After 4 months of intense reading, writing and analyzing, my first semester of grad school at Milano is over. I’ve finally finished all of my case studies, take-home tests, essay tests, multiple choice Economics questions and reflective papers, and it feels great. I couldn’t pick a favorite class from the semester but there have been favorite learning moments. These include being introduced to the world of competitive markets and Adam Smith’s economic theory while the world economy was crashing down around us, discussing ways that we see ourselves as leaders for social change while we prepare for Barack Obama to assume office of the U.S. Presidency, learning the legal aspects and foundational theory of nonprofits while Bernard Madoff’s Ponzi scheme caused numerous charities and philanthropic organizations to sadly shut down operations, and discussing theories of management style while executives of Big 3 car companies were down on their knees asking the U.S. government for handouts.. Suffice it to say it has been an interesting 4 months, both in and out of the classroom. That is what interests me most though: being able to relate my learning with real-world events. Unfortunately most of the news recently has been negative and depressing, so let’s hope that next semester things are looking up! But until then, I will be enjoying my month long break from my studies. I’ll be relaxing out West with family for a bit and then visiting friends in Chicago and Iowa before I head back to New York for some free time and visitors. Ahhhhhh….. Happy Holidays everyone!
Archive for December, 2008
I really am still here. I swear. My blogging absence has been dutifully noted and will be addressed tonight. Right after a 15 minute power nap…zzzzz……. Ok, just kidding. But I really have had to resort to power naps lately at a rate not seen since the days of my last semester of undergraduate. Warning: The faint of heart should not enroll in 19 credit hours, work 10 hours at an internship (unpaid!), work 30+ hours at a PT job, be involved in school activities and attempt to finish a senior thesis all at the same time. But somehow I survived that, and I intend to survive my first semester here in grad school at Milano. (Plus I suppose it all worked well for me since I earned an A+ on my senior thesis and was hired from my internship into full-time staff after graduation.)
It’s not as if my schedule is really even that full right now, compared to the above or compared to many students who work full-time while attending school full-time, have children and families or are attempting to juggle classes with teaching assistantships. But compared to my first few months here, I’m exhausted, and for the most part, happy about it.
For all students this time of year is stressful and busy. Finals- enough said. Which may be why I am now questioning the reason I began interning at a nonprofit consulting firm last week, instead of simply starting in the beginning of Spring semester. For all practical purposes, I know why it worked out this way: I was interested in the firm and was eager to jump into the projects, they asked me to start at this time, etc. etc… But working on top of the many group projects Milano throws at us, plus tending to my numerous final semester-long papers has been a handful.
What I remembered after these past few weeks though, is that I work best like this. Procrastination tends to creep up when I have too much free time tempting me to watch movies and do fun art projects instead of study. With less free time, I know that I only have X amount of hours to do Y paper. No ifs and or buts about it, I have to do it NOW. It gets finished and I am more focused! I wouldn’t say that everything benefits from this focused time management (just ask my family who I never call, my boyfriend who I never see despite the fact that we live together in a tiny apartment, my gym membership, my laundry or my dishes…) but right now, the most important tasks are getting the attention they deserve, and I’m happy to do it.
It’s not as if any of this is groundbreaking or news to any graduate student, but for some reason it took me a few months to remember. Now my goal is to NOT forget it in January when May finals seem soooo far away…
Transcripts of a recent, recent & real online chat….
TD: tushar, how is life?
Tushar: Hello Friend, life is good……..kinda
Tushar: Just busy…..Its grad school……..plus I’ve got this bug
TD: oh no
Tushar: yeah ..doctors are perplexed……there’s medically no cure
TD: hm….thats not good
Tushar: yeah .. but I’ve gotten it before too, I had a chronic case of it back in our undergrad years too
TD: oh dear.. what is it?
Tushar: its called Majorly Procrsatinating it can be quite detrimental to the pursuit of academic excellence
TD: hahahahahhaha……….yea I had that before too.
Tushar: I am currently undergoing this new gene treatment called ‘ Effective Time Management”
End Transcript. Begin Case Analysis
For centuries now, a highly infectious bug causing a condition know as Major Procrastination Syndrome (MPS) has been thriving in academic institutions across the globe. To date, MPS has caused more students to fail classes and suffer lower GPA’s than all other imaginary, non communicable ailments combined.
A non- statistical and ‘completely word-of-mouth‘ survey revealed that over a recent 5-day holiday break, MPS rendered several students incapable of doing any school work whatsoever. The seasonal ingestion of large doses of the enzyme L- Tryptophan was found to aggravated the victims condition.
Compulsive cleaning, baking, doing laundry for your roommates, and simply slouching in front of the TV for hours without watching a single show are all symptoms of MPS. Students in a state of MP also complain of frequent loss of focus and a shortened attention spans. They often attribute this to their self-diagnosed acute ADD, usually fictitious and rarely clinical. Fictitious ADD is another study in itself , however trials suggests that a 3-5 minute daily routine of meditation effectively help to remedy this condition.
Antibiotics are useless to students in a state of MP. Warm soup, liquids and lots of rest don’t help either, if anything they intensity the problem.
The only cure to MPS lies in the organizational DNA of the species known as the “Straight A Student (SAS)”. If incorporated correctly, a SAS’s Time Management gene could not only greatly reduce the risk of academic failure, but also contribute to a happier collegiate experience. Complete and sustained recovery however, requires both, a strict diet of task- prioritization and routine exercises in weekly and daily planning.
The good news is that most schools and universities offer free counseling and treatment services for all types of MPS . If you believe that you you might suffer from MPS, contact your professor, academic adviser or visit your nearest learning/writing center. They’ll help you discover which Time Management treatment(TMT) works best for you!
Note: TMT may not be suitable for all, people falling under the catergory of genius, prodigy or super-human are often born with a natural immunity to the MPS. From time to time though, even they have been known to exhibit certain MPS symptoms.
One of the hardest things about Thanksgiving “break” is that you have only one proper day “off” really; and if you are all in town and you’re like most of the people I’ve talked to, that meant that even though there were international crises and a holiday, we still convened at some point (or more than once) over that weekend with one or more of our groups with which we are putting together end of term projects.
The tricky part with the group projects is how much time you spend getting your logistics together; I am so looking forward to future terms when I will already have figured out where there are available rooms and workspaces at the sometimes odd hours available for 5 or 6 students coming from all over the NYC area to meet.
At Milano, we are largely a little bit older, as in not straight out of undergrad, and so there are roughly 3 big groups of us: local New Yorkers (including folks like me who have been living here for a few years prior); people just moving to the city from elsewhere; and Peace Corps/international students who are not only adjusting to life in NYC, but also being new to or newly back to the US. This means that on the whole even though I have been here awhile, none of my daily routines for the past 6 years have entailed finding spots for a group of students to plug in laptops and hash over the details of a powerpoint presentation. I sometimes also forget, frankly, how overwhelming and busy and stressful just adjusting to living in NYC is. I now seem to vaguely remember feeling it took about 6 months for the initial phase of that to be over, and then the next couple to few years getting a handle on all of the opportunities and challenges unique to living here.
In the midst of those larger “adjustment” issues during the first term, there are some specific adjustments that for me are at last coming due. I got a job–finally!–over a month ago but owing to administrative processes to get me going in that job have not actually begun going to work yet. When that finally happens, my schedule will tighten up considerably and during the spring and summer terms (which I am attending as a part-time student), I suspect I will be much more tired and regimented than I am now. Given that I am already feeling tired and that my life is spent trucking from one group meeting to the next, this means that things will get “interesting!”
This upcoming break, then, for me, does not feel like a completely free stretch of time to recharge for next term, but rather an interval during which I will rediscover what it is like to have my evenings free. Right now I am not getting home or eating a small dinner until after 10 most days, sometimes later. My hours are about to get much stranger!
I am partly writing this not so much because it is interesting per se, but rather because these practical things like how long your day will be, and what kinds of adjustments you’ll be managing are of particular concern, I think, to part-time students. For us, this experience is less of a marathon and more of a triathlon, if you follow. We attend school most of the year and do so after we have already clocked in a full day at our official “job”–and we will be maintaining that schedule for a few years’ time, until we graduate. There are some of us also balancing these commitments with raising children, starting families of our own, and juggling it all presents one of the unique challenges to grad school done a few years later than others might.
The good news? You really will discover how worthwhile you find your time to be, and it is not as much of a struggle to focus on work, believe it or not, because you just don’t have the time to wonder how you will be using it. Your lack of time will become its own motivator to use what you have wisely. Going back older means in some ways you are going back wiser; while you are not going to feel as sharp as you may once have, or as at ease with whatever new technology you’re seeing, your sense of perspective and of your time’s value gives you a real advantage of its own.
Back to finalizing more powerpoint!!