• Tiye Naeemah Cort

Sorry I've Been Away So Long!

It’s been a looooong first year of doctoral studies, but I’m back! This one is for all of my academics out there- here are 10 ways to  recognize if you have had to grapple with the beautiful monster that is academia:

1. You are sick and tired of hearing the term “grapple with….” (and being sick and tired).

I purposely used the term”grapple” last week because so many people say it, and the reaction was nods of agreement and the attentiveness to which I struggled, no, grappled, with rolling my eyes. No, you’re not “grappling” with anything because there is no fight going on. People could just as easily say I’m “struggling to understand” or “thinking through” something, but no, in academia, everything is intense. It is a fight to weigh different ideas against each other. It is a mental battle, and the battle never ends.

2. Your professors ask you to “sit in”, “sit with”, or “unpack” an idea.

Yes, something in class is going to be SO deep that you literally have to sit and soak your mind in the concept. I always picture a wet sponge being plopped into a shallow puddle of water. I get it, it’s a multifaceted, systemic, and serious issue, but usually it is around race, so it’s something I’ve had to “sit in” since birth. I don’t want to sit in it anymore! The sponge of my brain is already soaked. Get me out of this water.

I haven’t unpacked my luggage from a weekend trip to San Antonio that I took a month ago! Again, many times unpacking an idea has to do with getting down to the nitty gritty systemic policies that make things happen (read: race, critical race theory, interest convergence, etc.). Sometimes I wish I could opt out of “sitting in” or “unpacking” ideas because it’s almost second nature by the time you’re in academia.

3. Annoying students replace simpler words with “epistemology” and “dichotomy”.

I thank my high school Greek and Latin classes for providing me with a bit of inferential insight, but most times, I end up Googling terms I don’t understand during or right after class because I REFUSE to be the one doctoral student who still needs to have the professor explain easily- Googleable terms.

4. Latin terms get thrown around like candy.

No, everything cannot be a “sine qua non”. “Ceteris paribus” is only a reality in practice economic problems.  If I see one more person use “et al.” to cite a piece authored by two researchers, I am going to scream.

5. Professors will try to make class more interesting by having you “turn to a partner and discuss…”

After a day of teaching, the last thing I want to do is turn to my classmate and talk about what I read a week ago. Why can’t life be simple again with a lecture, a class discussion, and me going home?

6. Evening classes (4:00 pm and later) assign snack duties, and you better make sure to provide a gluten-free option.

This was new to me this semester, but I had a class from 4-7 followed by a 7-10. The snacks in the later class were awesome. Chips, guac, Round Rock donuts, cereal, sandwiches… Snacks in night classes be LIT!

7. If you work full-time while taking a full course load, people “don’t know how you do it.”

This is one of the most annoying comments of all time. I work a full day, and then once or twice a week, I speed to campus, sit through six additional hours of class, drive home, then pass out. I then wake up the next day and go to work. It’s exhausting, but totally doable. That’s how I do it, folks.

8. Spring break isn’t really a break. It’s a time to get ahead on research.

One whole week off… to finally review hundreds of abstracts to narrow my search down to 25 great peer-reviewed articles. Even if I’ll be on the beach in Anguilla, I’d be a fool to leave my laptop behind.

9. Writing papers is somewhat relaxing after a while.

This may only apply to me because I love writing, but sometimes I really feel like writing responses and APA-formatted papers is soothing. I play my “Nature sounds with music” Pandora station and get into the zone, typing at my kitchen table. I never thought I’d see the day when I would actually enjoy writing 15-20 page papers, but since it’s something I have to do for almost every class, I’m glad it isn’t too much of a pain.

10. You don’t voluntarily say that you’re in a Ph.D. program.

It’s really not a big deal until your dissertation is complete and you can call yourself a doctor. The first question people usually ask is if I’m almost done with school, and with about 3 years left, I admit “no.” then it’s “I didn’t know you were studying for your Ph.D. You’re so humble about it.” Believe me, I’m not going to shout from the rooftops that I’m pursuing an advanced degree. I barely have enough energy to say I’m still in school, period.

That’s all, folks. Something you want to add to the list? Let me know in the comments!


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