Lately I have been feeling very frustrated with grad school. I just want to be done. I have been in grad school for over 5 years- since March of 2008. The first quarter was while I was teaching. Then my master’s program full-time. Then I started teaching again and balanced that with both part-time and full-time doctoral coursework. (I can’t even remember how I managed the full-time course load while teaching. Probably because I was too busy to think about what I was doing.) And now I’m nearing the end of the program, and I’m so exhausted with writing papers, and reading journals, and doing literature searches… and I have been staring down my comprehensive exams (henceforth referred to as “comps”) and dissertation for so long, and I’m STILL 6 months away from both of them.
The ironic part is that I haven’t been doing much reading and paper writing over the past year. My last graduate class with my colleagues in the program was last fall. Since then, I have been taking math classes and some light independent study. Maybe this is the source of my frustration? That I can see what is to come and yet I’m not doing much to prepare for it?
I’ve been taking some time over the past weeks to find and read some blogs written by women in graduate school. It’s kind of nice. It feels like I have some community there. I think maybe I miss going to classes and chatting with my peers. But because I’ve taken so long to get through my doctoral program (I’m going on 4 years now), everyone I started taking classes with is finished with their comps and well on their way to the dissertation defense. It’s an odd place to be.
I’m also frustrated with myself because I continue to take on more and more. I agree to teach college classes (it’s good for my resume/CV AND I supplement my income), I run for elected positions in organizations, I take on more responsibilities in those organizations, I take on consulting work… All of this is stuff that I love doing, of course, but should I be focusing on my coursework and getting DONE so that I can actually do all this as part of my job? I also have a ton of projects that I desperately want to write up to submit to journals but I have trouble with self-motivation. And lately I have found that I might go an entire weekend without doing any academic work. Which I enjoy, but makes me feel guilty.
And then I am so worried about my dissertation. This semester was supposed to be spent narrowing down a dissertation topic. I have been reading all about motivation and self-concept, problem solving and intuition, and how people think through problems. It’s been fascinating, but I have no idea how to design a study around it. And I have no idea if this is even what I want to do. I’m also very interested in teacher professional development and the Math Teacher Circles, but I haven’t read any literature about teacher development recently (and not much overall, either). I feel like I need to decide on a topic and then start my doctoral coursework all over again with this topic in mind (kind of like I did with my master’s coursework- I had my thesis topic in hand, and adapted every assignment to somehow fit with that topic so I had tons of papers written on the topic before I even started writing my thesis). I have no literature review ready for either topic for the diss.
So, if you’ve read this far, thank you and kudos to you. This was basically a long post for me to blow off some steam. In summary, I want to start doing more blogging off the topic of travel. I don’t know if it will be here or maybe in another place, but I think it will help me gain that sense of grad student community to have a place to put down my thoughts and frustrations with grad school.