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Author Topic: Suggestions on how to stay motivated to finish master's program  (Read 10437 times)
lgal121
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« on: April 29, 2012, 3:54:33 AM »

I just completed my first year of my MA program, and it went well. I feel very honored to have been admitted into such a rigorous program. I can say that I've had some problems with my personal life as a result of my decision to go to the program but do not regret it at all. It is quite challenging, and at times, stressful, but overall it has been a good experience. I have 3 courses left plus my master's thesis, and right now I'm having a hard time seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. I'm about to leave for the summer and just need some advice on how to stay motivated to finish the program. I enjoy it, but the town that I am in is really dull, and  I feel isolated where I am at, being far away from friends/family. The first year was rough, I'll admit, but I made it through. I just want some suggestions on how to continue to stay motivated. I'm just worried that I'm going to have a hard time coming back in the fall. Whenever I get on an airplane to come back to the town, I start to feel depressed. Although I enjoy the subject and the school, I just feel very lonely where I'm at, and it seems like there's a long road still. I'm just so anxious to be done with the program. I am truly honored to have been accepted to such a wonderful place, but I just feel down and am having a hard time seeing the end point right now. Also, I am getting so anxious to just get my life started, and sometimes feel that my youth is fading away as continue to chug through school.

Suggestions?
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systeme_d_
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« Reply #1 on: April 29, 2012, 4:16:36 AM »

Are you kidding me?  You need motivational speeches from complete strangers to get through another year of graduate work?

I hope you don't plan on a PhD.
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scampster
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« Reply #2 on: April 29, 2012, 4:44:17 AM »

You need to make friends within your program, so that you have peer support.
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marigolds
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« Reply #3 on: April 29, 2012, 4:46:53 AM »

Is this about that dumb boyfriend again? (The 'youth slipping away' stuff?)
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tinyzombie
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« Reply #4 on: April 29, 2012, 11:04:55 AM »

Are you kidding me?  You need motivational speeches from complete strangers to get through another year of graduate work?

I hope you don't plan on a PhD.

+1,000

The "poor me, my town is dull and isolated" argument ain't gonna fly with a lot of people who will read this, either.
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linvitee
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« Reply #5 on: April 29, 2012, 11:54:09 AM »

What's this "leaving for the summer" thing? Shouldn't you be working on your thesis/doing research over the summer?
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baleful_regards
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« Reply #6 on: April 29, 2012, 12:04:39 PM »

Light at the end of the tunnel?

Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahhaha. <wipes tear from eye>

Youth fading away?

<another spasm of laughter>


Oh, honey. I turn 42 today.  I hand in my Ph.D. dissertation tomorrow. I started my Master's program when I was 34 and had a kindergarten aged child.

If you aren't going to make it thorough 3 more courses and a thesis, I suggest you pack it the hell in right now.
You'll never survive a job search.
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corny
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« Reply #7 on: April 29, 2012, 12:21:52 PM »

Just for the sake of balance, I will not repeat what's already been said here, but suggest that you might, perhaps, use this as an opportunity to reflect on how we all get a bit punchy and fed up at this time of year - which may help to explain your own feelings about your M.A. program right now, too. Also:

1. I felt exhausted and overwhelmed and isolated during my first year of grad school too; I think that's pretty common. My second year was better, because I felt more like I knew what I was doing, and because all of those people who had still kind of felt like strangers in May seemed like old buddies when we returned in the fall. You may find yourself refreshed, re-inspired, and on fire with the love of learning again in a few months.

2. A year is not that long. It feels like it, but it's not. Furthermore, your youth will continue to fade away at the same rate no matter what you're doing with your time (ahem), so really you just need to make sure that what you're doing with your time is what matters to you. Presumably you are getting this M.A. because you believe it will help you have a better / more satisfying life in the long run, so focus on that. (Unless you've truly realized that it's not the golden path to happiness you imagined it would be, in which case, see balefulregardss' advice.)

3. Also, yes, having even one or two friends in your program - or grad students in other departments - will make a big difference. Invite someone out to coffee or lunch now that the semester is over and you all have piles and piles of free time on your hands, or whatever.
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msparticularity
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« Reply #8 on: April 29, 2012, 1:04:35 PM »

I wonder whether much of this is really related to the amount of emotional energy you put into your relationship issues over the past year. Your real focus and energy seem to have been diverted toward that, rather than toward the real life you were having in your new town, and in your academic program. In other words, you really never established any emotional connection with the place, the people, or--most importantly--the work itself.

Those of us who have an ongoing life in academia manage to do so because we feel a passion for the work. Certainly it's a love/hate relationship sometimes, but the connection is strong. The motivation to continue simply cannot be external; you must find the reason for continuing in your commitment to the work itself first. This may waver from time to time, of course, and you may have doubts--we all do. Those doubts, though, are the kind of things we can help you with.
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systeme_d_
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« Reply #9 on: April 29, 2012, 4:58:32 PM »

Holy crap, I just read the OP's posting history and the problem is not motivation, it is Being A Huge Drama Queen.
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lgal121
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« Reply #10 on: April 29, 2012, 5:45:15 PM »

Thank you for the responses.

I think next year will be much better and plan to try and develop more personal relationships with my classmates. Additionally, I am going to try and join some student organizations. 

I am doing research this summer, but will be spending the summer elsewhere to do it.

I am so grateful for the opportunity to attend the program and so am going to continue and focus on that rather than the negative. I was just having a moment.

Please let this post fade out.
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mystictechgal
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« Reply #11 on: April 30, 2012, 1:47:28 AM »

Please go back and reread the posts you have made here. Seriously. It may help you to find the motivation you seek. Two years ago you were "stuck in a rut" and thought that part of your problem was that you just wanted to get out of your parent's house and out of your hometown because it was so dull. You were working two minimum wage jobs and getting nowhere on the job market in anything you said you wanted to be doing. You wanted desperately to be admitted to a Masters program. You wanted to eventually live in CA, but that could wait, and you could go anywhere because you "had no ties".

<insert boyfriend who isn't supportive carp>

Now? You're just one year and a thesis away from completing your dream of having that Masters degree. You are in a program that you say you are grateful to be in. You say you love your studies. Apparently, you have been capable of affording to live there. I'm guessing that you are no longer living in your parent's house, and you are no longer working two minimum wage jobs. You are THREE classes and a thesis away from that degree you wanted.

But, you think you might want to quit because where you live now is so dull (sound familiar?), and you midd your friends and family (normal). So your possible answer is to walk away from it all and go home. To what? That dull hometown you wanted to get away from? Living in your parent's house again? Another couple of minimum wage jobs?

Might I suggest that instead of going home for the entire summer you try to spend some time somewhere else, too? Check out something like couch surfing (couchsurfing.org), or look at staying in a youth hostel. Pick someplace exciting. Go there for a few days--a week--whatever. Recognize that you're an adult. You can't live at your parent's house forever. Your friends, I hope, will have moved on in their lives in the last 2 years, just as you are doing. They're still your friends, but it's not, God willing, like going back to the way you were together in HS, or even college. You don't live the same lives that you did before, nor should you.

Yes. Go home for a visit. But, spend a little time using your newfound independence to remind yourself of what else there is out there in the world other than your parent's house and those "dull" places that you have lived and gone to school in all of your life. You don't have to spend your entire summer either at school, or at home. Spend some time away from both and really think about what you want. Then go back to school and finish that degree, or look for a job in whatever exciting place you choose to visit that your current degree will get you, and make a life for yourself there.

Going home to stay isn't going to make things all better. Looking at, and envying your BFF because she now has a good husband and 2 kids and lives what seems to be an enviable life doesn't mean that you'd be picking up her life just by going back, nor does it mean that you'd be happy with it, yourself. You need to find your own life. Go spend some time somewhere else this summer in addition to visiting (not going) home.
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