Saturday, April 8, 2017

G is for “Graduate School”

Welcome to the Blogging from A to Z Challenge. Every day in April (except Sundays), I’ll be sharing a short bookish memory with you.

When I was an undergraduate, I was told that there was a specific way you were supposed to go about choosing a grad school if you wanted to study writing and literature. You were supposed to choose a school from a list of the best universities in the country. You were supposed to do well on the Graduate Record Exam so you would be accepted to whatever prestigious university you chose. When you got to grad school, you were supposed to study classics and adult literary fiction.

I took the first few steps along the path to grad school without much drama. I picked some well-respected schools from the list. I spent a year reading boring books and memorizing vocab words for the Graduate Record Exam.

Then, two things happened: First, I completely bombed the exam. A year of studying couldn’t overcome the fact that I’m the worst test-taker in the world. I'm much too anxious for tests. I should have known this exam thing would never work out.

Next, I admitted to myself that I didn’t really care about classics or adult literary fiction. I enjoy reading those genres, but I’m not passionate about them. I didn’t think I’d be happy spending 2+ years studying them.

But, I still wanted to go to grad school. I’m passionate about children’s literature, so I started researching schools that would let me study kids' books. None of the universities on the "top universities" list had children’s lit programs. I was forced to leave the “supposed to” path and make my own path. I ended up at a school that most people haven’t heard of. I’ve never seen it on a list of prestigious universities, but I don’t care. I’ve never regretted studying what I love instead of following the path I was supposed to take.


Welcome sign at the start of my first semester.



What about you? Have you ever followed your passion instead of doing what you were told to do? Did it work out for you?







15 comments:

  1. You did the right thing in following what you wanted to do. I could never decide what I wanted to do which messed up any chance of a great career! I did science based subjects at school and ended up in two business courses, then ended up working at the airport in security, then working in hospitals. It was all confused with no real planning. I wish I'd done something connected to my interests like dinosaurs, geology, volcanoes, oceanography or something interesting!

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    1. I was lucky to discover my passion for books when I was a teenager. The job thing is difficult, though. There’s not much you can do with literature degrees.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

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  2. Your blog post today really resonated with me and I am delighted you stuck to your dreams and got a course doing something you really wanted to do and Children's Literacy is SO important so I'm all in favour of you having studied it. I'm passionate about a lot of things and that has always resonated in interviews and allowed me to succeed so I hope the same rings true for you :) Lovely to meet through the Challenge - http://pempispalace.blogspot.co.uk/2017/04/g-is-for-great-great-grandma-gertrude.html

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  3. It took me some time, but yes. I'm hoping to return to school in the Fall and pursue my passion. :)

    Have a great weekend, AJ!

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  4. I did compromise when I went on for a doctorate, but I was able to study in the field that I wanted and there were a couple of professors who were top-notch. I don't know much about studying for children's lit, but if I wanted to study young adult, I think I'd go to Calvin College (undergrad) and study under Gary Schmidt. I have really enjoyed his books and have heard him lecture a few times and found him engaging.

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    1. I wish I’d done a better job of choosing my undergrad program. I just picked the one closest to where I was living. I could have found a much better one if I’d done more research.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

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  5. Honestly I still don't know what I want to do r love besides read. I chose my school for price and what I studied on what I was good at/could get a job with. I think it is great you followed what you loved!

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    1. Price was also a big factor for me. Some of those schools are stupidly expensive.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

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  6. We do undergrad so we have a degree and (hopefully) decent job prospects because of it. However, we do grad because we love it. We do PhD because we're obsessed.

    Thought about shooting for an MFA, but I don't like litrachoor (being a genre author), and I found out it was easier to pursue a MSci in Astronomy instead.

    Still, I am tempted by a PhD in literature, if I can pursue genre works.

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    1. I’d totally do a PhD, but I’d have to take the GRE again to apply to programs. That is never going to happen. I’m not an exam person.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

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  7. That is so cool that you found an MFA program geared to your special interest of children's lit! I hear what you're saying about the GRE. My math skills are probably at the fourth grade level though I'm good at algebra, but only because I like the word problem stories, especially if they involve trains. Fortunately, my MFA program did not require the GRE. Like you, I found a wonderful program and learned so much!

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    *Deb Atwood*

    *Pen In Her Hand*

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  8. I think it's awesome you followed your heart rather than the "thing you're supposed to do". I know it took me a long time to figure out I should do what makes me happy not just what makes a lot of money. We're sorta trained to think that way- you need a GOOD job, it doesn't matter what you WANT to do. Or at least I had that problem.

    Glad you're doing what you like. :)

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  9. I love that you did what you liked instead of what other people said is the right way to do things. I took the GRE and I am not even sure what my score was. I hate those kind of tests. I ended up never going to grad school anyway.

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