Ouch…

I wrapped up my fall semester yesterday. I’d like to say that it felt good, but I actually ended the day in tears. Not cool Allie, not cool.

I headed to campus to present my senior research project, which is kind of a big deal at Penn State. I wasn’t too nervous because I had practiced the presentation almost every day since Thanksgiving, and wrote a 46 page paper on my topic.

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The presentation went well. I had a decent-sized audience, and I feel as though I had handled questions well after my 10 minute presentation. After I was finished, two of my communications professors asked the audience to leave so they could finish asking me questions, give me my grade, and make any last comments.

I received an A on the paper, presentation, and all other class work. I was happy, but then my professors gave me some comments. The comments weren’t really on my research project, though.

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“You turn all of your work in early and we never have to worry about you, but you need to let your work sit sometimes. You need to be okay with leaving work unfinished, and it seems as if you do things just to get them done.”

“You are a great student, and a good candidate for graduate school. I don’t recommend that you go to grad school until you find something you’re passionate about because students who don’t bring passion into grad school just get burnt out.” 

Ouch.

I know that my professors meant their comments as constructive criticism, but that doesn’t take away the sting. I’m a journalism major, and to hear my professor say that he didn’t think I’m passionate about my work and writing makes me second guess myself, my abilities, and my work.

I have always turned in school work early to show how committed and passionate I am about my academic career. Every time I receive an assignment, and I have at it. I love to learn, write, and tackle new challenges. I had no idea that my professors believe I rush through things just to get them done.

It was hard to hear those comments from my professors because I have always looked up to both of them. It made me realize, though, that I shouldn’t be seeking human approval in life. I should only be looking to please God. It’s always hard for me to realize that people that I look up to will hurt me and let me down. No one is perfect, and that’s just life.

So I got in my truck, drove home, and had a good cry.

So yeah, that’s where I am right now. I’m happy that the semester is over–it was honestly the toughest semester I have ever had–and I’m just processing everything that was said yesterday.

I wasn’t sure if I wanted to post about this, but I like to keep things real on my blog. My life isn’t perfect, and I struggle sometimes. I’m always learning, and I love to share experiences like this one so that I can hear from readers and look back on this in the future.

Hopefully my next post will be a bit more happy and not so Debbie Downer-ish ;-)

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37 comments

  1. I think your professors have valid points but really went about it in the wrong way. You’d think a communications professors would be a bit more tactful, but I guess in a written comment, you really never know (You just have the writing, not the body language, tone, etc). The first comment really has no tact at all; employers aren’t going to like people to leave work unfinished. As far as letting writing sit, yes that is a good point as we need to do that sometimes. But you still get your work done! I find a lot of times I need to let something sit for a day or so to get better ideas of how to do it, rather than responding immediately and tackling the challenge. Sometimes you do have to think things through.

    For grad school, no one can know your passion for a subject but you. Your professors only see you for a microcosm of your college life, like 3-4 hours per week (if you have that prof for only one class). You should be passionate about something before grad school because well… grad school is expensive and hard. It’s kinda like training for a marathon- make sure you love running before training for a marathon. Because if you don’t, marathon training sure won’t make ya love it (rather it can have the opposite effect…).

    But… you know if you love writing and want to go to grad school for it- grad school (or not) is never an easy decision, but you need to follow your heart and not what your professors say. I too had professors tell me I’d never make it, take pictures of my chemistry experiments for examples of what future students should NOT do, etc. Truthfully… it just motivated me even more :).

    1. Thank you for your comment, Amy! The crazy thing is that I have never mentioned grad school to my professor, and I really have no desire to go, haha. I’m not sure why he brought it up!! I do know what you mean about letting your work sit, and then going back to improve it. I can definitely work on that and use that constructive criticism to my advantage!

      I love how you said that your professors that were negative towards you just motivated you even more. I love that approach!!

  2. ouch is right. honestly, whatever people say it is your decision and your decision only. you can make it what you want so don’t let any comment stop you. even if it is people you respect like your professors.

  3. I’m sorry to hear that what should have been a weight-off-your-shoulders kind of day didn’t end up being so. You are approaching it very well though – processing what was said and most importantly, looking up for guidance. Your drive and ambition and passion are going to take you far.

    And congratulations on the end of the semester and a project well done!! You have earned a pat on the back so be sure to give yourself one.

  4. Congratulations on finishing the semester first off and for acing your project, I bet not many students can do that. It sounds to me, that your proffessor more than anything was just trying to get you to think. he sees your talent, if he was worried or didn’t think you were passionate he would have confronted you a long while ago. He wants to see you succeed, Allie!! And Clearly you can and WILL. But more than succeeding he, and I’d say it’s safe to say, the blogging community want you to also be happy. if journalism is your passion (writing is clearly your skill, and reporting seems to be something that you thrive in doing.) find the things you want to report on, the topics that you can thrive in writing about and challenge yourself not only academically but emotionally as well. You have so much talent and they see that, it sounds to me that they were saying that along with obtain a successful career and great grades, they want you to have emotional success and really enjoy what it is you do. now you have had a good cry, it’s time to celebrate how well you handled such a difficult semester with family and friends and be honest with them about the difficulty of the upcoming decisions you have to make and explore within yourself what it is you are truly passionate about, journalism is a passion of yours, now narrow it down some more, that’s what grad school is about, no? Specialties!!! Find your specialty within journalism, maybe that’s really all they were saying, they see your skill, Allie they gave you an A! Also coffee helps everything ;) Sending hugs your way!

    1. Thank you for your sweet comment, Tara! It means a lot to me :)

      I know what you mean about professors trying to push me to accomplish more and challenge myself. I can definitely take that constructive criticism and work on it! I also know what you mean about finding specific topics and areas that I’m interested in within writing, and then pouring myself into those passions in the writing field! Thank you for the congrats on my tough semester–I am so glad it’s over! And amen to COFFEE!

  5. Wow, I’m sorry that your semester had to end on such a sour note, especially since you worked so hard throughout the months and did such a wonderful job on your project! Just remember that even though your professors can give you constructive criticism and advice, they can NOT tell you what you are passionate about–only you know that! I think that if you truly love journalism, which it seems like you do, then you should pursue it and not let other peoples’ comments cause you to doubt yourself. I tend to turn in work early as well, since I also love learning and tackling a new assignment or essay. Yes, it’s true that sometimes we need to “let work sit,” but even if we don’t, that doesn’t necessarily mean we complete the work “just to get it done.” Maybe we just got a head start on it! It’s always tough to hear such comments from your teachers and mentors, but don’t let their opinions prevent you from pursuing what you love to do:) You seem like a talented and dedicated student, and I know you will go far in your future endeavors!

    1. I’m so bummed it ended on a sour note, too. Just ugh, haha. You’re so right that my professors don’t really know what I’m passionate about. Only I know! It is so easy to let people “above” me sway my opinion of myself, and let their comments get to me. I am also working on “letting work sit,” which is a tough, but good, challenge! Thank you for your comment–it means a lot!

  6. I’m sorry to hear that your professors gave you such blunt comments. It’s horrible when you work really hard and put a lot of effort into research and studying, only to receive comments like that. From your blog posts, you come across as very motivated and enthusiastic about your studies.

    I think that your professor has a point about needing to be passionate about a topic in order to pursue further study on it. But the first comment must sting! Your professor probably didn’t realize how blunt it sounds. I agree with Amy Lauren’s comment; sometimes things come across differently on paper than when they are said face-to-face.

    1. I agree that it is so tough to put in maximum effort and then receive comments that are less than enthusiastic, especially when I AM enthusiastic about my work! My professor definitely made a good point about grad school, but yeah, the first comment did sting haha! Thank you for your sweet comment, it means a lot to me :)

  7. I’m sorry to hear that Allie. I take constructive criticism the same way and I know your teachers did not mean any harm. I know you are passionate about your work and it is clear to me just reading your blog. I hope you can relax this winter break friend!

  8. First of all, you wrote a 46 page paper?! I don’t think all of my papers put together would be that much! I’m really sorry about your professors… I take constructive criticism the same way. I think that they don’t know the real you. You ARE passionate about writing, but you’re also passionate about getting things done! That’s a good thing. I think you’re an amazing writer! <3 :D

  9. Oh Allie, I’m so sorry. It makes me cringe to hear this. I wish there were an easier way to take constructive criticism. I can see the point about needing to let writing sit for awhile, but I think it shows real dedication that you turn your work in early. If you were just rushing through projects then I would think that you’d turn them in at the last minute. Allie, I’m glad you are done with this semester and have some time to breathe and process and kudos to you for doing so well on your presentation!

    1. I wish there was an easier way to take constructive criticism, too!! I totally agree that turning work in early seems like extra dedication, but I guess my professors don’t see eye to eye with me on that, haha! Thank you for your comment, Rach!

  10. Ouch, but this won’t be the last time you encounter people like this. I find it funny that they pretty much complained about someone turning work in early. I mean, really? It’s almost like they needed to find something to criticize and this was all they could come up. *hugs* Just keep your head up!

  11. Only you will know if you are truly passionate about something, and no one can take that away from you. If you feel deep in your bones this is your passion, then their comments are nothing other than passing words in the wind. BUTTTT, if you are second guessing even a little bit then MAYBE you need to take a small break after you graduate to figure out what you really want to do.

    Regardless, it’s never too late to change your field even late in your life!!! Things will be just fine!! Congratulations on your amazing grade!

    1. I love that… you are so right, no one can take away what I’m passionate about. I do tend to let others’ opinions/comments really get to me, and it’s something I’m working on. I’m always evolving and finding myself (as cheesy as that sounds…!), and just trying my best to figure out what I love to do. Thank you for your comment, Brittany!!

  12. First of all congratulations on finishing your semester. Now you have some down time to relax with family, pets, and yourself.

    I’m surprised that those professors said those things. From what I can see on this blog, you are a hard worker who is dedicated to her family, friends, God and school work. You take time everyday for these things and yourself.

    My now husband had a professor tell him when we first started PA school that he didn’t think he was “cut out for PA school.” My husband graduated without incidence, and now has a wonderful job which he loves, and his kiddos love him too.

    Only you know what you are passionate about and what you want to make of this life. And with God’s guidance, you will figure that out. Two professors are not the final say in your life. School is not the final destination, but only the beginning. Once you graduate and even if you decide to go to graduate school, that is only another journey you will embark on. You have so much time to figure out what you love, what you want to do. And even if you decide in 5 years that you want to do something else, YOU CAN! That is what is so great about life.

    1. Thank you so much for your comment Nikki! It means a lot to me, and I’m so happy to see you back in the blog world :). I loved hearing about how your husband’s professor said he wasn’t cut out for PA school. I think it’s so awesome that he kept pushing through, never gave up, and love succeeds and LOVES his job. Boo yah!!

  13. Wow.
    Just…wow.
    Was this a concensus or just one professor’s opinion.
    Either way — I am glad that God gave you that wisdom through such a shifty experience because it is Truth. Hold on to that (I know you will) but I understand He holds us and leads us through the ouch but the sting is still there.

    So let me just join you and give you a virtual hug and big SHUT UP to that professor who turned an academic review into a round of armchair psychology. Maybe HE pursued the wrong career and should have been a psychologist and he is harboring such a chip on his soldier he is projecting all that outward.

    Allie, I trust that you are following your passion – writing can take you ANYWHERE. in ANY career. And who is HE to understand what the current state of journalism is even like at this point. I am sure he had his career when people still read. On actual paper. We are in the midst of an ever-churning cyclone of radical change in the field of journalism and communication. He has no way of knowing what “being a passionate journalist” looks like in the coming decade.

    1. You’re so right. God leads me through tough times, but that doesn’t mean I’m immune to harsh comments from people I look up to. And thank you for the virtual shut up to my professor. I wish you could have been there to give it in real life… it would have been a total “WTF” moment ;-) whatever… totally fine!

      Thank you so much for your comment, Missy!!

  14. You just go on sweet lil’ blogger girl, and you don’t let these weird comments get to you! Academic folks are very far from being God. You know in your heart what you are capable of doing. Grad school is not the paradise… it is just school. It is after that that real talent is recognized by how you are able to make a living with what you’ve learned. You are on a very good way with your blog and business that’s starting!!!! Just go on and we’ll all here cheer you on and see you fly high!!!!!!! Hugs!

    1. Thank you so much for your comment, Susa! It means so much to me. You’re right… professors aren’t God. They can’t judge me, only my work.. and in the end… that doesn’t even matter haha. Thank you again! <333 Have fun in Miami!!

  15. Just based on what you blog and share with us, I can see you do have a passion for journalism. Why can’t people be more constructive with their criticism, or just not say anything at all? At the same time, I think I understand how that professor is connecting passion with success in grad school. I only recently found my passion about what I want to pursue and dedicate my life studying about. I don’t think I would be as eager as I am now about pursuing grad school if I didn’t realize this passion at the time that I did.

    Anyways, I’m super impressed with your efforts on your project and A grade—that’s worth more than some supercilious comments in my opinion ;)

    1. I agree that people need to be a little less harsh with their constructive criticism! I will also admit that I’m extremely sensitive, but still!! I do understand that grad school is so tough, and that you really need to have passion when pursuing it. Thank you so much for your comment and the congrats on the A grade!

  16. Wow… I do not agree with what they said at all! You are the kind of student every teacher/professor loves to have in their class. If something needs to be done, you won’t accept it yourself until it is done right! I see the passion in your writing, your relationships, and your life. Sure, they were giving you “pointers” or whatever. But I personally think you should just let those unnecessary comments bounce right off your shoulders and onto the floor where they belong. :) Keep being you, Allie! (Oh, and congratulations on completing this fall semester in flying colors! That took a LOT of hard work and time, I am sure!)

    1. Thank you so much for your comment, Abby! It means a lot to me. I love hearing that you DO see the passion in my life. it is so easy for me to let others’ opinions of me get me down, and to accept them as truth, when deep down I know they’re not the truth. I am definitely trying to let the comments bounce off my shoulders. It’s taking some time, but I’m already starting to feel a lot better about everything! Thanks again for your comment!

  17. If those were the only ‘negative’ or constructive comments that your teachers could come up with, I’d say that you’re doing pretty good! I have an English degree with a minor in Journalism… My passion ended up shifting to a more creative aspect when it comes to writing, but I did work as a free-lance journalist for a year or two. And one thing that I learned is that as a journalist, you don’t have time to let your work sit. Ever! Deadlines come up so fast, and you have to be able to turn an interview into an article… immediately. I don’t want to disagree with or put down your teachers here, but I think that was kind of silly of them to say. As a journalist, you need to crank out strong articles and there is no time to let that article sit for awhile. AND… oh here we go again… I’m disagreeing with your teachers again… But how can they tell you that you’re not passionate? Only you can know if you’re passionate about it or not! Everyone has their own writing style. If they can’t sense your passion through your writing or talking then maybe you don’t have a style that appeals to them. But how can they tell you that you probably will be burnt out by grad school??? Only YOU know what inspires and motivates you! Anyway, I’m sure this was a good learning experience for you, as there will always be critics. And I’m sure (I certainly hope) that your teachers had your best interest at heart. I’d take what you can from what they said, but then move on… Like I mentioned at the beginning, it sounds as though they really had to scrounge for anything negative or constructive to say. Keep going for your dreams! :) And keep that positive attitude of yours! You WILL go far!!!!

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