So I’m a graduate student. What now?
I’m in love with studying adult education and distance education. My mission is to be an advocate for adult learners, especially adult learners studying online. Never in my life have I had such a gratifying and joyous experience as when I help someone else successfully navigate a few steps further down their path.
I love research. Well, reading published works, at least – plus the few experiences that I have had proposing and conducting my own research. As far as parity goes, this really is an area that we need to work on. Online students don’t have the opportunities to participate outside of the formal course curriculum that are automatically available to students on campus. Somebody, somewhere, thought that all we would want was a degree and that is certainly true for some adult learners already working in their field. But, oh how they underestimated the rest of us!!
We want our grad school applications to be competitive – maybe even go on to earn a doctorate?! We want to be active participants in our learning experiences?! We want academic AND social interaction?! We want to fundraise for the largest student-run philanthropic effort?! We want to show our school spirit?! We want to be involved?! We want to make a difference?! Whodda thunk it?? Honestly, I never doubted us for a minute :-)
Unfortunately, the research does little to support us and our position. Could that be because, even though they’re letting us through the doors – both real and virtual – the culture of higher education remains largely unchanged? How can someone know what they are missing if they have never had the opportunity to experience it! I am astonished by research asking students to rate a variety of “services” where they are comparing social support to the ability to pay a bill and register for classes! Of course, we have to register and pay our bill to actually get through the door in the first place! Really?? I am aghast! Oy, don’t even get me started on that…
So, here I am – perhaps similar to you – at a crossroads. Behind me I see twenty years of mothering and working as an administrator in the service and hospitality industries. When I look ahead, I am astonished at all the interesting options that could unfold. Even with my grades, enthusiasm, and charm, however, I could not talk anyone into allowing me to TA an online course or intern as an online adult learner liaison and at no cost to the U. Some days, I feel like the in-between area where I now stand resembles the Grand Canyon…
Somebody asked me why be an attack student. Did that really convey how I want to be perceived by the outside world? In two words, HELL YES!! What’s that old saying about women who behave rarely making history? For those adult students working toward change in their own institutions, I’m sure we will spend some time here talking about being tactful and navigating a political bureaucracy. After all, no matter where you are and what you’re doing, if you want to get things done, you have to educate yourself and plan your attack ;-)
Seriously, though, when I was working with a variety of words to give my blog a name, I realized how cliché they all sounded. EDUC84LIFE. blech. Since I did not want my blog to sound like marketing material, I fell back on the sign hanging prominently over my desk at home. My mom gave it to me when I was working on my undergraduate degree. It simply says…
Apparently she knows me better than I thought ;-)