Let’s be real for a minute…

I feel like I’ve been in school for a while now, considering I’m working on my masters degree. I’ve taken a lot of different classes, and been taught by a lot of different teachers and professors. So I like to think that I can talk about different types of courses and professors with some authority. At least in reference to my own experiences.

So let me say that in my opinion, there are so many teachers and professors who act like their class is the only one that you’re taking, and that of course you should be able to finish all of the reading, lectures, and assignments each week. However, I think part of this comes with the requirements for how much material needs to be covered in a course. My university actually has a policy that’s in every syllabus that says how many hours per week you should be spending on each class. It works out to something like 3 hours per credit in the course (most of them are worth 3 credits). And that’s for a standard semester length course. But my university does this weird thing where not all of the courses last a whole semester. Some of them last 10 weeks or even 5 weeks. So that hours per week count increases in a shorter course.

I’ll come right out and say that this is unrealistic for most grad students. Undergrad is a little bit different, in my experience, because a lot of people don’t work while in undergrad, or don’t work very many hours a week. I’m sure there are people who do work a lot during undergrad, and those people probably have a similar experience to a lot of grad students. But my point is that if you’re not working/not working a lot during undergrad, the workload is way more manageable. Your job is to be a student, so getting that work done is easier.

But now that I’m in grad school, being a student isn’t my only job. I also have to go to work. Thankfully, I only work 30 hours a week and not full time. But I know plenty of people who are in grad school while working full time, or working two jobs (because the library field is difficult like that sometimes, and there aren’t always full time jobs available for people who don’t have a masters). Not to mention, most people in grad school are adults who have other adult things to do with their time, like managing their finances and cooking and cleaning and taking care of their significant other/family/pets/etc. Things that most undergrad students don’t really have to deal with.

So it can be hard to fit those “required” hours of grad school homework and study in. Sometimes you don’t get through all the reading (especially not if you’re a moderately slow reader like I am). Sometimes you’re finishing your assignment the at the last minute on the day its due, not because you procrastinated and played video games all day, but because you really didn’t have any other time to do it.

I really wish that more teachers and professors appreciated that just because we are students doesn’t mean that’s the only thing we are. Some do, and I’ll be the first to thank a professor for being down to earth and realistic about their students’ situations. But many seem to believe that wanting to be in grad school is synonymous with making it your first or only priority. And that’s just not the case. At least in my experience, it’s hard to be an adult and line up your priorities in order from most to least importance. They’re all important, and they all have deadlines, and they all require your attention. It becomes a matter of learning how to juggle them all.



That beginning of the semester panic…

So, my spring semester started yesterday, and I’m more than a little disappointed by the end of my vacation from school. It never seems long enough, even though in college the breaks between semesters are way longer than they ever were in grade school.

But my main concern is my work load for the semester. I’m only taking two classes, which is pretty standard for grad school, but the amount of work that we’re expected to do for each class is always slightly baffling. There are always several lengthy articles or book chapters to read, forum discussions to have, and weekly assignments to complete. All while going to work every day and trying to keep up with all of the adult life tasks that pop up on a daily basis.

I know I shouldn’t complain. I’m very glad to be able to go to grad school and study a subject that I really enjoy. However, I still always have this moment (or week) of panic when I see just how much work I’ve signed up for. And I’m never quite sure how I’ll manage to do it all. But I still somehow find a way.

Does anyone else have this problem? How do you cope with the work load, the panic, and the stress?