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frustrated with school


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There is a good chance I will be suspended for the spring semester. I had a meeting with the department chair today. I posted straight A's again in the fall - 4.00 GPA as a PhD student in 18 months during which my wife died, I changed towns, and adjusted to being a single dad. That to me sounds like I might be doing even better than expected.

But we have been interviewing candidates for openings for professors, and we are supposed to read their papers, have a meeting with each candidate, and then go to their research seminar. I have missed four of the seven candidates. Two because they were scheduled during my stats class, once because it was at the same time as Katie's Christmas pageant, and the last one because I was in Houston, though it wasn't scheduled until 4 days ahead of time. It was not made clear to me that these were mandatory for PhD students to go to, and the head of the program admitted as much.

I was also told I wasn't a team player because I didn't have go to the socials with the faculty and students. And I upset one of the faculty members by sending him a slightly rude e-mail. Of course, the previous version of the e-mail that I didn't send told him to suck a fart out of my *ss, so the one he got was quite an upgrade. I substituted for eight weeks for a classmate who had ankle surgery, but I didn't post the quiz grades online. I had them on an excel spreadsheet I brought to class with me each week. As a sub, I didn't know what the section number was for the course, nor how to post the grades, and I didn't show the initiative to find those things out myself. Which is all true enough. So when he wrote to witch at me about doing this, the day before my stats project was due, I sent him an e-mail that said here are the grades. I have already lost all the sleep I am going to over this. I thought it was a relatively polite way to say fu__ off, but whatever.

But it really galls me that she insinuated that I was not a team player. My entire first year, I ran study sessions for our statistics courses. Quite frankly, I bet there are three students who passed comfortably that might be on probation right now otherwise. I have constantly helped students with their models for projects, pointing out econometric errors and the like, because that is my specialty. In addition to subbing for eight weeks - for no pay - I taught four study sessions - again for no pay - to the executive MBA students taking accounting. One of the students happens to be a professor in the education department who went out of her way to send the course instructor a note that I was exceptionally professional and helpful to them. But because I don't go to the parties and drink beer, and am not as chummy with the faculty as I am the students, I am not a team player.

And they said I hadn't been making enough progress on research, which I fully admit. But I fulfilled all of my duties as a research assistant. And helped out in other places as I could. All of the professors in the accounting department that are active researchers already had projects with other students, and everyone treated me all semester with kid gloves because of all that was going on. And I was tentative to be aggressive because I don't know how much time I have for research right now. And so it stayed completely in a holding pattern all semester.

So they told me to take a semester off. She said she was disappointed when I didn't take time off after Becky had died, but nobody ever gave me that option. I don't know that I would have taken that option if it had been given. But nobody ever said, hey don't worry about this seminar this summer. And when Becky died in late March, I was already 4/5 of the way through the spring seminar, and managed to finish with straight A's, all completely deserved. (This semester, I would have given myself a B in multivariate statistics, but the professor didn't. It is the only class in four semesters that has been close.)

So I am grouchy right now. I can afford to not work for a semester. The stipend is minimal that I receive, and I have projects at Trinity and at church to keep me busy in the spring, and in reducing my stipend, I will increase my social security about half that amount. So financially I will be okay. I am just galled.


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Galled is a mild word, in my book. I'm beyond that! And they do this two days before Christmas, too? Merry Christmas, and by the way, you might be suspended? As if this Christmas wouldn't be difficult enough in other ways? I give some of these folks a D for "disclosure of expectations." Straight A's (with everything that's gone on!), and this? Makes no sense to me. Hang in there, Curtis. I hope that if you do take a break, it will be a welcome one and that it will be your choice, not theirs.


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