How to Succeed in Grad School and Still Work and Have a Life.

???  I really don’t know.

During my undergrad years (2002-2007) I was working full-time with occasional overtime, had my teenage son at home with me more than half-time, and took a full class load. And came away with a decent GPA, something like 3.85. Since beginning grad school at UCF (a super-sized institution with a very different feel from Belhaven/AA and Rollins/BA) my feelings have ranged from “totally overwhelmed” to “maybe this isn’t so hard after all” (usually right before I miss an important deadline). And my grades? Just acceptable, certainly nothing stellar. Now, in my last semester of course work, this confusion is at least as bad as ever.

The main reason I began the MFA program is that I function best with firm, clear structure in my life; that’s what I want in my CREATIVE writing life, and I thought grad school with its workshops and deadlines would be just what I needed. I’ve been in the business world many years, and given a mission I can almost always find creative, efficient, and effective ways to accomplish it. But somehow I have gotten stuck making sense of many of the classroom directions I’ve gotten since coming to UCF. It’s as though I need to be much more self-motivated and -directed in my education than I can handle. This makes little sense in that I’ve successfully planned and executed many large scale business projects: preparing office space for 600 staff and moving them from 13 different suites in 5 buildings into the new structure; setting up a schedule to move 5 teams of 30 people around a call center to allow for remodeling, and then doing it all again after getting approval to buy new workstations–all while keeping folks on the phones 11 hours/day. In grad school, I never seem to be able to get everything organized well enough to stay on top–I don’t understand it.

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