I’m going to grad school

I applied to grad school this year. I submitted my documents to five different universities and got into all of them. Some of them even offered me a scholarship package that’s close to full tuition. So I’ll start grad school in August 2021.

Ever since college, I wanted to go to graduate school to continue my studies. My goal was to get a master’s degree in international affairs. However, I had other priorities after graduating from college in 2017 and that’s why I postponed graduate school. So, in the last 4 years, I’ve been working full time. On the side, however, I kept pursuing this goal of mine. I even applied to three graduate school fellowships last year and got rejected from all of them.

Now that I got in, I’m asking myself: Now what? Do I still want this as much as I used to?

And that’s when I had to go back to my end goal in pursuing graduate school. My why. Why did I want to go to grad school in the first place?

That end goal has always been clear to me: I wanted to make a positive impact internationally – ideally, as a diplomat or someone who works in international development.

But in these last few years, I’ve come to the realization that if I truly want to make an impact internationally, there are plenty of ways to make a difference without being a Foreign Service Officer at the State Department or USAID. I wrote about this here.

At the same time, there are many other thoughts going through my mind:

I keep asking myself: Remember that time when you really wanted the thing you have now (i.e., grad school)?

Seriously, the 23-year-old me would do anything to have this. Well, almost anything.

And sure, just because I can go back to school now, it doesn’t mean I should. I’m not of the opinion that the more formal education, the better.

I have many questions. Will I have time to make videos for my YouTube channel, work on Path2CollegeUSA, and my other projects? What will happen after this master’s program? I have doubts to the point where I considered deferring grad school for a year and even rejecting all my offers.

This feels right

Do you ever have that feeling when something just feels right?

Sometimes you can do all the analysis in the world, and it still doesn’t feel like the right thing to do. Well, I’ve been doing lots of analysis (weighing the pros & cons) and with it, going to grad school now feels right to me.

Nerdy tangent, but still: sometimes I like to see my life as an RPG game, where you build your character with different skills and experiences. Well, grad school is an experience I want myself to have.

You can call it instinct, gut feeling, or intuition. But I decided to put my doubts aside and go back to being a student (in a formal sense). I’ll be going to the Bush School of Government & Public Service at Texas A&M.

Interestingly enough, there are some things that I want to do that actually require student status: internship at the State Department (and at all federal agencies, really), applying to some fellowships (Critical Language Scholarship, Boren Fellowship), studying abroad. Also, having a master’s degree will make me eligible for some jobs that I couldn’t otherwise apply for – so that’s exciting.

I’ll make the most out of this experience, because I’ve wanted this for so many years. I’m not taking any of it for granted.

On the outside, this will look like the natural thing for me to do. Something that people expected from me. However, nobody will really know the true story, how much planning, sleepless nights, stress, ups and downs I went through to get to this point.

But that’s true for everything else in life. Nobody will ever really know.


Of course I have to address that.

Thankfully, Texas A&M gave me a very generous scholarship. Plus, the cost of living in College Station, TX is so much lower than NYC. And there’s an option to get a part-time job to make ends meet.

So I’m really grateful for how everything is working out, because it’s not like I’m taking some crazy student loans to make it happen.

The last drop that gave me the confidence to pull the plug on this decision is a quote that I always come back to. It’s from a paper I had kept since middle school, titled “Some advice from your father”. That paper had many quotes written in the Russian language. One of them said: “As you move on through life, you will not regret things you did, but the ones you didn’t do.” Later on, I found a similar quote that sounds even nicer in English:

“Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” (fun fact: it is still being debated who is the author of this quote: Mark Twain, H. Jackson Brown, Harry Haun, A.B. Guthrie – we’ll probably never know.)

See y’all in Texas!

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