On being in school and working

anonymous asked:
What are some ways to balance work and school? Cus I’m working 25 to 30 hours a week and taking only three classes and I’m still behind. I don’t know how some people work fulltime AND go to school fulltime while paying rent and having kids.

realsocialskills said:

I don’t know how people balance that kind of schedule with school/kids/work. I think that it’s nearly impossible and that most people couldn’t do it.

Here are a couple of things I do know about passing classes under time pressure:

Choose your classes carefully:

  • Not all classes are equally time-consuming.
  • If you’re working a lot of hours, it’s probably better not to take all the really time-consuming classes in the same semester
  • (Eg: if you’re taking a class that has five papers, or lots of complicated programming assignments, it might be better not to take others than are like that at the same time).
  • It can also go a lot better to select classes based on who is teaching them rather than based on which description theoretically looks best
  • Classes go much more smoothly with teachers you’re readily compatible with
  • (particularly if you tend to need a lot of help)

Consider taking classes that are relevant to your work:

  • If some of what you’re working on at work can inform your class assignments, that makes life a lot easier
  • For instance, it’s much easier to write a paper on something you’ve researched for work than it is to research something else *and* what you have to work on at work
  • And more generally: if the concepts you’re learning in school are related to and overlapping with what you think about at work, it will be much less time consuming than if you have to do both separately
  • This can be true even if your work isn’t particularly intellectual on the face of it. No matter what your job is, it involves knowing things, and classes are easier if you can make knowing those things relevant.

It is possible to pass classes without doing all of the reading:

  • Most people don’t do all of the reading (except in seminar classes in which most of class consists of an in-depth group discussion of the reading). 
  • If you are struggling to keep up, you may well be doing more of the reading than you should be.
  • It’s worth learning how to skim text in order to get the basic ideas
  • When a teacher cites something a lot in class, it’s generally worth reading it again after more closely

Having a study group or partner helps in several ways:

  • Perspective from other people can make it easier to tell whether you’re understanding what you need to understand
  • It can also make it easier to tell whether you’re doing *more* work than you need to in order to keep up and pass.
  • You can also pool knowledge. There will always be things that some people get and some people miss, and some people talk about it.
  • Meeting with others at a set time to do the work for a class can stop it from expanding to fill all available space
  • Even if you don’t have a regular study group, sometimes you can organize review sessions before tests. Those can also be helpful in similar ways.

Anyone want to weigh in? How do you pass classes when your schedule is very difficult?

Life is not made of compelling philosophy

You don’t always have to have a coherent philosophical explanation for everything you do and care about.

Life is not made of philosophy. Philosophy can be a good thing, but it’s not a prerequisite.

You don’t have to have a coherent explanation of how God works for it to be ok to practice a religion or identify with a community. You don’t have to have a compelling explanation of where the universe came from in order to be an atheist or decide not to practice a religion.

You don’t have to have a deep and compelling theory about the nature of gender to know what your gender is. You don’t have to have a deep and compelling theory on where sexual orientation comes from and what it means in order to know which words you use to describe yourself, and who you are or aren’t interested in dating.

You don’t have to have a rigorous philosophical understanding of the mind and neurology to understand that you are disabled and that your cognitive experiences are different from most other people’s.

Or anything else. Your life is yours, and you get to have your own ideas about who you are and what you want.

You don’t have to have a compelling philosophy that convinces other people in order for it to be ok to know who you are and how you see the world. You don’t even have to have a coherent philosophy that convinces *you*.

Many philosophical questions that might be relevant to your life are unanswered, and unlikely to be answered in your lifetime. It’s ok if you want to work on solving them, but it’s also ok if you don’t. It is not a prerequisite, even if other people who use big abstract ideas want you to change.

Life is bigger than theories, and having a compelling theory is not a prerequisite for living, choosing, or caring about things. 

Don't turn all your tools into weapons

i sing sometimes like my life is at stake ‘cause you’re only as loud  as the noises you make…

….i sing sometimes for the war that i fight 'cause every tool is a weapon - if you hold it right.
-Ani Difranco

I think most of y'all who read this blog are fighting some battle or other. Maybe it’s a battle for justice, on behalf of many. Maybe it’s a principle. Maybe it’s mostly your own life you’re fighting for. One way or another, I think most of you are fighting.

And the thing about fighting is, it’s *hard*, and it wears you down.

And some of you are fighting more or less alone, or with limited support. And you have to take your weapons where you can find them.

Maybe it’s your words. Maybe it’s your affect. Maybe it’s your hands. Maybe it’s relationships. There are all kinds of things. And it’s important; you have to take weapons where you can find them. 

And every tool is a weapon if you hold it right. And when you’re fighting, and looking for weapons, it’s possible to start seeing everything as a weapon first and foremost. That’s dangerous. It can destroy you. 

If you see everything as a weapon , it can be hard to use tools in other ways. There will be times when you have to fight, there are times when hurting people is unavoidable. But when fighting is the center of your life and all your tools become weapons, it can cost you absolutely everything you care about. 

Even when you really need weapons; sometimes especially when you really need weapons.

When all you have is a hammer, then all problems look like nails… But it works in reverse too. If all your problems look like nails, all of your tools will like like hammers. It works that way with weapons, too. If you see everything in terms of physical or social struggle and violence, it’s hard to see your tools as anything but weapons. And that can end up costing you everything you care about.

You have to fight the fights; but it shouldn’t be the only thing you do.

Your hands can make fists. Sometimes you have to make fists; sometimes you have to fight. But don’t let the people you’re fighting make you forget that they can also make bread. Or whatever else. Hands can do many things, and the fight is necessary, but it’s not enough. Don’t let your enemies deprive you of all the other uses of your hands.

Similarly - Your words can be weapons, you can use them to hurt people when it’s needed, and to assert power when power is what’s need. But don’t let them make all of your words into weapons. Because you need them for other things too. Words aren’t just for tearing down oppressors. They’re also for honoring people you respect. They’re also for love. They’re also for telling stories.

You’re probably singing sometimes like your life is at stake. But don’t forget that you can also sing love songs. When you’re singing like your life is at stake, make sure that you don’t forget to value your life as an end in itself. Don’t make your whole self into a weapon. 

Don’t forget that patterns and beauty and love exist, and that we can build worthwhile things even in this messed up world. Life is worth fighting for; it is also worth living.