Saturday, September 08, 2007

Success is my only ** option - Failure's not

I started my last class today, the one that is meant to be the final "experience" and is to prepare me for the comp exams. I had intended to take the exams on December 1st. Today though, I was exposed to the study prep questions for the first time and realized that the exams are more difficult than I thought they would be. It is recommended that students take a year just to prepare for them, and here I am just learning this and intending to take them in just a few months. I thought about it a while, an hour maybe, before deciding not to postpone my exam. So, while I thought the summer quarter would be the most difficult, now I see the most difficult work is still ahead of me. I'm glad my work schedule is so accommodating to my school schedule, though I wish my paycheck size didn't fluctuate or matter as well. The exam consists of 3 questions that we are given 6 hours to answer. There are certain requirements for the style of the answer, and the notes you can bring are severely limited, and also graded. Each question is graded separately, so that if you fail one or two you can just re-take those at the next exam in May. But I don't want that to happen to me. How anti-climactic it would be.

The program directors started the class with an inspirational speech as to what they hoped working toward this degree would mean to us. It was eye-opening to me that they never mentioned that they hoped it would get us promotions or great jobs or make us better public servants. Instead, they said they hoped - no, they knew - that this experience had changed our lives, because we'll never look at anything the same way again. And though it wasn't the first time this had occurred to me, it was the first time I had heard someone of authority say it out loud and it seemed to validate my recently frustrating attempts to justify to strangers why I am doing this. They said they hoped the experience would inspire us to become learners for life. And that they hoped that exam day would be so rewarding that it would be the best day of our lives. No one laughed; it wasn't a joke.

It made me think of my neighbor, an attorney, who Mike had recently asked about the experience of attending law school. She said it was difficult, a lot of memorizing, and that there were classes where she felt she did not comprehend their value or meaning until she was taking the final exam. This could happen with me. It is so close to the end, but I'm still learning from my classes every day. I imagine it could all culminate in ways I haven't yet comprehended, maybe even when I'm writing my final exam.

I think this is why I can not answer the question that everyone asks: What are you going to do after graduation? I can't make that kind of decision when I am still learning new facets. Maybe something will reveal itself to me, maybe not, but something seems to tell me that it is not time to decide yet. It is time to study harder than I have before, so that on exam day I can tell the director that yes, it was the best day of my life, and now it's time to say goodbye.

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