Wednesday, December 21, 2011

What my Ph.D. Means to Me: Holiday Edition

I finally got my grades done on "Monday night," a little before 5:00 AM.

The last day of classes was December 7. Over the following twelve days, I graded that entire stack of papers. How much do you think it weighs?

Answer: nine and a half pounds, if we're just talking literally.

Maybe it's not as bad as it looks. I am only returning the ones above the shift, about halfway up. The others were read but not marked. But that top half of the stack has had its grammar marked (every misplaced comma, every confused homophone), along with critiques of the argument or pacing or metaphors.

Now I get to think about the holidays.

For the record, I got my Ph.D. about nine years ago, at one of the most prestigious institutions in my field. You might think that by now I would have felt some sense of professional advancement.

Instead, I have every reason to expect this workload (or more) until I retire, quit, or expire in the saddle.

The next time my students suggest that they are thinking about going to graduate school, I'm going to ask, "Do you like grading papers?"

And if they don't answer, "Like it? I LOVE IT!" ... well, I feel a strong moral obligation to discourage them.

But I shouldn't complain. I am lucky, in fact, in that I even have a job.

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