My Cohort & Me

My Cohort & Me


The truth is that I decided that I was ready for grad school sometime over the course of watching the first season of HBO’s Girls. I mean, it could have been anything of the quarter-life crisis genre—the Garden State soundtrack could have set me in motion at that time. I was turning twenty-four and it wasn’t that I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life. I knew exactly what I wanted, and there was no longer a valid excuse to keep me in my twenty-something stasis of “taking some time off.” All I had to wait for was the next application deadline.

A year later and after taking the ACT as an adult in the gym at a selective enrollment high school (and later finding out that my score from high school would have been valid) all things were GO and I had been accepted into Cohort 22 of Columbia College’s Art Education MAT program. However, this would not make me immune to quarter-life crisis drama. Grad school is not life—not in the same way all of my other formal education had been the central framework from which everything else grew or adapted. Grad school is concurrent with life. Among things, the cute place I painted and thought I would live in for at least two years turned out to be a nightmare apartment; I went to leave for work on Valentine’s Day to find that the catalytic converter had been skillfully stolen from my car; The Polar Vortex was The Polar Vortex. It was quite a year.

I had to learn to navigate it all—while in grad school, working, and living alone. Three nights a week for virtually this entire past year it has been my cohort and me. Together in not only multi-cultural interdisciplinary lesson plans and the consequent episodes of sleep deprivation and being hangry, but in supporting each other in whatever ups and downs we’ve individually faced. Everyone in Cohort 22 had come from somewhere slightly different. Among the ten of us there is a thirty-year age range. Most of my classmates are career changers. No matter where each of us is in life, in becoming teachers one of the most important experiences we are having together is in learning what it is like to be a student again. I hope we’re all holding on to some of that to keep in mind for relating to our own students. I am looking forward to sharing not just my grad experience with you, Marginalia readers, but that of all of Cohort 22.

(*Insert picture of my cohort here, if I had one*)

We busted through two summer classes and now we are back together to tackle the big semester before student teaching. We did get some time off, though. Here is a bit of how I ended the summer:

I finished reading The Fault in Our Stars. Teachers should be up on YA novels and I was really behind on that one.

When I started reading TFiOS on a beach here in Chicago, I felt an overwhelming nostalgia for reading YA novels while on vacation in Florida when I was a young adult. At that point there was no valid reason not to decide to take myself to Florida for four days.

In concluding the YA/teen nostalgia theme, I saw Death Cab For Cutie at the Hideout Block Party the other weekend. They were among my top three favorite bands when I was in high school and I had never seen them. It may not have been as magical as it would have been if I had seen them in 2004 when I was sixteen and their latest album was Transatlanticism, but the experience still offered something necessary. After a year of transition, it was important to spend some time that was just for me—absorbed in a YA novel, swimming in the ocean, and remembering the profound effect of Death Cab in my past life as an angst-y teen poet.