After completing my first year of grad school, I thought I would reflect briefly on what has transpired since last August.
The most important thing that I have gained from grad school is a more in depth understanding of the history field itself. The courses I have taken have broadened my understanding of history and of Public History. Learning about the historiography of history has been very important.
I have gained an even greater respect for the professors I have worked with, not only at JMU, but at Crowder and MSSU as well. The professors I have worked with at JMU not only teach classes, but direct thesis committees, oral committees and still find time to conduct their own research. I have also had a little insight in to the world of teaching when I was given the opportunity to prepare a lecture for my TA course last Fall. I only prepared one 50-minute lecture, but it took over 2 hours to prepare. Keeping the material fresh and engaging students are not easy tasks and I am glad to have had that experience.
Finally, some advice, grad school is every bit as challenging and involved as everybody said it would be. There is a massive amount of readings, and not only for courses, but for thesis research as well. This summer I have a list of approximately 50 books to look over for my thesis research. My advise for handling this work load is creating checklists. I create a checklist each Thursday of things I need to have done before the end of the following week. This allows me to not only see what needs to be done, but also helps me budget my time. More importantly, however, is giving yourself time for things you enjoy. I make time to sit and watch the race each Sunday or watch the newest episodes of my favorite TV shows. It is important to take time for yourself. If all I did was school work all day, I would have gone crazy last September!
I have found that I have grown as a professional and a person by moving to Virginia and taking on grad school. I look forward to my second year and what will follow.