Wednesday, January 26, 2011

To Stay the Course or Cut and Run

Is it better to stay the course or cut bait and run when you know you should?

A question our previous commander in chief might have considered, or at least, ought to have done.
   Tuesdays have become quite terrifying for me, because they require a focus on school for such a large portion of my day. I only actually like one out of the 5 school-related blocks of time I have to attend on Tuesdays. But Mondays and Wednesdays are fine, and Thursdays, while occasionally rushed, are not too bad. Tuesdays are the new Mondays.
    I have seriously considered whether I've bitten off more than I can chew this semester. Theoretically, it seems manageable. I'm only taking 9 credits--the minimum for full-time coursework at the graduate level here. However, because one class is a teaching assistant position, I actually have to attend both sections of the class, making the credit load seem like 12. Additionally, there are office hours, adding another 3 hours each week doing school-related work, pushing 12 credits to 15--a maximum coursework load for graduate level students. Being that the teaching assistant position is unpaid (since I am beginning in the middle of the school year--both unfair and unfortunate), I am also working about 20 hours a week to keep an apartment and afford myself other necessities.
    It occurred to me today that perhaps I ought to drop one of my classes to ease up the work load a bit. But, the only one I would be able to drop is an evening course that cuts 3 hours out of my Tuesdays, time that might be spent doing homework or grading. But I like it. It's interesting. It's even a little bit... fun. And the way things are going, with regard to mental stability and stress allocation, I'd rather drop the teaching assistant class, considering it cuts into my time more than anything else. So, do I stick with the class that's promising full financial aid for the next two years, despite the mental anguish it's causing in the meantime? Or do I drop it and hope I get the aid anyway? Or, do I drop the class I like and hope that that extra three hours will help?
    It's an unpleasant position, no matter how I look at it, but I haven't had to deal with this kind of stress level in a long time, and I'm really not coping too well at the moment. So it seems something must be changed to alleviate some of this stress.

   To make matters even more confusing, not only am I wondering if I should drop a class, I'm wondering if maybe I'm not cut out for grad school altogether. I know it's only the second week, and maybe I'm jumping the gun with that supposition, but stress can do that to people. I question anything and everything all the time. It's what I do. It's what school has trained me to do, in fact. But while I continue to ask the questions, I do not often arrive at any answers. Too often, I maintain the status quo--I finish what I start. And at this point, I'm wondering, questioning, if that is the best policy. I'm not a quitter. Overall, I follow through, and things usually turn out all right. But in the long run, in this particular case, is grad school going to help me achieve my goals; is finishing going to make me feel better about myself and my place in the world; is becoming a part of the academic world going to contribute to the world in the way I want to contribute?
    These are not small or easy questions. And just because I bring them up now does not necessarily mean I haven't been thinking about them for a long time. I've been thinking about grad school for about two years now. And these questions have popped in and out all through that time, but now that I'm actually here, taking classes, participating in them, doing the work, they are more real and present than they were previously. As such, I feel now is the time to seriously think about them and actually try to answer them in a way I was unable to before because I did not have the experience of it to affirm or deny my thoughts and feelings about it. I didn't know if I would be able to handle the workload or understand the readings or if I could handle it and understand things, whether I'd want to continue with it or whether I'd want to chalk it up to experience and pursue another direction.

Do you follow through for the sake of not being a quitter, not giving up, 
or do you stop when you realize things may not be as cut and dried as you thought? 

As we like to say, the unexamined life is not worth living. So at least I'm doing the examining, even if I'm not doing a good job of it, or coming to a conclusion about it. A for effort, I think.
Redemption can be like one step forward and two steps back. 


Outnumbered said...

Hang in there, even when it seems like a lot, a semester is only a semester and it will be over soon. Now you know to take a lighter load next time and maybe that's the way to get through it, small loads at a time.

Constant Writer said...

I think I'm getting the hang of it now. I've got a plan, and I think the problem was not having a plan, and not having the time to formulate one those first two weeks. But I think I'm going to make it now. Whether I stick with it will now be based on whether I think I want to pursue it as a career rather than whether I can handle it.

+Constant Writer

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