Spring 2013 is my second semester as a Masters student and my third semester as a graduate student. I am presently enrolled in four graduate programs: Master of Science in Information Technology, Master of Arts in Sociology, Graduate Certificate in Cognitive Science and Graduate Certificate in Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies. I have been told that I am crazy for having this number of programs, but to me it all seems very reasonable and logical. Each certificate is an integral part of one of the master’s programs as far as I am concerned. I cannot perform sociological thought without the consideration of gender, and I cannot consider information systems without cognition or cognitive thought. It all just fits for me.
This semester has been very hard for me to establish in terms of scheduling. There were many interesting courses on the schedule for the semester and I found myself having to determine what my goals are before I could develop my own final schedule.
One of my goals for this semester is to complete my WGST graduate certificate. There are several reasons for this. The most important reason I want to finish is this semester is that I feel that I have mentally “completed” the certificate. In May I will have been with the program for two academic years, long enough to have gotten a Masters in the topic. While I have not taken all of my courses in that program, I do feel like I have gotten almost a Master’s level of understanding from the program. As I work toward completing Theoretical Approaches to Gender this semester I will be working toward my 18th credit hour in the area of study (only 12 are required). Only 15 of the hours are recognized as being “in the program”, but my tutorial in sociology on the subject of the sociology of masculinity was certainly a good introduction to the “other side” of feminist thought. I am ready to put this program behind me and treat it as a building block for future work I may do in the social sciences. The next priority for finishing this semester is doing so will alleviate a problem with my academic record that has resulted in my cognitive science certificate not being on my electronic student record. Graduating the one certificate will allow me to have space for the other certificate. Finally, now is the right time to finish the certificate because the stability of the schedule for future classes being offered to complete the program is in question. Also, the next course offered that I could use to finish off the program will be taught in the same semester in which I am due to complete my thesis, so my scheduling options would be very tight.
Another goal I have where my schedule is concerned is to take a class in the Information Technology program. I am taking Complex Adaptive Systems to accomplish that goal, but ironically it also has potential use as a method of sociological examination. Once again all of my departments overlap and align themselves to fit what I need. Complex Adaptive Systems also applies to the cognitive science certificate, so I will be taking out multiple goals with this course.
I initially wanted to take both of the remaining “required” courses in SOCY, but I considered that perhaps that would be too much. I am instead taking one of the course, “Issues in Social Research”, or as it is called in the department “Research Methods” and I am also taking a research-oriented course that is specialized. It is a one-time-only “field experience” course that involves an active research project that the faculty are working on. Research methods will likely be interesting just because of the breadth of material that we cover. I am looking forward to the field experience most though because it is actually an opportunity to be involved intimately in the department.
A non-class related goal I had for the semester was to get a graduate assistantship (GA) on campus. I wanted to find a way to become professionally involved in academics, and that is certainly a way to enter at the base level. That particular goal seems to now be completed since this morning I accepted a research position with the J. Murrey Atkins Library on campus. It is only for one semester, but I think it will be an interesting introduction to academic work.
Finally, I have two goals related to my academic programs that don’t directly involve coursework. I hope to establish my thesis topic for sociology generally this semester, and also hopefully my specific research question. I also wish to write the concentration proposal for the Information Technology degree.
So far things are shaping up to be the start of a very interesting semester. I hope things remain as calm and rational as they are right now, but I know they won’t.