Monday, September 28, 2015

The stress at the End

Next Monday I start my final course in my Master’s program. Now, I’m sure maybe a few are asking “Didn’t he already start a ‘last’ class before?” And the answer is, yes I did.

My college (American Public University) gives you a very concise and easy-to-follow outline of what classes you can take, what you’ve taken, and what you need to take to fulfill the requirements (as I’m sure most, if not all colleges do). As the final, capstone course, my program outline showed only the Comprehensive Exam as an option. So, I assumed that meant that’s what I needed to do.

After signing up for that class, and going through the first couple of weeks of writing outlines, and trying to recall information for essay answers, I began to get nervous. And that nervousness rapidly escalated to downright fear and anxiety. I am horrible with remembering names, dates, and specific people. Especially scholars of note. So, the idea of having to sit at a computer for six hours and write essay answers to four of eight possible questions, all from memory, and without any references available, was giving me hives, and causing me to wake up in the middle of the night with worry.

So, I emailed my Student Services office, and asked if it was possible for me to do a thesis instead of the exam. The answer I got was “Sure, no problem.” All they had to do was add the option to my Academic Plan, which allowed me to register. So, I immediately dropped the exam course (unfortunately just a few days too late to get any kind of refund), and registered for the Thesis course.

So, starting next Monday, I will spend the next 16 weeks being guided through writing a 40-50 page paper on some aspect of ancient cultures. To some that may seem daunting. But, based on the format of my previous academic papers, that’s approximately 16-20,000 words (based on most of my papers being roughly 325 words a page). I have snippets of failed novels longer than that. So, I know I can do this.

The only stress I have right now is that they suggest coming into the course armed with a handful of ideas for your paper to run by the professor. I decided that I would like to have five. Right now, I have one. With a few ideas that I need to spend this week exploring. At this point, I’ll settle for three, since I will probably have to opportunity to develop a few more during the first couple of weeks. So, that’s what I am working on this week. By the way, if anyone has any ideas, I’d be more than happy to hear them.

Outside of school, I’m working on doing more to relieve stress. And one of those things is reading fiction. Unfortunately, with my varied tastes, and the sheer volume of my TBR pile (both physical and virtual), sometimes it’s hard to pin down what I am in the mood to read. I’ve started and set aside four or five books since finishing Conan of the Isles (see my last post), but I have finally settled on something, and it’s keeping me interested.

Fans of fantasy wargaming, especially the Warhammer line, should be familiar with the characters of Gotrek and Felix. For those who aren’t, they are kind of a “high fantasy” version of Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser (and if you don’t know who they are I can’t help you). Gotrek is a dwarven Trollslayer (basically a berserker who eschews armor, and has a death wish), and Felix is a human poet and memoirist, who also happens to be very capable with a sword. The premise is that Felix follows Gotrek around to chronicle his adventures, including his inevitable epic death. The books are good fun, and I had read a couple many years ago. I found two more in the bargain pile at HPB a while back, and snatched them up. I’m reading Orcslayer first. Because orcs. So far, it’s pretty intriguing.

Anyways, life moves forward. Whether we want it to or not.


Keith West said...

Good luck with the thesis. I've read a few of the Gotrek and Felix short stories and really enjoyed them. I've been meaning to get back to them.

Charles Gramlich said...

For my third year in grad school I chose to write a thesis rather than take exams. I've never regretted it. I really enjoyed doing the thesis papers

Charles Gramlich said...

For my third year in grad school I chose to write a thesis rather than take exams. I've never regretted it. I really enjoyed doing the thesis papers