Term Paper Writing in Grad School is Like Giving Birth
I’m no stranger to higher education. Since 2005, I’ve gotten an Associate’s of Arts in General Studies, a BS in IT, a Master’s of Fine Arts, a Master’s in English Literature, and a Certificate in College Teaching. Plus I’ve completed 36 hours of doctoral work in Adult and Post-Secondary Education. Yes, I’ve been busy and have written a lot of term papers all these years.
However, I was out of higher education since September of last year, and I restarted my search for more knowledge (and more term papers to hang on my wall) in June when I started working on a Master’s of Fine Arts in Creative Writing. And that’s when I realized that grad school is like giving birth.
First, it’s the kind of pain you forget. You don’t realize quite how hard it is until you’ve back in the swing of things, realizing that the pain is there, it’s real, and it’s not going away until you force something out of yourself (like a thesis).
Second, you don’t realize how many complications there can be. You go in with a plan. You won’t need medication for pain; it’ll be an in and out procedure, taking the minimum time, and you’ll feel great when it is done. Yeah. Right.
Third, none of the reading you do prepares you for it. Sure, you can check out all the college term paper guides, all the comic strips (Ph.D.), all the materials that people put out there for you. And then you realize that all experiences are unique, and all that advice did little to nothing for you.
Fourth, all your friends who’ve done it before will try to reassure you into doing it, too. They’ll tell you how cool it is. How it will change you life. How it’s the best money you’ll ever spend.
Fifth, those same friends will also demand that you listen while they regale you with horror experiences about the experience. “Oh my god, the teacher tried to fail me, and then I had to appeal my grade, and then it took four years instead of two….”
Sixth, it’s bloody expensive. Even if you have some help paying the bills (insurance is just the same as student loans and grants, right?), in the end, you’re poor, even if you are richer for the experience.
Finally, you don’t emerge unscathed. You will walk away with something new. Instead of a baby, all you have is a framed diploma hanging on a wall (or maybe a ring you’ve blown some of those expensive dollars on), but you know things you never knew before, you’ve had experiences you wouldn’t have had otherwise, and you’re at a completely different part in your life.
So now that I am back in graduate school and will have to write term papers again, I’m remembering that pain, but just like all those mothers who say, “Wait, I’m not done yet – just one more baby!”, here I am, giving birth.