1. Why do you want to go to grad school?
A. It’s necessary for my professional development.
B. I got an email from FAFSA by accident.
2. Do you know what you’d study in grad school?
A. Yes. I’ve thoroughly thought through the decision to go to grad school.
B. Today it’s rock formations. Tomorrow it’ll be sociology. The next day? Maybe an MFA in creative nonfiction. All days? I will have lunch.
3. How are you going to pay tuition?
A. Student loans, bartending, freelance work, getting a TA job and selling my feet pics for tens of dollars.
B. My daily affirmations are, “I do have ‘descended-from-oil-baron’ money. I do have ‘descended-from-oil-baron money.’ I totally do.” That’s why I order delivery every day, and also why I don’t look at my credit card statements.
4. How will you look after your mental health?
A. The university health center, if it’s not too abysmal.
B. I will immerse myself in the works of Nietzsche, and possibly the work of Ben and Jerry.
5. What do you hope to gain from attending grad school?
A. God, I hope it’s a job.
B. I hope to figure out how to pronounce Nietzsche.
6. What do you miss about undergrad?
A. Judging my self-worth by grades and validation from authority figures.
B. Using meal points at the dining hall for lunch, and then hosting a dinner party for eight friends who only eat cabbage dishes and natural wine.
7. Have you spoken to any current students in your desired program?
B. If by “spoken to” you mean if I’ve social media stalked current students and assessed whether I could get them to fall in love with me by orchestrating a rom-com-esque meet-cute, then yes.
8. What kinds of academic resources would you like to see in your desired program?
A. I want a strong academic advisor, small class sizes, and a nice library.
B. I want a cute but ultimately problematic peer to feed me brie while I finish an essay by scented candlelight.
9. Have you picked a location?
A. No. I’ve narrowed my search down to five schools, and I’m researching those five locations.
B. No. I still have to buy a globe, spin the globe, put my finger on a random location, and then look up whether that location has a Taco Bell.
10. What’s your ideal quick meal?
A. Ordering four medium two-topping pizzas from Domino’s and eating them over the course of a week.
B. Ordering four medium two-topping pizzas from Domino’s and eating them over the course of a week.
11. Who’s writing your recommendation letters?
A. A professor from undergrad, my former employer, and my longtime mentor.
B. I’m sorry, my what?
12. Do you have your writing samples ready?
A. Yes. I’m submitting my undergrad thesis, some postgrad work I’ve done in the field, and a personal statement.
B. I can print out the snarky emails to my boss from my drafts.
13. What excites you the most about academia?
A. Intellectual rigor. Doing research that excites me. Exchanging ideas with my peers, except for the ones that keep complaining about diversity when they’re drunk at parties.
B. Listening to pretentious music in a $400/month apartment in a college town and eating a boutique cupcake with a fork.
14. What worries you about re-entering academia?
A. Spending tens of thousands of dollars to deal with frustrating, inefficient bureaucracy. Also, taking my ID photo.
B. Not having enough fruit-patterned Modcloth sundresses.
15. What’s your biggest question for the admissions team of your potential school?
A. How is the university handling the coronavirus pandemic for its most vulnerable staff, and how is it working to dismantle the racism embedded into every predominantly white institution? That’s still technically one question, which means I’m an academic.
B. Why is it that when I order mead at a bar, it’s pretentious, but when I do it on a college campus, it’s actually really cool and people want to hang out with me?
16. Are you sure you’re not doing this because you miss college?
A. No. Who even likes college?
B. Just because I got I MISS STICKY FLOORS tattooed on my upper arm while flipping through photos of me drunkenly eating a sheet cake at a frat party doesn’t mean that I’m only applying to grad school because I miss college. I also miss throwing up on buildings named after rich people.
17. Do you think if you ate a snack, you would re-evaluate your desire to go to grad school?
A. No. Despite the potential frustrations, this is something I really want to do.
B. I’m so HUNGRY.
18. I’m serious. Is this really, truly, absolutely necessary for you to go to grad school?
B. Yes? No? I don’t know! I miss school! I hate my job! Why are you grilling me?
19. Would you rather have one PhD in ten years, or one bag of popcorn right now?
A. The PhD.
Mostly A’s: Go to grad school.
Mostly B’s: Re-evaluate after eating a snack.