I am happy to say that I am writing this from the other side.
Yes, I turned in my last grad school exam tonight.
As in EVER.
And I am so, so thankful that it’s over.
There’s been plenty to be grateful for in the last month: Easter at Jason, Bridget, and Abby’s; a healthy outcome for Jess’ surgery, plus a whole weekend with her and Chris; the start of a new baseball season (never mind where the Sox sit in the standings right now). I tried to keep up with my gratitude journal, but whenever I put pen to paper, I was really just looking forward to this day.
It was a long last month. Hell, who am I kidding? It has been a long 4.5 years, all the way back to those cold days in January 2007 when I walked into my first classes.
Back then, I watched in admiration as my peers seemed to be largely unaffected by the workload. They took two, even three, classes a semester and agreed that it was a lot — that they didn’t get to see their friends and families as much as they’d like — but that’s grad school, right? They were also the people who followed the schedule set out on our first day of orientation, checking the boxes each semester. They graduated on time, two years ago.
For me, grad school was more of a series of fits and starts: two classes one semester, then two semesters off, another class, another break, rinse and repeat. Along the way, there were some great classes, one professor who made up statistics problems off the top of his head (that didn’t go too well), another who spent 14 weeks talking about Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky, semester-long research papers churned out over a weekend, and lots and lots of Diet Coke. (And maybe a glass or two of wine to help the writing process along.)
I could have been a more dedicated student, and without a doubt, I could have learned a lot more from this program.
But I’ve learned enough in the last four years, and the real life lessons trumped anything I could have taken away from a microeconomics textbook. This degree didn’t come easy. Although I’m kind of disappointed that I don’t think I’ll look back on my grad school career with much fondness, I know I will look back on it with pride.
Right now, though, I am just feeling grateful. Grateful that I made it – literally and figuratively. Grateful that I got in-state tuition and tuition reimbursement, and that selling my books back last week netted me a whopping $68, enough for a couple of drinks with which to toast next weekend. Grateful that all of you were patient with me when I went AWOL for months at a time, and when I whined about stupid group projects, and when I needed good friends to remind me that I didn’t have to get through school on someone else’s schedule.
And, of course, there’s B. Gratitude doesn’t begin to explain how thankful I am to have had him here, through every class, credit, and quiz. He’s had dinner ready for me before class, wine waiting after, and hasn’t complained through all the weekends when I disappeared to the loft or the library. He told me last week that he feels like he’s graduating, too, and he’s right, because I have no idea how I could have made it through this program — and especially the last year — without him pushing me on.
So, a week from Friday, we’ll skip my graduation ceremony, and have a graduation day of our own: fun in downtown D.C., a fancy dinner, and a look ahead to happier, healthier, SCHOOL-FREE years.