When I was in college, I had the privilege to attend an Associated Students leadership retreat. I had helped to found a community service organization, which earned me that seat at that learning opportunity.
[Author’s Note: Thinking about it now, why did I not exploit this fact to its fullest? I don’t think I ever mentioned that leadership position on any resume or grad school application. What was with me?]
What I remember most about the whole retreat was the goal setting workshop. We had to spell out our professional and personal goals. Being me, I took the assignment seriously and went about outlining my future career and academic goals. After I made my presentation of goals, I remember hearing people comment in stage whispers that I obviously misunderstood the assignment because I didn’t list any leisure activities. In my mind, academics were considered a personal pleasure. They were my entire life as an undergrad. I spent my Friday and Saturday nights studying. I think I went to a grand total of one party during my entire academic career, and that was when I was dragged by a friend. (Thank you, LRT!)
I became more honest with myself and others when I was in grad school the second time: I flat out told everyone that those twelve intensive months were my year-long vacation. Once people got to know me better, they realized I meant it, and I think it scared them a little. Classes started in August, and I didn’t take my first whole day off until April – I even studied every day during the Christmas Break. I am quite proud to say that my grades reflected that hard work.
Very few things in my life have held my passion for as long or as strongly as academics. From time to time I do toy with the idea of going back again, but I haven’t found anything that would be worth the dedication involved. Maybe hearing my little sister’s stories of her PhD program have the memory of how hard it really is stuck in my head. That part fades, much like what I’ve been told happens with childbirth.
If you love what you do, is it really an imbalance? or Has anyone found a way to make going to school a full-time professional that pays well?