As many of you long-time Nacclers know, I am a graduate student. Or at least, I was. Right now, I’m between programs 😉
I have officially left my previous degree-granting institution, initially against my will. I now think that, in the long run, it will probably be one of the better things to have happened to me. Some of you already know the humdrum details, and for the rest, I won’t go into anything more than generalities. After the shock of the news had worn off, I quickly realized (rationalized?) something I had been telling my wife for years; I never liked my program, and often actively disliked it. In fact, I had thought seriously about transferring after receiving my MA, but ultimately decided against it, for various reasons I still think were valid.
I chose the particular program I did because of irrational fears about studying the Bible through a more theologically-oriented program. Instead, I was trying to get at it from the side, and it didn’t work very well.
I have been encouraged to press onwards by various friends and mentors, a decision which I had already largely reached on my own. I can’t imagine myself doing anything else. I enjoy the topics, the mental wrestling necessary, and I really like teaching. And so, I have been visiting schools all over the country to find the right new program, something I didn’t do the first time.
As part of the application process for other programs, I recently retook the GRE, necessary since my previous scores had expired. (It went extremely well, thank you. Much better than the last time, in 2000.) The GRE has a new writing section, which reminded me a lot of blogging. One section has a topic, on which you must write and defend a position, marshaling arguments to support your thesis. The other section presents you with a paragraph or so of text, and you must critique its reasoning, analyze the unwritten assumptions, etc. I was worried about the writing section, but actually found it quite pleasurable due to the similarities with blogging. “I do this all the time online,” I thought. I would attribute comfort and familiarity to this kind of writing directly to my participation in the bloggernacle.
I anticipate good things in the future. My new program, wherever I end up, will probably only require me to do a year or so of coursework before taking exams and dissertating. In the meantime, I will continue to write sporadically on the Bible, temples, etc. for the various websites and blogs I’m associated with.