Reflections on grad school so far

It is a little hard to believe, but the Fall semester is rapidly winding down with only about four more weeks left. This is as good a time as any for me to pause and take stock of my first semester back in grad school.

I continue to be upbeat about the program I’m in; no complaints there. I’m enjoying the learning, the teaching, the other students, etc.

The all important (j/k but only slightly) grade thing: I’m doing well on that front, much better than I thought and more than I deserve. This has boosted my confidence that maybe I can do this thing after all.

My confidence took a nosedive, however, after submitting my latest assignment, a review essay. What I submitted stank, and it was delivered late. I don’t have a grade for it yet but I fully expect and deserve a poor grade, and that’s a bit discouraging.

I may have mentioned this before, but one of the aspects to this experience so far that I didn’t expect, but which I’ve found quite interesting, is the opportunity it gives me to observe how others teach. I learn a lot from that, particularly as I’m also teaching at the same level, although in a somewhat different context.

I am a very different person with very different perspectives than when I was last in school. I keep telling myself, it’s not about the grade, it’s about what you are learning. Keep focused on what you are learning — that’s the main thing. It’s been interesting for me to compare how I handle things now vs. two decades ago.

The homework and assignments are not particularly unusual or heavy, I believe, but quite honestly, I’ve found them hard to do on top of everything else. I vastly underestimated the impact of adding grad coursework into my already full daily schedule. My admiration for those who work full-time and take classes has increased exponentially. I’ve pulled a lot of late- or all-nighters, and it’s exhausting.

It is probably no surprise but I particularly enjoy (most of) the reading, and then the opportunity to talk about it in class. I do not enjoy note taking, though. Never have, and never will.

I have been so focused on just surviving this semester — it has really been crazy in all kinds of ways — that I was a little shocked when my library colleague who is in the same class and program asked me today if I’d thought about classes to register for the Spring semester. So there will be another step to take, and much more learning ahead, if I can manage to keep my head above water. At least this Spring, I won’t be teaching grad courses on top of everything else.

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