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Saturday, August 25, 2007

Choosing Classes

Before I begin a short rant about how difficult it is to choose classes, I must mention that my mom turns 60 today. Its kind of strange how, when I was a kid I couldn't imagine ever being 40, and the idea of turning 60 meant automatically being a grandparent teaching the grandkids how to play bingo, or trying to throw a baseball and struggling to pick the ball up off the ground. Now, 60 seems so young compared to then. I mean, all things being equal, I plan on being retired at 60 and spending half the year traveling through West Africa or some such exotic locale. Of course, all things are not equal and I don't know how realistic that is given the school loans being taken on these days, but still...
Anyway, back to mom. Mom, Happy Birthday. I can't wait until you don't have to teach anymore and can go spoil yourself with a cruise through the Baltics and a long stay in Vancouver, or Alaska.
Now, to choosing classes. One thing about a school like SAIS for someone who is fascinated by IR, Foreign Policy, China, Africa, etc etc. There are so many bloody courses to choose from. Because of the structure of the degree, you may get to sneak three or four electives in there, but there are probably 15 or so you might like to take. By you here, I mean of course me. I think I have spent about as much time working out a plausible first year / second year combo of courses as I have studying for my Microecon. course that ended yesterday. Can you believe...20 days, almost 18 chapters of Micro. And still a final exam to go.
The thing with choosing classes, just when you think you know what you want to take, you talk to someone who mentions a course they are taking and you think..hmm, that would be interesting. And then you talk to someone else and the same thing happens. Then you meet with the career counsellor and he brings you back a bit, reminding that you are here not just to take a lot of interesting courses. The objective is to put together a combo of courses that will maximize your...no not utility, no econ references here....post-graduation employment potential (in the sense of doing what you want to do for the company/department/NGO you want to do it with at hopefully a salary that can pay off your loans). Then, after re-adjusting courses accordingly, you speak with an academic advisor who rattles the whole boat suggesting doing this course now instead of later, and reminding you that there is competition for positions in classes and you may not get into the courses you really want to get into. Then, just to really screw with you, she may even suggest doing an economics specialization, which means taking 8 econ courses instead of 6. You think to yourself, no way. Econ? 8 courses? Ha.
Then, while at home later, with your head pounding, and the knowledge that you should be studying for your final poking you in the brain, you look at all the classes again, and even the econ courses that could make up that specialization. You think, actually, that could be pretty interesting. Econ really isnt that bad, is it? You take out a new piece of paper and write a new course outline...two years of courses you would like to take, all things being equal. Finally, you think.
Then, as you get up to go study for that final, a class you somehow never noticed before peeks out at you.
Hmm, you think, that could be interesting...
And it all starts over again.

And now I really must study (right after I call my mom).

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