So last term, Fall 2010, was an important term for me, not only because I was supposed to use that time to place myself in a better position to apply to grad school come January and February 2011, but also because it was my first time taking university courses in my hometown and surrounded by people I know well and who care about me. In other words it was the first time I’ve had immediate access to a strong support network to help me succeed in achieving my goals academically, and otherwise, since high school. This was significant because I thought the lack of a support system was one of the main reasons why I found completing my undergrad to be so difficult, especially in the first two years.
Moreover, this past term I did not have to deal with the added pressures of University life outside of academics, chiefly, immediate financial concerns such as not having enough money for groceries or books, or rent, mostly because I was living with my mother and was as a result able to save money. So I thought this time I can do what I have wanted to do since freshman year, which was to do well in school ( according to my standards, of course).
Well, this isn’t exactly what happened.
Essentially, I had imagined that this period would be an unrealistically productive one where poor studying and essay writing habits that I had developed over the course of my undergrad would suddenly give way to ( without a plan outlining how I would get rid of them), the type of organizational skills I needed to reach my full potential academically. I’m sure you already saw this coming, but that was nothing but a comforting delusion, which had very serious negative consequences for me in terms of my achieving my long term goals.
Instead of applying all the skills I had acquired while pursuing my first degree to the courses I was registered in, I regressed and seemed to have walked into every student trap that I had thought I had already learned to avoid. While I couldn’t describe my experience as catastrophic, it was a very hard reality check, and reminded me of how much work I had to do in order to prepare myself for the rigors of an advanced degree. It was dispiriting to realize how much more I needed to mature as a student despite spending the past four years in a post-secondary institution. Believe me, its a weird way to start the new year knowing that you’re exactly where you started the year before. But this post isn’t about self pity. In fact the opposite. I think its about time I evaluate myself and where I stand with more honesty, and recognize this free term (I’m not enrolled in any courses) as an opportunity to really plan out what exactly I intend to do in the next two years and how I will go about doing it. Its time to grow up a little.
Near the middle of last term I decided I was not going to apply to grad school this year. Instead,I have decided to spend a lot of my time seriously researching programs and then really sitting down and figuring out what I need to do in terms of school in order to get into those programs. Now I know what you’re thinking, which is I should have done this the first time around. That’s very true, but I spent my first term after graduation focusing on my interests rather than how I can translate my interests into a career. I wanted to pursue an M.A. because I thought a) it would be fun, b) getting an M.A. might help my chances of getting into law school when I decide to go, and c) because I liked the idea of having an M.A. Not very good reasons I know but, those were my reasons, so when I was researching programs I was conducting research based on that pathetic list of criteria. Having spent some more time away from my alma mater and more time unemployed and uneasy about my current situation, I must say my criteria has changed significantly and fortunately includes many more practical concerns such as:
“Can I, with this degree, should I decide not to go to law school after all or (worst case scenario) not get into law school, get a job with it?”
“Would this be enough for me to build a career around that will grant me the type of financial security that would enable to live my life how I want to live it at least for the next decade or so?”
So while I love history, and may pursue a post-grad degree in it someday, right I’m focusing on getting either an M.A. in Museum or Information Studies or pursuing a collaborative degree in Law and Information Studies a J.D./M.A, and now I’m looking into how I can set myself up for not only getting accepted into those programs but succeeding in them should I ever be so lucky.
Along with this new professional and personal focus, I have stumbled upon a much more clearer focus for this blog. Now I will be chronicling every step I take towards getting where I want to be and hopefully, eventually, this blog will become a forum where those of you who have been where I’m at or are where I’m at now can discuss your experiences and maybe even offer advice and support, which I find to be extremely exciting.
Happy New Year!