Saturday, August 25, 2007

There but for the grace of bloggers

Last week I went to meet with an administrator in the graduate school here at (forgive my lame attempt at assigning pseudonyms) Better Than U, to talk about a fellowship I was thinking of applying for. He couldn't help me much with that part of the conversation, but we got to talking about graduate school as a whole, my current plans of working for a year or two with an organization at BTU (heh) and then, luck willing, my beginning life as a grad student here in one of the departments he happens to oversee. We talked about the nature of the department and its requirements, the transformation it's undergone in recent years, the extent to which a graduate school curriculum can do its job of preparing students to be professional academics and the necessity of avoiding getting bogged down in the grad school morass for years on end.

I made some comment about how fundamentally different the experience of TAing (leading a discussion once or twice a week, perhaps giving one lecture in a semester-long class) must be from the load one takes on as a first-year junior professor (a 4/4 schedule, research and service expectations, etc. etc.), and the guy looks at me and says, "Oh, you need to come here--you're so reasonable!"

Which, well, cool. But it also made me realize how important so many of the personal-professional blogs that I've taken to reading have been for informing my expectations about graduate school and the professoriate. I'm immensely glad that these resources have been at my disposal, especially given that, judging from this dean's reaction (which, granted, has its own biases), many grad students apparently don't come in with their eyes open to these issues--even at hoity-toity BTU, which I imagine attracts its share of obsessive/Type A/think-ahead-and-plan-for-everything types.

Anyway, this is all a roundabout way of saying thank you to those who devote the time to sharing their everyday experiences in academe. You're helping the neophytes more than you know.

No comments:

Reductionism who in the what now?