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I am a health and exercise science major, and I have been working incredibly hard for the past four years to try and get into graduate school. With the end of the year quickly approaching, I have heard back from all of the schools that I have applied to, and it seems like I haven’t gotten into any of them. Normally, this would be a total blow to my confidence, but the graduate school programs are extremely competitive. I’m not sure what to do now because I hadn’t planned for this. It makes me feel like I have failed, even though I know that I have worked as hard as I could. This has me questioning my entire career path and that really scares me. What should I do now that my plans haven’t panned out?
First, let me say that it is entirely understandable to feel deflated after having not gotten into any of the schools you wanted to. It probably feels like you have worked so hard for so long for nothing. But, it is important to remember that this is not the case! It sounds cheesy to say, but you have to look at situations like these as a blessing in disguise. Since you won’t be attending graduate school in this next year, you have a year off to take a break and really think about what you want your future to look like. It is fairly common for students to take a gap year after undergrad, so I wouldn’t be too worried about not going to graduate school ever.
A year off gives you the time to explore other paths and hobbies that you may have not thought of before. This time to relax is very important, especially while you are going through such a volatile point in your life. If you have worked as hard as you say you have, then you definitely have earned a bit of a break. Honestly, a year off is healthy for you mentally and will help you grow. This gives you a good amount of time to learn more about yourself and gather your bearings to decide what your next move is.
The fact that you are questioning your interest in this career path shows that it is a good thing you are not going straight into a graduate program. Imagine how upsetting it would be to spend thousands of dollars on a doctorate degree, only to realize after that maybe you don’t actually want to work with that degree. In the long run, this will make you feel more secure about your future and the path ahead of you, as well as give you some much needed time in between school to take a breather.
Sue Z. Maroon