So yep, that's what's going on with me.
Before I sign off, though, I would like to respond to a couple of queries that readers have left in comments.
First off, Kyri asks:
"Dr. Crazy, I am considering a PHd in Clinical Psych. I have a BA, an MPA and will be completing a JD in December 07. I honestly thought law school was it. I thought it would provide me the requisites tools to contribute to the "fixing" of society. However LS has left me with more questions than answers. I have never been intimidated by an academic pursuit, but the psych PhD makes me nervous. Some of the anxiety stems from the dismal acceptance rates. The other 85% is the by product of my own ignorance. I'd appreciate any advice. I have a few questions:
1. How do I deal with relatives who believe the BA was plenty;
2. How difficult is the Phd? In your opinion, is the JD comparable or a walk in the park?
Here are my initial thoughts, but remember, I'm not a Psych person, so readers who know more about the specifics of that discipline would be welcome to chime in to answer this question. But so anyway, what does Dr. Crazy think? First of all, I think that grad school doesn't necessarily leave a person with more answers than anything else - it only provides ways of thinking about things that you wouldn't otherwise have. I know that I thought it would give me answers, and I was disappointed in that. But so 1) how do you deal with the relatives? Well, I think part of it is that you just have to accept that some don't - and won't - get it. Be prepared to explain why you've chosen what you have over and over again (it helps to have a short 2-sentence sort of answer prepared, esp. as you will need to repeat it over and over again), and be prepared to change the subject to topics about which you're less sensitive. At the end of the day, it doesn't really matter whether everybody "gets" it - just that they respect that it's your decision. As for "how difficult is the PhD" well, again, it would be good if people who are in the field you're considering chime in to answer that. But here's what I think: The PhD is very difficult, but not... well, I didn't find it intellectually difficult or like it was too hard in terms of the work. Yes, it was challenging, but the intellectual challenges were good challenges. What made it difficult was the length of time and personal energy that one must commit to pursuing the PhD, the sense that one doesn't really know what one's doing or that one is thrown into the deep end without knowing how to swim, and, to extend the metaphor, that one is completely immersed in this world that is separate from the "real world." My sense, in comparing that experience with the experience of friends who got law degrees, is that getting the PhD was more consuming over a longer span of time, but maybe if there are people who've done both who can comment about that it would be a good thing? I may just be exaggerating the importance of my experience :)
Next, Sisyphus asked:
"Do you still have that course-release -advising thingy that you talked about at one point? Or are you teaching your full load?
Which is just a way of leading up to: dang! How do you keep track of all the different impending deadlines? Do you ever completely miss one?"
Well, as for the first question, I am no longer doing the thing I did last year for course releases, but I did get a course release for research for the fall. This means that I'll be teaching 3 courses, 3 different preps and one of those courses is a comp course. As for spring, I suspect I may need to do 4 courses, but I'm going to try to wangle some things with what I'm teaching and # of preps to make it more manageable. We'll see how that goes.
As for deadlines... well, I'm pretty good with juggling them and with meeting them (ish). I think I have my background in writing for my high school and college newspapers to thank for that. But remember: deadlines are negotiable. So I have been known to finesse deadlines that are less important when necessary. The thing to remember is that you can't focus on all of the deadlines simultaneously. I had a teacher once who said it was good to think about having a Wheel of Neglect, i.e., you have a big wheel that is not unlike the wheel at the end of the Price Is Right. All of the things you need to do get a slice on the wheel. And so you decide which is the most important, and you deal with it, neglecting other things on the wheel. When you've done that, you spin the wheel and move on to the next thing. So, for example, I made that big list of all of what will need to be accomplished in the next six months, but I'm not constantly thinking about all of those things. Instead, I spin the wheel and so all I'm thinking about right now is reading the novel that I need to read in order to write my conference paper. When that's done, I'll write the conference paper, and then I'll go on my trip. When I return, I'll see what has developed with the other deadlines, and I'll spin the wheel again. What most often gets neglected is stuff related to teaching, but that's in part because ultimately the teaching stuff has to get done, and so if I focus on it, then it can expand to fill up all of my time. By focusing on the research stuff, that means that I end up being more efficient about the teaching stuff. (This may just be an excuse for my tendency to procrastinate.) But so do I ever just blow a deadline completely? No. But have I asked for extensions or negotiated deadlines so that I can have a deadline that I will actually be able to meet. Yes.