Academic Loop-Holes & Pot-Holes
The last few months, I have been working diligently towards a career in academia. The first year and a half of my BA was spent floundering around random classes and mild interests, and to be honest, my grades reflect that. In the last year and a half, as may be evident with past posts, I have found my academic niche in video game studies and sociology, and my grades have been quite impressive (especially as a mom of two!). From this newly discovered passion, I made it through a few academic loop-holes, with special letters and extra-curricular interests.
But now, it seems I am stumbling in some of the academic pot-holes. Each university, province, state and country have different curriculums, and I can only speak of the two universities I have experienced. One was bore a rigid program structure where most of your classes were predetermined in a building block fashion while the latter is based on it being the responsibility of the student to make sure they fulfill the degree requirements with a skeletal progressive structure.
I am close to graduation, and am venturing towards realms of academia they dont much discuss at the undergrad level. Papers that are longer then 10 pages are rare for most (with one course and honours thesis aside). Theory is often (but not always – as I have been lucky) is taught in a memorize and re-iterate fashion, rarely giving the student the chance to think outside the box, or learn any element of theory that they can apply it to something and make it their own. Yet I find myself in a position where, in a few short months, 10 page papers are a weekly requirement (according to an MA friend) and the theoretical framework is to help structure our own ideas pertaining to our research.
My question is – when did they teach me this process? I am heading into writing my own research that requires a level of writting and theorizing that I dont feel I have learned anywhere.
There are so many other pot-holes that are not filled, and when I ask about them, I get these blank looks and weak responses that it is not necessarily their place to help me. I am venturing into the world of requesting funding for conferences and travel. With these requests, I am told I have to ‘sell myself’ – you know, convince those doling out the money, that my research is the one they want to fund. But again, my question is … where am I supposed to learn this? I have been asking around, even to those who have applied for funding before, and I continuously get the same weak comments…
Why doesnt the university prepare students for all elements of academic life? I know I have been told that a BA today is the equivalent a high school diploma 20 years ago, but at least in high school we had shop and home-ec to teach us the basics of day to day life mixed in with the great literary classics and complex physics equations.