Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Gussy from Galveston Checks In!

My first Grad class is on Thursday. I am nervous. I was admitted on "Double Secret Probation." I bombed my GRE AND failed my last undergrad class (No habla Espanol). But I'm in. And I'm going to make the most of it. I have no funding, I'm paying cash for my classes and working full time AND commuting about 45 miles one way. My advisor wants to meet once a week (to keep my ass in line).

Thanks CM.


  1. Ambition, hardwork, and sheer determination can go a long way, but find someone to pay you to go to school. Depending on your field and school, it _might_ be worth the out-of-pocket cost, but it also might not be. And most certainly, do not do this on loans. Funding grad education with loans puts a lot of constraints on your decisions of when to finish and what job to take.

    Remember, the school, in admitting you, is not thinking of your interests. You give them money for the privilege of being there. They know that not everyone finishes, but everyone does pay. Find someone else to cover that cost and absorb that risk for you. You will risk enough in earning potential lost and life spent.

    1. +1 to everything Alan said. Congratulations on admission--now go forth and impress the hell out of them, and maybe you'll be able to wheedle an assistantship if something opens up (it happened to others in my department as a student).

  2. Best of luck Gussy. Please heed the warnings you read here.

  3. Whatever you do, don't try to land in Lakehurst.

  4. Gussy, pardon my pessimism, but you're setting yourself up for failure if you're starting off grad school with poor academic preparation and a full-time job. Why is this degree so important to you?

  5. Well bless your heart, and the best of luck to you! Do heed the warnings and questions above; as you (at least partially) realize, you're in a precarious position, both financially and in relation to your program.

    On the one hand, I'm inclined to encourage you, since we need more students who take criticism and setbacks cheerfully, and respond by working hard. On the other hand, a non-funded contingent admission to grad school is not exactly a vote of conference, and full-time employment and a long commute aren't going to help (and unless you've got some sort of language processing issue or similar learning disability, *and* your grad major doesn't draw on similar skills/abilities, flunking Spanish as a senior is not a good sign. Passing the sort of language class you need to graduate nearly always involves pretty basic memorization of pretty basic rules -- in short, hard work, time management, and persistence. You need those for grad school, too).

    On the third hand, some of the best teachers (and, less commonly, the best researchers) are people who struggled in their earlier schooling, but eventually developed a real passion for a particular subject (and better life-management skills; really, this part matters, and one of those skills involves correctly predicting whether you can hold down a full-time job, a monster commute to school, and (how many?) grad classes. Yes, this worries me.)

    And finally, even if you do really, really well in grad school, keep your eye on where it's all leading (or not); in short, seek out opportunities to build skills and experience that will be salable outside the academy.

    1. For "conference" in para. 2, read "confidence." Tea-partying middle-aged brain. Aargh.

    2. Cassandra, as usual, has expressed my thoughts much better than I did.

  6. I started my original post wanting to scream, "Get out while you can!", but I did not have the reproductive organs (or B.A.C.) to do it.

    The path you are on does not welcome you, even if the school welcomes your tuition. If you succeed it will be mostly because of luck. Before you become lucky, you will have to be very good, but being very good _will not_ be enough. I cannot say this strongly enough.

    There are wonderful opportunities ahead of you, glorious classrooms full of bright young minds eager to learn, career paths that value whatever you want to publish about, and the freedom to build your life around researching that which you love.

    But you will probably not get there.

    This is in no way derogatory towards you. It is a statement of fact and odds. Just like the fine print on the back of the lottery ticket reading "overall odds of winning 1:50,000". For every 1 of those lucky dreams, there are 49,999 who lose.

    40,000 of those who lose weren't good enough. They didn't publish enough, or found the wrong things interesting, or had derailing disagreements with their advisors, or they just couldn't stand to sacrifice enough of their life and loved ones to succeed.

    But there were 9,999 who were good enough. In fact, they were just as good, or better, than the winner. But the goodness didn't count, because the final winner is drawn by chance.

    So be aware that the path you are on, that will require sacrifice of life, love, time, and money, will only give you a chance. Not a chance to excel, it will require excellence. But if you are excellent, you will get a chance to be lucky.

    This is why you are warned. Do not go into debt for a chance at luck, any more than you would take out a loan to play blackjack or buy a stack of lottery tickets. Do not sign your life away for the hope of winning the lottery. If you find support, from family, friends, and school, then pursue education for the sake of education. If more happens, then revel in your good fortune. But do not bet your future happiness or financial security on fortune. Continue on this path only if you will be happy if it takes you nowhere.

  7. Gussy will make it, she's a friend.She wants it. In the 6th grade, Gussy was told by a math teacher she was, "stupid". Gussy let that rule her life for a long time. No, Gussy can't speak much Spanish, but in her field, she can hold her own with PhD's.


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