Friday, April 1, 2011

That Thing I Said... Yeah, Screw That!

Poe Hall Sign
So, I've been trying to come up with themes to reflect the overall trends of each week. While I'm sure that by now I'm exhibiting a clear vacillation in my attitude, if I had to come up with a theme for this week it would be "Let's shit all over Ashe's hopes and dreams!" In psychological research, there is a term called "regression toward the mean" which basically means that even though participants in a study may occasionally exhibit unusually high or low scores on a given examination, during repeated re-tests the participants will typically regress in performance toward their natural average. This week I got grades back on several tests, and I wasn't happy with the results. I made an 86 (B) on the Ergonomics test (a drop from 94 on the first test), a 73 (C) on the Biology test (a drastic drop from 94 on the first test), and an 80 (B) on the Psych Research test (a slight uptick from the 78 of the first test).

I honestly don't see why my grades dropped so much this time. I can't say that I did anything drastically different from the first tests. I take notes, I read the textbooks, I do whatever homework is assigned to me. Admittedly, both my Ergonomics and Biology professors gave smaller curves on these tests than on the first ones, but that wasn't enough to account for a 10-20 point drop in test grades! Some of the material on genetics really threw me for a loop on the Biology test, so that certainly didn't help. I'm just terrified that these test grades may fall into the category of regression toward the mean! And, on top of all that, we had speakers in my Orientation to Psych seminar today talking about graduate school who repeatedly emphasized the importance of a good GPA and standardized test scores in order to gain acceptance. Apparently, it's almost not worth it to even apply if you don't have at least a 3.5 GPA in addition to high test scores.

I hate this bullshit. This semester at NC State has gone back and forth between feeling like the best thing that has ever happened to me and making me feel like an abused wife who keeps going back for another beating. Even today, the presenters in Orientation said that if you choose a major that you love it won't feel like work to do well. Let me tell you first hand, THAT IS BULLSHIT! I love my major and yet I STILL feel like I'm going to have to tear my hair out in order to get the grades I need to get into grad school. And the part that makes all of this so exasperating is that I know I'm not stupid, and I feel like I am understanding the material, for the most part. I just don't grasp why I'm not getting better grades! I honestly thought I made 10 points higher on each of those tests than what I actually made! I am usually a pretty good judge of my own abilities, so I don't typically get blind-sided like this.

I am so angry right now!

No, that isn't true. As I learned back in therapy, most of the time when I get angry it's because I'm actually scared and I'm trying to defend myself from an attack that isn't actually real. It's easier to get angry and lash out than it is to focus on the fear, and try to remedy the problem at the heart of the fear. I think my biggest fear is that I just can't take care of myself. I have never been able to pay my own rent, instead relying on the good grace of my grandmother. And she isn't getting any younger. It will probably be all she can do to live long enough to see me get my Bachelor's. For me, graduate school isn't just a goal. It is the only way that I can see myself surviving once my grandmother dies. Grad school will pay for itself and give me money to live on, assuming I'm able to become a Teaching or Research Assistant. And, assuming I can earn a Ph.D., becoming a professor will earn me a good, steady source of income which would more than provide for my living expenses.

I wish I were more certain of my ability to live by other means. As it stands, every grade isn't simply an assessment of my knowledge of course material; grades are judgements on whether or not I will have a future beyond December 2012. And when I can't accurately gauge my own success in a given subject, I feel as though I have no real control over my own fate. But, then, that's not exactly a new experience for me, so I should be getting used to it by now...

Have fun and keep living life... Or Some Approximation Thereof.

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