I have spent the past 2+ years prepping for the journey I am about to embark on in a few days. It was long, difficult and sometimes a little painful, but it will all be worth it in the end. I have lurked on this site, and many others like it, for these past few years and have noticed some common anxieties amongst the threads. I have shared many of the same issues and want to say that it IS possible to get into a good program if you persevere.
There were a number of perceived and very real obstacles I had to overcome to enter this program. I am a male (perceived obstacle), an older student (37), had an undergraduate in psychology and a GPA of under 3.0. I knew it would be a challenge to enter this field, so I did what I could to address my weaknesses and played to my strengths.
My strengths were that I had nearly 9 years of ESL teaching experience, I am outgoing and I was willing to take some risks and make some sacrifices. To bolster my weaknesses I went back to school and for the bridge courses I would need to be eligible to apply for the program. I worked full time and took two classes a semester (including a summer) and severely curtailed my social life; I was able to achieve a 3.97. I studied my brains out for the GRE, took it twice and managed to do very well on it the second time around. I played up my experience as an ESL teacher in my SOP and CV and explained my previous, poor performance. I am happy to say that I was able to get into a good program and very much look forward to the next two years and my career beyond that.
The message here is DO NOT GIVE UP! It is difficult, but not impossible. If you let your anxiety take over, you are cheating yourself of what could be your true potential. When I first began this process, I realized I would be nearly 40 by the time I begin my career. I expressed my dismay about this to a good friend, who verbally splashed my face with some cold water. To paraphrase, she said to me that I was going to be 40 in 5 years (at the time) regardless, would I rather be 40 still hating my life/job/situation, or 40 and doing what I wanted to do? I was foolish trying to find reasons to fail; plenty of people will do that for me, why should I help them? So to that end, I started to develop my strategies for success. I was very candid and honest when I explained my weaknesses; I played to and built upon my strengths. Anyone can do this, YOU can do this. This is how I did it, but your path may be very different. It may take a little more time than you’d like; but remember, it’s not a race, it doesn’t matter when you finish, it only matters that you finished.