It is no secret that I’ve had a hard semester. I was initially signed up for four classes, but I dropped two within the first month of school, shortly after I took my full time job. The two remaining classes represent the last four credits needed towards my masters, and the first of two required courses towards my PhD. Saying that I’m struggling in these courses is an understatement. Saying that I hate my courses wouldn’t be an exaggeration. With a few weeks left in the semester, I’m trying to pull my stuff together to finish up two courses and NOT drop out of grad school. I am so burnt out and discouraged right now – and I hate it.
A year ago I was so excited about the possibility of continuing on in grad school – and now the PhD program seems like something to which I’ve shackled myself. I love my job, but right now things are very stressful, and having to come home and keep working makes getting up in the morning and doing good work even more difficult. The easy solution, of course, would be to drop out. The better solution, I think, is to keep going, get through the rest of this semester, and then take it easy for a semester or two until things calm down at work – while taking courses that will keep my options open even if I don’t decide to follow this path through to the end.
Before I started grad school, I had a conversation with my mom’s best friend from high school – now a post-doc at the JFK School of Government at Harvard. She shared with me a number of impressions of why people pursue degrees in higher education – beyond the stock “to get ahead in their field” sort of answer. She said she thought a lot of people did it to prove something, to assuage feelings of inadequacy, or to do both by accomplishing something they never thought possible. She said she pursued her PhD for some of the above – and to be better equipped to do her part at “saving the world”. I don’t know if I really know why I’m doing this – besides the feeling that I’m not done growing in this area.
Last week, following a particularly awful day of class and work, I had a crying fit after burning the pancakes I was making for breakfast. It was yet another “you’re a big screw up” message in a long week of the same, and it was just too much. I told SB, between sobs, that I just want to help people, and that I didn’t understand why it had to be so hard. Is pursuing a PhD going to help me with this goal? I don’t know. I guess I’ll find out.