Thursday, May 24, 2007

"It's in God's hands now"

That's what my room mate, Gord, said to me this morning when I told him that I was done with my candidacy paper... Done as in, it's edited, in envelopes ready to be delivered to the committee members and also, done fretting.

I am a "fretter extraordinaire", type A, pathological perfectionist, relentlessly driven by (usually self-imposed) goals. I'm trying to curb this somewhat, as it takes its toll on a human soul after a while, but nevertheless, the essence is there.

When I told him I was done fretting he said something to the effect of, "Won't do you much good now, anyway". Then we both chuckled.

Since I didn't know what candidacy exams were all about before I was smack in the middle of the PhD program, let me explain by saying it's like a big-huge take home exam. You get questions that only you can answer, based on all your research and studies, so getting help is out of the question.

You go away and write. For 28 days. Solid.

For those of you who were jabbing me because I finished the first draft early, I remind you that my draft was 13 pages longer than the 40 page limit. That means, I had to spend a good deal of time cutting out about 25% of the paper. Yeah, like that's easy.

Then I had to read and re-read, since it was littered with typos and silly mistakes. I suspect there are still a few, though I should be most grateful if my committee graciously does not notice them.

The final version of the take home exam is then delivered to 5 professors. 4 of them I have met before, 1 of them I have not.

They have a few weeks to read it. Then, you have a 2-hour oral exam.

Passing or failing is a package deal. All 5 professors must unanimously agree that you pass both the paper and the oral exams, or ... well... you fail.

If you pass, then you then go from being a "PhD student" to a "PhD candidate" (hence the term "candidacy exam"). All that means is that they've decided you're good enough to go do a thesis.

That then consumes your life for the next few years.

Anyway, my paper was delivered into the campus mailboxes of the committee members today.

And I'm off to have my first meeting with my new trainer, Kevin, in a few moments. The fellow I was working with before, Chris, took a higher level position elsewhere. It's nice to see him move ahead in his career and I have to say that I came a long way training with him over these past couple of years.

I figured it would be good to break Kevin in gently. I've challenged him to train me for a half-marathon.

It's July 8. I've already registered.

Stress junkie.

12 comments:

Backofpack said...

Sarah, Big day for you! Turning in the paper,handing your future in. Registering for a half - which by the way should be looked upon as stress relief, not a stress inducer! So, do you actually have a cpouple weeks of freedom now?

craig said...

Go have some fun and tell yourself they better have a really good reason if they don't give you the green light. Seriously,I'm pretty confident that good news awaits.

I'm the most verbose writer you will likely encounter so I know how it can be cutting stuff. And once it's down on paper the words are kind of like my children. So I agonize over which of them to let go.

One of my friends is one of the most concise writers on the planet. So he was always trying to stretch his doctoral papers while I was trying to condense mine.

ipodmomma said...

congrats on the paper, and when I think back to all the problems you had with your knee, I just say go for it! you've come a long way, bay-beee.... :)))

D said...

SO many exciting things to read about Sarah! First - you ran a great 5K!!! Nice job!!!! Second - you handed in your paper!!!! Third - you signed up for a 1/2 marathon! Nice!!!

Anonymous said...

Stress junkie, eh?
Well, then, you gotta know that the pedals are on their way... I can hardly wait.
Gord

angie's pink fuzzy said...

woo hoo!!!

robtherunner said...

I wish I had the problem of having too much to say when writing a paper, but I do not. I am sure that you will be a PhD candidate when the final vote comes in.

Good luck training for the half-marathon.

Downhillnut said...

Having done your exam should make you feel FREE! Enjoy the limbo and do some fun things before the verdict comes in.

You are SO ready for a Half M. Which reminds me, I need to make sure I'm marshalling within the Half part of the course :) so I can cheer you on like you did me last year.

Go Sarah!

Sarah said...

I have absolute confidence in you...that you'll soon be a Ph.D. candidate and that you'll rock that 1/2 marathon! : )

Robb said...

This all comes as great news! Moving into several new bits of territory is exciting eh? I know good things are just down the road - just around the next bend. Good work Sarah.

I'm excited about the 1/2 marathon coming up! I'll be watching and cheering you on.

Turtle Guy said...

"...you're good enough to go do a thesis."

Layman's terms for "work-yo-ass-off-sum-mo!"

Tequila, anyone?

Granny said...

Many changes since I was here last.

I have faith that you'll be successful in both your endeavors.