Monday, August 21, 2006

The first of the last

Today is my first day of my last semester as a graduate student at Troy University. As this day has grown near I have spent quite a lot of time thinking about my hope and expectations going into graduate school. Unfortunately, the whole exercise has been quite depressing.

When I first decided to attend graduate school I was full energy and excitement at the prospect of being in the classroom again, discussing interesting topics with my professors and my peers. Instead, I found myself in classrooms largely filled with undergraduate students who had little or nothing to say. Due to the size of the department at Troy, the classes available to me were also quite limited, therefore my actual interests were seldom allowed to have any impact on the courses I took.

I had also hoped to make friends and get involved with campus activities. I did join a couple of clubs, but neither group was particularly active, try as I might to encourage them. I did meet several interesting people during my time at Troy, but never really had much of an opportunity to really get to know them. As a mother of three boys and wife of a tenured professor, I found I had little in common with either my fellow graduate students or undergraduate peers. I really tended to have more in common with my professors than my peers, but it tends to be difficult to build a true friendship with someone who is technically, academically your superior. There is always a need for a certain amount of distance for ethical reasons, I suppose.

In addition, my academic peers are at a different point in their lives than I am. They are all headed off to great and new adventures, still having dreams and believing they can come true. I suppose I still have dreams, but can hardly believe they will come true anymore. Unlike my peers, I shant be going away to Paraguay, or even Washington, DC, for some great new job or internship. When my degree is firmly in hand, I will still be firmly in Troy.

I do have some positive experiences from graduate school experience, however. I have made some good acquaintances and, as my husband puts it, I've come out of my shell some. I have learned some interesting things about the world around me and the unfortunate way in which it works. The experience of taking a class this summer was helpful in making me realize what is important and what isn't and in realizing that, no matter what my academic status, I'm still an adult and human being. (I'm sure Dr. Taylor didn't realize that's what I was getting out of the course, and yet somehow I did.)

I won't miss being a graduate student and I have no intention of doing it again. I'll be glad to have a graduate degree and hope that it will do me some good in the future. The experience is not over yet, however. So I need to go and get ready to face the day, to begin the first of the last. Wish me luck!

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