Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Justify Yourself

The end of the school year brings with it the department's request for my Education Plan and CV. What have I done this year, and what do I plan to do next year?

This means, among other things, that I need to go back to last year's justification essay
and see whether I actually accomplished the planned accomplishments. On a basic level, I know this to be true. This is because on a basic level, last year's plan was "get a master's degree and start working on comps". On a more detailed level, the "you didn't really think I could do this, did you?" seems possible.

The only problem I have with my education plan is that I get no credit for what I tried to do. I got rejected from a conference, from a workshop, from a fellowship, from a paper submission, but at least I tried, unlike past years when I just worked on classes and data collection. Trying is progress that is not indicated on my progress report. Perhaps I was getting the benefit of the doubt in previous years, if they (wrongly) assumed I had unmentioned unsuccessful attempts at enhancing my CV, but being unable to count these attempts - even as failures - makes the past year feel like more of wasted time than actually listing the litany of rejections would.

I doubt the department really cares, beyond "got master's, check; proposed comps, check; took time to answer our short-essay questions, check". The only thing they're likely to care about is if I say flat out I have no intention of entering academia or doing research for a living, at which point they might wonder what they've spent so much money on me for.

The only way this will work is if I write down all the same period non-academic accomplishments and plans at the same time. There's no point in examining only one aspect of my life to see if the past year was worth remembering.

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