Thursday, July 26, 2012

Graduate school is exhausting...

... and I haven't started any classes yet.

Now I know why I took a break in 2010.  It wasn't just because my mother died in January of that year.  It wasn't just that my employer revised benefits.  Nor was it the other family health concerns that I have chosen not to write about.  And not just concern for my son, either, making sure that his needs were being met.

All of those together took a great deal of time, energy, and attention.  Those, plus keeping up with my career, and taking care of myself, were pretty exhausting alone.  I didn't have the time, energy, or attention to spare for the bureaucracy involved with a graduate degree.

I had too many other things on my plate to worry about grad school.  For the complicated thought process required to develop a Plan of Study.

Plans are good, they help map out the way to get from here to there.  But they take time to think through.  To make sure that, where order matters, courses are taken in order.

Even in high school, classes stack.  You can't take Spanish 2 if you haven't mastered Spanish 1 (although if you studied Spanish in Junior high, you might be able to test into Level 2).  Geometry requires that you understand Algebra 1.  Calculus requires that you understand Geometry and Algebra 2.

I had a plan of study, on paper, for high school.  None of my three high schools required that I formally submit it.  I revised it at least 5 or 6 or more times as the years progressed.  As I got back into music, I worked band into my schedule.  I looked into ways I might fit a third language in, or a year of choir.  As I changed high schools, some doors closed and others opened.  But having the plan gave me an idea where I wanted to be, and how I thought I could get there.

As a Freshman in Nebraska, we were not only told the requirements for graduation, but also the requirements for the optional Academic Honors Diploma.  Indiana had a similar program, although the rules were a little bit different.  Those gave me more ideas for how I could shape my high school curriculum.

As an undergrad, I sometimes felt as though my Plan of Study was the bane of my existence.  Practically every semester, I would have to update my Plan of Study.  I would find that some course didn't fit my schedule, and have to either choose something else, or find a way to fit it in later.  Or a class would be too full to admit me.  I decided to pick up another language.  Decided to pick up a couple of language minors.  There are MANY reasons to update a Plan of Study.

I was a little surprised that UHCL didn't require me to file a Plan of Study for my Humanities classes.  Once again, I had a pretty good idea (on paper) what I wanted to take, but I don't recall ever having to tell the school in advance what I planned to do.

But now I am back at Purdue.  And Purdue's Graduate School does require me to have a Plan of Study on file.

If I had had a Plan of Study on file when I went on hiatus, returning to school would have been a little easier. But it takes concentration to make it work.  Time, to look up which semesters classes are offered.  Energy to try a new plan, when things just don't seem to fit the way I wanted them to.

And patience, to navigate the software.  The frustrating quirks that refresh a page when I try to save a single section.  The requirements to choose a committee... which means e-mailing professors... during the summer when I'm not sure who's going to be around.

But that was two years ago.  My life is better now.  I have the time, and energy, and determination to focus and get it all done.  E-mailed the professors involved.  Submitted my first draft over lunchtime.  But I didn't have the transfer credits logged correctly, so the second draft was submitted this evening.

If I'm quiet on social media, chances are good that I'm working on some other project, like this.

It's a little bit frustrating... but NOW I'm also excited about it.  I'm looking forward to learning new things, to getting back on track with what I want out of life.