All glory comes from daring to begin. – Eugene F. Ware
Of late, I have been really enjoying the “My Big Break” series from NPR. The high-stakes storytelling of a life-making moment is compelling; uncovering for the listener a time in the life of someone fairly well-known that essentially opened a door to the path to success and/or achievement.
What’s striking is that for a series called “My Big Break”, it could have easily been called “My Big Choice.” Echoing through each of these stories is a decision point. All the stories outline a time and place where they were presented or perceived an opportunity that they could either seize or turn away. In all of these stories, our protagonist seizes the opportunity, and the outcome is transformational.
A classic speech worthwhile of revisiting. Comedian John Cleese on creativity, psychology, and the conditions necessary for expansive thinking.
As we begin a new academic year, I am thinking of the many people who are about to make the transition (either from undergrad, employment, or full-time family life) to graduate school. I have been reflecting on my own transition – in Summer 2009 – right before began my PhD program. In that time leading into the Fall semester, I was obsessed not only my academic chops and proving my worth, but also with the logistics of A) living apart from my husband B) carrying two rent payments and C) entering a world of uncertain funding.
I was having night terrors thinking about the change, and started to concentrate on the things I felt I could anticipate and plan. While I had little control over what the Fall would bring, I could start being proactive about finances and conscious about spending to prepare for this large economic shift I was making.
As the new semester starts, this classic from PhD Comics will help orient you to the awkward question, “What do I call my professor?”
As we move into summer – and the theoretical vacations that could take place – this seemed an appropriate share that so many of us will recognize:
Originally, I was going to use this title for a pithy list of challenges and opportunities related to the dissertation process for the Spring semester (which is, indeed, no disco). Upon reading feedback from my students for the Fall semester, I decided to take this title in a different direction, and that is expectations of work and readings in college. College is serious business, and while there are so many opportunities to enjoy in college, there is still a deeper meaning for why you have dedicated four years and many economic resources to undertaking this education. The title is not meant to be dismissive, but rather a unifying lyric for the amount of work it takes to get through it all. What you will find below is some honest and helpful advice to manage expectations for students entering the world of higher education for the first time. Sometimes it seems daunting, and even overwhelming, when faced with the syllabus and reading list for the first time. There are also some protocol lessons that you just do not realize as a newbie. Here are my best “lessons learned” to share with you:
As we count down to 2013, I think this is sage advice for all of us who feel a little stuck or in a place of transition. As I try to get through the dissertation process and decide what the path forward looks like, I have had many a sleepless night wondering “What if?” and “What’s next?”. No one knows that answer. But the best we can do is to jump enthusiastically and purposefully forward with the hope that if we follow our internal compass, the net will be there to guide us safely to the ground.