Though we shared a similar reaction, Jim Quinlan and I responded differently to filing our graduate school applications. When we met during our Ph.D studies at Carnegie Mellon University, the topic arose as we started the “how did you get here” conversation.
We attended different schools for our bachelors’ degrees in electrical engineering. He graduated from Carnegie Mellon University (CMU,) and I graduated from the University of Maryland. As undergraduates we both filled out the applications for graduate school and paused at the section, “Statement of Purpose.” Both of us were not sure what our purpose was, what we wanted to study further.
Jim thought, “I think I should stay in school to figure it out.” He wrote something and ended up staying at CMU.
I thought, “I think I should work a bit to figure it out.” I accepted at job at IBM and ended up at CMU.
Our pause when faced with “what’s my purpose?” brought about different paths to graduate school. We both took risks with our choices. Jim’s risk: he may have ended up working on something he didn’t care for. My risk–I may have never returned to school to pursue a Ph.D. We both ended up at CMU; we both completed studies on subjects we enjoyed.
Different paths yet both successful.
Have a productive day,
Dear Reader, What memory or question does this piece spark in you? Are you considering graduate school and not sure what to say in the statement of purpose? Please share your comments or stories below. You, too, can write for The Engineers’ Daughter–See Contribute for more information.
A quick search found me a couple of links with advice for applying to engineering graduate school.
Dartmouth’s College of engineering has some thoughtful guidance.
Prof Jason Hong has a page with links on applying to graduate programs and life as a graduate student. It’s purely chance that he is a professor of Computer Science at CMU.