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A Novelist, Done With Business School: Kinda

A Novelist, Done With Business School: Kinda

“A Novelist In Business School” is, make that was, a series about putting my literary arts brain through formal management training.

And just like that, it’s over. Kinda. Always “kinda”.

A couple of weeks ago I took my last final. Instead of taking it from home, with the super-creepy remote proctoring service, I opted to go onto campus, like a real student, and take it in a classroom. This was probably a good choice.

Even though I’m getting business degree my last class was a programming class. I opted to take all tech-based electives to get a “Graduate Certificate in Information Systems;” effectively a degree add-on that says I’m good with computers and whatnot. So my last class was a Java programming class aimed at business students who have never written code before. Given that I’ve been a professional programmer for well over a decade it was somewhat below my level. In other words, I’ve been seriously bored.

But back to the final. I finished the midterm in about thirty-five minutes and I was determined to beat my own record on the final. Ten multiple choice questions, four coding questions, one coding extra credit question. I was shooting for a clean half-hour.

Except the coding questions were more complex; which, yeah, I should have expected that. Still, I was finishing them at a rate of roughly one every ten minutes. I had submitted my code for the four “regular” questions and had started into the extra credit question. It was more nuanced and required some sophistication; I was enjoying myself. I was going to finish the class with a higher-than-one-hundred-percent grade.

And then my laptop crashed.

My code editor stopped responding. The test software runs in a browser, and my browser crashed. The software was apparently designed to submit whatever you had in the window when it closed, because when I re-started my computer and signed back in it reported that I had successfully submitted the final exam. My extra credit code had disappeared in the crash. I stared at my laptop for a few moments. I could fix this. I could ask the professor if I could just send him the code in an email. I could still get those extra points.

Except…why? The difference, in the grand scheme of things, is exactly nothing. Instead of getting an A in the class, I would end up getting an A in the class. As far as my transcript is concerned there is no difference whatsoever between 99.8% and 101.8%. (Or whatever the numbers would be.) So I just gathered up my stuff, smiled politely at the professor as I walked out, and sat down in the foyer to put my backpack together. This had taken fifty-eight minutes. I was still the first one done.

But somehow it didn’t feel real, it still doesn’t. Finishing my last final was supposed to be a moment of ultimate triumph. Instead it was a weird stumble and moment of humbling realization.

But still, classwork is done, which means I’m done! I graduated! Except…not really. I’ve already “walked”, commencement ceremony was held before this last semester. And while I’m not particularly concerned that I won’t pass my final two classes, the teachers haven’t submitted the grades yet, which means that my graduation hasn’t been processed yet, which means I’m only kinda done.

I hear Zeno laughing at me still.

A Novelist in Business School: Zeno’s Paradox and Graduation

A Novelist in Business School: Zeno’s Paradox and Graduation

“A Novelist In Business School” is a series about putting my literary arts brain through formal management training.

Zeno’s Paradox (more specifically, Zeno’s Dichotomy Paradox)states that to cover any distance, you must first cover half that distance, then half of the remaining distance, then half of that distance… and so forth, the end result being that you can’t ever actually arrive anywhere.

Of course this is silly. We’ve all set to to get somewhere and arrived there. But right now it feels like Zeno might have been right. Even though objectively the time between me and graduation must be reduced every day by exactly one day, subjectively it doesn’t feel that way at all.

At halfway through my program I remember thinking “I’m halfway through! That was hard but it’s over now! I can do another half!”

Now I’m halfway through my last class. Objectively I have five weeks left. Subjectively I will never ever be done with school ever. The five weeks ahead of me feel just as long as an entire year felt eleven months ago.

Grad School

Grad School

So, the first hard part is done: I got admitted to grad school at Utah State University. I’m an Aggie! I don’t even know what an Aggie is! But now I am one! Yesss! The emails came, and it was all exciting and everything. I sent in my response1 and was feeling pretty cool. It’s something new! I’m on my way!

And then they send the “here’s what you need to do before you come to school” list. It’s long. And suddenly I’m not so sure that I’m actually ready for this.

But that’s the thing: Life is like that. Things look hardest before you actually do them. Once you actually start doing them, they hard for a while, then they get easier as you get more capable, and then you know what you’re doing, and life is good. It’s the transition from “not doing” to “doing” that is hard to get past.

When I was 16, I would lie in bed and imagine I was laying in bed as a college student, or as a missionary, or as a husband, or a father. I would imagine what my bed would be like, what I would be thinking about, what would keep me awake, what would help me sleep.

Now I’ve been all those things. I’ve slept in the Philippines, Alaska, Utah, Kentucky, and other places, as a missionary, a college student, a husband, a father. And I learned this secret: When you are something, it doesn’t seem “different” or odd; why would it? I’ve been a husband for almost eight years, and it’s how life is: wonderful. I’ve been a father for four; it’s not something new any more. It’s life, and my life is very good. So the lesson is that life gets good once you get used to it.

Yeah, probably not finding it’s way onto a bumper sticker any time soon.

Speaking of finding things, I have yet to find a “tone” for this site. My tone for CANS is easy: Snarky and pro-Apple. C[2]N isn’t that hard either: professional programmer. But here I’m supposed to be me in a medium where (as my Dad puts it) “I can talk to nobody and anybody can listen”. It’s hard to know what to say to the Internet, and more to the point, how to say it. Expect some experiments in writing for the next little while.

And thanks again for dropping by!

  1. along the lines of “Yes, I would like to attend grad school at USU” []