Welcome to 17th Grade!

No, it's not a typo. I finished 12th grade (in the Dark Ages) and then earned a 4-year degree, so that places me firmly in 17th grade for my first semester of graduate school. 

I've had the advantage of watching my husband survive his master's and then his doctorate. Now, it's my turn. I was pumped--been wanting to do this for years! But after meeting my fellow grad students, working with my professors and trolling various blogs online, I'm wondering if I'll still be pumped next semester. When I see meme after meme likening graduate studies to the fifth circle of Hell and all manner of demiurgic torture, I start to think I'm one of those ladies in horror films about to open the door at the end of the long, scary hallway. Everyone is screaming not to do it, but she does it anyway.

The other day I was reading an article listing 50 Things Only a Grad Student Will Understand when I should have been reading pages and pages about our legal system. Well, that's beside the point. Anyway, what I found interesting was how my current stage of life impacted many of the things on the list. When you're 144 and going back to college, it's a slightly different situation.

So here's my transmutation (I knew that word before grad school, really) of the 
Top 20 Things Only Older Grad Students Understand:

20. Meetings with professors and class times are scheduled at the most inconvenient times imaginable. Like when you need to eat and sleep because you work full-time and normally go to bed at 8:30.

19. Life can be summed up in one word: research. You know plenty of useless facts and "working theories" but can't remember what you ate for lunch or where you put your car keys.

18. A social life now consists of (1) people debating serious issues and philosophical concepts, and (2) your kids asking if you ever plan on cooking dinner again.

17. You consider caffeine to be your favorite food group (this one's the same no matter your age).

16. Working wherever, whenever because you have a full-time job, a freelance job, four kids, a husband and a dachshund in a pear tree. Your books and laptop are basically tethered to your shoulder.

15. Panic sets in when you schedule a task or event that doesn’t involve school and guilt sets in when you schedule more study time away from the kids.

14. Being so mentally and physically exhausted that you don’t even have the energy to carry on the modicum of a conversation after you drag yourself home.

13. Your family suggests that you start wearing a name tag since they barely recognize you anymore.

12. Purchasing a plant or dry-clean only clothing becomes too much of a commitment.

11. Spelling the simplest words suddenly becomes difficult with all the words swimming around in your head until you commit a horrendous social faux pas, like suggesting that schools return to capital punishment when you really meant corporal punishment.
24 of the Best Grad School Memes on www.buzzfeed.com 

10. You’ve got a 2-3 minute "grad speech" memorized for when people ask what you plan to do with your degree. 

9. You feel like an under-qualified impostor and wonder when your professors and colleagues will catch on and kick you out of the program. 

8. You say to yourself at least ten times a day, "I'm way too old for this crap" and then try to figure out ONE. MORE. TIME. why the Excel spreadsheet isn't working.

7. Over-thinking has always been a hobby of yours but now you're taking it to Olympic levels.

6. In the privacy of your own overworked mind, you give yourself mini pep talks and one day realize you're doing it out loud, in public.

5. At home, you reward yourself with chores just to catch a break from reading.

4. You feel absolutely brilliant one second, but it's short-lived because you feel dumb-as-a-rock the next. 

3. Trying to figure out what the assignment actually is while you’re trying to complete it, and then consoling yourself when nobody else seems to know either.

2. Anxiety reigns when you’re on break because you keep feeling like you’ve forgotten something major, and maybe you have. Who knows?

1. You're actually grateful when funerals, hurricanes, illnesses and any other unforeseen circumstances have the decency to happen over the weekend so you won't miss class or a project deadline. 

And I suppose I need to add just one more, if I'm being honest:

You take time to blog on useless subjects because procrastination has become a way of life.

Gotta go, folks. Time to study!


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