Friday, February 11, 2011

Don't Panic. This is Only a Test...

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While I can't exactly compare it to the trials of Hercules, this has been a little bit of a rough week for me. I've been experiencing a little discouragement as it seems like the honeymoon, hectic as it may have been, is beginning to fade at NC State. I had three tests this week in my hardest subjects (Biology, Ergonomics, and Psych Research Methods). I wouldn't have been worried too much if it weren't for the fact that I've been reminded about three times over the last week that getting accepted to Graduate School is apparently pretty hard. Don't tell me that! Sure, it may be true, but it feels like I was given the option of having sex with a cute, big breasted brunette, with that Jewish Princess look I'm apparently fond of, only to be told, "Yeah, that didn't work out as we expected. Here have this scrawny 12 year old redheaded boy instead!" Besides being quite a bit illegal, I'm not even INTO 12 year old boys! Maybe that wasn't the best analogy in retrospect!

One good thing did come out of the week, though. As part of my newly discovered assertiveness, I reserved a study room at DH Hill and invited several friends from my Psych Research Methods class to study on Thursday afternoon before the test which happened this morning. It might come as a surprise that this was the first study group I've ever participated in during my entire school history. I was certainly aware that such things occurred, but it never entered my mind to try and be a part of one until now. Maybe I wasn't ready to share my brilliance with others. Maybe it was just that I was so scared of doing well on the test. At any rate, it went as well as I could have possibly imagined. Not everyone showed up, but those who did were very helpful. We all seemed to contribute something positive to the group discussion, and we were able to wade through the sometimes confusing material. I won't know what sort of grade I got on the test until next week (nor the grades I got for Biology or Ergonomics), but I felt pretty comfortable after each exam I took this week and think that B's are very likely, and A's are not impossible.

Of course, that brings me to a new difference between Wake Tech and NC State: Pressure. Yes, I needed to get straight A's at Wake Tech in order to pull up my GPA and get accepted to NC State. And with all my effort focused on that single goal I was able to do it. Can I do it again? Of course. But, with the finish line of Grad School being my new focus, I feel as if I have NO wiggle room. I can't accept a B... EVER! And, to add to the sheer sadism, NC State calculates grades with A- and A+. THOSE MOTHERFUCKERS!!! That means that now it isn't quite good enough to JUST get a 90 in a class and get an A like I could at Wake Tech. No, that's an A-! You want an A? A REAL A? Fucking work for it, asshole! You need a 94 or better to get an A at NC State! And that difference affects your GPA calculation. Add to that fact the need to get letters of recommendation from AT LEAST three professors, AND the need to get a good score on the GRE (which I haven't even learned anything about yet) in order to get into Grad School, and perhaps you can see why college students look to escape into drugs and alcohol.

Maybe I'm getting worked up over nothing. Perhaps I'm trying to give myself an escape clause in case I fail. Maybe I'm even trying to convince myself to give up entirely since the goal is too inconceivable to attain. My advisor, as well as the grad student who teaches my Orientation to Psych class have conveyed to me that research will become my life for the next eight years. And, if I go on to become a Professor, I will be expected to continue doing research and getting published for many years, if not my entire career. I didn't intend to spend my life doing research. I wanted to spend my life in a classroom, lecturing and interacting with students, feeling like I was making a positive impact on future generations. I've accepted the fact that I will not be having children of my own, nor should I. Being able to share my knowledge with students has become my legacy, my DNA. My knowledge, and the knowledge I will acquire in the future, is the only thing of value that I have to pass down. If I can't do that, then I'm no better than the oft-mentioned dodo bird.

You know, I think my opening analogy WAS valid, after all. Except, it turns out that I am the 12 year old redheaded boy!

Have fun and keep living life... And keep your eyes on the prize!

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