Write an essay where you tell us about what drives you in your pursuit of your graduate degree.

I grew up in a practical home. My father is a retired Army Officer. My mother is a middle school Vice Principal. They both taught me that plans are essential. I wanted to be a writer in high school, but I quit writing because I thought I needed to be more practical. After all, planning to get a creative writing degree, in most households like mine, is synonymous for having no plans at all.

For five years, my life was perfectly planned: I'd graduate, become a mechanical engineer, and receive a steady income. I worked hard for my practical life and eventually, I walked away with a shiny, piece of paper and a true sense of the job -- but I was miserable.

My time as a mechanical engineering student taught me one important thing -- I hated being a mechanical engineer. All of the work felt tedious and being asked to continue felt like a punishment. I hated it so much that after graduation I couldn't even fathom applying to become one. If I took even a second to imagine sitting at a cubicle, doing calculations or designing on SolidWorks, acid built in my stomach, my body would constrict, and imaginary walls would start to cave in. I couldn't continue with my plans without destroying my mind in the process. Instead, I took a year off and tutored the SAT, while living in my aunt’s guest room.

I started to write again to regain some control. I was worn down from five years of work and looking for mental clarity. I had no plans anymore, my parents were annoyed with me, and nothing I did was practical, but writing felt right, as if I was picking myself up whenever I picked up a pen.

I wrote feverishly for six months and completed my first ever story. It wasn't the best, but it was something. Applying to graduate school with that piece was a leap of faith. I wasn't sure that I could abandon practicality so completely. Not having a true plan scared me. But after six years of planning and practicality, I realized that what’s most practical is doing what’s best for me.

Faithe from New York
The New School