I passed! I successfully defended and passed my master’s thesis defense, which means I am now a Master of Science in Geology.
When I first entered graduate school, I thought that getting a master’s degree would be like my undergraduate degree, just with more specialization. I was wrong. It’s a very different world from undergraduate. Rather than just sitting in classes, doing homework, and taking tests, you are now expected to think for yourself on a whole new level.
In my program, I designed my own thesis project from beginning to end, with minimal input from my professor. I solved about half of my problems and questions on my own or by communicating with colleagues. I was expected to attend class, and then work on my project after class, on weekends, and essentially during most of my free time. The project is nothing like projects in undergraduate classes, because of the larger scale and the better understanding that you are expected to have in your topic. In geology, part of your project involves field work. You have a field area, and then you spend one or two (or more) field seasons (usually summers) in your field area, collecting data. You have to make sure you collect the right kind of data in the time that you have to collect it. Nothing worse than getting back to the office and realizing you didn’t collect enough of the right kind of data!
I spent the past semester writing and editing my thesis, submitting it to my professor, and then rewriting the thesis again. I learned a lot about my project and about my subject, and although I’m glad I did it, I’m also very glad that it’s over. Graduate school is a big commitment, and in all honesty it’s not the right path for every person or every major, but I feel that in the end it was worthwhile for me to undertake this challenge. I have a much better understanding of structural geology that I can use in real world applications, and I even have a job offer for a position that utilizes these skills.
So, the good news is that I will be able to post more on this blog now that I have more free time!