Wednesday, March 02, 2005
the end of the grad school experiment
Many of you (read: two of you) have emailed me over the past month or so to ask about the progress of my graduate studies. If you'll recall, last semester I took a Russian history course with a 138 year-old professor at Hunter College, the first of ten classes (not including language proficiency) that I needed to take to get my master's degree in history.
Sadly, I am forced to report that like all else in life, I have quit and abandoned this endeavor entirely. I felt that my "grad school" experience was taking too much time from my other hobbies, namely sitting around and getting high on drugs and beer (I say "grad school" because going one day a week to a borderline community college hardly constitutes grad school - and yes, I know I'm an arrogant prick - but wait, there's more).
Actually, that's a lie. The class and "grad school" wasn't taking up any time from my derelict pursuits because I barely did anything for the class. I've written about this before, highlighting my laziness in my guide to cramming. But still, I soldiered on. I crammed and did the best I could, which, as always, wasn't very good. I got a B on the mid-term, which I wasn't too happy with, but considering the effort I put into it, I didn't care.
And I stuck with it. My plan, as I wrote, was to take another history course this semester, along with some Russian language courses (as I should try to get a handle on the language, or at least learn several key words and phrases to be able to communicate with my shortly-arriving Russian mail-order bride, words and phrases like, "anal", "mayonnaise", "cooter", "burn me", and "I didn't shit on the floor; it must have been one of the neighbors").
But then something came up, and as I foresaw as soon as I decided to start taking class, I'm quitting. Well, two things came up actually:
1) I can't afford it. This is pretty straightforward. What with my rent as high as it is and my penchant for going on vacations that I really can't afford and have no idea how I'll pay for, I can think of better ways to spend $800 or $900 per class, including but not limited to: betting on college sports, betting on hot dog eating contests, pudding purchases, etc.
And really, what am I going to do with an MA in History? I don't want to teach, and even if I did, I'm not allowed to be within 100 feet of any minor in 16 states. I was getting the degree essentially out of boredom, not the best motivator.
So $800 a class? Yeah, I'll keep that - thanks.
2) I am dumb. I don't mean to toot my own horn here, but I'm pretty fucking smart. Well, at least I was pretty fucking smart.
The final grade of the Russian history course I took last semester would be based on only two things: the mid-term and the final exams. I needed at least a B in the class to get credit for it, but I was hoping to do much better, because after all, Hunter isn't exactly Harvard.
As mentioned above, I got a B on the mid-term of my class. I wasn't too pleased, but a B is what I deserved, considering I spent more time masturbating on the shitter (something I rarely do and save for special occasions, holidays, and birthdays) than studying for or even thinking about that class.
When the final rolled around, I didn't study harder, I studied smarter. I knew the test would be a choice of essays, so instead of learning all about Russian history, I'd figured I'd learn only three or four topics in Russian history, know them inside-out, and hope they'd be among the options on the final. I know, I know - it's risky, but you don't get as far as I've gotten in life without taking risks. You think I've accumulated almost $10,000 in credit card debt without taking risks? I think not, asshole.
And it worked! When I got the test, I had to pick three essays from six topics to write about, and the three things I studied were on the final. Fucking A! Mulgrew wins again! Awesome! Fuck you teacher! You're old and I'm young and my penis is spritely and happy! After the test, I wrote:
Really, is there anything better than doing nothing and getting something in return? I know I've written about this before, but hard work is for chumps. "There's nothing more satisfying than working hard for something and accomplishing it" is a line for immigrants and the easily manipulated. I've never thought after working hard for something, "Yes, this feels great because I spent a lot of time and tried my hardest and I did it!" No, I think, "Thank fucking god I achieved because I spent so much fucking time on this stupid goal. Fuck."
On the other hand, what's better than doing nothing and still accomplishing? Not too much (that doesn't involve nudity or drugs).
God I fucking love myself.
Everything was great. I didn't bother to call to get my grade for the class, mostly because I didn't know how. So I continued on feeling good about myself until a week or so later when a moment of sheer boredom overtook me and I gave the Registrar's Office at Hunter a call. They directed me to the automated system, and as I entered in my student ID I waited in joyful anticipation for the grade. I figured there was no way I got less than a B+ on the final, more likely an A-, possibly even an A, since history as an academic discipline is predictable like that. Meaning, when you're taking a history test and answering an essay question, you know if you know it. Not only that, you know what level you know it. Often in college, I'd be writing an essay during a test, thinking, "Well, that first essay I did was horseshit, but I think I bs'ed ok around it, and the second I knew really well, so I'll probably get a B+ overall".
And then I heard it. Overall grade for the class: B-. Meaning I had to get something like a C+ on the final. Meaning I don't get any credit for the class because I didn't get a B. Meaning I just wasted about $900, all for nothing.
I was floored, and even offended. I'm going to sound like a real pompous asshole here (which I undoubtedly am), but how the fuck did I get a B-? I took thirteen history courses at BC and never got a B-, and yet I got the lowest grade of my academic career at some shit, glorified community college? Before getting my new job I was planning on going back to school full-time for my Ph.D. in history (so that I could sleep with busty young co-eds), and the schools I were looking most closely at were Penn, BC, BU, NYU, and Harvard, and I get a fucking B- at Hunter? Again, ???
Prior to this ass-whupping, I had been on the fence about continuing with the degree because of the "I'm po'" reason. After this though, there was no debate: my ass was done with academia.
And to be honest, I have no regrets. The money I saved by not taking more classes I was able to waste on vodka tonics. I'm able to read leisurely again, something I couldn't do while taking a class because I always thought, "Man, I should really be reading for class. Also, what's that smell? Oh, it's me and my ass." I have no stress about anything, except for my hypochondria and constant fear of a heart attack. My life is much, much better now.
So what did we learn?
* Grad school is for losers
* College is cool, but only because you get to live on your own and underage drink
* I got way more ass in college than I do now
* You are always as smart as you think you are and any academic shortcomings or failures are not your fault
* Bacon and BBQ sauce make everything better