I’ve been in school for most of my life. Pre-school, then Kindergarten, then first through twelfth, a few months off, then a semester, a few months off again, then my current stint at Vermont College. For various reasons, many of which tied to depression, college has taken me a bit more than the stereotypical four years. I started in October of 2000, and God willing, I’ll finally be graduating in October 2005. That’s fully 7 months away and an entire semester, but even so, I’m a little startled by its approach. I’m left taking stock in the work I’ve done, in the topics I’ve studied, and wonder if I’ve actually learned enough to go DO something with it. And if I haven’t, why the hell did I spend so much money for a piece of paper that doesn’t mean anything?
I’m trying not to think about it too much, no point psyching myself out when I’m in the home stretch. It’s definitely in the back of my mind, though.
My current semester has been about writing, though mostly I’ve been doing a lot of reading, as usual. I’ve got a few stories right now that I like, and I’m going to see how far I can take them in this coming month, at which point my last packet will be due. Then I head back east for my residency, and begin my Culminating Semester. The format is a little different than previous semesters, and the final body of work will be bound and placed in the university’s library. This makes me nervous. No matter how good people say my work is, no matter whether others find it acceptable, a part of me is afraid that when the work is actually weighed and measured, I’ll be found like how I feel: a fake. The work is my own, don’t get me wrong, and the amount of fluffing I do is the occasional digression; I don’t even mess with the margins or font size (the favorite length extender of students everywhere). But I don’t feel like the work I did contributes to a greater understanding for the reader or myself. So regardless of whether the essay or annotation succeeds academically, I feel it was a failure.
I’m hoping to change that with my final study. At least a little bit. I plan to focus on game design, which is a daunting enough topic that the only way I’ll complete it is if I take the bull by the horns and aggressively pursue it for the entire semester. But if I do that, then I’ll really have something to be proud of coming out of my degree. I’m down to the wire (I can’t afford another semester, if I screw my culminating one up, my education fund is about depleted), so perhaps it would make sense for me to do a lighter study for my final semester. I’m not going to, though. I want my degree to be something I’m proud of.