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Balancing grad school, long distance relationship, and extracurricular?


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I'm not sure where the right place to ask this is, so please let me know if I've come to the wrong place.

 

 

I'm working on my Master's degree and, after a year of indecisiveness and trying to get things figured out, I feel like I'm falling behind. Unless I really get my act together, it's likely my degree will take me an extra year, and I'm not sure I'll still be funded throughout.

 

 

Taking longer to graduate would also be a problem for me relationship-wise: my boyfriend and I are long-distance while I'm going to school. He's completed his Master's as of this summer at another institution, and he's looking for work. The original plan was for him to get a job in the same city as me and we could live together during my last year of grad school. But now that's he's looking for a job, it seems like all the good offers are in his home city, and it's looking more and more like he will be staying there.

 

 

Additionally, I was elected the President of my department's student group about a month ago. I like what's I'm doing with the student association, it's all about improving the culture in my department. However, it's also a source of stress as people criticize me no matter what decision I make, and it takes up a good chunk of time, which makes it even more likely that I won't graduate on time. The last time I talked about taking a trip to visit my boyfriend, the past president of the student group told me, “You're not going to be able to do that anymore”. I'm not really sure if that's true, but it scared me.

 

 

If he gets a job in the same city as me, all my problems are solved. But I can't count on that. I don't want to do another year of long distance, much less two :( . We're very serious and have been talking about getting married someday. Do I quit the student group? Do I quit grad school? Do I suffer through two years long distance?

 

 

Is there a way I can be super effective about time management and graduate in one year?

 

 

Any tips?

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Is there a way I can be super effective about time management and graduate in one year?

Seeing as no one on the internet is privy to your fulfillment of graduation requirements and the logistics of fulfilling the outstanding ones, I don't see how anyone on the internet can help with this. You should probably speak to your adviser.

which makes it even more likely that I won't graduate on time

then the student group would seem to be a bad idea.

look, grad school, especially a master's, isn't really a place you should hang out for a while in. Go in, get the credential, get out. It's nice to try to improve the culture of the department if you have the inclination and time, but I doubt it'll do anything for your employability or whatever you hope to use this credential for, and if you have to take an extra unfunded year just to do it, it seems not worth it. You're going to leave this department as soon as you graduate. (also, if I may butt in, it seems weird that the usually token position of student body president should take up this much emotional energy and time - sounds like your faculty is trying to pawn off their service responsibilities on the grad students).

Do I quit grad school?

If you're going to do something with the credential, probably not. If you want to marry your boyfriend and aren't going to use the degree, probably yes. Either way, the right answer is logically apparent.

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2 hours ago, baileyarsenic said:

I'm working on my Master's degree and, after a year of indecisiveness and trying to get things figured out, I feel like I'm falling behind. Unless I really get my act together, it's likely my degree will take me an extra year, and I'm not sure I'll still be funded throughout. 

 

Is there a way I can be super effective about time management and graduate in one year?

Okay as someone who struggled with getting the ball rolling during the first year of my master's, I completely understand how you are feeling right now. I actually took 3 years to get my master's which wasn't what I planned, but I think it allowed me to put together a really good thesis and figure out exactly what type of research I wanted to pursue during my doctorate. So I just want to say that there is no shame in taking a little longer than planned. It sucks but it happens and the extra year's time shouldn't hurt your future prospects.

As for your funding for a third year, maybe you should ask what would be available to you? Then you can start planning on whether you should try to really crank things out this second year or not. Because if you aren't funded in your third year you should try as hard as possible to finish in a timely fashion. I was lucky to have funding my 3rd year but I probably would have gotten my butt into gear if I knew my funding was running out. If you do find out your funding is ending after your second year it could be the impetus to get the ball rolling.

As for finishing up during this next year - it does depend on what you have left. Do you have the entirety of your thesis to finish including data collection, and writing, along with classes? If so you might be pushing it. But could you maybe try to graduate at the end of next summer maybe, rather than next May since that may give you enough time? I know that's something students at my school do but I don't know how common it is elsewhere. If you have little to no classes left you might be able to finish within the next year if you have to do a thesis. Honestly try to take as minimally involved and as few courses as possible to leave time for your research and thesis. Of course this is assuming you are doing a thesis - if you only have courses then surely you can finish within a year to year and a half right?

2 hours ago, baileyarsenic said:

Additionally, I was elected the President of my department's student group about a month ago. I like what's I'm doing with the student association, it's all about improving the culture in my department. However, it's also a source of stress as people criticize me no matter what decision I make, and it takes up a good chunk of time, which makes it even more likely that I won't graduate on time. The last time I talked about taking a trip to visit my boyfriend, the past president of the student group told me, “You're not going to be able to do that anymore”. I'm not really sure if that's true, but it scared me.

So my response to this part of your post is coming from someone who gets nothing out of extracurriculars - is there any way you can pass on your role to someone else or minimize the time and effort you have to put into your role? I understand you like it but it does sound like it eats up your time and energy and that will make it difficult to for you to keep moving forward on the other responsibilities for your masters. I would suggest minimizing the actual time you have to put into this group and seeing if other officers for the group can pick up some of your slack.

Also just ignore what the past president said - as long as you aren't seeing your boyfriend every weekend, and all weekend, I'm sure you are managing your time well enough that you have time for visits along with your other responsibilities.

2 hours ago, baileyarsenic said:

If he gets a job in the same city as me, all my problems are solved. But I can't count on that. I don't want to do another year of long distance, much less two :( . We're very serious and have been talking about getting married someday. Do I quit the student group? Do I quit grad school? Do I suffer through two years long distance?

So for your last 3 questions in this part I would suggest quitting the student group or at the very least minimizing the time you put in like I say above.

Don't quit grad school! You've already invested a year and it sounds like you might actually be in the mindset to get moving ahead. Also have a conversation with your advisor to understand the timeline you would need to meet to graduate by next May and ask if there is anyway to graduate at the end of the summer. If you are working through this summer on stuff - crank stuff out! At least for me I got tons done during the summers since I had no courses to worry about!

So I'm really not sure what to say about the long-distance part since that is not something I have any personal experience with but I suggest having a frank conversation with him to figure out what each of you all want to happen in the future. Tell him your concerns of having another 2 years of long distance and see what he says. And like I've said a couple times, just figure out if you will truly need another 2 years or not.

Good luck! I'm sure you'll figure it out!

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