Home > Uncategorized > I have completed my academic mission (update and a bit of a rant)

I have completed my academic mission (update and a bit of a rant)

December 16, 2013 Leave a comment Go to comments

So, first and foremost: I finally graduated with my Master’s degree over the weekend. This past semester was probably my most difficult by far, because of one class in particular. Sure, I hadn’t finished my practical project and I needed to also write a 30 page paper, but that one class really just overwhelmed me. Rant will begin below:

I’m not an educator by trade, so I don’t have a lot of experience teaching (aside from conducting trainings sometimes). But, I do know that if you don’t specifically make something a prerequisite, don’t act surprised that the students don’t know how to do what you want them to do.

Case in point: this class was an e-commerce class. No pre-requisites to speak of. In our program, we’re expected to take one of two programming languages, either C++ or Java. So I did, and I did reasonably well despite my lifelong hangup about coding. I think to myself, “well, we’ll probably use one of those languages”. NOPE! The first 4 assignments were in JavaScript. Completely different. Half the class had never even coded (their first semester in) and the other half never touched JS (that would be the rest of us).

Needless to say, it was a difficult class. In the end our semester project was to code an online shopping cart, where you could manage inventory and have customers pay through a Paypal sandbox. I did mine in PHP, another language I had never coded in. Oh, and we also had to learn all about investing, hiring and firing, buying property, and running a business. It turned into a Management/Programming class by the end of the semester. Don’t get me wrong, I’m always glad to learn about things that could benefit me later on, but the structure of the class made it difficult. It’s done though, so no more griping from me I guess.

And now, I have some tips for those of you looking to go into grad school:

  • Don’t wait too long. The older you get, the harder it is to go back.

I’ve been out of school for more than a decade after undergrad. In that time period, I started working a full time job, got married, bought a house, and generally grew up into an adult with a lot of responsibilities. To juggle all that with school was pretty tough. I’ll admit, there were times I just wanted to say “the hell with it, I’m not doing this”. But then I’d just put my head down and power through.

  • The assignments you got as an undergrad are nothing compared to grad school.

Be prepared to write 20 and 30 page papers, midterm exams and finals with all essay questions, and then after doing all that you’ll have to pass comprehensive exams that take hours to complete. If your cursive is shaky from non-use, re-learn it if you write faster in that than print. If print is your go-to, then use it!

  • If you don’t have a laptop, get one. You’ll need it.
  • Two words: GROUP PROJECTS.
  • Dropbox and Sharepoint are your friends. Learn how to use them.
  • If your class only meets once a week, don’t skip. You’ll lose out on a ton of material the one time you skipped out to go shopping.

So people have been asking me “What are you going to do now?” My answer: continue working 🙂 That’s what I do. The big change is I’ll be able to spend more time doing things I want to do instead of constantly thinking about that assignment or project that’s due in a few weeks. Less stress overall is a good good thing.

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