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I think I really hate this


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I’ve posted before but I’ve mentioned my school and don’twant this to come back to me.

I’d like to preface my post with this: I have no plans toquit, I just want to get my MLIS without going crazy in the process. I haveloved all of my library jobs so I know this is what I want to do, and I know Ineed the degree to do it. I’m in a top ranked program, my first choice school.

I feel really shortchanged in the academic rigor.The material is either obvious or simplistic or both. All the “learning” we’ve done in one class isnothing I couldn’t have done on my own. I refer to my reference class as “elementarysocial skills” because when we aren’t just reading lists of reference materialswe are discussing reasons not to be rude to patrons. My 3rd class isjust not challenging. My 4th is all theory but I don’t mind itbecause professor is amazing.

I don’t understand how what I’m doing is graduate levelwork. For all of my term papers I need to turn in all the steps; I haven’t had to do that since my college freshmen writing course and even then there was less hand holding. It's not helpful to me and doesn't work with how I write. The assignments aren’t challenging. I feel like I’m going backwards fromundergrad. I skimp on reading because I get As on assignments without doing it. Part of the reason I wanted to go to grad school was to push myself and I’m getting lazier.

I feel really socially isolated. I moved back in with my parents about an hour away from school. My boyfriend is close enough to visit on the weekends but I’m leaning on him too much as my only social outlet. I keep in touch with most of my friends from undergrad but none are close enough to hang out with regularly. I’ve got two friends in my program and a few acquaintances but I don’t feel like I can talk to them. They all either complain about the workload or seem perfectly happy. I thought about trying some clubs but I arranged my class/work schedule to minimize the time/money spent commuting so things either meet when I’m busy or not on campus (plus it was totally weird to be the lone grad student at meetings).

I’d talk with my advisor but I was assigned the head of the department, who also happens to teach the reference class I hate. We were supposed to be matched with someone who had similar interests; however my advisor’s background is in the only type of library I’m not interested in. I’m afraid to switch since she’s grading me this semester and because of her position.

I feel totally alone with this and I don’t know how I’m going to suck it up for the remainder of this semester and the next 2. I know I should be more grateful that I don’t have to struggle with work but I’m so tired of things being easy for me.

Edited by Sadpanda
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Now, I'm not in library science, so I'm not sure what I have to say will be of worth to you. Several years ago, I talked with someone who works in a nationally renown archive about the MLS degree. She said she hated school - hated the classes (for the same reasons you're citing), didn't feel a connection with her classmates - I believe, although time may exaggerate, that she may have gone as far to say that it was an awful two years. However, she stuck it out and couldn't be happier with her job.

That's not to say that the next two years will be wonderful! But at least there's a pretty amazing light at the end of the tunnel.

See if you can't start doing independent studies or internships instead of traditional classes. Hopefully that's an accepted (and encouraged) aspect of your program.

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I am not in library science either, but just some general advice: change what you can, and accept the rest. I know this is not easy, but as general advice I think it can get you past obstacles that seem quite difficult.

Maybe you could ask professors for additional reading on your topic on a more challenging level, or seek it out yourself. Since I'm so far from your field, I can't help much with this topic. But I would suggest talking to your advisor. If this is a well-respected school, I would trust them to have policies in place to switch advisors, or maybe even have a 2nd co-advisor. Just be clear about what your issues are without being insulting.

Regarding the other issues - do you have to live with your parents (for economic or other reasons)? Living near school would probably change a lot for you. Even if you can't make immediate changes, give some thought to next month or next semester. If money is tight, is there something you could sacrifice to move into a place of your own? Or could you find a roommate that lives near campus to share an apartment or house? Reach out to people in your classes, and try to plan something to do where you can hang out and maybe not talk about school so much. Of course you don't want to tell them how easy it is for you when they are struggling (you could, but it probably wouldn't make you very popular), but I'm sure someone there has interests outside of school that you could also enjoy.

Chances are your whole grad school career won't be like this! Right now I have a course load that is incredibly challenging, so I would love to be in your place for just a few days!

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I'm not in library science either, but I think this broadly applies to all graduate programs: coursework by and large isn't supposed to be challenging. You're supposed to set your own degree of rigor, it's not set for you in the classroom.

Going from undergrad to grad school (granted, you're in a masters program so this doesn't apply quite as much) is going from a primarily coursework based program to one where coursework is usually only general overview/of peripheral importance. It gives a general framework, usually rather laid back, from which you expand your own base of knowledge in a (usually) much more specified area.

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Funnier than Stewart and Colbert put together, that.

;)

Hey, truth is always the funniest stuff :-D I have yet to meet a graduate student that thought their coursework was particularly challenging.... Or a graduate adviser that thought it should be.

The head of our department regularly tells us that classes are overrated, and the sooner we get out of them into "real" graduate work, the better.... And it's the same thing I hear repeated over and over from others.

Edited by Eigen
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Funnier than Stewart and Colbert put together, that.

;)

Couldn't have said it better myself!

Hey, truth is always the funniest stuff :-D I have yet to meet a graduate student that thought their coursework was particularly challenging.... Or a graduate adviser that thought it should be.

The head of our department regularly tells us that classes are overrated, and the sooner we get out of them into "real" graduate work, the better.... And it's the same thing I hear repeated over and over from others.

Some of my courses are extremely challenging!

Specifically, I am taking a seminar this semester that is being taught by 3 of the world's leading experts on the field (and I do mean the world's leading experts!). The seminar is additionally being visited by the two other leading professors who teach in the area. The discussions they have are so profound--they are actually developing a new theory in class, as we go. It's amazing to watch but can be very hard to follow. Not to mention all the smart students around who also take part in the discussions..

I do agree that most classes are meh, at best. I can choose to do more or less reading and delve into issues as I become interested in them. I also agree that however interesting and challenging a course is, everybody agrees that research much more important.

Edited by fuzzylogician
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Couldn't have said it better myself!

Some of my courses are extremely challenging!

Specifically, I am taking a seminar this semester that is being taught by 3 of the world's leading experts on the field (and I do mean the world's leading experts!). The seminar is additionally being visited by the two other leading professors who teach in the area. The discussions they have are so profound--they are actually developing a new theory in class, as we go. It's amazing to watch but can be very hard to follow. Not to mention all the smart students around who also take part in the discussions..

I do agree that most classes are meh, at best. I can choose to do more or less reading and delve into issues as I become interested in them. I also agree that however interesting and challenging a course is, everybody agrees that research much more important.

But read your response. Is it the coursework that is challenging, or the material you're covering? Is it that you have amazing lecturers that are interesting you to do the readings, keep up, and delve deeper? Or are your assignments within the class challenging (ie, tough grading, etc)? Since you say seminar, I would assume it's about keeping up enough to competently discuss and contribute.

It seems like the OP is wanting the design of the class (specifically assignments) to push and challenge them, whereas my experience has been that most are set up so you can get a ton out of them and challenge yourself to a great degree, or get very little out of them. You can get an A with not too much work, or with a lot of work- it's not about working your ass off for a grade, you're doing it to further your education in your chosen field.

It's very much about what you choose put into it, not what you are forced to put into.

Edited by Eigen
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But read your response. Is it the coursework that is challenging, or the material you're covering? Is it that you have amazing lecturers that are interesting you to do the readings, keep up, and delve deeper? Or are your assignments within the class challenging (ie, tough grading, etc)? Since you say seminar, I would assume it's about keeping up enough to competently discuss and contribute.

It seems like the OP is wanting the design of the class (specifically assignments) to push and challenge them, whereas my experience has been that most are set up so you can get a ton out of them and challenge yourself to a great degree, or get very little out of them. You can get an A with not too much work, or with a lot of work- it's not about working your ass off for a grade, you're doing it to further your education in your chosen field.

It's very much about what you choose put into it, not what you are forced to put into.

Fair enough. I never even thought about being graded because that is completely beside the point of my graduate courses. They expose me to new, sometimes exciting, materials. They allow me to broaden and deepen my knowledge of topics both within and outside my immediate areas of interest (a great way to discover new ones, btw). Assignments, such as they are, are absolutely not the main point of the class. You can choose to take from them what you will -- you can do the bare minimum and be disappointed, or you can become interested and do more, usually outside the immediate framework of the class.

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But read your response. Is it the coursework that is challenging, or the material you're covering? Is it that you have amazing lecturers that are interesting you to do the readings, keep up, and delve deeper? Or are your assignments within the class challenging (ie, tough grading, etc)? Since you say seminar, I would assume it's about keeping up enough to competently discuss and contribute.

It seems like the OP is wanting the design of the class (specifically assignments) to push and challenge them, whereas my experience has been that most are set up so you can get a ton out of them and challenge yourself to a great degree, or get very little out of them. You can get an A with not too much work, or with a lot of work- it's not about working your ass off for a grade, you're doing it to further your education in your chosen field.

It's very much about what you choose put into it, not what you are forced to put into.

Two of my four (!) classes have tough assignments BECAUSE the material is challenging.

One of them is my favorite class and in fact it's pretty much what I want to do with my life--but it's still hard as hell. My roommate is in engineering and she is finding her program difficult as well.

So please don't spout sweeping universalizations like "Grad work isn't hard." Because...for some of us, it is, and we don't need your help to feel stupid. :wacko:

(P.S. I know that wasn't your intention; that's why I put the funny smiley on the end. It's a reflection of my current mental-emotional statement that that's how I read your comment).

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Two of my four (!) classes have tough assignments BECAUSE the material is challenging.

One of them is my favorite class and in fact it's pretty much what I want to do with my life--but it's still hard as hell. My roommate is in engineering and she is finding her program difficult as well.

So please don't spout sweeping universalizations like "Grad work isn't hard." Because...for some of us, it is, and we don't need your help to feel stupid. :wacko:

(P.S. I know that wasn't your intention; that's why I put the funny smiley on the end. It's a reflection of my current mental-emotional statement that that's how I read your comment).

Please don't "over universalize" my statement. I said that by and large graduate coursework is not supposed to be challenging. And perhaps it would be better to say that, by and large, in terms of grading, graduate coursework isn't supposed to be challenging. As I said, it's about setting your own degree of rigor in how completely you want to learn something- the push for excellence isn't pushed in the "top down" approach it is as an undergrad, where grading sets the degree of rigor. It's rare for people to earn even a "graduate" failing grade (C+ or thereabouts), and as the OP mentioned, it's well possible to just skate through the material and get As.

I'm not going to say my first semester quantum courses didn't have a ton of challenging material, or assignments that made me stay up several nights in a row to get done... But I don't think there was anyone in our class that didn't walk away with a B+ or better. The challenge comes in what you want to get out of the course, not in what the teacher makes you put into it, imo.

So the OP complaining that he doesn't have to put much work in to get A's and that's a bad thing strikes me as off. Grad school isn't about working just as hard as you need to get the A. It's about gaining a mastery of the material that you need to be able to apply in whatever subdiscipline you're working in.

Edited by Eigen
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Fair enough. I never even thought about being graded because that is completely beside the point of my graduate courses. They expose me to new, sometimes exciting, materials. They allow me to broaden and deepen my knowledge of topics both within and outside my immediate areas of interest (a great way to discover new ones, btw). Assignments, such as they are, are absolutely not the main point of the class. You can choose to take from them what you will -- you can do the bare minimum and be disappointed, or you can become interested and do more, usually outside the immediate framework of the class.

Absolutely, and very well said.

What I get out of classes now is completely different than most of my undergraduate classes. Last semester, after one test the instructor decided to just cancel the rest, because it turned out that we were all really getting into discussing recent advances from a selection of publications and how to apply them, and he felt like that was a much more interesting way to take the rest of the course.

I take classes to pull out ideas and thoughts that apply to my interests and research, as well as a way to spark new interests that branch off from what I'm familiar with. The material required to pass the course (or often even get an A) is only a fraction of the worth of the class.

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Please don't "over universalize" my statement. I said that by and large graduate coursework is not supposed to be challenging.

I have yet to meet a graduate student that thought their coursework was particularly challenging.... Or a graduate adviser that thought it should be.

You can see how the second one completely contradicts the first, right?

Or else the only grad students you've ever met are from your particular program...?

(I will also note that you are missing my other point: I am in a mental place such that "grad work isn't supposed to be challenging" and "grad students don't find classes that hard" mean "if you're finding it challenging, you're stupid." That is my problem, not yours. You don't have to defend yourself.)

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You can see how the second one completely contradicts the first, right?

Or else the only grad students you've ever met are from your particular program...?

(I will also note that you are missing my other point: I am in a mental place such that "grad work isn't supposed to be challenging" and "grad students don't find classes that hard" mean "if you're finding it challenging, you're stupid." That is my problem, not yours. You don't have to defend yourself.)

Did you read the rest of the first paragraph, with a revised statement that might put it in better perspective for you?

Maybe that doesn't make a difference in relation to your second point, but I was thinking it might.

That said, I think those two statements go together quite nicely- a generalization followed with the personal and anecdotal evidence leading to the making of the generalization.

I'm sorry you seem to be taking what you are from my statements, the reason I'm continuing the discussion is I really don't think you should be taking "if you're finding it challenging, you're stupid" from my statements. You should more be taking "if you're making your classes challenging, you're doing grad school right".

Edited by Eigen
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Did you read the rest of the first paragraph, with a revised statement that might put it in better perspective for you?

Maybe that doesn't make a difference in relation to your second point, but I was thinking it might.

That said, I think those two statements go together quite nicely- a generalization followed with the personal and anecdotal evidence leading to the making of the generalization.

I'm sorry you seem to be taking what you are from my statements, the reason I'm continuing the discussion is I really don't think you should be taking "if you're finding it challenging, you're stupid" from my statements. You should more be taking "if you're making your classes challenging, you're doing grad school right".

As I said: this is a problem with/for me, not you. ;):wacko: You owe me no apology. But I still want to emphasize that your generalization is not a totalization, which is how it came across in the first couple of posts.

ETA: I'm totally in love with that second smiley. It might replace :blink: as my favorite.

Edited by Sparky
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As I said: this is a problem with/for me, not you. ;):wacko: You owe me no apology. But I still want to emphasize that your generalization is not a totalization, which is how it came across in the first couple of posts.

ETA: I'm totally in love with that second smiley. It might replace :blink: as my favorite.

It's a pretty nice smiley :D

And no, it wasn't meant as a totalization, it's too bad it came across as such.

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Coming from somebody who was in library science (at a similarly top-ranked program), I can tell you that it does not get better. Library school is boring. It's tedious, and the coursework is pointless. I ended up doing some independent research credits my last semester, and I found that more rewarding than all my other classes combined. The best decision I made was to start taking as many classes as possible with adjuncts. My library school brought in actual practicing librarians to teach some of the classes, and their perspective was much more valuable than any of the library school faculty.

If you're looking for a challenge, the library profession may not be for you. I left after about two years of working as an academic librarian because I was just too bored to stay. However, I know many people who are very happy with the profession, so I certainly don't speak for everybody. My advice would be to move closer (if you can) or at least make an effort to attend some grad student activities outside your department. (Do you have a graduate student organization? A hobby or interest group on campus?) When I was in library school I was friendly with my cohort but did the bulk of my socializing with a bunch of PhD students from another department. The good news is that I had a great time because I wasn't tied down by schoolwork and could explore library jobs, do outside reading, network, spend time on my hobbies, etc. You should just realize that everybody in the profession understands that LIS education is a joke, so you're going to need to do more (work experience, library association committee participation, outside research, etc.) in order to set yourself apart when it comes to job hunting.

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I'll second that library school coursework is dull at best. I'm mid way through my first semester and the only reason I'm staying is because I've liked my library jobs. The general consensus from everyone I worked for was the library school is just a hoop to jump through and that everything you really need to learn you learn by doing. The amount and type of work I do is completely different from my friends in academic, research oriented programs. There's been a few classes I've been so irritated with the level of the work and the intellectual level of the discussions I've though about quitting on the spot, the one time we "learned" to use google and debated the how to catalog a tomato (because apparently when you see a picture in an encyclopedia they might only be referring to that specific tomato). I also have to turn in the steps for my papers, I've justified it that many of the people in the program are returning students or didn't go to schools where 20 page term papers were the norm. Learn what you can from classes, go out of your way to get more work experience with the extra free time.

Socially, the librarian stereotype exists for a reason. I went from being one of the quietest people in the room in undergrad to the most outgoing person. I do find it hard to believe that no one you know is also unhappy with the courses, I can say I'm friends with 3 or 4 people and nobody is that into the work. It's an awkward thing to broach but if you can subtly ask what other people think you might find someone to commiserate with. I actually only crossed that line recently with a friend who I thought was happy with the program but we unloaded on each other and I certainly feel better for it.

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Hey, truth is always the funniest stuff :-D I have yet to meet a graduate student that thought their coursework was particularly challenging.... Or a graduate adviser that thought it should be.

The head of our department regularly tells us that classes are overrated, and the sooner we get out of them into "real" graduate work, the better.... And it's the same thing I hear repeated over and over from others.

This is what I, too, am finding.

I joke only half-heartedly that I am in the remedial PhD program. I mean what is a statistic? Really? It's picked up a bit towards the end of the semester but I finally figured out that the whole point of classes is to justify paying me a stipend to be here. The professors don't seem to particularly care about rigor so I guess the adage that if you are doing too well in class then you're doing grad school wrong has some merit. When I get bored I go to the library and randomly start pulling books and articles in my subject area. I am becoming a professional lyceum attendee. I'll attend anything on any subject in any department. I'll attend twice and early if there's food. I have to seek out stimulating conversation by any means necessary.

I will say that it has been a bit disappointing to find that a doctoral program at a private elite school is nowhere near as...interesting as I'd hoped? But people are just people, I guess. And those of us who enjoy challenge of any kind are probably in the minority no matter the environment.

I learn more in the grad school office and department computer lab from advanced students than I do in class. But, again, changing my perspective has made it more enjoyable. I just do what I need to do to contribute to class and spend the majority of time trying to make connections between coursework and my research to keep the classes relevant.

Edited by coyabean
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