Mascot for #DevilDiss

Mascot for #DevilDiss
Mascot for #DevilDiss

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

1st Year of PhD Program Reflection

Last week saw the official end of my first year of my PhD program.
Finals finished, papers submitted, grades for all but one class in.

And I found myself sitting at my computer, and around my house feeling...

Not because I'm not happy with my program, because I am.
Not because I'm not happy with my courses, because I am.
Not because I'm not happy with my progress, because I am.

But because after years of working to get here, it all seemed a little anti-climatic.
Somehow it seemed liked finishing my first year should have been more this

than this...

I guess part of my feeling has to do with not really knowing how all of this works. I put myself through undergrad. I worked full time teaching while earning my Masters in Education. I earned my MA in Literature during summers while working full time. Everything I know about doing well in a PhD program I learned from reading. I have no role models here- both my parents just graduated high school. I'm unclear of whether I'm on the right track or not.
In fact, I'm having coffee with one of my committee members tomorrow because when she asked students if they felt support, I said no when everyone else said yes. And I said no, mainly because I don't know if I'm doing what I need to in order to position myself the best way possible to get finished, get a job, get out.
What does SUCCESS look like in a PhD program?

I went to our department awards. Out of seven PhD graduates, one person had already defended. That timing seems off. Shouldn't you defend before job season? I don't know. I'm making this shit up as I go along. Out of those graduates, the most publications any graduate had was three. Is that the norm? Is more a good thing? What do you need now, today, for the highly competitive job market?

Our PhD program doesn't publish stats. But out of the graduates I saw at our award program, only one has a job for the fall.  That's a 14% placement rate. And those are only the ones that made it this far. I don't know how many started in the cohort. But I do know that so far I know of one person out of our MA/PhD cohort who is leaving. One of my professors this fall said that 2 out of 8 of his PhD program finished, and only 1 (him) is working as a professor.

So, what's next?
Well, I'll be spending the summer reading for comps. And drafting diss chapters.  I'm also turning a conference paper on Grimm and La Llorona and translation on screen into an article. I'm also submitting an article on Mary and the Devil in medieval writing.
In the fall, I'll finish my course work. I'll comp in Methodology/Folklore, Medieval, and Early Modern in February.
I'm focusing next year on getting published in medieval and early modern fields.
I'll defend my thesis prospectus next Spring.

So that's what's next. I just have no idea if that's what's right.

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