Mostly I’m still confused.

For the past year or so, I have been an extremely confused person. Life after college can be like that, I guess. With the world in a seemingly-endless state of tumult nothing is a given, and some days it seems like occupying Wall St. may indeed be a recent grad’s best option.

Last Fall I applied to 12 law schools, got in to a few, and accepted (and then deferred) admission at two. This past week I visited one of the schools at which I deferred, a reasonably prestigious university on the East Coast. It was lovely, with great resources and an awesome faculty. If I were to go to law school, this would certainly be the place.

But I also realized that law doesn’t light me up. I’m not passionate about it. And so I think I’ve wasted a lot of time following a path that looks good on paper but doesn’t make my heart happy. The past year has been just awful and of course I am still discombobulated. I still don’t know the answer, but I’m pretty sure this isn’t it.

I haven’t formally withdrawn admission or anything yet because in spite of everything I still want to hedge my bets, but I probably will at some point. Even my cousin who works s a prosecutor for the US Attorney’s office (i.e. total legal badass) said that it’s ok for me to not go to law school. In fact, that’s what he’s been telling me all along.

Right now I am absolutely terrified of what comes next, but I’m also pretty excited. A PhD in history might be on the horizon, chock full of cool things like gender and sexuality and radicalism and shit that happened a long time ago. I think it will be good.

I am newly-employed and surprisingly ambivalent about it.

I don't even want to start on how well this job meshes with my anti-corporate stances... let's just say that my co-workers seem really nice, and isn't that what matters?I recently took a part-time job at a Corporate Coffee joint (which shan’t be named). Yes, this might be a terribly embarrassing way to use my top-notch honors degree, and yes, I’ve spent quite a lot of time agonizing about it and feeling unnecessarily ashamed. Coffee-slinging was not on my list of post-collegiate goals, but it’s honestly an ok job to fill the time between now and grad school. Not impressive, but certainly not terrible.

Being out of school for almost a year and not planning to go back until 2012 (16 months! Argh!) is difficult for me because so much of my identity has been tied up with academic achievement. It seems especially difficult for high-achieving folks to be without a goal or measurable success, even if it’s only for a brief period. If I’m not a stellar student, then who am I? Continue reading “I am newly-employed and surprisingly ambivalent about it.”

The Grad School Dilemma

Image from the recent student protests in London (via SomeDriftwood).

Note: I hope I don’t get in trouble for posting this. If you are on an admission committee and reading this, please remember that this is my own musings on the alleged state of academia, and not an indictment of anything or anyone. As a new grad, I’m just trying to sort out all of the conflicting information into something coherent.

Whenever someone asks me what I am doing during my year off after undergrad, I usually tell them that I’m taking care of my ill father full-time and “trying to figure out grad school stuff.”

The first part is definitely true, but much of my grad school research has consisted of reading depressing articles about why I should not go to law school (excessive student loans, soul-killing, etc.), why I shouldn’t go for a PhD in the humanities (the end of tenure-track jobs, becoming the university’s slave, yadda yadda), and why I should probably just give up now on ever having a career that is both emotionally fulfilling and pays enough money to keep me living indoors. But I still want to become an overeducated intellectual snob, because that sounds fun too.

Last night I stumbled upon the work of Thomas H. Benton (a pseudonym) in the Chronicle of Higher Education, a well respected publication on all things academic. Benton essentially says that doctoral programs in the humanities are often more harmful than beneficial, and that the “life of the mind” is essentially a big fat lie. I’d suggest reading all of this article, especially if you’re in need of a good cry. Continue reading “The Grad School Dilemma”

On Moving “Home”

In the idealized days of yore, new college graduates would be ready to get their own apartment, find a steady job they were not overqualified for, and probably get married (they were also usually rich, white, and male, but let’s not get into that). Now, with the American economy still tentatively recovering from the shitstorm that was 2008, things are a bit different. At least five of my friends (including myself) have moved back home since graduation, and I expect that many more will shlep home in the near future. According to my unscientific and highly biased survey, this is a growing phenomenon.

(via pimpexposure.)

This is a kind of uncomfortable topic for me because moving in with my parents has stirred up a lot of strange feelings of inadequacy and stasis, and I’ve realized that my entire self-worth had been built on my success in school. Now that I’m not in school, I feel like a lazy, worthless human. But I think that happens to a lot of studious types after graduating.

People move in with their parents for a variety of reasons, most of which have nothing to do with being a horrible failure at life and everything else. A grad might want to save on rent so that they can begin making payments on a heavy load of student loan debt, or perhaps they need time to apply to graduate school. Some folks just might not be emotionally¬†ready to live on their own, especially the young’ns who graduate early. In my case, it was a combination of these things, plus the fact that one of my family members is very sick and needs constant care. Continue reading “On Moving “Home””