I’ll warn you in advance that this post might seem a little bitter and borderline jealous, but I don’t mean it that way. I hope you’ll bear with me.

I made a lot of stupid decisions when I was just out of high school. I was a terrible student with not much motivation. I wasted a lot of years. True enough, I made up for those years when I went back to college and graduated with a 3.83 GPA, but by then, the die was cast. I was too old to stop working and be a “full-time” grad student. If I wanted a graduate degree, it would have to be done in addition to my job, not instead of it. I was okay with that. . .until now.

I want to be a part of the community of graduate students. I want to collaborate with them. I want to learn from them and I want to offer what knowledge and wisdom I can to them. I want to publish and present. I want to be involved in the ongoing academic conversation. But, I can’t be a part of that world. That world is reserved for students who either don’t work, or students who work only part-time and can be on campus learning and talking and writing for most of the hours of the day. Working grad students like me are left on the outside looking in. We are left to watch as younger graduate students who have (I’m sorry, but it’s true) not had to work as hard as working schlubs like me. It hurts.

I take responsibility for the decisions I made. I understand that it was those decisions that put me in the position I’m in now, but that doesn’t make it hurt any less. I wish there were a place for me, but there is not. I will finish my degree in December and will still be on the outside looking in as other students–more “typical” students are given opportunities I will never be given. It hurts.

Yeah. . .it hurts.

</elegy>

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4 thoughts on “Elegy of a Working Grad Student

  1. Jason I can relate to this. Totally different but never having children I feel like this. Always on the outside. No matter the age everyone I’m around are always telling their stories of ” children days” or pregnancies. It does hurt and always will. No one understands this and it will always be there. Then come grandchildren which I do have and love them very much but not the same. I know God has a reason which we can’t understand and maybe it is for the best and maybe it makes us stronger or more aware of others in our situations. It does still hurt. I really enjoy your bags and you just keep on keeping on

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Your story (or, more accurately, account or history) is very eerily similar to my own in many respects. I made a lot of mistakes and ____ed away the opportunities I had, just chasing my tail and not knowing who I really was or what I really wanted to do with my life. I drove a truck all over America for nearly two decades. I was very unhappy with that almost the whole time, but I was then stuck in it. Now I’m 44, and I don’t have a lot of do-overs left in life. I now “teach” high school math, and I do not enjoy it. I would give just about anything to go back to college and go all the way through to a PhD and beyond; and maybe even (dare I dream?) teach some students who actually WANT to learn instead of trying in futility to force knowledge into the heads of entitled, lazy, undisciplined and apathetic teenagers absolutely determined to keep it out. I will not teach in the public schools after this school year, so how to return to college to pursue my academic goals without a miracle grant or scholarship landing in my lap, or having to work my way through like you, I can not fathom.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. If you can find a way to do it, do it! I don’t regret going to grad school at all…not one minute, not one penny. My only regret is not doing it sooner–not doing it when I was young enough to really be a part of it. But, you should absolutely do it if you can.

      Like

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