Sunday, March 10, 2013

Graduate School

I have 14 weeks until I'm done with grad school and they give me a degree! I am so relieved/ impressed with myself that I considered attending commencement. I feel like completing a graduate degree is an accomplishment where as--in my case anyways--completing an undergraduate degree was par for the course*. I got an eviction notice written in Latin and I would have skipped commencement but my parents insisted I attend-"We paid for this--you will walk" said my mom.

I would not trade my undergraduate education for anything (although I might have, in hind sight, done a few things differently) I met some awesome people--including my best friend--at Carleton and studied (or at least pretended to study) a whole bunch of interesting stuff. I was disconsolate when they kicked me out.

My graduate education is another matter. Grad school is fun! You get to learn about all sorts of interesting things--like DNS poisoning or how DHCP really works. You get to meet people who are interested in the same weird things that interest you. Why would you want to spend your Saturday nights drinking beer and watching movies about Moon Nazis with your friends when you can spend them talking to your study buddies about the paper you have to write?

I can't wait to be done with graduate school. But I feel good about having done it. It was't any fun spending July 4th last year trying to understand two's complement or reading the RFC that describes SMTP. These things were hard in a way that getting an undergraduate degree in French literature was not.  In grad school almost every final paper I turned in scared me--I think I understood the concepts but what if I guessed wrong? Aside from working full time the whole thing was hard in a way that college wasn't. Some of this may be because my brain is older. Some of this may be because I'm working full time. I suspect some of it is because I'm making myself learn things that don't come easily to me.

Not all of it is an uphill battle or I'd have given up.  And some parts of the whole thing fell into place as easily and obviously as some of my undergraduate analyses of good literature. This is not to be discounted or overlooked--the joy of discovering that something you find fascinating comes naturally to you is wonderful.

All of it (or almost all of it) falls into the category of "Stuff I want to know" but without grad school to goad me I wouldn't have bothered to *really* learn the history of Flame or consider the difficulties of storing and manipulating very large numbers that must be very,very accurate.

Getting a degree will mean that someone thinks I've understood even the difficult concepts well enough to be validated.

*I recognize that this is because I'm from a middle class background and my parents could afford to send me to college.

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