With only three remaining courses left to complete my Master’s degree in English, and having just finished final exams for the second summer session, I’m feeling elated today. I’ve also been somewhat contemplative, reflecting on what I’ve learned thus far.
- British comic fiction is nearly as terrible as it sounds. I took this course simply because it was offered online, and I needed the hours. About half of the novels were tolerable; the other half compelled me to stab forks into my own eyeballs in an effort to avoid having to continue reading. However, I learned some valuable lessons from this class. Jeeves is a delightful chap. Wuthering Heights is NOT my least favorite English novel. And WACs are only part of the intriguing story of the evolution of women’s rights after World War I.
- “So offline, so online.” My friend Samantha Hartley, an entrepreneur who owns Enlightened Marketing, often quotes this wise statement. Prior to graduate school, I had never taken online courses. Of course I had experience with managing social media and the ins and outs of corporate dos and don’ts for office email. I have been amazed at the audacity of people who must feel empowered by the anonymity of the internet–people say the darndest things! Thankfully, I stayed the course of the higher road and of minding my own business in these situations. The result is that I seem to have developed virtual rapport with classmates and faculty members I’ve never met simply by treating them the same way I’d treat any person face to face–with courtesy and respect.
- Age isn’t just beneficial for cheese and wine. In my case, it also seems to have matured me as a student. I’m more focused. I take my assignments more seriously, and I don’t take the opportunity to further my education for granted. I no longer find myself waiting until the last minute to write a paper or read a book. After writing professionally and personally for the past 11 years since undergraduate school, I also seem to have developed an ease for writing that I didn’t have as an undergrad. It feels natural and comfortable, whether I’m blogging from home or writing a literary analysis over a novel.
- The world is more interesting than I had ever noticed before. Taking classes on Ozark literature and culture, American folklore, and Southern autobiographies has opened my eyes to fascinating facets of the world I’d never explored and didn’t even know existed. Not every class is stimulating, but some of them are. Focusing on my newfound passions and interests has been a bonus feature of grad school.
- Whole hog feels much more rewarding than half a**. As my mom always said, “if you’re going to do it half a**, don’t do it at all.” As an undergrad student, I admit to half-heartedly dragging my pajama-clad self to class most days. I certainly enjoyed my experience in college, but academically, I did not apply myself 100%. That was fine then, but now, I have found that striving for perfect grades and achieving them feels good. Since I’m motivated by my desire to do my best rather than to prove myself to my parents or other students, I’ve noticed that I’m happier earning an A now than I ever was then, even though my grandpa has stopped sending me money each semester. I’m learning more. I’m throwing myself completely into the process, and I’m finding that I have no regrets as a result.
I’ll have to remember to apply this to the rest of life, too.