I have some exciting news to share with you all. Near the end of last year (2018), I decided to put in some effort and prepare an application to my dream school, the University of Michigan School of Information (UMSI) to earn an MS in UX/HCI and Social Computing. Though I was feeling confident at the time, I have to admit that lately I had started thinking about alternate plans and was narrowing it down to either teaching English in China for a year, or forgetting the whole academic thing and becoming a truck driver.
However, late last night, I checked my email before going to bed and I had received an invitation to MSI (Masters of Science in Information) Visiting Days. I clicked on it and the top line read:
Congratulations on your admission to the University of Michigan School of Information (UMSI)!…”
Still in disbelief, I raced to the portal to manage my application. Of course, I couldn’t remember what password I had used, so I had to go through the steps to reset that. But then, there I was, scanning the page trying to figure out which link to click to take me to where I needed to go.
Then I found it. “View your decision letter.”“
“…I am pleased to inform you that you have been admitted to the Master of Science in Information program at the University of Michigan School of Information for Fall 2019!”
I was shocked! I read the letter over and over, trying to make sure I wasn’t reading it wrong. I wasn’t. I cried a little bit. Tears of joy, you know. I can’t tell you how badly I’ve been looking for my next opportunity to reach my full potential. After my father passed about a year ago, I really began confronting my own mortality. I’ve never been in a rush, perhaps that’s why I completed my BA at 34 and am only now entering graduate school at 36, but the truth is that I think this is perfect timing. I’m ready now and time is relative.
I’ve been thinking about it. While my transcripts and GPA are decent, to be honest, I’m already confronting the fact that I’m going to have imposter syndrome the entire time I’m there. Don’t worry, I’ll muddle through. But, I also didn’t have any current/former employers or professors submit letters of recommendation, instead I used one of my former floor managers, and a former coworker from my current job, and finally the woman who trained me on my current job.
I believe I ultimately earned a spot because of the strength of my personal statement and statement of purpose, supported by my recommenders. I told a good story. It’s a true story, don’t get me wrong. But it’s my story and I told it well. One of the things I’ve been learning as I get deeper into understanding this field is that perhaps more than anything, UX is about telling good stories.
Then again, isn’t everything?