside the library. When you walked by you’d see all the places other people hadn’t gotten into. I put up three of my own there. A few people put up fake ones as well, rejections form the Pokemon Academy or Hogwarts. I don’t go to high school anymore, but I can still post my rejection letter on a different rejection wall.

I had expected this email for awhile, but its still disappointing. Last year they’d replied by mid-January saying I’d get an interview even though their website had crashed and applications only got in on January 10th or so. This year applications got in by December 1st.

One of the professors I work with also knows the guy running the application show. She’d talked to him about my application and said it was in the “borderline” pile, meaning they’d choose me for an interview if someone else declined that part of the process.

As you can see in the letter, my academic work isn’t as good as the other applicants. I’ve got a 3.5 GPA and made Dean’s list a few times.

I used to be a peer adviser at my school, so I got to see the grades of other people applying to grad school in my field. There are people with better grades than me obviously, but not very many. I feel cheated that I didn’t get an interview this year when I got one last year.

My professor told me that there were twice as many applicants this year. There was already a record number last year. I imagine many of them are in the same boat as me, rejected last year and reapplying. With that happening I can understand why they’d set aside my application. The school does have limited funding for grad students. I don’t know what their quota is, but they do have one. I’m still sad that I didn’t make the cut.

My original plan was to reapply this year and next year as well when my new letters of rec have solid evidence of my research skills. I’ll just stick with that plan and go around the merry-go-round once again. If grad school doesn’t pan out then, there are always other options available.

That’s all for now!

-Mister Ed