If you had asked me in Spring of 2012 for my opinion of the Master's program I am enrolled in, you would have physically been able to see my blood pressure rise. I would have begrudgingly admitted that I was learning a lot, but I would have also told you that it was draining my will to live.
As I begin my last semester of graduate school, I am feeling much more positive, reflective even. Reflective is probably a good way to be feeling, given the portfolio I have to compile and present in order to graduate. We were officially assigned the portfolio project last night. With memories of my credential program all too fresh, I have anticipated this project with anxiety and dread. Now that I am actually looking at it and starting it, dare I say that I might even enjoy it?
I'll admit it. I am enjoying parts of it. In class last night, we brainstormed possible options for each "artifact" we are required to present. In thinking about these classes, I began skimming through folders in my computer, looking at the work I have done over the last three semesters. I continued this process tonight, flipping through physical folders of graded papers, handouts, and class notes. My metacognitive process could be likened to an out of body experience, as if I am observing the past three semesters of my teaching, as well as the past three semesters of my learning, from a distance. I re-read a paper I wrote in my first semester of the program, and I didn't even really remember writing it. I found myself chuckling at my own sense of humor and my quirky writing. I rejoiced in my own stories, if that makes any sense at all. I got to the end of the paper and read my instructor's comment, "A pure delight," and thought to myself, "Yes, this was truly delightful." Reading the paper, I mean. I don't really remember writing it, so that part must not have been particularly delightful.
I would be lying if I claimed that this entire experience was a delight. Graduate school has been many things, but delightful would not be at the top of the list. Exhausting, eye-opening, and enlightening, would probably be my top three descriptors. But today, I have to admit that it has been a good journey that has stretched me as an individual, pushed me as a writer and as a teacher, and has changed the way I view education. A worthwhile journey for sure.
How worthwhile? $10,000 worthwhile? Well... you might want to ask me that a year from now when my student loans enter repayment status again.