I wrote the post Being Human at around 5am having stayed up most of the night to get my edits in for the deadline. I don’t normally work like that – I think I forgot to tell my co-supervisor I was in the UK. Oh well. I never really made it off Canadian time whilst I was there. It’s been blissful to come home and be a morning person again.
I hadn’t been feeling too well, but thought it was mostly jetlag. But then, edits done, I crashed. I got the flu really badly – I don’t remember the last time I was that sick – followed by post-viral exhaustion. My boyfriend got sick too, about 3 days behind me. Result was the laziest holiday ever; we didn’t go to Iceland, or Paris for New Year – we stayed home with tissues and hot tea and Harry Potter Lego (Amazon) – which, frustratingly, I had to leave 98.8% completed.
Still, being sick over the holidays gave me two things. The first – a real break – not just from work, but from the guilt of not working. Secondly, it gave me time to think about what I want and what I’m doing.
The person I emailed at uOttawa, of course, never got back to me. This is what I have come to expect, but it’s still frustrating. I’m so tired of this, and of uOttawa being so for-profit when they insist I must register full time, at international rates, but like a non-profit when they try and cut my TA’s hourly rate by a third (with no notice) because “it’s for a good cause”. And so I haven’t registered, haven’t paid any tuition. Is this how you drop out? I’m looking into transferring because having time to think, I realized that if nothing changes then it’s unlikely that another semester is the answer. The problem is not, I think, time. It’s direction.
On January first (great start to 2011), our education paper got accepted – it’s about the curriculum design for the workshop we were running and is called “Four Hours to Smash the CS Stereotype and Create Something Beautiful”. This brings me up to three papers coming out this year – on widely divergent topics. The IBM paper is on text analytics. The paper I’ll present in Switzerland later this month is called “Following the Conversation: A More Meaningful Measure of Engagement” and is about applying visualization and graph theory to social network analysis. The citation in SIGCHI? That’s a paper on Usability of IDEs and programming languages for teaching.
I look at this, and I think – this is why I’m doing well at life, and failing at grad school. I’m interested in a lot of different things, and apparently I’m creating value in a number of different areas. I’m an incrementalist. I can try and fight it, but on reflection, I get more value and I’m happier when I partner with someone who complements me instead. Having come to this conclusion, there was a post on Escape the Ivory Tower that talks about “mismatches” – and that that’s exactly what the grad school experience so far has been for me.
So, I’ve been talking to people about my options, and I’m looking at transferring to another school, and maybe a slightly different program. They all seem to get it – and nobody has been judgemental. My parents tell me they want me to be happy, but think I do deserve the piece of paper. My friend (who had the same supervisor, and left after a similar experience) tells me that transferring saved her years to finish. It’s interesting, because I have enough work – it’s just not focused enough to create a thesis with.
Really what it comes down to, is I have enough publications and an awesome enough job that I’m prepared to hold out and try and do something that works for me, than try and fight with myself to work within a system that doesn’t. I’m confident enough, given everything, that the problem isn’t lack of work, or ability on my part. Lack of focus, probably. Making it work at this point, seems like a lot of effort with very little return – I’m not on board with the level of ROI in terms of the tuition I’m paying, or, more importantly, the time I’m investing.
So, I guess I’m dropping out.