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!