Friday, October 4, 2013

Graduate School as a (Relatively) Serious Athlete


Let me recap my life since my last post. It's been: marathon training, house painting, more biathlon, some roller-skiing, a bunch of cyclocross races, and class.

Now, it's basically just class.

My marathon is Sunday. Sadly, I have barely had any time to get excited about it because I also have a GIANT-ASS project due for class on Monday. So if "tapering" means "4+ hours of sitting at my kitchen table writing code every night of the week" then yes, my taper is going swell!

I am just happy that I am still doing the marathon (I considered dropping out due to this project) and I am going to try to just enjoy it, not think about school for the duration of the race (hah), and not get upset when I don't do very well (which is probably the case since I definitely crammed all of my training in last-minute). Although I will thank Jennie for writing me a training plan and being very reassuring that I will make it though in one piece! Thanks Jennie!

So let me talk about my class. I am 6 weeks into the hell known as "Statistical Software" at RIT. My first class in this M.S. program (Applied Statistics). Some background. I was a 3.98 student in undergrad. Graduated Summa Cum Laude from Slippery Rock U. and won the "Outstanding Biology Senior" award. I have taken graduate level classes before when I was in graduate school that other time (which I also did well in). Nothing.. NOTHING prepared me for this god-awful class. Three hours of class on Monday night where we execute code for two different statistical computer programs. (SAS and R). I have actually used SAS before so I thought I would have a slight advantage: wrong. Then homework outside of class which takes at LEAST 12 hours to do. Every week. Plus reading the assigned chapters in the book. Plus going through all of the in-class code that we don't get to in class because we are learning not 1, but 2 programs simultaneously. It's basically - here's 2 books (I bought a 3rd book to help myself out), google, and 2000 lines of code as notes - have fun. Trying to actually absorb and understand the material is just out of the question, as I am struggling to just get the homework completed every week.

What's sad is that I actually kind of like the programming. It's basically data manipulation and problem solving. I don't even mind doing it. It's just too much all at once I think and it's like my brain is just overloaded with information and things to try.. and it takes HOURS to figure a problem out.

I know that I am whining. But I am a hard worker. I am smart. I am a good student. I love to learn. I love to be challenged. What I don't love is busting my ass on these homework assignments, which I have managed to do well on (at a great personal sacrifice called my life) and then going to class to take a quiz which I had no time to study for (due to aforementioned homework assignments).. and then getting a 60 on the quiz because it was so specific and detailed that I had no idea what some of the answers were. I don't get 60s. What was the class average? A 55. I feel slightly better.

Like I said, I am ok with working hard. What I don't like is being asked to work at a level that is beyond my ability as a 29 year old woman with a full time job, a home, hobbies, and daily life responsibilities.. to give more hours for which I have time, to sacrifice the things in my life that I enjoy and make my life happy and worth being here for (like exercising, riding my horse, seeing my friends, working on my house) in order to *barely* get my work done. I can't even get the things done that *need* to get done (like mowing my lawn, getting the oil changed in my car, taking the AC units out of my window.. I could go on and on - my house is falling apart). I didn't expect going into graduate school that I would be able to keep a lazy schedule. I didn't think I could go to class and then spend the rest of my time lying around on the couch watching Netflix. However, I did expect there to be some balance. Like maybe I have to cut out weeknight activities sometimes because I need to study. Or I spend some time Saturday and Sunday afternoons doing homework. Not spending hours every day writing programs or fiddling with code, and then mentally breaking down about it because I can't commit at that level. I don't want to feel guilty doing the things that I love because I am worried about all of the homework I have to do. I don't want to have to leave my friend's birthday party before getting to eat cake because all I can think about is the pile of homework waiting for me at home. I don't want to be a bitch to everyone all the time because I am that stressed out.

Being able to balance is incredibly important to me.

I hit my limit this weekend with this class. I cried every day last week, I called my parents and cried on Sunday, I went to see my RIT adviser (who I had never met) and cried to him. I was ready to give up, withdraw from the class and the program, and go on with my life $5000 poorer but ultimately happier. Because for me - happy needs to come first. Talking to my adviser saved me I think. He assured me that this particular class is not indicative of this program. That if I can make it though this class, it WILL get better. I WANT to do this Master's Degree. I just have to get over this hurdle first. It's going to be 9 more weeks of major suck-fest, but I know I can do it now. I have made my decision and I am determined. And if I can get an A, that will just be a big F-you to this stupid class!

1 comment:

  1. Hang in there sister! I had finished grad school not long before I signed up for my first IM. I expected it to be the same tired, stressed out, crabby person that I was during school and I was shocked when IM was actually easier to train for than grad school while working and training and having a life. It's worth it in the end. Even if it's because you now make even more money you can spend on your ridiculous hobbies :)


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