Saturday, November 02, 2013

I'm Going to Blame Grad School

I haven't been blogging. Or going anywhere or reading much (!) or shooting or gardening or doing anything.

And even though it's November 2nd and I *could be blaming the offseason, I'm going to blame grad school and further, #onlineschool.

Pretty much from the day I started college I swore I wouldn't go back to school which I'm pretty sure disappointed my parents and I know disappointed my now 95 year old grandfather who were all sure I was destined for greatness, which included some fancy letters after my name.* As I had from entering preschool, I excelled at school. I think I pulled a B+ once in college, probably in one of my 3 required science/math classes. I didn't make the dean's list, or whatever it was called, but that's because I was no longer an overachiever: I focussed on being happy, not on grades, and I still did well.

But I knew right away that I wanted to do stuff, not to talk about stuff, and a liberal arts school is all about talking about stuff. I knew that if I heard the word "problematic" one more time after waling out of that place that I was going to vomit. I wrote an entire thesis about "intersectionality" which Word will never recognize as a word but which my entire four years of higher education was based on. I graduated with honors and a double major in Religious Studies and Women's Studies, which my sister rightly told me was basically the most useless degree ever. I was done.

And for about 8 years I did stuff. Then I burnt out. I straight up quit animal welfare and did nothing for about 6 months. It was amazing. But then it was time to get a job and I had no other skills. I mean, I had skills, but no one really wanted to hire a sector switcher who had been to college then gone into animal welfare and was an excellent poop scooper. It didn't work. I tried publishing, worked for a crazy lady and ended up not working again. Guess where I am now? Back in animal welfare.

And in grad school. Further, in #onlineschool as I like to call it in my twitter rants.

My reasons for not wanting to go to graduate school were more complicated than not wanting to talk about stuff, though that was the main one. I'm a huge autodidact. When I'm not in school, I read a lot (as you know if you ever read this blog). I read everything- I was one of those kids who proverbially memorized the cereal box at the breakfast table, except actually me and my dad fought over the newspaper. I read books, I read my dad's stale New Yorkers, I read twitter, I read longreads, I read stuff and synthesize it on, etc. I didn't feel like I needed to go to school and be assigned reading. I hate sitting. I don't sit still well, and I get kind of annoying when I'm doing mandatory sitting. Some might even say "disruptive." Not a good skill in a classroom.

But I thought about it and talked to some people and figured library school might be a good thing. There are two ALA (American Library Association) programs in California. One's at UCLA and one is online at San Jose State. You don't have to take any grad school tests to do the SJSU one, and it's online, so you don't have to move to LA. I signed up in the middle of last year- I'm in the middle of my third semester. It is all of the things I hate. Mandatory reading that is REALLY dumb and lots of sitting. But it's worse: none of the good things that came with school. You don't meet and like your peers. You don't have great professors, or you might, but there's no interaction with them, so who knows? One class I took, the one I was super excited about last semester, my "lectures" were one page typed outlines. There are terrible assignments: write a five page, double spaced paper about ALL the problems facing public libraries today. Use ten academic journals. I feel like I'm in 5th grade. There are group assignments where we sit in silence in virtual conference rooms. The situation that caused this rant today? A professor who assigns youtube videos this week that don't show up. I went to email her, but her only email address is a) hard to find (it's only on the syllabus which I had printed out because I still can't read mass quantities online) and b) when I went to look on the syllabus didn't show up because it's a link to an online form.

#onlineschool is terrible and it is sucking my will to live. I don't write anything because by the time I get home from work and decompress for an hour, I have to do homework (which is actually schoolwork) for a couple hours, then decompress for another hour. I don't garden because I feel pressured to do work. And now there is no baseball.

I realized today that I have no concept of whether other grad students feel like this, because I don't have peers to talk to, which at least #reallifeschool students have.

And with that happy post, welcome back to, and I'm off to more homework!

*Note: I in no way, shape or form mean to suggest that my parents or grandfather are disappointed in me or are not supportive of me. I have basically the best family a macinator could ask for. I mean, you don't get to be THIS awesome without an awesome family behind you. But one way to strut your stuff is with fancy letters, and that was one thing I couldn't do. Did it hold my family back from their awesome and supportive ways? Of course not! Was there a chance for my grandfather to ask me every time he saw me when I was going back to school? Why yes, yes there was. But that's his way of showing his faith in me. I know this, but it doesn't make for nearly as interesting of a blog, does it?


Gene Anderson said...

Sounds pretty awful. I took a single online course, but I can't imagine doing a whole degree that way.

The course I took was a programming course, with video lectures by the professors, and good assignments. Kind of wish I'd finished the course ;-)

Mark said...

I completd a long deferred bachelors degree a few years ago. When I first went back to school I thought I'd just take the online courses my university offered because it seemed convenient. But my experience was much like yours. Fortunately I had the option of switching to traditional classes.

mamagotcha said...

Glad to see you, sorry to hear this sucks so much. Looking forward to hearing more as you climb out of the grad school hole!