Friday, August 29, 2008

Graduate School, Year Two (Not as Easy as I Thought)

Well, here it is, the Friday after my first week of my last year of school (for a while, anyway). After the indoctrination my fellow graduate students and I received last fall, that being a theory class, a rhetorical criticism class AND a research methods class in the same semester, I thought things can only get better. And they sort of did last spring, as I had a joke of a class from the Center for Public Administration and Policy Development, a column-writing class (something I was already proficient at doing) and a public relations-themed agenda-setting, framing and priming class with a very understanding professor.

Naturally, I expected this semester to be almost relaxing compared to last year and the trend of getting a little easier than the previous semester I experienced in the spring. Heck, things couldn't get any better than only really having two classes (and getting them out of the way on Monday and Tuesday) this fall, right? My internship from the summer, though I have to do a presentation and paper about it, carries onto my schedule for the fall, so that should be a big relief one would think.

Then I get the syllabi for my two classes this semester. Ouch. Both professors promise about 150 pages of reading each week, plus a two-page reaction paper each week, plus exams AND a conference-style research paper. Yeah, exams AND a research project. And no, that's no typo, I'll likely be reading about 300 pages each week. On top of that, instead of teaching two Public Speaking classes totaling about 80 students, I'm teaching one section of that class (40 students) and TAing for a Political Communication class of about 170 students, for a grand total of about 210 students. I'm told that these new TA duty arrangements will actually make my life easier, but considering I now have TA responsibilities four days a week instead of two, I'm not so sure just yet. On the bright side, the class with 100-plus students that I'm now TAing for is taught by a great professor whom I greatly respect and admire, and I think I will learn a lot from him just being in the class, so I'm quite grateful for this opportunity from that perspective.

Oh, and did I mention that because I thought I was going to have an easy semester I took on more responsibilities from the newspaper I have been working for since I finished my undergraduate degree? Yeah, so I'm putting in 15-20 hours a week there too, which so far seems manageable, but we'll see once I start on term papers and such. I am glad, at least, that I opted to do an internship this summer and will not write a thesis as part of my Master's degree requirement.

So, I have about four exams to take, two research papers to write, about 60 pages of reading reactions to write, an internship paper/presentation to get together, 4,500-plus pages to read, 680 exams to grade, 15 PowerPoints to run, 160 speeches to listen to and grade, 160 quizzes to grade, numerous participation points to record and lectures to deliver, 60 event listings to prepare, 16-plus community stories to write, 75 office hours to wait for students to come to (even though for some reason no matter how poorly they are doing in the class most of them still will not), 30-plus hours of meetings to attend, hopefully some conference papers and journal articles to prepare, and who knows what else will come up. Yeah, second year of grad school — not as easy as I thought.

So, before spring semester starts, I plan to arrange for myself an easy class schedule, a sweet, relaxing assistantship (anyone need a TA who just blogs about stuff?), and I will quit all unnecessary jobs. All so I can just breathe for the first time since 2003... and study for comprehensive exams... and look for a job. *Siiiiiigh*


Kelvin Oliver said...

Oh wow, Josh. This really sounds scary and I thought I was going to have a thought semester. Besides, it is my second year as an undergrad. I'm far from being a graduate student. Recently, I thought of how it would be like being a grad student teaching classes..

JD said...

Well, it's a little scary, but you just get in a rhythm and get used to it after a while. You just have to keep on top of your schedule and be willing to put in the work... and after all, grad school is only two years. But I'm DEFINITELY not going for a Ph.D... for a few years anyway.

Kelvin Oliver said...

Oh I see. I usually don't have a big issue keeping up with my schedule. I just usually get lazy sometimes, but other than that I push myself to the limits. It's being able to read about the point-of-view of a grad student.