There’s been a lot of further reflection about taking a year off. I think this desire has been further complicated, to some degree. One of the main problems is that most Ph.D programs have application dates of December 1st or December 15th, which problematizes simply going into a Ph.D program next year. The only two programs I could likely apply for are Boston University’s Ph.D program in Religious and Theological Studies, with emphasis in Sociology of Religion (application due Jan. 1st) or Baylor University’s Sociology of Religion Ph.D. (the application for fall is February 15th). It allows me to apply to the one school that I am really hoping for, and one with which I am less impressed. My hope is either Boston University or University of Wisconsin.
I think I just need to begin having critical conversations. I need to talk with Prof. Tucker and Anastasia. Furthermore, I would like to have a conversation with Prof. Kilde back at the University of Minnesota. Lastly, I want to have critical conversations with faculty at the schools with which I am interested. These conversations will hopefully be helpful in two ways. First, they will help me strengthen the way I talk about myself. Confidence is the most important quality that a candidate can have. Second, I need to determine my strengths and weaknesses. This latter point is very critical. If I need higher GRE scores, then I need to retake the GRE. If I need a stronger emphasis in my background, I need to take courses, read literature, or provide an essay that reveals these things. In other words, I need to figure out what makes me a strong candidate.
At this point, I am not too concerned about this. Part of me wants to justify my semester (or perhaps a year) off by arguing whether going into a Ph.D program is not the more appropriate rout in my life. Another part of me is thinking that the year off is to just live my life without worrying what is coming next. It’s to allow me to delve into my interests. It’s to allow me to relax and to be myself.