I have always loved cars, which is really convenient given my line of work! When I was 15, I could not wait to learn how to drive a stick shift on my own. See, my mom had hurt her wrist and I was already helping shift gears with my left hand.
I am not sure how much courage my Dad had to muster up, but off we went to the parking lot of the community college. I will never forget how he made me turn everything off; no a/c, no radio and we had to have the windows down. You have to listen and feel the car in order to know how to shift. But Dad!!!!!!! No radio?!?!?
We started out slow, learning how to start in first gear, knowing when you needed gas. I did that over and over again and from there we moved onto knowing when you needed to shift, not because of what the RPM’s said but because of the sounds the engine was making. Finally, there was a little hill where I had to keep the car from stalling without the brakes or the gas, just using the clutch.
A week later we did it again, but in a different car. See how the clutch is slightly different and how it sounds different when it’s time to shift?
I know, I know there are probably a lot of ‘car people’ out there saying “you’ll burn out the clutch or the RPMs are the only thing that matter and the future is all about paddle shifters.”
So how does this relate to grad school?
Each class and professor are similar to driving a stick shift and learning a new clutch. You are not sure what their expectations are and you have to feel your way through. One professor may want you to comment throughout the week and another might be okay if you finish them all at once. Do not get flustered.
Knowing which classes require more work and being ready to commit to that amount of work is similar to being on the hill and knowing you are going to stall. Everyone talks about the amount of work you have to put into PR but they also talk about how much you get out of it.
Listening to the car is similar to listing to your classmates. Do not do your discussion board posts in a vacuum; read what others have written and leverage that in your comments.
You never forget how to drive a stick shift. If you have to take a semester off, you might need a minute to get comfortable in your seat, but you will pick back up where you left off.
Finally, there is nothing like pulling away from a light and leaving that other car in your dust. That’s exactly what you are doing to your competition by being enrolled in the IMC program.
Here’s my post grad school stick shift dream, what’s yours?
Images courtesy of General Motors