When we talk about the "value of the process" we mean the value of self-reflection, exploration, and analysis. Take some time out to think about what really matters to you--not what's important to your parents, professors, or your boyfriend.
You may already have found your life's guiding passion, but if you're like most, you are taking courses that you like, in a major that you hope will help you to find a good job, and thinking vaguely about a career that will bring you wealth and happiness. So, ask yourself these questions-
- When have you been so immersed in what you were doing that time seemed to vanish?
- Under what conditions do you do your best, most creative work?
- What errors or regrets have taught you something about yourself?
- Do your current commitments reflect your most strongly held values?
You may feel pressure, from parents, advisors, and from yourself, to compete for some of these prestigious national fellowships. It's an easy trap to fall into: after all, you've always been an excellent student, a campus leader. Why shouldn't the next step be: a prestigious national scholarship?
Are you up to the task? Before you take that step, think carefully. Do you really want to invest 60 hours or more crafting a personal statement and study proposal, and endure two or three mock interviews, on the off chance you could be one of 32 college students from across the U.S. selected for two years of study at Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar? Sounds crazy, doesn't it?
Why not think of the process another way? It's an opportunity to spend 60 or more hours crafting a statement that reflects who you really are, researching graduate programs and finding the right one for you, and thinking about your hopes and dreams. You'll receive hours of free advice from people who care about you, and invaluable practice honing your interviewing skills. And in the end, you could be recognized as a scholar-a distinction that you will carry with you for your entire career-on your resume or curriculum vitae, when you are introduced to other professionals, on the biographies of your book flaps!
Yes, the honor will be great and well worth it, but the value of self discovery and the rigors of the application process will-in and of themselves-be of lifetime benefit to you. A chance to know yourself.