Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The People You Meet in Grad School: Part 1

Before I delve into the topic suggested by the title of this post, I would like to vent for a hot minute...

I'm in an English program. I attend classes with all English majors, where we study the English language, literature, and authors. That being said, the following things were said in one of my classes this morning.

"He don't need nothing"

"He ain't got none"

"She ain't going nowhere"

What the hell is going on here?? This is an upper level English course, and many of the students in this class are on teaching tracks (god help us all). And these utterances were not isolated events. It was only after I heard them repeatedly in the course of one hour-long class that I jotted them down in my notebook so I could remember to be disgusted by them again later.

Here's my suggestion: make every student who wants to enroll in English classes other than basic general education requirements take a grammar and conventions of English test. Oh, and there should be written AND oral components. If they pass, congrats! They can move on to be the future English teachers of our middle and high schools, and can sleep more easily at night knowing they're not completely ignorant. If they don't pass, I vote that they should pick another career path. Preferably one that doesn't involve making an entire generation of kids more stupid by speaking and teaching the mutilated English above.

Whew. Deep breath.

Now, I've decided to start a kind of running serial-post about the types of people I encounter in grad school.

I don't want to discriminate however, because I'm positive that these stereotypical classifications show up in undergraduate classes too. It does seem though, that when people get to Master or Doctorate programs, they evolve into a whole new echelon of weirdo.

I'd like to kick off this posting trend with a species of grad student I've observed at least once in every graduate class I've enrolled in thus far. And it is...

1. The Perpetual Student

This is an interesting individual. You arrive at your classroom 15 minutes early, because it's the very first day of the semester, and the Perpetual Student (PS) is somehow already seated at a desk with an impressive spread of notebooks, texts, and papers in front of them.

The PS is usually confident and somewhat outspoken. Should you strike up a conversation with the PS and ask what program they are in, you'll probably get a reply along the lines of "Oh well I'm here working on my PhD. Yeah I have a Master's from so-and-so school in Victorian lit and another from [insert-small-liberal-arts-school-here] with a concentration in 20th century American, but I just really had an interest in...blablabla..." Ten minutes later, you're sorry you asked.

The PS seems to have done nothing but attend graduate school for the past 17 years, with no end in sight. If you happen to let on that you are a first-year Master's student aspiring to teach high school, you can also expect a somewhat smug or condescending look, and a whole semester's worth of feeling like an idiot every time you gather up the courage to speak and participate amongst these gods of Academia.

*That last bit was "sarcasm", which is a phenomena the PS has lost all familiarity with, so you can feel free to use it liberally around them. The PS has been a student for so long that they have essentially crawled up grad school's you-know-what and died.

BUT, There is an upside to the Perpetual Student. If you can stand to be around them, they do come in handy when exam time rolls around if you've been too busy having a life to pinpoint exactly what the central theme is in Plato's Republic.

The PS will obviously know, and will probably JUMP at the opportunity to interact with a real, live human being outside of class.

I'll be posting more chapters in this vein of thought from time to time. Trust me, the freaks I go to class with provide me with entertainment every day, so I'll be sure to introduce them to you too.

Be sure to look out for a new post, "The Saga of Stella," coming soon.

I'll leave you with this......I thought it was appropriate given my slight rant from up there. i can haz shakezpeer kitteh?



  1. Boise State is a "non-traditional" school, as there are many older students that are going back to school. I fell that the going back to school student is a close kin of this PS.

    They attack each class period 15 minutes early, always have their shit laid out and ready to roll. The difference is that they substitute 20 years in academia with work and child raising experience that is clearly valuable enough to talk about 8 times per class.

    I'm getting an MBA by the way (I'm finally getting back to you with that...) What is an MAT?


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