I have been asking myself the same question after I finished my master’s degree a month early: now what? I have always been the type of person who has plans in life, and if those plans don’t work out, I would have a backup plan prepared. This is not to say I cannot be spontaneous or that I’m thinking things will go wrong. It is more of a way to prepare myself and to think ahead. It has worked out numerous times at my library job where I have been able to fix a problem before the problem even arises. Now, I really do not have an answer, and it is a horrible feeling.
I’ve seen an abundance of posts about tips and suggestions for teachers who now must conduct their courses online, ideas on how parents can keep their children entertained, and working form home for the first time. The missing group of people here are students.
Having to make the change from in person classes to online is hard for everyone, but especially the students. Technology has grown to be a large part of the school system, but it is a different ball game in having to take courses online. To some it may feel like something is missing when not being able to properly interact with the teacher and other students. Some may thrive in the environment of working at their own pace, if classes aren't synchronous (or live).
I’ve been taking online courses for the past two years to complete my master’s degree while also working full time. I would like to offer suggestions for those who are now taking courses online. Results may vary.
So, the very first class I took for my grad school program was an introductory to online learning aka an intro to taking online courses. It was very easy and was a CR/NR or a P/F kind of course. Everything was already loaded on the course site, and you just had to submit assignments by the given deadline. It didn’t matter what order you completed the readings or quizzes, just that they had to be done by the end of the course.
I liked this intro because it meant I could complete whenever I chose if I did it before the deadline (and when other classes started). In fact, I finished the course with a month to spare. It was what I thought my school experience would be like, but it turned out to be completely wrong.
Everyone who knows me knows that I'm not that found of young children. Yes, it is ironic seeing as I'm youth associate at a library, but hear me out. Baby's are adorable but they just lie their until they can gain motor skills to sit up, crawl, walk, and talk. I've never really felt like I've had maternal instincts towards children as it is. Sure, I have said in the past if I were to have or want children I would want to foster or adopt them. Got to keep that family tradition alive! Or at least start a new tradition.
I've never really found myself connecting to a child unless they were at the age where they can speak very clearly and we can have a conversation. I'm sure all parents know that moment when their child is trying to tell them something in their child-english that when you go and do what you thought they asked or said, your child gets frustrated because you did something wrong. You just don't know what it is. This has occurred for me numerous times during the programs I've run at the library, and I end up leaving the program so confused as to how I ruined the conversation or their game of imagination.
However, the one thing that ruins any yearning for me wanting to have children is that some who are school aged don't haven't fully mastered the skill of properly covering their face when they sneeze, and with this year's cold and flu season as well as the wide range of weather temperatures in my area, I've been hit a cold more times than I can count.
In a matter of days, I'll be starting my second semester of grad school towards my MLIS. I'd be excited, but to be honest, I'm a bit apprehensive. Or, maybe that's not the right word. I guess I just feel 'meh'. I know, it's not really a word and not an emotion but it's the best way to describe things. School has never really been that difficult for me. History, Science, and Math were classes that I was never excited to take, but of course they're the core few so you have to. I didn't even understand taking those courses in college either. I was really excited about college because I could take the classes I wanted to, same for grad school.
For my first semester, I took four classes and passed them all. Things went along smoothly save for a two-week patch. I was really worrying about having enough time to get school work done around working full time (being the only youth associate where I work which in turn means taking on much more at my job) and fielding all the group project virtual meet ups. Plus, I still wanted to have and keep a social life so I was re-arranging and rescheduling dinners out with friends or going to the movies or amusement parks with my sisters.
This semester I am taking three classes, but only one is required towards my degree. The other two are essentially electives and I'm happy to finally start taking classes in the area I'm really interested in. Getting to this point wasn't easy though - at least emotionally. After finishing my last semester I had roughly six weeks of break before classes start again. I did't really get to rest during it, because I was so worried about my scholastic status.
At the beginning of those six weeks I had a hold on my account, stopping me from seeing my grades because I didn't pay for the Spring semesters courses. I shouldn't have had a hold on my account because I'm covered by tuition deferral to give my financial aid time to kick in to cover my course fees. After receiving a letter in the mail in November saying my financial aid was added to my account (it wasn't), noticing the hold on my account, numerous phone calls, and emails, I was able to get the hold taken off. I was jut told to "make sure my financial aid pays off the fees before courses start." This gave me pause because I filled out all the forms correctly and months ago at the start of the semester, so why would it be my job to make sure the campus' financial aid office does its job?
My financial aid was added to my account a week before classes started. It did get added a week ahead, if you look at a calendar. In reality, it was a couple of days before even though it was marked as being added as early as the beginning of last week. Maybe it was due to the government shutdown (i did my research - apparently already approved funding wouldn't be affected), or maybe there were just errors/problems on the school's end, i don't know. What i do know is that it caused me more stress than it should have, even with my 2019 goal of trying to have a more positive outlook/thought process.
But the one thing that is causing me pause, is myself. I received a scholarship this past summer for my studies (which i later learned was a competitive scholarship) and I passed all of my classes with good grades. Part of me feels like it was kind of a fluke. Don't get me wrong, I worked hard and received my blessings due to my own merit, but I also feel like I'm chasing the impossible achievement of success that I feel like is put on me, but may not actually be there.
I don't like to talk about my grades anymore (I only talked about it with a few people) because I worry people will expect me to always reach the same levels as I did in my first semester. In some ways, it could be a "silent" race issue that's driving me to do well, not just for me but for all of us. I don't tell people that I struggle with academic papers, even though I'm an English major. I love doing research for papers (at least, on topics I'm interested in) but the actual professional, academic writing, gives me pause. People close to me have said that I "have nothing to worry about, you're a great writer." Ask any of my high school teachers, creative writing was much more fun to me and came easier. There's a reason I majored in English with a concentration in creative writing. Sure, I get good grades on papers but you didn't see me staying late after work to grab a study room and hole myself up until we closed so I could carve out more time to work on them. You didn't see me stay up until the early hours of the morning a paper was due (thank you 3 hour time difference) to make sure I lined up with each detail of a rubric.
In fact, i tend to clam up and try not to talk about school in general because it's all people ask when they see me. A graduate degree is a big thing, and I am working towards my career - something that I'm good at and I love to do. I'm grateful to have the opportunity to work in a library and get my degree at the same time. The library science field is a tricky world, and some people may have a master's degree but still not get hired for months to years after completing school.
I could be overthinking things like usual, but that doesn't mean my thoughts and feelings aren't valid. I guess we'll see once classes start. In the meantime, I'm going to enjoy the rest of my small vacation before my textbooks arrive (yes, i did procrastinate on this - but working in the library has saved me some money for having copies of textbooks I needed), and my schedule starts to fill up again. I feel, though, as long as I stay as organized as I was last semester, everything will turn out okay.
"Keep your face always toward the sunshine - and shadows will fall behind you." - Walt Whitman