The word describing how I feel about the start of fall 2014 is unknown.
It’s the moment you’re on a roller coaster, strapped in to the train at the top of the hill before the roller coaster drops and the ride really begins. Filled with nervous anticipation and wonder as to the course ahead, you’re waiting for the train to tip over, for the moment of free floating and to see where life is taking you.
I’m in the middle of preparing for my junior year (semester) of graduate school, by which I mean I’ve already participated in training for my job, am getting the office set up and am still deciding which classes to register for this fall. You would think having an assistantship that pays for my classes would make registering easier- and somehow here I am two weeks to go and still contemplating what my fall looks like.
The student affairs program at Pacific changed from a 36-credit hour program to a 32-hour credit program that permits greater flexibility. There was a change in the name of the program; emphasis was switched to specialization… or the other way around? The basic is though I have greater freedom in the program now to explore my interests within student affairs. Because I entered when the program required 36 credit units, my assistantship will cover up to 36 credit units, placing me in an odd predicament for this fall. I need to take two classes to graduate on time and I can take three classes if I choose without having to pay for the class.
I’m caught between wanting to take advantage of a free class when it’s offered and also not necessarily have to do more work than I need. I will on occasion overload myself (#formerstudentleaderproblems) so I usually jump on the opportunity for additional responsibility. And If I take fewer classes, I will have more time to volunteer with a different department on campus or have time just to enjoy my graduate school experience. Sometimes I have to remind myself that it’s okay to not always be busy, it’s okay to have time to enjoy life.
If I take the additional class, I will be enhancing my academic experience and learning more about higher education as a profession. I have an interest in the other extra class I could take- so I would enjoy learning more. It’s crunch time so I really need to figure this out.
The other unknown is the fraternity I live with as a house dad (Residence Director if I’m being technical) may be suspended from the university based upon chapter actions, the suspension means the organization would lose the privilege of maintaining a chapter house. My roles and responsibilities for this fall are not solidified based upon the outcome for the organization. I’m planning on living with the fraternity again and my supervisors have asked me to prepare for their move in to the facility.
It’s more the question of what if they are not there for the fall. The fraternity men I live with are rambunctious, they lean more on the bro side of the fraternity scale than I do (by which I mean I am not a bro by any standard) and they are my favorite part about Pacific. I feel valued by them in a way that I don’t in other capacities of my job- they will send me text messages asking for fashion advice or to be a letter of reference for a scholarship. As I have an apartment within the fraternity house, they are my daily life. I always return to a lively environment and men that lovingly call me Lil Mike (there are multiple Michael’s in my office). I will be heartbroken if the organization is suspended and I also understand that I have a different perspective. I’m walking among the trees as compared to looking at the whole forest, when I consider the organization I think of the individual members instead of the entire fraternity as an organization.
This unknown has allowed me to reflect more purposefully on what I want to gain out of my graduate school experience, what experience I will be losing if the organization is suspended, and what other type of experience I wish to gain in its stead. I’ve made sure to reflect and articulate my thoughts to my supervisors- this period of unknown is also an opportunity to advocate for myself and create a graduate assistantship that is detailed to my interests and growth if the organization is suspended.
So here I am, strapped in, nervous, and excited to see where this graduate school roller coaster is going to take me, while knowing I had a say in which ride I chose.
> BONUS <
Podcast With Conor McLaughlin on SA Work-Life Balance