It’s been a while since I’ve found myself sitting on a bus on my way back home. But here I am, and I’m taking the opportunity to finally write a few things.
Midterms are all done for the semester, and they were mostly successful. Current marks for the four classes are all well into the 90’s, which is boding well for Dean’s List once again. I really can’t complain about much in any of the courses. Of course, being able to select the courses played a part I’m sure. I was shocked at how little time is left in the semester when I looked through my calendar yesterday. The semester has flown by. And for good reason.
Boredom stretches out time, and I’ve had very little of it. Between preparing for the GRE (in less than a month), keeping up with the 4 courses, fourth year design project, percussion lead in the university orchestra, being an executive in the photography club, and an undergraduate research assistantship, I feel stretched pretty thin. With only 3 ECE courses, this should have been a fairly relaxing semester, but instead it’s turned into my busiest by far.
That GRE… I’m getting into gear for graduate applications, and I’ve narrowed my fields of interest to Human Computer Interaction (HCI) and Communications (the lower layers). With a work semester in the fall, I have to wrap up much of the preparations for applications this semester. My biggest concern is references. I’m well on my way to two or three academic references, but theses are professors I’ve only known for a few months. It’s been difficult to stick myself into professors’ faces for no reason – I’m not wired that way.
Graduate school. If I achieve what I’m signing up for, it will mean another 5 or so years of studies. PhD. Sure, it’ll be nice to have that after my name, but sometimes I’m not sure if that’s where I’m trying to get. Everyone tells me that research isn’t like undergrad, and I completely believe it, but it doesn’t change the fact that I’m still not quite living life. My 4 years at the University of Waterloo have made me itch for the ‘real world’, little tastes of which I’ve experienced through co-op, and I love it. I think I know what I want to do, yet I’m still actively pursuing grad studies. Why?
Part of it is my belief that only an undergraduate degree could become an impediment to my goals in the future. What decisively sets me apart from the average if the average has the same piece of paper? Say what you will about the system, credentials help identify a person.
Perhaps the most important factor is the occasional pangs of regret I see in my father’s eyes, when we speak about graduate studies. Don’t get me wrong, he’s done very well, but there’s always been a part of him that wonders how things would be different if he had of pursued his engineering masters at McGill, instead of taking the job on Prince Edward Island to support the family. Where would he be now? He doesn’t want me to wonder the same thing, 20, 30 years down the road.
Do I take 5 more years of potential pain for that certainty in the future? I’m leaning towards yes.