I got up this morning to what can only be described as a shocked response from my mentor that I might be interested in that part-time job.  He had a couple of concerns, I asked a couple of questions back and haven’t heard from him since.  I suppose I should just buckle down, accept the full time position for 6 months and deal.  But I had been so hopeful that I might, perhaps, NOT have to work full time (and set my research aside almost entirely) for a few months. 

In the meantime, however, I have a knot in my back that won’t go away and can’t concentrate on anything longer than a blog posting.  This isn’t surprising, but it is frustrating.  I’m an INTJ, heavy on the TJ, and we like things settled and decided.  We would rather make a decision, have it turn out badly and then deal with the consequences than have too many options and everything up in the air. 

Adding to this stress was a discussion yesterday with absentee-adviser.  I had to send him an annotated list of my courses to somehow prove that there was a theme.  Of course, there wasn’t really a theme until at least halfway through.  Or rather the theme shifted when the person who WOULD have been my adviser decided to retire and I had to find a new one. 

The thing is, and maybe this makes me a weird academic, I’m ok with that.  I started out wanting to study higher ed, specifically the institutional research processes and faculty management.  Then one guy left unexpectedly and another retired and suddenly there was no room for me in the higher ed specialty because they were (and still are) desperately understaffed.  So I found an opportunity with someone working on K-12 choice.  I knew NOTHING about the topic when I started, but the fact is that I want to be an academic because I love solving problems; those problems can be about a LOT of different things and still be interesting to me.

However that makes my program of study look disjointed.  There is the possibility also that absentee-adviser will bounce 2 transfer classes that are in the old specialty.  In that case I’ll have to take 2 more classes this spring in order to have enough credits.

Part of me thinks that wouldn’t be so bad.  I would be less stressed about what I wasn’t doing if I were focused on classes rather than trying to do comps and a dissertation proposal while working full time.  Further, the classes look interesting to me (philosophy of education and sociology of education) and are offered at night.  Often I’m tempted to just take them anyway…. drop the research hours and take another semester of classes.  If I have to work for a while it would be easier to do with defined deliverables (in terms of class work) than with less structured work and I would feel more prepared for comps because of the type of classes these two are. 

But I can’t let it delay my overall progress.  I would still need to graduate by end of summer 09 and somehow that makes it feel tight.  Then again, if I’m not working for most of that time it should be easier…


I’m rambling….trying to organize my own thoughts with only limited success.  Let’s take a step back and start prioritizing:

  1. Sufficient financial security through my dissertation.  This can be achieved through 1 of 2 methods:
    1. Full time job for 6 months with serious saving, then able to not work through the next year while finishing.  Probably preferable but it will be stressful for the next 6 months.
    2. Part time work indefinitely while finishing, but in an area far closer to what I am interested in than the full time work.  Less stressful than full time but still stressful and with no obvious end.
  2. ABD by the end of August 2008 so that I can go on the job market with confidence next year and have faith in my ability to write my dissertation and graduate before August 2009.

Pluses of taking additional courses this spring:

  • interesting topics (sociology of ed and philosophy of ed)
  • help me get more theoretical, which I still struggle with and which is absentee-adviser’s major concern about my work
  • covers me in case adviser bounces those two transfer classes in the old specialty
  • more structured while I’m working full time so I don’t have to get stressed about what to work on

Minuses of taking additional courses:

  • Technically more credits than I need
  • Less flexibility while working full time
  • Eats up several months during which I could conceivably be doing my comps and working on my dissertation proposal

That last point is interesting, because I still haven’t heard on that seminar fellowship which is focused on helping grad students develop their proposals, but isn’t until April.  I should know soon (they said mid-december).

So, here is my plan for the moment:

  • Wait to hear on seminar fellowship (hopefully within a few days)
  • Wait to hear back from absentee-adviser (next week)
  • Wait to hear back from mentor on the part-time job
  • Register for classes on top of the research hours, then drop as appropriate after I hear from all of the above (this will make me feel like I’m doing something and therefore less frustrated with waiting.  Done
  • Take a hot shower to loosen up my back
  • Go read a fluffy magazine and stop trying to work for the evening.  I’m not getting anything done anyway.

If you read this far, tell me what you think.  Should I take the two classes or just get on with it?