Convocation

Lo, but the big day fast approacheth. 

Convocation. 

Of course, I applied for graduation in December as required, and got myself into the system. Since then I’ve been getting little reminders on this and that and I’ve been quietly paying attention. But schoolwork first, and my primary focus has certainly been there. 

But today, even as I was starting to finalize my last ever paper, my mind started to bend toward graduation. 

I’ve finally made up my mind to take part in the ceremony. This is big. After my first degree in 1990 I was so tired, so utterly, wretchedly, tired in so many different areas of my life that I did not take part – I just picked up my silly piece of paper, handed my silly photos to my Mom with an injunction never to show them to me again, and rode off into the sunset. 

This time though, I think I owe it to myself to attend, and I’m going for it. 

So I’ve ordered and paid for my cap and gown, I’ve gone over the checklist, and on Monday before class I’ll stop by the Faculty office to make sure I’m still on target.

I don’t know who’s going to join me since for my family attendance does involve some sacrifices, but let’s face it I’m not some dewey-eyed 23 year old just setting out in the world. Still, I’m going to invest in it for my own sake at least.

It’s been a tough slog for many different reasons, but now the end is most definitely in sight. 

I can’t deny it, it’s exciting.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Treasures of Academia

Here are the true treasures of academia (no, not the nut) – the kernels of knowledge and wisdom and understanding. 

Books. 

 

Simple Treasure

 

And we’re back

A particularly furry little animal

This is week two of the new semester – my final semester – the final steps on the road to the educational grail. 

I’ve waited a couple of weeks before making an entry this time because I wanted to become familiar with my schedule first – you know, rooms, times and so on. It’s a very complicated schedule. First are my Monday classes, from noon to 245pm, and 4pm to 645pm. Then I go home.

I almost feel guilty with this schedule – underscore ‘almost‘. I’m finishing up a second degree but my schedule makes it feel like night school. I mean, I don’t have to get up early, I get a solid hour for lunch in between classes, and I get a six-day weekend every week.

This pseudo-guilt is quickly overcome, however, by memories of my first two semesters in this place when I had to go to campus early, six days a week for eight months. Oh, I know, compared to a five-day week in a full time job it sounds easy, but while work passes quickly because it’s constant, the school process is very irregular, and in my opinion harder because of it. The semester starts with a certain calmness, but then deadlines hit, reading, research, writing, presenting, citing, and all the while the quality must be high enough to make the professor happy. This is a herky-jerky process of compilation and rendition which can be quite taxing at times. The deadlines come in waves. The pressure can be likened to that of a thumb screw – it hurts, but you get used to it, it hurts more, then you get used to it again. 

Anyway, this one-day-a-week thing is easy in one respect, but it calls for more discipline than I’ve ever had to show before. I’ll get it done, I’ll pull my weight – with a lifetime of team play in the workplace behind me I know how to get and keep people moving. But the temptation to coast is definitely there because the pressure won’t ramp up quite as often as in the past and every week I’ll get the chance to decompress. Honestly? I am already guarding against relaxing too much.

Did you see that? I’m trying hard not to be relaxed

Oh, what an odd and furry little animal is post-secondary education.

Thanks for stopping by.

 

History

I just finished my history paper. It was only ten pages in length, but I think it was the most difficult paper I’ve ever had to write. Why is this, you ask? Let me tell you, I answer.

They scare the bejeebers out of you about plagiarism. I’ve never plagiarized or cheated in my life, and the thought wouldn’t even occur to me, but the literature basically says you have to reference every idea that is not your own, or face the wrath of the judiciary! Well, kick me and call me a cowboy, but is there any such thing as a unique idea in a history paper? Surely everything we learn came from someone else!

Sigh. 

Not. Allowed. To. Use. The. Textbooks. 

For some reason the $60 text books are not good enough to be used as sources for this paper. I have no objection to doing research, but the text book should at least be a starting point. The reason given is that they are not peer-reviewed and footnoted, but does that make them inaccurate?

Sigh. 

I had a really hard time organizing my thoughts on this one, and not repeating myself. This is a big deal. Usually I can set paragraphs and talk up a storm, but this time it was hard to organize. Even as I’m writing this I’m trying to figure out why this is and I think because it’s history, and the salient points are relevant in all different directions. Something like this… ‘The decree of 1832 was an influencing factor in the dictum of 1874, and caused Sir Bolt to react as a total loonie against the Foofar tribe of Borneo whose primary modus operandum was the feeding of their families and the pursuit of the Decree of 1832.” You get the picture – it works in all different directions and my poor brain had a hard time, this time, compartmentalizing it. Believe me, I can’t wait for the next paper – it’s a simple, supported opinion piece. 

Sigh.

Chicago style citations. Citations in general drive me crazy, although I do understand their purpose, but most of my degree program has required APA style, so to suddenly throw Chicago at me now I consider a definite hardship. I don’t mind using footnotes – in fact I think they’re pretty cool – but the other stuff is just meshuga. 

Sigh.

Oh, and I had a nasty cold.

Speaking of the next papers – there are two of them due next Tuesday. Each has its challenges, but I’m sure that neither one will vex me like the history paper did. 

It occurred to me today that it’s November the 13th. That means that as of tomorrow there are precisely three weeks left in this semester. Man, how the time flies!

Here’s a picture. Sorry, I couldn’t afford a proper frame. I’m just a struggling student. 

Quiet Study Area

 

 

Studying

Now this is what I call studying! 

My schedule this semester saves me ten hours per week of travel time relative to last semester, and allows me to greet the ceiling when it is light, not dark. As an old fart I’m very grateful for this. 

But, the first week of this fall semester is also giving me some wonderful weather to play with, so I’ve decided that I’m going to do my reading outside, not cooped up in my office in the basement, where I tend to spend most of the winter months. A little vitamin C and some memories of an all-too-short summer season to send me into the studying season. 

After this blog, of course. 

Studying hard


 

Daily Prompt: Turning Point

Checklist for the start of a new semester
  • Stuff
I’ve got my pens and pencils, my books, erasers, bag and such. I picked up a new phone (got to have one of those for a new school year) and my camera is fully charged. What could I possibly be missing? Oh wait – I’ve got to put the Aspirin back in the backpack, and I must remember to throw in some coffee money.
  • Attitude
I’ve been away from the books and the studies for so long now I almost feel as though I’ve forgotten what to do. Tomorrow will be another in a long line of firsts, though – and I’m sure I’ll pick right up from where I left off. Discipline is a sub-category of the Attitude main – without discipline none of this gets done.  
  • Creativity
At some point I’m going to need this so I’ll just go ahead and tuck it into my backpack right now. Creativity is a vital part of a solid education – without it the process, and so the result, of an education is academic at best. Creativity allows the research process to unfold more easily – search terms, terms of reference, all become more straightforward when approached with a creative mindset. Don’t ask me how this works, but it does.
  • Concentration
A healthy dose of concentration never hurt anyone, but it gets more difficult with age. I’m told that fish oil helps aid concentration and intelligence – but what on earth am I going to do?
  • Patience
Let’s face it – some patience is required when an old fart goes back to school. Is it me being patient with the young’uns, though, or are they being patient with me? I suppose it’s a kind of symbiosis, which – if properly managed – can be mutually beneficial. I bring maturity (hahahahaha) and calm (read, apathy or indolence), and the youth bring energy and enthusiasm and a willingness to accept delegation, no matter how reasonable.
  • Determination
This is it. This is the final push – for me, the final five courses which will hopefully propel me to greater things. Let’s face it – after this there’s nothing but the job search and the working world, and paycheques. And if that’s not an incentive to stay determined then I don’t know what is. 
 
In the spirit of the aforementioned creativity, here is a gothic view some of the old university buildings. Take a good look. These dark and dingy halls are the birthing place of a world of new discoveries. 
 
Here’s to education. 

Gothika

Concentration

Having enough foibles of my own tends to make me pretty tolerant of the foibles of others, and this is why I consider myself one of the most tolerant people on the planet. One thing, though – as the great Peter Griffin says – “really grinds my gears.”

In lectures I tend to park myself somewhere near the back – not so that I can throw balls of paper or chat with my confreres, but so that I can be sure to see and hear the lectures properly. Sitting at the back, though, I also see what the other ‘kids’ get up to. You know – all the lovey-dovey stuff, the hand-holding, the snoozing, and the ever-present computer distractions.

For example, last year in my PR class one girl spent almost every lecture checking out the latest fashions online – dresses, shoes, bras – you name it. Let’s just say that because of her I occasionally found it hard to concentrate. Then just last week I watched, incredulous, as a girl in my Communications and Culture class spent an entire lecture chatting with one or several of her friends on Facebook! That’s an hour and a half on Facebook that should have been an hour and a half of studious concentration. My neighbour saw it too. A nice, serious young lady named Ange. She said: “You can sure tell who’s paying for her tuition!” meaning, of course, that Daddy signed the cheque because there’s no way you’d waste your time like that if the money was coming out of your own pocket!

It drives me crazy because it belittles both the process of securing a university degree and the value of it once it is secured. Why wouldn’t Facebook (especially) step up and encourage students to concentrate on their work? It seems to me that there’s plenty of time for the social stuff later on, but during class, the important thing should be the material at hand.

J.