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I have just completed the first year of my doctoral program and I find myself asking: what have I learned?

Not sure….can tell you a lot about information management, computer supported cooperative work, social theories of technology, philosophies on science, usability engineering, and most importantly, please believe me when I say this: graduate level applied statistics is a mother-effin’ beyotch….

Other than that? Dunno. I am unsure how this all pulls together into what will ultimately culminate into a doctoral thesis. I cannot even fathom a thesis right now. Maybe it’s because my brain is fried. Maybe it’s because right now I am questioning whether all of this is a good idea. Maybe I just miss Sailor…a little too much. And maybe, just maybe,  a more normal type of existence seems in order, possibly even necessary.

This is so different from the fall, when I arrive here amped-up and ready to burn. Full of ideas. Full of vigor. Ready to absorb every ounce of information I could handle…

Instead, I’m chronically stressed, tired, and my skin is so dry from living in cold and dusty labs that I can barely absorb enough moisturizer…

I mentioned the possibility to Sailor of leaving after next year with a Masters and he wouldn’t hear of it. He thinks I’m too invested. I wonder if that is in fact the true account of things or whether it is everyone else who is too invested on my behalf?

My mother always said “You gotta get them on the rug before you can pull it out from under them”. And never have truer words been spoken. Until that is, you are the one on the rug and The Powers That Be decide said rug should operate like a roller-coaster.

The Powers That Be, forthwith to be referenced as “TPTB” are starting to piss me off.

Let me clarify: TPTB are the are college elders who decide your provisional fate in the doctoral program. In the best case scenario, they guide, they advise, they extol academic wisdom and virtue; in the worst case scenario, and that’s exactly what I am talking about here, they fuck with your very existence.

In the last 4 months, the TPTB has decided:

  • That the “roadmap” or document stating “things you can expect from u while you are here” (a basic agreement issued to any student in higher education) is null and void
  • I now have an extra class to take
  • I also have an internal realignment where I will now take up to 4 methodology courses
  • Where in the past, if you fail candidacy, you can do a maters thesis and based on its success/failure, you can/cannot continue on to a doctorate, now, if you fail candidacy, you risk being tossed out wholesale
  • The document I signed that guaranteed 4 years of funding is null and void
  • That candidacy, which is supposed to occur in the fall, is now, after securing internships and other travel/moving arrangements, occurs in the summer

TPTB, in short, have decided to become a bunch of bastards. TPTB, additionally, have made it pretty clear that I cannot trust them in any way, shape, or form. Which sucks rocks when you’ve hitched your wagon to them for 4 years.

Not that all the changes are bad, these are tough times, I understand the funding crisis, and another class won’t kill… But when we signed, what essentially is binding agreement, and TPTB has reneged on half of it within a 4 month period, I have to wonder what the bloody hell I have gotten myself into.

Seriously, this is beyond the Pale.

1. If you’re open to the experience, your head will spin with ideas…a lot of ideas…really, too many ideas

2. Over stimulation resulting in mental shut-down makes doctoral students pretty similar to a highly functioning autistic.

3. A smart cocktail can make 300 pages of reading pretty darn interesting

4. Sometimes there’s just not enough booze to get you through 300 pages of academic journal writing

5. “A PhD is a marathon, not a sprint.”

5. Given #4 and my hatred of cardio, I really should have thought about that before doing this

6. Typical lesson plan: read 100 pages, have students write 500 words responding to 100 pages, present class material on 100 pages incorporating student response, then test students on reading, writing, and presentation…repeat.

7. After 8 months on campus, I still only know where to find my building, the gym, and the library, so don’t go asking me for directions.

8. Despite an advisor, graduate advisors, student representation committees, and your cohort, you are really and truly on your own.

9. “First year doctoral students can expect to feel overwhelmed and ill-prepared resulting in a frequent changing of research topics and feelings of inadequacies when compared to their peers.”

10. .If #9 is true, it’s nice to know I fall within the bell-curve…