Grad School Semester Wrap Up

Last week I wrapped up my first semester of grad school at Bowling Green State University. I am enrolled in a Master’s of English program which I am completing 100% online. Last summer, I eased into the program with two short courses. I took two 18 week courses over the fall semester: Linguistics and Critical Literary Theory.

A couple of thoughts from this BGSU Falcon:

  1. Does loving Linguistics make me a nerd?

The highlight of my fall semester was the graduate level Linguistics course I took. It was extremely challenging, but rewarding in so many ways. For one, I learned basic interpretations of several languages. Through analysis of words and language I developed theories for analysis. I learned not only how language is determined and created but I analyzed words at the morpheme and phoneme levels. Some assignments stretched me so much I thought I might snap, but every challenge taught me something worthwhile. My favorite assignment was toward the end of the semester and it was an analysis of animal communication and what it tells us about human linguistics. We watched videos of apes and parrots and it was a lot of fun.

2. My thesis is taking shape.

As part of my Masters of English program, I am required to turn in a thesis portfolio at the end. The Literary Criticism course this semester concluded with an analysis paper that will likely evolve to my final thesis for the program. In this analysis, I used four critical theory lenses to analyze The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls. This is a phenomenal book and I analyzed it using trauma, feminist, ecocentric, and Marxist theories. This led me to studies on Appalachian poverty and education and I believe that this will be paramount to my final thesis when I conclude my Master’s program.

3.Time Management is CRUCIAL.

This fall I was working through teaching during a Pandemic. When I signed up last year for graduate courses I knew my program would be online intensive. What I didn’t budget for was the ways in which my job as a teacher would be affected by Covid-19. The early parts of the semester were rough for me because I was navigating pandemic teaching and learning the expectations of grad school right along with it.

I communicated with friends and family so that my schedule was clear to them up front. I established ONE day a week to stay late at work to work on grad assignments since being at home with kiddos is not the ideal place to conduct intense reading and writing. I worked with important people in my life to honor the schedule I created for myself. It was a constant balancing act, but setting boundaries and scheduling weekly work time is what helped me get through the courses.

4. This will all be worth it.

Being an adult, teacher, wife, mother, and writer all while trying to complete a Master’s degree is tough. I have learned to say “no” to social events and gatherings that compete for my time and attention. In the end, I’ve had to prioritize my education and the process of earning this degree. When I have the credentials and the pay raise that accompany it I will look back on these years of study and know that every “no” was worth it.

Now that the semester is over I am reflecting on the experience and I do believe that I got a lot out of these courses. I was absolutely challenged and made better as a writer and student. I haven’t been the one on the submitting end of online education before so there was a learning curve, but I am proud of my efforts and products this semester. I feel blessed to have this opportunity to grow in my English skills and to pursue higher education.

The Ameri Brit Mom

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