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What it’s REALLY like to apply for a Masters Degree.

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Oh man… This is all starting to feel way too real. Hi everybody! *signature cough* For any of you who don’t know, my name is Alayna Joy, and I am currently in the process, well, currently just completed the process, of applying for my Master’s degree. I am specifically applying for a Master’s of Counseling Psychology in beautiful, British Columbia, Canada and I wanted to make a video documenting the entire process taking you guys along showing you step-by-step what applying for your Master’s actually looks like because, OH there’s been some ups and downs. But not only do I want to show you guys what this process has been like for me I want to give you some tips and tricks that I have learnt or used along the way to hopefully help any of you guys out there who are either thinking about applying for a master’s program or actually starting the process.
Without further ado, Let’s jump into the video because I have a lot to say. I completed my undergraduate degree at the University of Winnipeg I studied psychology. I did a four-year Bachelor of Arts degree with honors, which means that I completed a thesis I did a research thesis as a part of my degree And I did that because I knew that the graduate studies that I would want to do would require me to have completed a thesis as a part of my undergraduate. A little bit of terminology stuff just to make sure we’re all on the same page. Here in Canada at least, I don’t know how it is in other parts of the world, here in Canada an Undergraduate degree and a Bachelor’s degree are the same thing. That’s like interchangeable language. As well as saying a master’s program or a graduate program those are the same thing a graduate program could also be your PhD, but when I say graduate studies I’m talking about Masters y’all. And honestly, that’s where my preparation for my Master’s program already began. Any of you who are in your Undergraduate program or who are doing a Bachelor’s degree of some sort, if continuing your studies into a Master’s program is even remotely on your mind begin preparing now. Just, just trust me. You’re gonna make your life so much easier down the road if you start preparing early. And what I mean by that is not just your grades, because obviously your grades have an impact on how you look on paper for your potential Master’s program, but your experience. There’s three types of experience that you’re going to want to look for. The first two kind of go hand in hand and these are Teacher’s Assistant positions and Research Assistant positions. So when I was in my second year of my Undergraduate program, I got a Teacher’s Assistant position and then a Research Assistant position with a couple of my professors. So how do you get an RA or a TA position you ask? Some schools will post when those positions are available. But honestly, most of the time, the way that I did it and the way any of my friends did it was we just asked professors that we liked or that we got along with. And my professor who I started doing the TA work with actually ended up supervising my thesis. We did some advanced readings and research courses together. I still consider him a mentor and a friend to this day. He was a reference for my Master’s application. Getting a TA or a Teacher’s Assistant position was honestly one of the most valuable things that I did in my Undergraduate experience. So, would highly recommend. And then, the third type of experience that you want to get is experience of some sort in your field. And I promise I’m gonna get to like the storytime part of this soon. I just want to make sure you guys have all the information because when I was in my Undergraduate degree I didn’t know that having volunteer experience or having a TA position or RA position, I didn’t know that those things mattered until somebody told me. So, this is me telling you. If you didn’t know before, now you do. It’s important start as soon as you can. Also, I feel like this lighting is a bit wonky. Is that better? I can’t tell. So, for me, I volunteered as a Sexual and Reproductive Health Educator at a teen clinic in my city. When you’re applying for a Master’s program, they want to know what kind of experience you already have in your field. And so, the sooner that you can start getting that experience the better. And you also need to make sure that you have completed all of the prerequisite courses. So for me, even though I have an Undergraduate degree in Psychology, and I’m applying to a Psychology program, I didn’t have all the prerequisite courses. I needed to take extra courses in counseling outside of my degree before I was allowed to apply to this program. So these are things that you want to know ahead of time before you go to apply, because they can take months and months to complete. You don’t want to show up ready to apply like a month before the deadline and find out you need to take six months worth of courses before you meet the prerequisites. And this my friends is where my story begins. So, I found out that for the program that I wanted to apply for I needed to take three Prerequisite counseling courses that I didn’t have from my undergraduate program *frustrated groan* *laughter* I knew this ahead of time. It wasn’t like this was some big surprise. But, I went through some learning figuring out how to take these courses. So, my first instinct for these courses was to take them at the school that I was applying to because the University itself offers these courses. And so I thought, wow, this would be great if I could take those courses at the actual University that I want to apply to. Maybe I can meet some of the professors. Maybe I can form some relationships get a feel for the school. It just seemed like a really good idea. And it would have been if it had worked out. It would have been. I would recommend taking the prerequisite courses at the school that you’re applying to. If that works out for you. So, I applied to this University as an undergraduate because these are undergraduate courses that I needed to take. I applied in the… I’m trying to remember, this was so long ago already… This process has taken me like a year and a half; this application process. Learn from me. That’s what this video is for. So you don’t have to make any of the same mistakes I did. I applied last year? Two years ago already. Holy this… has been a process. Not last summer, but the summer before. I get accepted into the undergraduate program. I put myself as like a non-degree program because I wasn’t gonna be trying to get any sort of degree. I just wanted to take a few courses *sigh*
Mistake number one. Fall time rolls around enrollment into these programs opens up and I get my notification that enrollment has opened for me and I find out that all of the classes that I want to take are full. I can’t take a single one of the classes. And I reach out to the department and ask them if I can like be put on some waiting list or something. And they let me know that because I’m in a non-degree program I have like last access to enrollment and it’s unlikely that there will ever be room in these programs by the time my turn rolls around. So I’m like, oh. Cool cool cool cool cool. Cool I’ll just reapply. What this means is that I have to then wait months for This round of courses to be finished. So that a new round of classes will open up. I reapply. This time I apply for the education program. So that’ll have earlier access to these classes. This time I’m accepted into the winter term. I then realized that I won’t actually be able to take classes in that winter term because I had work, I had travel, it just wouldn’t have worked out. So I’m like fine. I’m in. I’ll just wait for the next term. I’ll take these classes in summer. Mistake number two. Summertime rolls around And I’m waiting for my enrollment date to come around so that I can log in and sign up for these classes. These classes that I’ve now been waiting to take for like six months at this point. And I come to find out that because I was accepted for the winter term… *laughter* And during the winter term, I didn’t take any classes. There’s something in the fine print that your acceptance then expires. So, for the third time, I’m unable to take these classes. This is all happening last year, like March-April of 2018. I want to apply for my Master’s at the end of 2018. Like, I want to start my Master’s this year in 2019. So I needed to complete the application in 2018. Like, time’s starting to tick now to finish these prerequisite courses. So, after all of this and wasting SO much money on all these application fees and the deposits that I had to put down. Which you don’t get back, by the way. I was like, okay, this is clearly not the road for me. How else can I get these courses done? And I found out that the Vancouver Community College offered these courses as well. So I thought okay, let’s give that a try. And I don’t remember if I phoned them or emailed them or what. It was within like two days I was all signed up. I had applied. I had been accepted. I was enrolled in all of the courses that I needed to take. It was just SO simple and I wish, I wish I would have broadened my scope, my field of vision, a little bit further a little bit sooner. Because I could have saved myself a lot of headaches if I hadn’t been dead set on taking these prerequisite courses at that one specific University. So, in that way a tip I have to offer you is know your options. There may be more than one option available to you in terms of taking these classes. I would also look at your transcript or look at your grades from your undergraduate degree. And if there are any classes that you’ve taken that you think are relevant to the program that you’re applying to and maybe you don’t have the grade that you would like to have. I would absolutely recommend considering retaking those classes. And don’t discount community colleges. As long as they’re listed on your program’s website as being relevant and accepted…
*knock on door* Sorry, I just got some mail. What I’m trying to say is don’t discount a community college just because it’s a community college. Keep an open mind. So… *exasperated sigh* That brings us to the actual application process. Most universities will offer some sort of information session for potential applicants to attend and I would definitely recommend attending this if you’re able. Those information sessions are full of so much valuable information. Obviously, it’s an information session! But, not only information about the program itself but information about the actual application process. And sometimes they might even give you little hints as to what they’re looking for in an applicant. I found this session incredibly helpful, even if I did lock myself in a stairwell afterwards! I just finished the Master’s information session. And I decided to take the stairs down instead of the elevator and now I’m locked in the friggin stairwell. I came into the stairwell no problem. And now I have gone to every level and all the doors are locked. I don’t know what to do. I don’t know how to get out of here. This is the only other door that there is but it says this, “Emergency exit only alarm will sound when opened.” Why is the door unlocked for people to get into the stairwell if there’s no way out? Help. Somebody let me out of here. Like, I’m not joking! I’m literally locked in the stairwell! And I don’t know what I’m supposed to do! Now, we’re at the fourth floor. And the worst part is it’s these double doors like there’s another set of doors there. So I’ve been Knocking and banging on this door because I can see people through that peephole. But no one can hear me! I’m gonna die in here. Okay update. It’s been a while and I’m still in the stairwell. I’ve been banging on these doors forever. And then my phone actually lost like data service and I freaked out for a second. Because I’m thinking wait a minute. I’m actually going to be stuck in here and I’m actually gonna die. So when the data service came back I looked up the number for campus security and I called security And now they’re gonna come and let me out. They’re never gonna let me into the Master’s program now! Oh my god. *laughs* Security Guard: Just so you know for the future, that set of doors and just go down the stairs there. You can just walk around to the parking area. Alayna: The doors that say, “Do not open the alarm will sound?!” Security Guard: You can open that door. We just, it just causes an alarm on our system. They’re just so that we know that people have exited the space. Alayna: Ohhh. Okay.
Security Guard: So, you can exit the doors you don’t have to wait to be rescued. Alayna: Okay! *laughs* And then, there’s writing the actual application. Ohhhh the application! When you’re applying for a master’s program, generally, it’s not just as simple as filling out a form and saying, “hey! Let me in!” Okay The actual application portal, like the online application stuff, opened yesterday. And now today I have submitted the first part of the application, which is basically just like my, you know, personal information. Like my name, and my academic history, and my references. They have to review all of that before they open it up and let me submit all of the written parts. BUT, It’s crazy because I’m in the running now. It’s official. I’m in the system. They’re watching me. Now, for the next few days, all there is to do is wait until they review and accept that portion. And then after that we just continue preparing all the other documents Just checked my email and my application was received! *air horn noises* Doesn’t really mean anything like I haven’t been accepted or anything. It just means that I’m allowed to keep applying. *air horn noises* So my program had three written parts. I had to write a letter of intent. Which… almost killed me. I had to submit a writing sample on a topic that they provided and a research proposal. Since the program that I am applying for is research focused. My first tip for writing these parts of your application is not to leave them to the last minute. Don’t try to write these things in a weekend. Give yourself time. Give yourself time to flesh out your ideas what it is that you want to say and give yourself enough time to be able to walk away from what you’ve written and come to it like a few days later, a week later to go over it all again. Because chances are once you’ve had some time away from the beast, when you come back to it you’re gonna have changes that you want to make. Hello everybody. It’s that time of the week again where it’s the weekend. It’s Saturday. A Saturday that I’m not traveling. Which means it’s another day dedicated to this damn application! But, I can see the light at the end of the tunnel because this is the last major writing portion of the application. There’s three main parts to this Master’s application in particular. A letter of intent research proposal and academic writing sample. I have done the first two. That’s not my middle finger. And this is not an engagement ring. Next tip is to have other folks in your field proofread your work. And not just a proofread for grammar and spelling, but to get fresh eyes on your work who can look at it from the perspective of somebody who’s working in the field or who has gone through the application process themselves. And who maybe has a better idea of what to look for than you do. I sent my written portions to two of my professors as well as a colleague of mine who is an actual therapist. And getting their feedback was.. You’re also gonna need to submit transcripts from any schools that you’ve attended and you’re gonna need to get references. Now references is another piece of the puzzle that needs to be started or you need to start thinking about it as soon as possible. Like as soon as your Undergraduate degree if possible. Because more likely than not, it’s going to be professors from your undergraduate degree. Oh, I just thought we weren’t recording on audio! Oh my god! That vote for you as a reference as a part of this application. I personally used two professors from my Undergraduate degree as well as my co-teacher from the MSC program I teach here in Vancouver. I know that you guys are probably sick of this exact same shot by now. But, you won’t have to look at it much longer because I’m about to upload the final piece of my application. And I wanted you all here with me. Here we go! Choosing letter of intent Alayna Fender PDF. Then we’re gonna save it. Oh my word! And look at that, letter of intent Alayna Fender has been uploaded successfully. That means I’m done. Oh my word. Now, I basically just wait… and see if they want me. It’s January 9th today. Hello future Alayna. Remember that time on January 9th when you submitted your first ever master’s application? *loud exhale* Wow. Wow, wow, wow. Okay, that’s it for me for now. Wish me luck! *squeals and laughs* Oh my god. mmm Breathe. Oh my god. Okay. I just got an email. I just got a very exciting email that I made it through to the shortlist for my Master’s application. Out of all the written applications they take like 30 people and they shortlist them. And then those 30 people go through the interview phase and to the submitting this like video thing phase. And then out of those people, the like twelve or so that are accepted into the program, are accepted into the program. And I just got the email that I have been put on the shortlist! which means that I can stop thinking and obsessing over the written parts of my application and I can start thinking and obsessing over the potential interview questions they’re going to ask me. And it also means that if I don’t get accepted I have a better chance of getting accepted next year. So all-in-all, great news! What the heck. I have to prepare for an interview. And I have to film a video of me mock counseling someone. And if I get in, I have to do a master’s program! *laughs* But I’m not in yet. I’m not in yet. Okay, that’s my update. Love you guys! Okay everybody! Here we go! *nervous laughter* I am in the car ready to head to my Master’s interview. I’m wearing just like black pants with a tank top and then this like collared over-shirt thing. Because I feel like it’s still me like I still look like me, but just like a bit more professional! This is a big day. This is a big moment and I’m excited for it! I’m terrified! But also there’s excitement in there somewhere. And my biggest tip in terms of going into the interview is practice! Go online. Look up questions that are likely gonna be asked in a Master’s interview and come up with answers ahead of time. Practice saying it out loud. Because it can be surprising how you can think that you have an answer down, because you’ve read it a hundred times, and then you try to actually say the words out loud coherently and it comes out like garbled gibberish. So practice, practice, practice. I have spent hours and hours and hours preparing for this interview and I think I’m about as prepared as I am gonna get. So all I can do is walk in there and.. and do my best. All right! Let’s go. And then the last thing that I had to submit was a video of me mock counseling someone because I guess they want to get an idea of where the applicants counseling skills are at today. So I did that with my friend Bre. Thanks Bre! You were a big help! And that brings us to today. Like I said, my interview was yesterday. UGH, I have no idea how it went. I genuinely have no idea how it went. Potentially it went well. Potentially it went terrible. I really don’t know! It was a group interview. So, there were four of us. And the other women that they were interviewing alongside me were incredibly qualified, Incredibly articulate, intelligent women. That they would be lucky to have any of them in the program. So, I mean I did my best! I answered the questions honestly and to the best of my ability and I just tried to be myself. Now… Now I try to not run over every single thing that I said 7,000 times in my head and try to live life until the end of April. Which is when we find out. THE END OF APRIL! And I think that that’s it. That’s all that I have to share with you guys for now. If you want to find out whether or not I get accepted, definitely follow me on Instagram. It’ll be the top link in the description because everyone who follows me on Instagram, those are gonna be the people who know first. But with that being said, whether I get in or not, this has been an incredible learning experience for me. And I get to make this video to hopefully help some of you guys in your process. But I do want to say, That something that I’m trying to keep in mind and something that I want you to take away from this video as well is that there are so many different paths, so many different ways to get wherever you’re going. If my goal in the end is to be a therapist or a registered counselor, there are so many different paths to get there. This one Master’s program, at this one University, this one year, is not the only road. It’s not the only option. My whole life doesn’t hang in the balance of this acceptance or denial. And I want you to understand that for your life as well. I know that this can all be really overwhelming and scary. Trust me. I understand. I’m in it, but at the end of the day there are so many routes that your life could take. This is just one of them. I’m gonna grab a cat now! Also, the launch of “The Other Side of Overwhelm,” my brand new six-week program has already been going so great. If you want more information on that, also stay tuned on my Instagram because, honestly, that’s where I talk to you guys the most. And those are the folks that get any and all updates first. That’s it for this video. I love you so much, and I will see you in the next one. Bye! *kissy noise* So let’s do a couple of examples shall we? What do you do in your spare time? Well, Interviewer, I make youtube videos. *laughs* What do you do for a job? Well… I make youtube videos. Any hobbies? YouTube videos. Why did you choose this career? To help people. Alayna Fender for Miss Universe 2019. What other schools are you considering and why? None. This is the only one I applied to. Oh shit.. Define success. mmm, Gucci slides. *laughs* What do you believe can be determined about an applicant at an interview? Not much. Let me into your program so that my true personality can shine through. And other questions like that. That’s what I’m doing today.

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