Grad School WILL Break You

In an earlier post, “Why Grad School,” I discussed the pros and cons of a master’s program. There’s one con in particular that I want to explain a little more, one that the title of this post should have given away. When you first start grad school, you’ll probably feel good about yourself. There could be some anxiety involved, sure, and maybe you’ll be a little overwhelmed at first. Don’t worry about it, that’ll go away pretty quickly. After a few weeks, you’ll realize you’ve got this on lockdown. Teaching probably comes naturally, research should be second nature, and you’ve been writing so long you don’t even think about it anymore. That’s not a problem.

Once you get a handle on everything, you have to start teaching a new class. It’s probably similar to the old one, but you’ll be more or less on your own. Take your first year to learn from experienced lecturers. It’s also time to start on your thesis! You know how to write one of those, right? No, of course you don’t. I sure as heck didn’t, and it seems like that’s pretty much normal. But you’ll have a committee there to help you out. Eventually, you’ll manage to turn out a paper that’s somewhere between sixty and one hundred pages. Then you’ll submit it to that very same committee, and they’ll tear it to shreds. Don’t take it personally, it’s not like YOU suck, it’s just that your writing probably does. But you can keep revising and submitting until you finally have something you’re really proud to call your own.

Since I came here to USU, it’s become clear that I’m not cut out to be at a University. I know the basics of writing, I can research reasonably effectively, I can teach any curriculum set in front of me whether it’s from someone else or something that I’ve made myself. I kick ass in the writing center, with average scores around 4.5 out of five, and my student reviews are usually above average for our department. Now I’m finding out that I probably can’t write a thesis of a high enough quality to get my degree. In the classes I’m taking, I lost my 4.0 at the end of my second semester. I’m consistently frustrated with class discussions, which seem to revolve around debating and defining terms to the point that they’re no longer usable, and forcing classification on ideas to the point that they’re no longer effective models of reality.

Because I don’t belong in the world of scholarship, I can’t keep writing a blog for fellow scholars. I’ll try to resurrect this again in the coming months with a new focus, possibly something about life skills, or how to deal effectively with grief. Sorry guys, but I hope my experiences do some real good for any of you read this.


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