This week: 30 pages. Next week: 45 pages. Next month: qualifying exams. Tonight: Sleep. It’s finals. Graduate school is definitely a different experience from undergrad. There is more emphasis on self learning and self-discipline. Self-discipline is what you rely on when you have nothing, but a syllabus with three sentences to guide you to finish a final paper worth 50% of your grade.
As I finish up my final fall semester of classes EVER as a student, all I can do is fight off the urge to do the bare minimum. This is not an option at this point. It has been a long 16 weeks of classes for me. The nine credits I signed up for this summer are definitely not fitting the idealistic notion that I created in my head. Rather, this has been the most challenging semester of my entire academic career (including kindergarten).
What have I learned from this?
I have learned that I will finish. Haha! Although this seems so simple, when it is 11:06 p.m. and your paper is due in 53 minutes (11:59 p.m.) you realize just how much willpower and drive you have to meet the deadline. The difference from undergrad is that I have been working on this research since the first week of class and STILL am working up to the last minute. This does not happen for everyone, but I do appreciate the fight that I still have up to the very end.
What will I do next semester?
I will finish. Same answer, different question. I am looking forward to being A.B.D. next year. I am looking forward to finishing up all of my classes. I am looking forward to conducting research. No matter what I am looking forward to, each responsibility will require me to meet each goal that I have set at the highest level possible. That is self-discipline: striving to finish strong despite the numerous responsibilities one must meet.
So, I encourage you as you think ahead to next year or later what you will do during your first fall semester. Consider what are the realistic goals that must be met to finish the semester, develop new and useful skills, and increase your knowledge in your field. Just know that in the end you will finish. : )