I'm done with researching, writing papers, and studying. I'm done paying tuition. Or I should say, Reagan is done paying tuition. I am done with school forever.
I am finishing up the last assignment of my college career this week. Once I email that to my professor, I only have to wait for December 14th to arrive, when I'll be handed a diploma from the Graduate School of Mississippi College with a master's degree in Applied Communications.
This last semester, I had a two-part exam to complete before I'd be approved to graduate. I had written comprehensive exams earlier this month. I was scheduled for two days to complete this portion of my examinations. The college has traditionally had students write their answers in blue books to turn in for grading. Recently, our department has gone to using an Electronic Blue Book app. I downloaded the application and tested it, as I was told, and everything seemed to be working fine. The application only allows access to the file I'm working on at the time. So, if I tried to close or minimize the window of EBB, my test would close. It's their way of ensuring that we don't cheat. However, the app is very limited in what students can do as far as editing their work. I could make something Bold or Underline it. But there was no Save action. And if I'd tried to copy my work, the program wouldn't let me carry it to paste anywhere outside the app. That is to ensure that we don't carry our answers and give them to another student in order for them to cheat.
The first day of written exams, I went in to take the test, pulled up everything as I was instructed, and began typing answers to the exam. I had 4 pages of questions. I typed for 4 1/2 hours. I had 17 pages of essay answers. Then I went to upload the file to the server, which is the only thing I can do to get it to my instructors to grade. I clicked Save and Upload. Guess what. It didn't work. But my instructor informed me that someone in the IT department could find the file and recover it for him to grade. There'd never been a file they couldn't find. So, we weren't that concerned with things. Then, on day 2 of my exams, same thing happened. I typed for 4 1/2 hours and had 18 pages this time. Tried to upload it, and it didn't upload.
So, the next day I returned, took my laptop to the IT department and they recovered two encrypted files that they were certain contained the answers to my exams. However, when they ran a decryption program, only one of my files was actually recovered. That meant half of the information that I'd been tested on wasn't completed. There was nothing there for my professors to grade.
So, we talked about me coming to re-type the missing answers. My professors felt that wasn't necessary. They said we could just cover that material in my oral exam time.
Monday night, of this week, I had oral exams. My professors and I went into the conference room where they began to ask me questions pertaining to material covered in all classes I'd taken in the program over the last 4 years. I was to answer in a way that assured them that I could intelligently and competently discuss my field of study.
I'm not one to be nervous in front of a group of people. Even a large group of people. I'm not one you might say is lacking in self-confidence. And, I'm pretty familiar with the material I've studied over the past few years. But to say I was anxious Monday night, that would be an understatement. I think part of it was because I didn't want to disappoint my professors. Part of my anxiety was that I've worked so long toward this goal, that I worked myself into a state of anxiety. And part of my emotional state was that I knew, with this last meeting, I would be done.
I was allotted an hour for the oral portion of my exam. I believe we talked for almost an hour and a half. They said it was because when I was answering one question they asked me, I'd bring up another topic related to that subject, and then they'd ask me about that term or subject since I'd brought it up. If I'd just answered their questions and stopped, I probably could have gotten out of there earlier.
After all their questions, they asked me to leave the room for a minute while they discussed whether they felt my answers were sufficient enough evidence to prove I was competent in the area of communications to receive a graduate degree. When I walked out into the hall, it was as if a million pounds were removed from my shoulders, and I could feel tears starting to come to my eyes. It was cold in the hall, but I kept fanning my face to try and keep myself from crying.
They called me back into the room. They were all standing and one of my professors said, "We'd all like to tell you congratulations." I don't know if anything else was said or not for a minute or two, because I immediately started hugging them and crying. One of them said, "That's allowed." They know how long I've worked toward this degree. They know why I started the program, and when I started it, and how so much changed through the course of my studies. They know that I was only one semester into the program when I became a first time mother and how I've worked to balance motherhood, family, and home with my academic work.
Four professors were in the room, three of which I've had for classes while in graduate school. I asked the fourth professor, whom I'd not had as an instructor, to please take a picture of me with those whose classes I've taken while in this program. I look a little weird in the photo because I was half-crying, half-smiling. That is never an attractive look.
I again thanked them for all their patience and help.
Then I gathered my belongings and I left that building for the last time in my academic career. Why?
Because I'm done.
Or at least I think I am.