I’ll take a microchip instead

(Image found here)

I’ve decided I want to learn everything. Well, not everything, but I’m certainly not picky enough. The more I read about graduate programs, the more I’d love to take them all. I skim through course listings and would mix and match from multiple universities if I had a private jet to take me across the country (or at least the province) so I could attend all of them. All this background research makes me think it would be so much better if my brain were simply an iPad and I could download all these degrees from iTunesU, waking up in the morning with my brain full of completed Masters and PhD programs, just spewing out research papers left and right. Okay, that would be a bit much to handle before breakfast.

My major crossroad lies in whether to take sociology or a more interdisciplinary program, such as media studies. You must understand that just narrowing it down to this point was a huge win. I took my BASc. from a liberal arts university, specializing in both sociology and psychology. The ultimate apex of my undergraduate research was in fourth year when I took an independent study we called “Social Formation of Mind”, which sought to marry the areas of psychology and sociology as a comprehensive study of the human, whose very being necessitates examination of both the microcosm of the individual (starting with genes) right up to the the globalized mass of societies. Ultimately, my thinking has always been interdisciplinary and so wherever I end up, my research will always include multiple perspectives as well.

Back to the dilemma at hand, forced by the absurdly early OGS deadline, which has asked me to choose a university before I’ve even been accepted. I’m starting to see the humour in how much of this applying for universities is mere speculation of what the next couple years of my life will resemble. If only I could pretend my day job doesn’t exist and spend my time gallivanting around from campus to campus discovering the real nuances of each program until an undeniable answer arises before me. I’d have beers with departmental advisers from each school and in the din of the room, ask them to confess, “Now, old chap, what really is the deal behind the MA in Communication and Culture? Will I be written off as a journalist or eccentric artist?” or “How about that MA in Media Studies or the one in Information Science? Is that just a new name for contemporary librarian?” While there’s absolutely nothing wrong with the careers of artists, librarians or journalists, I know enough to have determined that my calling is more research-based or, alternatively, in consulting and advising of some kind (Stefanie Duguay, Knowledge Media and Technology Consultant – has a nice ring).

But today I was reminded that connecting the dots is never quite the incredibly challenging task that I believe it to be. I was sitting next to a guy on the bus who was simply decimating crossword puzzles in newspapers, one after another. I was astonished and impressed by the way he attacked the paper with his pen. I’ve never been able to do crosswords; I always feel that I can’t commit to putting one word down when I don’t know what the other 25 might be. How can I, using permanent ink, declare this one answer if I’m not sure that it and the next 24 will be 100% correct? Thus is the paralyzing thought pattern of a perfectionist. However, the more I read, the more it seems as though academia has a fluidity. Since anything worth studying in the world can be examined from multiple perspectives, it allows academic professionals to slip into their research niches, no matter how obscure their starting points (trust me, I’ve read a lot of faculty profiles by now). And so, it’s time to wander to the OGS website and fill in “number 12, across, ____ letter word for academic institution” and just let the rest fall into place.

2 thoughts on “I’ll take a microchip instead

  1. beautifully written. I love the crossword metaphor – it fits so well with the concept you are expressing – of the many steps that can be affected by that single first step – but how it works out in the end.
    thanks for the lucidity of this piece!


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