Home Stretch

I am two weeks into my last grad course. It's called Capstone in Public Administration and is intended to tie together everything we have learned in our core courses. I am writing a series of short papers, where I find a current development in public administration and tie it to a couple of concepts from a specific area of study. Each paper is posted on a discussion board, and we are all to read the papers written by others in our group, and make substantive comments. These comments are almost as much work as the papers if done properly, as you have to support your statements and cite references. I also will be writing an extensive case study, and sharing portions of it with my classmates over the next few weeks. The final will be a shorter proctored case study, with a four-hour time limit.

The most disappointing aspects of my grad program have been the uneven contributions by my classmates, and the laziness of a few of my professors. Time after time, I have to read poorly written material riddled with poor grammar and misspellings, or laden with jargon that cannot be decoded. It shocks me - these folks are going out in the world with MPA after their names, and they cannot communicate effectively with written words. The worst was my last class, which was in grant writing of all things. I've never seen such a collection of shallow stuff before; the only thing most people were concerned with was devoting as little time as possible to crafting their prose, an attitude that is not going to serve them well when they go to write real grants. The professor was the worst offender - typographical errors everywhere you looked in his written materials, and no supplemental material provided at all to help deepen understanding. I wrote a scathing evaluation of the class. I still got my "A", but I did not value it.

Then there are the classmates who simply do not bother to do the work. I guess that they calculate how many assignments they can omit and still earn a passing grade. You need a "B" in this course to graduate, however, so blowing off an assignment this early in the game is not a smart strategy.

Fortunately the prof for this course is first rate. He has provided a rigorous series of assignments, but he is also providing lots of support materials and feedback. He is working as hard as his students. I'm glad I picked him, and expect to praise the course to the skies.

I neglected one important step towards graduation: I did not send the "Intent to Graduate" form in when I should have. I will have completed all work by December 9, but I will not actually graduate in December. I've sent the form in now, with the graduation fee, and am waiting to hear back on the timetable. As it turns out, graduation ceremonies are held at auxiliary centers as well as the main campus in Alabama. Maybe my delay means that I will be able to go to commencement next spring in Philadephia PA. That seems doable.

Now it's back to the electronic library database, to try to find a topic for my next paper.


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