Quintessential Kenyon: Student Life, Uncut

Applying Then, Applying Again

Claire Berman
November 17, 2015

Dec. 1 looms heavily on my calendar. It is the beginning of the holiday season, as well as an unofficial start to when I need to start freaking out about finals. But more importantly, it is the day that (most of) my graduate school applications are due.

After a few tense months of trying to decide what I was going to do with the rest of my life (or at least the immediate future), I decided to apply to several master’s programs in library and information science. I’ve worked in the Greenslade Special Collections and Archives for several years and have enjoyed the experience so much that I decided to chase the profession. But recent weeks of collecting recommendations and writing personal statements have made me reflect a lot on my application process to Kenyon and how it compared to what I’m going through now.

I went to a large public high school, one of the largest in the country. Though we proportionally had a lot of students go to private universities, the College Career Center’s goal was to make sure that each student got into at least one Big Ten school (I, for example, applied early to Iowa, got in, and promptly decided to take the rest of my application process less seriously, which I’ll talk about a little later) and called it a day. I credit my mom and dad with making sure I found a school that really fit me. They both supported my decision to focus on smaller schools and helped me get in touch with admissions counselors and spent weekends with me heading from school to school. While I do credit my high school with getting the majority of their students into a two- or four-year college, they had a definite trajectory that they preferred.

My experience at Kenyon has been wholly different. The Career Development Office has dealt with my consistent meeting-making, walking me through the pros and cons of a Ph.D. program versus an MLIS program, and where and how to apply. Further, I’ve gotten hands-on advice on how to create a CV, and what to say and how to say it. When I finish my personal statements, I’ll also be getting advice from the CDO on them. I’ve also gotten incredible assistance from my professors, all willing to give me helpful advice on how to apply, or getting me in contact with previous Kenyon students who are either alumni of the programs I’m looking at or who are current professionals in the field.

While all this support is amazing, it also reminds me of how unique an application process Kenyon presented me. Due to my early admittance to Iowa, I went a little nuts with my application essays. The majority of my personal statement for the Common Application was a romance novel. My Kenyon supplement essay (R.I.P.) was about pirates traversing the Sea of Claire. Now, as I struggle to balance personality with professionalism in my applications, I realize what a special place Kenyon is. Big schools and graduate programs are rightfully concerned with accomplishments and laurels. Kenyon gave a doofus like me the opportunity to learn in a special environment, focused on one’s potential, and for that, I’ll always be grateful.