How to Get Your Master’s Degree, Part VI – Survival

“We could never learn to be brave and patient
if there were only joy in the world.”
~ Helen Keller

joy2

It’s only been eight months since my last post…. no biggie right? Eeep! I just read Part V – full of my initial frustrations with the university and the subsequent efforts to remain positive. Let me tell you, it has not been overly successful!

I’ll try to avoid getting into the details or I’ll get too sad, but it’s been a pretty embarrassing journey so far – for the University of Calgary. The instructors seem averagely informed about their area of “expertise,” are atrociously bad at time management and actual teaching, and are nearly impossible to communicate with regarding assignment questions or even legitimate academic questions.

feedbackLuckily, the program coordinator seems genuinely willing and eager to improve the program – which means I have been more than willing to provide my candid feedback! I had given myself a timeline to potentially leave the program based on my worry that no employer would hire me knowing the “higher” education I’ve been subjected to, however, I haven’t done my research yet in order to reasonably make that decision. (Please note, potential future employers…I have done and continue to do my own personal professional development and education despite the failings of the University that will hand me the piece of paper that allows you to hire me). 

So, despite the atrocity of some of the “education” I am receiving, I am thoroughly enjoying being a student again! Calendars, timelines, course outlines, percentages, APA formatting, textbooks to highlight! Weee!! For all those out there with aspirations to go back to university, don’t despair, there are positives. They just happen to have nothing to do with this specific program or university.

Let me share my joys…

new textbooks
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Amazon.ca is my new fave website! Shiny new textbooks arrive at my door just begging for their spines to be cracked! I forgot the joys of highlighting and underlining and note-jotting. Always a pleasure to have an excuse to leap into my circle chair and kill an afternoon sipping tea and nibbling chocolates while filling my brain with new factoids….or just reviewing what I learned ten years ago in my BA. Perhaps the content will get more complex as the courses go…WHOOPS. There I am slipping into negativity land again! Onward!

fellow students
In the first cruel task of the summer, long days at campus were required scouring, speaking, pencilling in, flipping, acting like a smart or dumb ten year old to ensure our proficiency administering the WIAT. The Summer Institute week ended with a weekend jaunt to the university to video tape such administration on a willing victim and then not administering it again in real life for a solid two or three weeks…Great planning U of C. Oops, tangent – I was talking about my fellow victims…uh, students. Since we were all cramming for that joyweek, testing each other, sharing test kits, asking questions, picking apart each others’ mistakes, my newfound friends from all over the country and I got to know each others’ lil quirks quite well as we witnessed the deterioration from fresh faced and eager on day one to haggard and barely put together on day six. 

Now, back in our impersonal online classes, those names in the Adobe Connect room alongside me have faces etched in my mind and numbers in my phone to which I can text my angst and receive similar wails of abhorrence in return. We occasionally discuss happy topics as well. It certainly is nice not to be in this game alone!

academic writing
I cant help it, I love writin’ me a solid academic paper! And zinging out APA like nobody’s business. Writing a flawless reference list is pretty phenomenal also. My single paragraph at a time grade 3 report card comment writing just isn’t quite the same. Nerd, I know.

to-do list heaven
I couldn’t help myself. Truly – it was required for us to log our minutes (okay, hours, but I ensured precision by going for a minute count) during practicum and track our test practices, case conceptualizations, team meetings, professional readings, scoring, observation, testing, report writing, and on and on. So…I to do listdid. Very accurately and constantly throughout the day. And since I got to keep track of it myself, I often logged at least 90 minutes a day while logging equivalent tanning minutes and enjoying an ice cold lemonade. Oh, come on now, who are we kidding – it was a coke, of course. The PVT and EVT will always be lovingly associated with my lounger, bikini, and a bowl of Hawkins Cheezies. (And no, there is no possessive apostrophe in Hawkins – I just checked on a
bag in my pantry). Oh, to-do lists was my heading – I had a long running one all summer. In addition to practicum requirements, my self-taught ethics course had weekly tasks to complete. I say self-taught because the instructor that ensured us a solid understanding of ethics was the foundation of our entire future and the most important course we’d take. She proceeded to state, “Have a great summer!” and left us to our assigned readings and went to her summer cabin at the lake for all we know! Great. So….how did you earn my tuition? Good hire U of C! (Sorry, back down that wrong road…)

So, to sum up this entirely useless and journal-like post that I’m certain only I will even partially understand – it’s been a pretty garbage-y foray back into academia so far. I have reveled in all aspects removed from the courses and the university – reading and gaining my own knowledge, meeting other educated peers (not the instructors), and successfully time managing it all to boot!

And to Mr. Werklund, who recently gave the largest single donation to an education faculty in a Canadian university, I truly hope the U of C department does something more worthwhile with your money than spend three months fixing two elevators in the Education Tower. To appropriately educate those who are granted the privilege of impacting the lives of all the children (and their families) who will be running the world in a few short years is a worthy aspiration – and one that is failing miserably at the University of Calgary thus far. Luckily, most of those in the program alongside me seem like capable human beings that will take matters into our own hands and ensure we are prepared, even if the U of C isn’t prepared to help us. I value the importance and impact of my position as an educator and future psychologist – clearly Mr. Werklund does too. Let’s see if U of C can catch up. 

“There is something good in all seeming failures.
You are not to see that now.
Time will reveal it. Be patient.”
~ Swami Sivananda

patience 1

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