Grad School—Thoughts Again

Hey Everyone,

I finally broke down Tuesday. I thought I could hold it together, but I couldn’t.

I’ve been under a lot of pressure. I have a lot of expectations from ceramics, drawing and home, it’s been hard to handle.

In my “Second Guessing Grad School” post I was pretty emotional. I still am, but I want to make some things clear.
1) I do not dislike my professors in any way. In fact, I like them both very much.
2) I know I have a lot to learn, but I do not need to be reminded on a daily basis. I only need to be told that once, if not ever. I would not be so foolish as to say “I have nothing to learn”.
3) The loans still scare me to death. I know there is a possibility of a Graduate Assistantship, but from what I’ve been told, the Ceramics dept. lost it some years ago when there were no grad students. I don’t know if it’s possible to get back or if I would even be approved.
4) I have responsibilities at home that require my attention. Justin single-handedly takes care of us, keeps a roof over our heads, and pays all the bills. Between the pressure of school and feeling like a useless partner to Justin, I have not been able to sleep for over 2 months and I feel like crap constantly.

The only thing that’s been keeping me going is this blog and all you fine people reading it. I can be myself here and you guys respond! It’s really great.

I found out today that my ceramics professor has been reading my posts. I imagine she wasn’t very happy to find out how upset I was. I won’t apologize for being upset, but I will apologize if she thought I was blaming her, because I’m not.

I came into the ceramics dept blind and I still feel blind. It’s a totally different setup than I’ve ever seen and it runs differently than I’ve ever experienced. I am lost every time I step in there. I just found out today where the slips I’m allowed to use are. I’m a very independent person, so I’ve tried to figure it out myself, but I can’t. I feel bad bugging the other students constantly to show me where things are and how to use them. I’m a grad student, I feel like I should already know those things.

I did find out today that I’m WAY BEHIND in ceramics. I guess I was expected to create about 10 pieces a week, if not more. At this point I’m totaling about 12 and we’re seven weeks into the semester. I guess I was wrong to assume that I was supposed to be focusing on making “perfect” pieces, which is what I’ve been doing. I thought my prof wanted me to perfect my technique, I didn’t know she wanted me to perfect it and then make it 10+ times. Up until this point almost everything I’ve been told about grad school has been wrong.
1) In grad school you “focus” on one aspect and you create a body of work. WRONG
2) In grad school you make less pieces, but they are all good pieces. WRONG
3) In grad school you only see your professors on portfolio days. WRONG

It all comes down to this.

I won’t be leaving you guys anytime soon. I enjoy this blog, it really takes very little time to do and you are my support. Some of you have even been kind enough to purchase candles and crafts from me which helps us live. We appreciate that more than you know.

I will continue to post about baking/cooking and experiment. My responsibility is the kitchen. If I don’t make bread or learn how to create foods for half their retail price, we don’t eat. That’s just the simple matter of it. My entire school refund is barely keeping us afloat, I must do my part to ease the burden on Justin and I will. He’s my partner and we’ll work together.

I will continue to work harder and push myself in ceramics. I’ve seen some huge improvements in my work already and I will do all I can to catch up and surpass my expectations.

I am considering another semester at school, but I will not be taking any other class than ceramics. After that point I cannot say. If I can get the Graduate Assistantship I will continue my education. If, however, that assistantship will not pay for all of my tuition, I cannot continue. As much as everyone tells me it either is or isn’t worth it, the plain facts are this; I cannot afford the payments if school is not paid for by the assistantship. Sallie Mae is already crippling us and I will not contribute more to our financial failure. I do not want to be a professor and I will not put my financial future in jeopardy for something I won’t do.

I believe my professors have my best interests in mind, but I need them to understand that my life is more complicated than just grad school. There is a lot more at stake. I cannot give 100% of my time to grad school, I’m an adult with adult things to manage, it’s just not possible. If that means I shouldn’t be in school, then I would like to know that.

I should have asked for my graduate expectations to be laid out, in plain english, on the table in front of me. I should never have assumed anything. That was my mistake.

 

Thanks for reading guys and gals.

Ben

 

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