I remember when I was looking at grad school programs that I was completely opposed to any school that required a thesis to graduate. I hate writing (yet I blog…) and was terrified that there would be so much riding on a single paper. For some reason, the idea of the same amount of pressure to pass one test didn’t seem as intimidating.
During my first semester, a friend at another college studying a completely different subject took her comprehensive exams (hereby known as comps) and didn’t pass. I asked what her options were and she said that she was going to have to take them again. To me, that didn’t seem so bad. Hey, at least she was getting a chance to take them again!
As it got closer and closer for the time that my cohort would take the big test, I became incredibly anxious and stressed. I was actually sleeping with my study guides, as if my brain would somehow absorb the information overnight. I understood why my friend had not been happy about having to re-take comps – she wasn’t mad about not having passed, she did not want to go through this stress again!
And then the big day came and went. I literally don’t remember the actual test. I remember walking to the room and I remember nearly being in tears waiting for them to JUST HAND IT OUT. I know that I must have turned it in to somebody, can’t remember who, and then left and went to work like it was a normal day.
And then came the waiting. Everybody and their mother knew I had just taken this huge test. It was the only thing I could talk about in the weeks leading up to it. So now everybody and their mother was wondering how I had done on this huge test. It reminded me of when you’re a senior and everybody keeps asking you what your plans are for after graduation. I just wanted to shout, “I don’t know yet already, leave me alone!”
I guess in my cohort there was one individual who would stop by our poor advisor’s office on a daily basis to see if our scores were in. And one day, about a week before they were supposed to be in, she told him that yes, she had our scores. The news that scores were in spread like wildfire and everybody dropped what they were doing and ran to our advisor’s office. I had actually been hanging out with two friends visiting from out of town, so I missed the initial text and it wasn’t until after lunch that I found out. I told my friends that we were making a detour and dragged them with me to my advisor’s office. Apparently, I was the last one to find out my scores and the rest of the cohort was all together taking bets on whether I’d be the one person to fail (apparently it happens every year).
Clearly, since I graduated and have a job and all, I hope I don’t ruin the story if I don’t leave you all in suspense before telling you that I passed. I do remember that when I found out my score, I literally jumped in the air and screamed. My friends and I joined the rest of my cohort for our second lunch of the day and a longggg day of celebrations.
If you’re a grad student that has to take comps, the mere idea of them probably scares you. Just make sure you give yourself enough time to study and you will be fine. Remember, you knew this material the first time around. Later in the year, I plan on posting more tips.
Did you have to take comps or write a thesis? What was your experience like?