This semester I'm taking my last class - a 3-credit Polymer Science lab, that runs for 6 hours on Friday, 9-3. *CUE GROANING*
At the very first class - a safety and syllabus overview - the professor introduced us to the class by saying: "This is the worst class you're going to take in your entire PhD." Which I am sure is a great way to start off the semester with high morale!
Basically, we run experiments on lab days, and reports - big honking 10-20 page reports with error analysis (and not the good HONKing either) - are due two weeks after the lab, rolling. So on Week 1 I will do Lab 1. On Week 2 I will be writing Report 1 and doing Lab 2. On Week 3 I will be finishing and turning in Report 1, writing Report 2, and doing Lab 3. This continues until the end of the semester, or until I die, whichever comes first.
Have I mentioned that they make grad students take this class by itself because it's so much work? FULL TIME grad students, that is. So this semester? I'm carrying a FULL TIME workload. With just this one class. Remember: I have a job! A hard one! It's already full time!*
On top of this GREAT AND EFFICIENT schedule come the following two awesome points:
- They are trying to redo the lab experiments, to improve them. However, this means that the new ones last year? NONE OF THEM WORKED. Students got to choose between (a) working extra in the lab to get good data or (b) attempting to write a 10-20 page lab report and answering all assignment questions with bad data. That's a lose-lose situation to me, but do they care? Apparently not, because the prof doesn't seem to think many of the labs this year will be much better. Great. Glad we care about quality.
- They've apparently run out of second-(or-greater-)year students on assistantships supported by the department, so. My TAs and teachers and lab assistants? Are the students in the class.
Just think about this one for a long second here. The students taking the class right now... will be teaching the class. And taking it. As they teach it.
These are first-year students. They've only been through the first half of the core - our first 5 courses**. That's it.
So these first-year students will be coming on Monday, learning about the lab and setting it up, and then teaching it to us. While they also do it.
I don't pity them and I won't blame them for doing a shit job; that's a shit situation to be in. But I am also Not Very Excited for the amount of help (read: zero) I'll have on these labs.
I just. University of Akron, you may consider this an official public notice: YOU'RE DOING IT WRONG, GUYS.
I'm not looking forward to this.
It's my last class, and with that in mind, I'm going to just shoulder on through until May. I'm basically making myself harshly
limit the amount of time I spend socializing or traveling or doing other stuff, and I'm looking at my schedule to trim out things. I can survive this, and it'll be worth it when it's done.
My plan is: I am going to save Thursday and Friday nights all for homeworking and lab reporting. This means no more weekend-long trips, not until May (except for a very few rare exceptions, like Ohayocon and a birthday or two). Only one night per weekend for socializing or hanging out. If I get behind on things, I will take a half day of vacation to work on them, rather than stay up all night. I can't afford to get sick this semester because there aren't any lab makeups I can attend (seeing as I work). I'm going to have to be pre-emptively careful, not just careful. Or else this is going to suck, a lot.
So: yay. And, uh, sorry to those of you who I hang out with in real life, but I really do need to make myself do this. It isn't that I don't love you! I promise. Really.
in my pants.
On the plus side, this is the last semester you'll hear me whining about class.
* If we factor in travel time - JUST travel time, not errands or the gym or anything else I will be doing during the week - I'll be pulling 55 hour weeks. If I count nothing but work and school and driving there and back. :/ That also doesn't include homework time or, you know, anything like eating or chores (adulthood is its own part-time job (ADULTHOOD SUCKS)).
** Yes, the UAkron PolySci core is frigging ridic. The first semester is 5 courses. Who does that. No wonder this damn degree has taken me 4 years.