For those who have postgraduate degrees or for those in grad school, nothing I say here will be particularly Earth shattering. Indeed, I rather imagine that when I look back upon my experience, I will be so familiar with the rigors of postgraduate study that these insights will be hardly insightful. But perhaps for those who have embarked on this path, my discoveries will bring back that sense of awe and bewilderment… the feeling that leaves me saying, “What have I gotten myself into?” And maybe the strength you mustered to persevere will again energize you.
Or, maybe not.
Regardless of what memories my experience conjures up for you, these are my perceptions in this very moment nonetheless. In the final analysis, that’s really all I ever write about. After spending the past nearly three years documenting much of my undergraduate journey, this post marks the first in the series illuminating my postgraduate experience. And at just one week into it, it has been quite the experience. After what I can only describe, however retrospectively, as a marginally challenging road to my BA, my Master’s - at the same school, in the same department - will be nothing of the kind. Of that I am absolutely sure… after just one week.
Based upon what I have gleaned thus far, I have already reduced my course load from nine to six units. Instead of trying to tackle three very labor-intensive classes, I am only taking two - and my plate is full, thank you very much. Although I have a fair degree of trepidation and the feeling of impending doom is already looming, I am confident that I can reach my goal in a reasonable period of time. But it will take more dedication and work than I have ever committed to before.
And that is a good thing. Placing the bar just higher than I can reach motivates me to reach it, come Hell or high water. But some changes must occur. I will no longer be hanging out with my old friend and compatriot, procrastination. My social life will become much less so and, of course, other sacrifices will have to be made. It’s not as though these lifestyle modifications are completely foreign, I have had to make those choices in the past, but the magnitude and the duration will require dedication beyond that of any goal I have ever attempted - successfully or not.
I don’t know if every grad student comes to these conclusions. It could be that these changes are so subtle and gradual among those who have taken the more conventional progression through higher education that these steps up in commitment are no big deal. But I doubt it. Unlike my undergraduate career, I don’t believe factors such as my - ahem - advanced age play much of a part. It’s not that my age group is that much better represented, but rather, it takes a certain level of maturity to maintain the discipline that is required, regardless of age.
So the question remains unanswered. Can I do it? Of course I have to say with confidence the answer is an emphatic “yes.” But that is merely a belief bordering on conviction. There are valid reasons for my belief, but it won’t be fact until I have a Master’s degree hanging on my wall. At least two years and more reading and writing than I can possibly image will pass before I know. It is, taken in total, an insurmountable task. But taken one day at a time, one page at a time, it can be done. No... it will be done. I’ll keep you posted.