In Pursuit of Knowledge

Filed under: Continuing Education,Electracy — Tags: , , , , , — Meredith @ 10:37 am June 30, 2010

It’s hard to believe nearly a month has flown by since I last put text to these digital pages, yet it feels like I haven’t written for many months. Aside from the obvious transitioning into a new job with that self-expectation to perform at a certain level, I have continued to internalize much of my thoughts. One such consideration has been the benefit of waived tuition in order to earn my Master of Arts in English. Under the Employee Education Program, the University will waive up to 6 credit hours of tuition and fees for full time employees who have been with the University (or more specifically, been in a benefited position) for at least six months. The Department of English only starts students in the Fall semesters, therefore I most definitely cannot start until Fall 2011. However, this gives me plenty of time to write my statement of purpose, write a 15 page essay (literary criticism and theory), get three letters of recommendation, study for and take the GRE, and request two copies of my undergraduate transcripts. Fortunately, most English professors here at UF tend to use small paperback books, so I don’t foresee the cost of books as a significant problem. (I do, however, pine for the loss of Goerings Bookstore — such a shame they went out of business.)

To what end will I use my virtually free MA? Honestly, it’s more or less a matter of personal enlightenment. It’s a matter of studying with a very important figure in media studies, particular of the digital medium. This pursuit is strictly meant to better myself. Whether or not it increases my net worth is of little concern to me — imagine that, a human being less concerned with monetary gain and more concerned with self-betterment. Obviously, I previously decided against this pursuit because there wasn’t a good enough reason to take out loans in order to pay for my education. But how can I refuse an offer to a free graduate education? I simply cannot allow such an amazing opportunity slip through my fingers so easily. The baby will be nearly two by the time I start, my daughter will be four and a half, and my oldest son will be a nine-year-old. Quite frankly, I know from past experience that I know how to work my schedule, and I also know that I’m quite good at taking English classes. It’s nothing you sit around studying all day, every day. You don’t cram equations into your head until 4am, continually nursing coffee, always in fear of the next exam that could make or break your college career. No, this is different. Sure, you study. Sure, you have tests and/ or projects. But none of it is like that. “Oh, but this is GRAD school you’re talking about!” Yes, I know. I’m well aware of the fact that each successive level of education is hardest than the previous — but when it’s something specific to what you’d like to learn, when you enjoy what you learn, some of that difficulty melts away. When you are studying with someone brilliant, you take the time to absorb that brilliance, to hopefully gain some of that brilliance yourself. Like many literary theorists who came before him, Dr. Ulmer will be studied and critiqued. I would have to be absolutely, positively stupid to allow this to pass me by. With an IQ of 160, I have a certain level of self-expectation that dictates I have the capacity to be brilliant, and you’d better believe that I would spend the rest of my life regretting it if I did not go forward with this plan.

In the grand scheme of things, this program of study will give me more knowledge and more ability to make this — my writing — work as a full-time gig. While I don’t know just yet if I’m willing to part with excellent benefits, I still want to see my writing become something bigger than it is. A quaint little URL on the Internet is lovely and all, but there’s something much more gratifying about the thought of something bound in print, something inked on paper, something tangible. Much as I love this intangible binary that somehow manages to project images from all over the world, I love print media. The smell of a new book. The smell of an old book. The lack of a brighty glowing screen glaring in your face, straining your eyes. I admit, I can’t live without my instant access to Google, but at the end of the day my eyes hate me for it.

So, this may be the reacclimation to posting, or this may be a blip. It all depends on how well I feel I’ve moved past my internalization.