The semester always starts off with a great deal of excitement and anxiety. Enthusiasm for starting something new, dread for how challenging classes will be, and concern for how to balance it all.
I have always been able to empathize with my students at the beginning of the semester, but this year I was truly able to experience how my students felt since I had decided to enroll in a Ph.D. program. A week before classes started I received an email from my instructor with a 20+ page syllabus and 8 attached readings. In the email, the instructor requested that we thoroughly read the syllabus; I thought about how many times I have told my students to do that and now wondered if I could do it!
At home that night, I told my family I might reconsider my decision to return to school. I spent the night zoning out; I finished watching my shows on Netflix, since I knew my Netflix binging days were numbered. The next day, I got my act together and organized my schedule, marked due dates, and blocked off time to complete the necessary school work. It has been many years since I was sitting behind a desk rather than standing in the front at a lectern. I wondered if I could balance it all: school, a full-time career and a young family. But I reaffirmed my decision to return to school and made a commitment to make it all work, just like many of my students do.
I decided to actually heed the advice I have given to some of my students. I often quote Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Life is a journey, not a destination.” Sometimes when we are so focused on the next step we miss what is in front of us. Instead of deciding what you want to do when you grow up or what classes would be best for your career, you need to take a step back and focus on completing one thing at a time.
For me, I have been focusing on completing this one core class, and taking it one day and one week at a time, concentrating on my readings and written assignments due each week. Being organized is one of my strengths so I hope to maintain that, but I am also a planner, which can be a weakness.
I share all this to say, that we all have our strengths and weaknesses. It is important to identify them and if you need support take advantage of the great resources right here on campus. There is the Center for Academic Services if you need help proof-reading a paper, the Career and Internship Services Center to assist you in your career search, and the Center for Counseling and Consultation if you start feeling overwhelmed by it all. These are just a few of the many resources provided on the USG campus.
Most importantly, remember to remain in the moment. Always have future goals, but take one step at a time, and enjoy the journey.