Thursday, April 28, 2011

"How do you eat an elephant?"

"One bite at a time!" My professor told us that at the beginning of the semester. I just finished taking EDUC 871: Advanced Policy Issues and turned in my 34-page paper (43 with references and appendix) right before class and gave my presentation to the rest of the class. It was a great feeling to walk out of there and feel like I accomplished something.

Being a doctoral student, I'm no stranger to papers. On average, each of my doctoral course papers are a minimum of 15 pages, but I've written several that are beyond that and depending on the class, sometimes the professor requires more than one paper. However, there is always a hefty paper at teh end of each of your courses, you can count on that! Thankfully, I'm pretty good at writing, but one thing I always do is wait until the last minute. I'll usually start gathering resources and start working on it a couple days before the paper is due. I always manage to get it done, but it's way too stressful. I've been trying to work on that work habit because I know that the quality of work I'm putting out is good, but it isn't great.

At the beginning of the semester for the policy class I just finished, the course assignment was daunting. I'm an education policy major and took the intro to policy course that I needed for this class, but the assignments were very different. The course I completed had us look much deeper into a policy and gave us a real snapshot into the type of policy work and analysis we'd be doing in our future careers. I loved it, but it was challenging.

In order to produce top quality papers, our professor had us turn in chunks of it along the way, 5 to be exact and every week we met we had to be prepared to discuss with our classmates our updates. There were only 6 students so we were able to always share what we've been working on and not have to rush through it. It was awesome and I was able to get great feedback the from my professor and my classmates. The best part was we didn't meet every week. We had about 4 weeks off here and there to give us time to do our research.

I always waited until a night or two to update my drafts, but by the time we approached the due date there was only a little left to do. I really liked that method because I honestly feel like it's the best work I've ever done! I know it isn't perfect, and I'm sure I could've worked on it harder, but I feel very happy with what I produced. And, thank goodness my teacher set it up that way because even though I had over 20 pages completed on Monday, I still had a lot of work to touch up on and ended up adding 14 pages between Monday and Wednesday. Also, thank goodness I have a student teacher working with me because I was able to devote the entire work day on Tuesday and Wednesday to complete it. I had no idea it would take that long just to tie the loose ends. Now, I just have to wait and find out my grade...and that is always nerve-racking! Even though my professor has given a lot of feedback along the way and I think I'll get an A, you never know!! Anyway, that's just a tiny snapshot of life as a doc student.

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