Why graduate studies?

“Apply your heart to instruction and your ear to words of knowledge.” – Proverbs 23:12 (ESV)

Of making many books there is no end, and much study is weariness of the flesh.” -Ecclesiastes 12:12 (ESV)

For any college student, particularly those dedicated to their chosen field of study, the “weariness of the flesh” spoken of in Ecclesiastes is not a new concept. The long days, perceived lack of research materials, and blank word-processing screens are weekly, possibly daily occurrences in life of any student. The road is hard, the nights are long, and sometimes, it seems that I’m learning a whole lot of something about absolutely nothing. With all of the stress and work, why on earth am I electing to apply to graduate schools this fall? Why would I elect to go to school 8-10 more years for the sake of a MA and Ph.D. just to teach students how to write essays?

The answer is simple:  I’m a glutton for punishment and I like to learn.

In addition of simply enjoying the thrill of learning something new, I’m also taking a risk. By simply applying to graduate programs, I am risking the fees associated with the applications and my own ego as a budding scholar and student. I may be accepted to all programs I apply to (highly doubtful), or I may be denied entrance to all schools that I apply to (also very probable). Not only is there a monetary risk involved by simply applying, but there also lies a sense of ego and pride that is at stake with each rejection or acceptance.

Honestly, I am not used to regular denial, rejection, or harsh criticism. When I often ask professors for a critique on my writing, it may take a few hours to a few days before I can read the comments. I know that they’re not commenting on me as a person, but it’s hard to know that I’m not as excellent of a writer as I think. As I have discovered, it takes another person to mirror the actions of another person, as seen in a writing critique. Because I believe this is mostly true, I am certain that graduate school will help me develop a thicker skin in regards to criticism, both constructive and sometimes, destructive.

Though I do not believe graduate school should be used as a form of rehab where learn to roll with the punches, I do believe that it will be a part of the experience. Also, with hope, I imagine that I will learn new things about the world of literature or at least pile more on top of existing knowledge. However, in the event that I experience dreaded denial, I will simply process it as another learning experience in life. Regardless, I will be learning, and that’s something I love more than anything.



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