Wednesday, March 7, 2007

thesis and schools and decisions

First things first: I am almost healthy again. Whoo hoo! I've been sick for over a week. I never did cancel class. I figured if I made it in on the day I felt the worst, why should I cancel on days that I actually felt better than total shit? It worked out.

CSU Research Competition: I did present my research/methodology at the local level of the CSU research competition (last week). It was interesting. It's difficult to turn "I read a hell of a lot of books and articles" into a presentation. But I did. People read from notes, and I planned to do that as well. But when I got into the room I noticed there wasn't a podium. In other words, nowhere to place my handy sheets of paper. So I tossed the paper aside and just spoke extemporaneously—I'm much better at that anyway. Although I sounded a lot more informal than others probably did, I'm sure I displayed knowledge and emotion about my topic. I was asked three really good questions and I gave three really good answers. Even if I don't move on to the CSU-wide level, it was a good experience and several faculty patted me on the back (virtually) for representing the department. Go English!

Thesis: After coming to terms with the reality of my work work schedule, I decided it would be best to re-file for graduation in August instead of May so that I could take an extra few weeks to finish up the thesis. My thesis advisor thought that was a fine idea since it was becoming clear there'd be no way in hell that I could get the thing to readers in the next week and get the final final version to grad studies by April 4th. Instead, I'll get it to readers by April 15th and to grad studies by the end of May. This is still before the end of the semester, so I really will be's just a paperwork thing. My school of choice has no problem with this plan (and yes I do have it in writing!), realizing that my transcript-with-posted-degree won't show up until after the fall semester has begun.

As for the thesis itself, I'm enjoying it. This past weekend I had two complete days to work on it, and work on it I did! It's all crystal clear now, and I can see at least two other articles coming out of the research. And to think this isn't even my intended area of specialization. It's certainly related, but it's not all that close. I didn't feel so bad about this after my thesis director told me that he wrote his MA thesis on 17th Century English poetry (he does 19th Century American). Ha!

Conf Presentation: I'm going to present a (very scaled-down version) of my thesis at the UC-Riverside grad student conference in April, on the "Nature and the Natural World in Literature" panel. Hooray nature!

Grad Schools: I have heard from 5 of 6 schools. Out of those 5, 3 said yes and 2 said no.

For the past four weeks I've been holding on to the acceptance/funding offer from #2 choice. I did the pros & cons list, and I ignored the feeling of being wanted so I could make a rational decision.

I talked to many people. As you can imagine, my profs were non-committal. They were very pleased but of course weren't going to say "you should go [here] or [here]" because then they'd be on the hook for my decision. I understand that. At one point I said to one of them something along the lines of "Look, I'm not going to base my decision solely on what you say. I'm just insanely curious about what you would do in this situation." But no. When I told them my decision, they all agreed it sounded like the best decision given my reasons, and were pleased. No, I don't think they were just saying that. These guys would tell me the truth.

I also talked to people on the internets. Thank you, Collin and Rhonda and others...

Finally...thank you, trillwing, for your Letter of Recommendation. It worked. I did get into your school, the school I was gunning for ever since I started my MA, the school that is right up the road in a town I like very much.

The school I won't be attending.

Given: financial package, cost of living, faculty more applicable to my specific interests, size of program, placements, ability to get a solid foundation in rhet/comp and literature...Washington State wins, despite the disparity in "prestige."

Go cougars!