>These days, I find myself in an oddly similar position to what which occurred ten years ago. In the fall of 1997, I applied to two public administration/public policy graduate programs in New York City. I thought I had a really good chance to get into NYU, and I was hopeful that I would be accepted by Columbia as well.

NYU sent their response in February 1998. Not only was I admitted to the program, but they awarded me a 3/4 tuition scholarship! This made me happy, but having recently graduated from NYU's undergraduate liberal arts program also left me with an enormous chip on my shoulder. (Primarily my problem stemmed from a housing issue, but that's a whole separate rant.) Plus, my heart was set on Columbia. I liked how students could register at other schools within the university, and many of the social work courses interested me. Oh, and I really wanted an Ivy League degree to prove that I was just as good as all the rich kids with whom I went to primary and secondary school.*

When I was waitlisted by Columbia in March, I was devastated. Curling up in the fetal position on the cheaply carpeted floor of my 96 square foot kitchen with no stove or oven and crying my eyes out seemed to be a completely rational immediate response. While I eventually got up, I was depressed for days. Would I get in or not?**

Waiting to learn my fate seemed like too much to ask. I decided to visit a Tarot card reader. My former roommate recommended a place in the East Village. I made an appointment, and when the time came, I was led into the adjoining shuttered storefront. I posed my question: would I get into Columbia?, and shuffled the cards. The reader told me my story, the only details of which I remember are that I would get what I wanted, but it would not make me happy.

Not long after the reading, I made an appointment with a dean at Columbia to discuss how I could best position myself on the waitlist in case a spot opened. I presented the dean with three issue briefs I wrote at work, and discussed the policy analysis I performed at my job. She decided to admit me on the spot.

To end this long story, I turned down the huge scholarship at NYU and went to Columbia. I did not find the program as good as I hoped it would be for a variety of reasons, the chief one being that many of my fellow students only went to the program because they were rejected from MBA programs, and they had no interest in public service. The cards were right.

*Yes, I now know that this is the shittiest possible reason to chose a graduate school.
**Really, this means, why wasn't I as good as everyone else? The idiots were right - I was totally second rate. Why it did not occur to me that getting practically a fucking free ride to a fine graduate program was something I should boast about is beyond me. I really was so young and foolish....

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