So, I might hate grad school. Lil bit.
I had a meeting at the end of last month with one of the deans, who happens to be my client. Upon an exchange of pleasantries and my inquiry as to his well-being, he said, “I’m intermittently fine.” I thought that was a genius way to describe my own status and seconded.
“You’re getting your master’s, right?” he asked.
“Trying to, yes,” I replied, because it was precisely the reason I was only intermittently fine.
“How many classes are you taking this term?”
His eyebrows went up. “Two? That’s a lot, with a full-time job.”
“Turns out!” I replied.
And then he told me how I might be able to get around taking a 200-level stats course prereq with a bunch of sophomores by taking a special topics course in one of his college’s programs instead. Memo to me: if this works out, buy that man a fine bottle of his favorite liquor.
One of my classes features a six-phase case study. Since it’s done in phases as assigned, you can’t procrastinate and do it all at the back end of the term, which is great… but you also can’t get ahead. Because of that, and the fact that I have to write a 20-30 page research paper for the same class, due the same day as the case study, I decided to knock out the 20-25 page research paper in my other class well ahead of time. I can’t actually even remember when I got that paper done, but I think it was about three weeks ago. Seems like longer.
Anyway, the case study. Handed in phase one. Aced it. “That’s the hardest part,” said the prof. “The rest is going to be easy.”
The man lied.
Having believed him, I handed in phases two and three on the appropriate date. A week later, he was set to return them. I sat in my tiny little desk like Will Ferrell in the opening scene of “Elf,” listening to him talk about how they were, on the whole, kind of disappointing. I was anxious. My fingers had heartbeats. What if I didn’t do well?
It was worse than I thought.
I didn’t do well.
“I’m not even going to grade this,” he said. “Just do it over.”
His handwritten notes said, “Wrong,” “Wrong,” and “This totally misses the mark” in the three sections of the grade sheet.
Do you remember how it felt when you were in high school or college and you got a bad grade on a test or a paper? How the bottom seemed to drop out of your stomach while your throat closed up? Pro tip: happens when you’re 37, too.
Just do it over, he says.
*whimper* *moan* *sigh*
I had already spent hours – hours and hours – on this case study. And now I had to do these two phases again… and do the next phase. Due in two days.
I had to take a personal day to spend 11 hours working on this thing.
The end of the term is coming. All the stuff is due very, very soon – so soon that I should probably stop spending words on this blog post and write another page or two of a paper, instead. It’s so much harder to write them now! But by the end of this term, I will only have completed three of the 14 courses I need for my degree. The school is only offering one over the summer that can count toward my program. And the no-skin-in-the-game dean says, “Two… that’s a lot with a full-time job.”
Well, here’s the thing: I don’t do a thesis in my program. I take comprehensive exams. And if I only take one class per term, it will take me 14 terms (4.66 years, assuming I can take a class every summer term) before I graduate. Nine terms (three years – same assumption) before I can take the first comp. I will have forgotten everything from the first classes by then.
Not happening. Gotta double up if they offer two program courses in a term.
I got back the three still-questionable phases of the case study on Monday. Wonder of wonders: I aced them all on the re-do. Now an implementation timeline, a budget, and a package and polish, and that baby is put to bed. I have written seven of the 20 pages required for the research paper. I have bled on the keyboard of this here laptop.
Tonight, I got back the four-question essay exam I had to take in the other class. I had had to completely BS one of the answers; he asked a question about the topic from the only class I’d missed. If I got partial credit, I would have had an 85 and I would have taken it.
I looked at the paper.
I looked at the question I couldn’t possibly have answered well. “I can tell you read the chapter,” he had written in red, “but be more specific.” And then he went on to talk specifics about the chapter. Which I had, in fact, not read.
It was the only chapter I had not read, out of 21.
Fooled you, pal.
Maybe I’ll make it to the M.S.