Posts tagged Grad School

Things that involve anger towards professors

Now, I love most of my classes. I really do. I’m a nerd who thinks sckool + learnding = fUn!


If a professor changed a week’s reading assignment (which, btw, is outlined in a 42 page syllabus) and says that the weekly quiz for next week would be based mostly on newly assigned reading from the textbook, and less on the other 2 readings he might assign, what would you expect?


Would you expect for 3 out of 6 questions to be based on a reading assigned 3 weeks ago? And one on class discussion from 2 weeks ago? And only 2 on the actual reading for this class?


Well, obviously you haven’t been taking Social and Behavior Sciences for International Health concentrators.


Lucky fucking you.


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Things about Public Health School

Yesterday I decided to abuse people’s basic human rights, and in a completely separate decision, to kill off children under 5 years old.

And I’m not sure I wouldn’t do it again.

Public health school is weird.*

(In context:  both were decisions regarding limited-resource countries and ways to combat HIV. But still. )

* But awesome.

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Things about WTF PROFESSOR?! and other such angry outbursts

Dear Professors of the World:

Here’s a thought.  If you normally assign your class 40-100 pages of reading a week, you just miiiiiiight want to give them a heads’ up the week you decide to drop 400 pages of reading on them.

Oh, and – again, just a thought – perhaps if you explicitly tell said students NOT to read Section 10c (but read the rest of sections 3-15 (see aforenoted 400 pages)), you shouldn’t take a question on the weekly quiz WORD-FOR-WORD from the aforementioned nixed-section 10c.

Oh, and – just one more teeny tiny thing – maybe the rest of the questions from the online quizzes should be based on the actual readings, not your own Pulled-From-Your-Ass  sources.  Just since, you know, it’s nice and all when you tell us the answer to the question 85% of the class missed is on page 99, when, in reality, that page has absolutely no relevance to that topic.  (It’s cool though… not like that makes me think you completely made that question/answer up out of nowhere or anything. Really.)

But you know… don’t mistake this for passive aggressive bitching, or anything. I promise, these are all just meandering thoughts. It’s all on page 99, check it out.

Ex oh, Ex oh, Love, Me

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Things about having no money

I’m officially a grad student now, living off my savings until the day I’ll inevitably need to break down and get loans, which will be a day I spend about three hours sobbing on the floor and bemoaning the realities of debt (which, hopefully, if I budget well won’t be until next August).

In order to prolong that blessed occasion as much as possible, and, really, because I’ve always been a miser, I’m attempting to save money and cut corners in as many ways as possible.  Granted, I’m not being as stringent or good as I was while in JVC – ie, I’ve treated myself to several lunches and/or dinners out since being here – but in my defense most of those meals are still in the sub-$5 or $10 range.

Still, there is one cost cutting activity I’m currently doing which I’m not actively telling (nor, per se “lying to”) my family about: I’m sleeping on an air mattress on the floor. And plan to for the foreseeable future.

The original plan was to sleep on the air mattress until I found a bed at goodwill or something cheap at IKEA. Maybe even a Craigslist free list procurement.

But… after 3 days of accidentally sleeping on an heirloom bedframe (long story) I discovered my air mattress is actually rather comfortable when on the floor.  I’m sure there’s literature available about how air mattresses are terrible for your back/muscles/brain/credit score and such other statistics, but right now? It’s working for me. Plus, not having to drive someplace in Boston and get hopelessly lost trying to find something to sleep on sounds like a better plan to me.

So that’s one of the nice little factoids of my life that just… doesn’t quite garner a mention in my phone calls and emails home.

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Things about not having a job

This is the first time since I was 15 years old that I have not had a job. At all. That’s 9+ years of employment ended. And what’s more, I’m not sure I’m going to get one, since I’m taking an [apparently] insane amount of credits, which is 18 this semester.  So while I would like to have a job – or barring that, at least an unpaid internship which excuses my conscience from not bringing in money but makes my resume happy – I’m not sure that my school load will allow me to do this.

Somehow or another, though, with absolutely no income to speak of… I seem to be spending more money.  Since I know I can’t replace it, I just keep mentally saying, “Screw it” and deciding everything I want is an “investment” anyhow. (Can jeans be an investment? You decide, because my mental acrobatics which swing me between Guilt and Fuck it have given up.)

I really don’t understand how the mathematics of ‘Make no money’ = ‘Spend more money’.

Let’s see how things are in 2 months when my bank account is actually zero.  It’ll be awesome.

ps – No, it won’t.

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Grad Schools, why must you be oh-so-difficult?

I have come to a place in my life where I believe I can comfortably claim the following statement:

I hate every single part of the grad school process.

A little less than a year ago, I started thinking seriously about where I wanted to go with my professional life, and in doing so, seriously contemplating grad school.  During my senior year of college, while talking to an advisor/mentor-type person I look up to, he suggested that I look into getting my Masters in Public Health.  At the time, I was burned out of school and bullshit work, and wanted at least a year off.  Now, a few years later and modestly wiser, I tentatively looked out there into the world of unlimited knowledge, and much to my surprise, there are specific programs that have arisen in the past decade or so which focus on precisely the area of Public Health I am interested in.

Fast forward many months and stupid standardized tests later, and I found myself in the midst of 4 applications to schools that each had a program in Global/Intl Health that appealed highly to me.  Based upon my work experience, GRE scores, undergrad transcripts, and personal statement, I felt that I should have no problem getting into 3, but one was a very exclusive program in a very exclusive department in a very exclusive Ivy League school, and to be honest I thought it was a long shot since I didn’t precisely have the full 2 years of international work experience they wanted.

Fast forward again, and color me befuddled when I actually found myself being accepted to all four schools – including the exclusive Ivy League program!

In my mind, once the admissions letter came, I mentally was set on going there.  Great program, great school, great reputation, great city.  I mean… everything I’ve been reading in the past several months a bout PH research seemed to have been mocking me by mentioning this particular Public Health school.  I decided to coincide my visit to this school with my other top choice, just as a back-up, since they are in cities relatively near each other.

I show up to the tour at the Ivy League school to find myself disappointed with our tour guide.  She’s fairly quiet and not extremely forthcoming about the school’s benefits.  Since no on else is asking questions, I took it upon myself to be THAT obnoxious asshat who dominates the tour, but just kept finding myself more and more disenheartened with her.  What I took away from the tour was this: Unlike most people, who are dying to get into a school like this, she seems to have chosen this school on a whim, because she’d always lived in the city.  Additionally, the professors are very helpful… as long as you email them 4 or 5 times.  And the library is tiny, and she often shleps all of her stuff 60 blocks away to the undergrad library.  And the facilities are all fairly outdated, but she doesn’t really care because she doesn’t live on campus, and isn’t part of any after-class activities. But she thinks they’re great. From what she hears.

Okay, I know better than to just take one student’s opinion on this, so despite my initial distaste for this school, I decide to go visit the department to which I’ve been accepted, since it’s those students and that department I’ll be dealing with the most, so those will be the most helpful people to talk with, right? Apparently not.  The woman I met with only had 5 mintues to speak with me (understandable, she’s busy), and despite me asking some specific questions about the program and the practicum, what she gave me was basically the course outline which was online. Which I told her I’d already seen.

Oh well… financial aid department?  Nope. The guy basically looked at me like I had 7 heads when I asked him about my options and what he thought of housing and loans and whatnot.  Seriously?  Guy?  It’s your job to answer these questions.  Just f.y.i.

Okay, here’s the thing. I know you’re an Ivy League.  You’re great. So great in fact that nature is so much in awe of you that the clouds actually rain diamonds on you.

But that doesn’t mean you get to treat your prospective students like turtle crap that has inconvenienced your day.  Honestly, I think every person I came in contact with, be it the tour guide, the receptionists of the admissions desk, the department receptionist and admissions officiers, and Mr. Financial Aid, acted like I was a majorly INCONVENIENT addition to your day.  Which, saying this, I understand you’re busy, but at the same point, you all work within the admissions sector.  Basic customer service, people.

Contrast this with a day and a city later, I force myself to visit the second school, and am greeted with a completely opposite reception.  This school is ranked approximately 7 below the Ivy League, and misses the “Top Ten” rating.

Without an appointment, I show up to the admissions office, apologize for the inconvenience, and ask for a map.  Instead, the -extremely friendly- admissions officer recognizes my name from emailing, and sets me up with a 30 minute session and one-on-one tour with a recent grad from my program, where I will then be brought over to meet with one of the heads of the International Health Department for a meeting, and apologizes she couldn’t do more.

My tour guide is extremely helpful, telling me about the ups and downs of the program and school, introducing me to other students in the student activities center, and telling me about her own experience with professors and job seeking.  I was surpised to learn that my guide actually was also accepted to the same Ivy League school, but decided to decline and attend here because she’d had a terrible visit with them as well, and liked this other program’s flexibility in the end.

After our tour, I met with the IH Department chair and she went over the wealth of classes offered, summer programs, exclusive internships available overseas, specific research of professors, student life, housing, etc.  Hell, she even showed me how to use one of the student-resource portals available on their website.

Now, after all of this, I feel like my choice should be obvious.  I should go to the school who treated me with dignity, who provided me with spontaneous courtesy, whose students were honest, friendly, and [at least somewhat] truthful.

But I can’t get out of the back of my head those stupid stupid benefits of the other school.  Grad school is going to cost me, either way.  I’m going to be in massive debt either way (in fact School #2 might cost a couple grand more)… so part of me wonders whether or not its worth it to go to a school that has a better reputation, ranking, and more job opportunities in the city its in, or if I should throw all of that to hell and go to a school where I might not have access to the wealth of opportunities and regalia which comes from being associated with a) Ivy League School, and b) one of the most ground-breaking Public Health schools in general.

I have three days to decide.

I hate this.

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*Zing!* HIV Negated!

Dear Grad School applications:

Please stop sucking.

No, seriously.

I’ve put up with your asinine requirements long enough.  I know, I know. I bitched about having to take a test that determines my academic worth and potential in four hours.  I whined about having to get recommendations which every applicant is required to have, but which all basically say the same thing.  I begrudged your insane fees to have the privilege to even apply to your institutions of higher(er) education.

But it’s all becoming a bit too ridiculous of a hoop-jumping act. Now one of you (COUGH*GWU*COUGH)  has the nerve to require possibly the stupidest essay question I’ve ever read.  Because at this point, not only do you already have my personal statement (which is essentially an extended answer to the “Who are you, and why the hell do you want a degree which will likely put you $60,000+ in debt?”), you also have my CV, my undergrad transcript, my 3 glowingly asinine recommendations and blah blah blah, but now you want me to PAY YOU SIXTY EXTRA DOLLARS to answer this question?!:

How will the degree from SPHHS advance your goals to become a leader in improving the health and well being of our local, national, and/or global communities?

But…?  But…!  BUT!

Here’s the thing:  You are basically asking why your own program exists.  I feel like I should send you that information packet with all of your brochures and booklets on your various programs and opportunities. No, honestly, do you want it?  Because it’s currently somewhere in the vast wilderness of ‘Under My Bed,’ but I’m fairly confident I can battle the many Dust Demons and unearth it.

In protest of this inane and unoriginal essay question, I would like to submit this as my response:

A degree from SPHHS will allow me to be awesome.  I will be so awesome in fact that I will fly around the world with a cape and tiara, fixing health problems willy-nilly.  *Poof!* Malaria eradicated!  *Zing!* HIV negated! *POW!* Cancer? What cancer?

Well, probably that… but on a slightly more bureaucratic stage.

*ZING!* HIV negated!

*ZING!* HIV negated!

Please reassess the absurdity of your question.  If you find it acceptable in its current state, please thwhack yourself in the face with a tennis racket. Repeatedly.  The second essay prompt (“Within the program area to which you have applied, what public health issue concerns you the most and why?”), to which I still protest the requirement of PAYING ADDITIONAL MONEY TO HAVE THE ADDITIONAL PRIVILEGE TO ANSWER, at least has a purpose involved in it, and provides insight into the individual applicant.

Thank you for your consideration.

Grad School Applicant #PO409873

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