Being a modern day student in the digital age

It’s been half a month since I lasted posted to this blog, and what with all these incredible writing challenges like NaNoWriMo and Reverb10, I feel like I missed some opportunities to respond and engage with some creative challenges.

But that is not to say I haven’t been challenged in MIND, which I have, very much. The last month was CRUNCH time for my course: one media log (which I posted recently), a term paper, and lots of stuff related to applications for further study. (Note: I’d like to share about the experience of getting ready for grad school at some point – but it’s not over yet, so I’ll wait till early next spring to sum up the process and some things I’ve learned along the way.)

I’ve mentioned before that it’s been a long long time since I was in school and that getting into the mindset of “class” and “homework” wasn’t that easy. For one thing, because I was going back to school, there was a natural age gap between me and most of the class. There were about 4 of us who were coming back to school for further studies, or who were thinking about school after a few years at work, while the majority of the class were completing their Journalism major requirements.  I think if you come back to university, it’s almost always more intentional and with more focus that you’re doing so, unlike the first time through undergrad when the majority of students are just there because it’s the thing to do, parental expectations, what else is there, and with confusion, students are selecting majors and classes, often without certainty that it’s what they actually WANT to pursue in their lives at that time.

Anyway, my point is that there was a difference in attitude that came out in discussion – the other 3 who were returning students often showed deep thought and consideration about the topics we covered, and they often helped keep the discussions flowing.

Another big thing I took out of this class was that I’m not a good electronic student. I love technology and using gadgets and software for lots of things in life but I found it hard to organize my notes, sources, page references, etc electronically and retrieve the items I needed  easily when I needed them. My method from 15 years ago was jotting notes from each article in a notebook with a numbering system indicating which article and when writing the draft paper I would use the numbers to indicate which article/source and flip back and forth between my paper and my notebook.  I think that’s it: the visual layout and the easy look here and there of the old way that I found frustrating on my one laptop on which I have to flip between windows – yes, even with the Apple expose and keyboard shortcuts – to get to the place where the source notes are vs. where the paper was. Now if I had a 21′ display, maybe that would make it easier since I could have both open side-by-side. In any case, the digital paper prep was just NOT happening for me.

Well, it was my mistake in trying to go ALL digital from the get go instead of slowly testing out what worked for me before delving into my term paper. In the end, I am happy with the end result but it took a LOT longer than it should have.

Finally, the thing that stands out for me as different from my undergrad days was that back then, I was not the kind of student who was cosy with the profs.  Some of my classmates back then were comfortable hanging out with the professor, and at law school, some students told me they came back from sailing with this or that prof…. that was just SO OUTSIDE of my comfort zone. Well, this time was different. I took this class because I approached the professor for some discussion and ideas about graduate school even before I signed up for any class. He was warm, helpful and welcomed me to his class. Throughout the term, he held an informal coffee-and-discussion group that I tried to make it to, and it just changed the dynamic for me. (I am aware that it also has to do with the fact that I am older and more comfortable in my skin.)  Well, I would definitely say that I am now one of those students who had a good relationship with at least one of her professors during her university studies.

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