Out of the Tunnel

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Tunnel Vision – 1. a condition in which peripheral vision is greatly restricted

2. narrowness of viewpoint resulting from concentration on a single idea, opinion, etc., to the exclusion of others

My first foray into graduate education occurred immediately upon completion of my undergraduate degree. I had often struggled with this degree; changing majors, transferring schools, thinking about changing majors again…I didn’t know what I really wanted to do but felt the need to have a degree. When I finished I didn’t have any job prospects so I did what many folks do and signed up for Master’s level work while accepting an assistantship. I really did try but, in hindsight I can see, I was woefully inadequate. I landed a job after only one semester and left the academic world for the professional.

Fast forward several years and I found myself married with two wonderful boys who were rapidly approaching school age. I decided I would go back to school part time so I would be prepared for the work force when Michael and Alex were finally in school. This time I was more prepared, mostly due to life experience both professionally and personally. I really enjoyed my assistantship this time around and felt I had some expertise to share with the students who were assigned to me. This time life, finances, time, and a continued lack of real focus knocked me off course and I returned to the work world.

They say the third time’s the charm, right? Rest assured I am but one class and a thesis project away from graduating, so success is but a breath away. What was different this time? Well, I’m older so I must be wiser…I also have grown more focused and have a job I absolutely love. Every class I’ve taken this time around I have structured (at least as much as I can) to benefit what I am currently doing professionally and that has made all the difference.

So now I come to tunnel vision. I have been the kind of student with a busy personal life, a full time job, and multiple demands on my time and energy. I have completed most of my work by looking at what I needed to do and nothing else. After all I have a job, family, friends, and everyone needs to sit down and watch an episode of Downton Abbey or Stargate SG1 every once in a while. I don’t think anyone would blame me for completing my academic journey without addressing my serious tunnel vision – for many of us that may be the only way we feel we can manage – right? Then I was offered a fabulous opportunity – I could be a Graduate Student Ambassador. All I would need to do is spend a few hours a week promoting the Graduate College and discovering what faculty and fellow students were doing in various programs throughout the university. But in order to do that I would need to do what I hadn’t managed to do in the past. I would need to engage in the university community, meet people, and discover what an active university life could add to my experience as a graduate student. I needed to come out of the tunnel. This blog will be the journal of my experiences as I attempt to reach out and see what Western Michigan University offers for graduate students of all ages and backgrounds. Please stay tuned – it should be an interesting journey!

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One thought on “Out of the Tunnel

    IlseSVanD said:
    December 13, 2012 at 5:53 pm

    Hi Cindy! I agree… I think the kind of tunnel vision we develop with regards to our work and academic lives can both help and hinder us. I certainly wouldn’t have been able to make it through my graduate coursework for the past I-don’t-know-how-many years without being able to focus and block everything else out, yet that same focus made it difficult for me to see opportunities and job possibilities outside of academia. We have to make tough choices when it comes to where we focus our energies.

    I also made it a priority to watch Downton Abbey, though 🙂

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