Quals are almost upon me


They begin at 9 am tomorrow morning.  I am fairly calm, but mostly because Hubby is great and I’ve been clinging to him all afternoon and evening for company, assistance, and distraction.  I just couldn’t look at the material anymore…I’m really, really tired of it.  I feel a lot more prepared than last year, but I am still not sure how I will perform – there are just so many things to know.  I think my study strategy was better than last year – since they failed me when I understood concepts but forgot some equations and could only explain how I would solve it if I had the correct starting equation, this time I put more of an emphasis on memorizing equations.  But this has annoyed me to no end, because I honestly hate it and think it’s a waste of my time.  Nonetheless, time is not infinite and there is only so much information I can hold in my head at once, such that things I reviewed 2 months ago for the exam may already be fading from memory.  Earlier today, however, I decided that at this point I know what I know and that would have to be good enough, and settled for reviewing the (numerous, oh so numerous) equations that I think I should have memorized.  As I see it, the possibility still remains that they could throw a topic at me that I simply didn’t have time to cover, or covered a month ago and since forgot, or that requires an equation that has gotten jumbled in my head amongst all the variables, partial derivatives, tensors, del operations, solution methods, manipulations, and whatnot.  And that possibility isn’t as tiny as it could be.  If this were an open book, or open notes, or even if we were just allowed a one page cheat sheet, I would feel very confident that I am prepared.  But it’s not.  So I will go in tomorrow, I will do what I can, and whatever will be, will be.

In upcoming news, expect a discussion of my intent to re-evaluate my career trajectory and whether or not I really want to stay in graduate school, or if I’d like to pursue other options.  I got my MS this spring, and with that in hand, I recognize that now is the ideal time to evaluate my choice and whether it remains the right choice for me (i.e. if I were to get out, I’d better get out quick before I get sucked in and begin to believe that I am failure if I choose to leave the cult of academia).  Economic factors weigh heavily on my mind, as do chances of achieving what I had originally imagined for myself, and the viability of creating a career path that allows for the voluntary lessening of both work hours and pay during my children’s younger years.  Things I’ve learned since entering graduate school about the nature and culture of academia and about being a women in academia and a women in science have only served to exacerbate my fears that this is not the ideal career I thought it might be.  Other options that are chief on my mind: tutoring, popular science writing and science journalism, public policy, jobs in the atheist movement, and working full-time for my husband’s company (which looks like it well may be a viable option starting within the next few months).

Advertisements

4 thoughts on “Quals are almost upon me

  1. Good luck.

    I hate having to learn details of things that you can just look up if you need them. I am also dyslexic and very likely to turn things round when under stress – if not all the time.

    Superstitious thingies being sent in your direction.

  2. For a (controversial) look at the academic pyramid, this is an interesting read:
    http://philip.greenspun.com/careers/women-in-science
    “This article explores this fourth possible explanation for the dearth of women in science: They found better jobs.”

    There are, of course, a lot of people who are happy in academia. The problem is that “doing everything right” at the “right schools” is no longer the sure path to a viable career and to employment anymore, and I’m not sure that is emphasized enough with people who are at the early end of the process.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s