Aside from telling stories about growing up and about that guy I married, I do exactly what I want to do in real life… for a “living.” I am a professional learner-of-all-things. Specifically, I am a Linguist. Now before you ask me how many languages I speak – know that I don’t speak a ton. Just know this… I am a scientist, and I am reallllly good friends with your brain and what it can do.
Was I always a Linguist? No – Once I was a fetus. After that, I was a Linguist.
Now no one gets paid to acquire language, very few people use language well enough to get paid, and I could never hope to be paid for my writing. So I had to do a few things so that people would be willing to pay me.
I had to research, get in, and attend The Awesome University for an undergraduate degree. Then I had to do a bunch of things to prove my brain did the brain things. They give you a diploma for the brain things if you do them well enough. Then I decided I wanted to do something with that diploma and applied to like a million other universities for PhD programs, interviewed 5 times, and finally decided on The Grad School.
My favorite memories of The Awesome University are the crazy stressful moments in gargantuan classes when asked to prove myself or the miles-long homework assignments. (A draft of my senior thesis actually has blood on it…) Covered in blood, sweat, and tears – sometimes literally – I figure that four years of that makes you a super human. Add a couple of intense identity crises, and you’re set!
The only time I didn’t feel that my super powers were honed was when I decided to take online classes in order to finish up. I learned absolutely nothing. And when your brain gets a pass, it will definitely take a 3 month vacation.
That was my only experience with the whole online education thing, so I had stayed out of it until then. When I saw the chasm of difference between what I had done for 3 1/2 years and what I did for a semester, though, I couldn’t believe that entire degrees happen that way. What about becoming a super human? What about the scary moments and the brain things? What about the arguments that make you simply better?
So when The Search Engine threw an ad at me about getting my PhD online… I stopped. I just signed up for a 5 year obstacle course of hours long exams, grueling class work, teaching, and publishing. I signed up for defenses that would take the better part of an afternoon simply to move onto the next phase of the obstacle course. If I couldn’t get a semester’s worth of super powers through online classes, there’s absolutely no WAY the entire PhD could happen that way… right?
It’s baffling that 9 years of struggle can be boiled down to a check and a website with little to no requirements other than that. Academia, my training base and my beloved home, seems diluted and disrespected. I guess I can only hope that after all this is done, and I have my super human powers complete with the cape and the nifty mask —
— that I can defend what is mine when I stand next to a graduate of The University of WUT who just wrote a check.