Like many others across the nation (and even the world: there’s now both a Japanese and Brazilian version), I spent a good portion of last month binge-watching season two of Netflix’s hit show Love is Blind, and tuned in this past week for the reunion episode. For those of you unfamiliar with the premise of the show, it goes a little something like this: over less than two weeks, potential couples participate in a version of speed dating where they can hear, but not see each other. By the end of the pod dates, some couples choose to get engaged, if accepted, the two will meet face to face for the first time. The show then follows them out of the pods to their honeymoon, and then back to real life where they meet each other’s friends and families. At the end of three weeks, they then decide if they want to get married or not.
Okay, Amanda, what’s your point? I’m getting there! The show has been very much on my mind, and we happen to be at the point of the admissions cycle where we’re both still admitting students and trying to yield the students we’ve already admitted this cycle… and when I sat down to write this blog post, I realized that in admissions, we often use words like “perfect match”, a “good fit”, or “knowing in your gut”, the same things people often talk about when they’re dating. It got me wondering if Love is Blind just may have some important lessons for students in the process of applying to grad school. Here are some of my takeaways:
Love, whether it’s for a graduate school or a romantic partner, can (and maybe should!) be blind. In the pods, contestants are challenged to fall in love without knowing what the other person looks like. When exploring schools, or choosing the right school for you, I implore you to try to do the same. Strip away the prestigious name or the high ranking, look past how other people might judge you for your choice and ask yourself, how do I feel here? Does the environment feel right to me? Do this school’s values mesh with mine? Could I see myself fitting into this community? Those questions, more than a flashy name, will help you choose which school is the best fit for you.
These things take time. Couples that seem like the strongest in the pods often fall apart after a week in the outside world. All the bonding that they do through the walls amounts to very little when they’re confronted with each other’s families, friends, apartments, conflict styles, love languages, etc. Unfortunately, there’s no shortcut to love, and I suspect there may not be a shortcut to finding the right graduate school. It takes careful research, meeting with people in the community, a visit to campus (if possible!) to figure out if the school might be the right one for you. Don’t try to rush into things!
There’s no such thing as “The One”. Something I was struck by in Love is Blind is how frequently contestants will say something like, “I never connect with people outside… but in here, I have three guys that I could see as my future husband!” I think that goes to show that the myth of one soulmate or one perfect school may just be that… a myth! There are probably a few dozen schools that you could be happy at, so don’t take rejection too hard. Even if you don’t get into what you think is your dream school, it may just be that there’s another school out there that you would ultimately be more suited for.
While I don’t think Love is Blind is necessarily the best way to find a romantic partner, I think there are some takeaways that are actually better applied to graduate admissions. But worry not– you don’t have to enter into a pod to see if Heller is right for you.