I am such an idiot

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Izawwlgood
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I am such an idiot

Postby Izawwlgood » Mon Jul 04, 2011 2:31 pm UTC

Our final project for the year is to defend a proposal. My defense went so-so, and I was instructed to do a rewrite, which is fairly common. There were five criteria I needed to address for the rewrite. My first resubmission didn't go into three of those criteria in enough depth, and I was told to do another rewrite (which isn't very common). Here's where my utter boneheadedness comes in:

I met with the prof on Tuesday, and was told 'you have two weeks'. This last Friday, which is when I idiotically thought it was due, I sent her an email asking for another day, and went for a jog with the department chair and a cohort (our second in two weeks). I came back from the jog to an email from the professor saying "You are already 3 days overdue, you fail this assignment".

Fuck. I sent her what I had, and apologized for missing the window, but it looks like I'm in a heap of trouble now. Great job me, way to fucking go. The second rewrite was about 2 hours worth of work, that I had completed earlier in the week. Now I have to meet with the department chair about my failure, my boss about my issues with timely completion of assignments...

The prof took 9 days to read my paper, and seemed pretty laid back about deadlines with the previous submissions using terms like 'get it to me by the end of the weekend'. Not that this in anyway justifies me turning something in late, or asking for an extension the day it's due. I'm kicking myself for not just finishing this the first week. Kicking myself. What a way to end my first year at graduate school, struggling every step of the way but succeeding, only to fuck up the biggest assignment of the year because I missed the fucking deadline. See the title of the thread.
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Re: I am such an idiot

Postby Zcorp » Tue Jul 05, 2011 5:59 pm UTC

Don't stress to much, more than any level of school graduate school is about your own area of passion, learning and creating. If you are achieving that then you are achieving the most important part of being there.

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Re: I am such an idiot

Postby Izawwlgood » Tue Jul 05, 2011 6:37 pm UTC

I just met with the department chair, and he more or less told me that it was an honest mistake and that I could/should/will turn it around. He said to keep my grades up, keep practicing the material, and just kickass in a years time for the more important qualifier exam, and proceeded to tell me about what slackers my classmates were, how many other people in the program failed this exam, and how he felt that Fridays were a good time to go for our runs.

So, I dunno, not the end of the world, but fuck I am such an idiot for not just mailing that goddamn rewrite to her ahead of time.
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Re: I am such an idiot

Postby Jahoclave » Tue Jul 05, 2011 9:41 pm UTC

Yeah, I don't think my direct boss could ever at all complain about a student missing a deadline. Sure, I'll get you the rubric next week. 9 weeks later? So, we ever going to get that rubric? He gives me hope that slackers can really get ph.ds.

At least your funding wasn't in jeopardy I assume. There were some people at my school who were in that situation with getting some papers done.

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Re: I am such an idiot

Postby PAstrychef » Fri Jul 08, 2011 1:10 am UTC

When my mom was still teaching we used to joke about the students who would come to her funeral-half would have papers they wanted to turn in and the other half would still be waiting for their grades from the year before....if you finish before a deadline, turn it in and have a beer. So many of us only finish shit up at the last possible moment.
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Re: I am such an idiot

Postby Izawwlgood » Fri Jul 08, 2011 4:49 pm UTC

Yeah, absolutely. Unfortunately, this means I have zero wiggle room for next year in terms of classes or on my qualifier exam. Whereas my peers will be able to continue to squeak by with a B-, I will basically need to get an A or better in everything. It means my second year went from being slightly less stressful than my first year, to incredibly more stressful.

The graduate chair was very supportive when I went and spoke with him at least, and reminded me a few times that his door is open if I need help, just wanted to talk, etc. So, that's hopeful.

All because I didn't turn something in on time. Again, see title.
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Re: I am such an idiot

Postby Zcorp » Fri Jul 08, 2011 6:39 pm UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:Yeah, absolutely. Unfortunately, this means I have zero wiggle room for next year in terms of classes or on my qualifier exam. Whereas my peers will be able to continue to squeak by with a B-, I will basically need to get an A or better in everything. It means my second year went from being slightly less stressful than my first year, to incredibly more stressful.

The graduate chair was very supportive when I went and spoke with him at least, and reminded me a few times that his door is open if I need help, just wanted to talk, etc. So, that's hopeful.

All because I didn't turn something in on time. Again, see title.

God our system is so broken when worries such as this are common place. Baffles me how the system is so caught up in grades as if the actually indicated understanding of knowledge and ability to apply that knowledge.

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Re: I am such an idiot

Postby KestrelLowing » Fri Jul 08, 2011 6:56 pm UTC

Zcorp wrote:
Izawwlgood wrote:Yeah, absolutely. Unfortunately, this means I have zero wiggle room for next year in terms of classes or on my qualifier exam. Whereas my peers will be able to continue to squeak by with a B-, I will basically need to get an A or better in everything. It means my second year went from being slightly less stressful than my first year, to incredibly more stressful.

The graduate chair was very supportive when I went and spoke with him at least, and reminded me a few times that his door is open if I need help, just wanted to talk, etc. So, that's hopeful.

All because I didn't turn something in on time. Again, see title.

God our system is so broken when worries such as this are common place. Baffles me how the system is so caught up in grades as if the actually indicated understanding of knowledge and ability to apply that knowledge.


Yeah, but you gotta have metrics somehow. It's just kind of how our culture works. Grades are just a bit more uniform than what car you drive.

But I hear you Izawwlgood, good luck! Hope everything goes well. It seems like a lot of work for one stupid mistake, but that's how stupid school is. I'm pulling for ya!

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Re: I am such an idiot

Postby freakish777 » Fri Jul 15, 2011 9:11 pm UTC

This is where having your school do all it's documents in Google Docs or SharePoint, or some other "collaborative" versioning control system would be useful.

Just start editing your document and when you save, it checks in the changes. Then if you're "late" for a deadline the prof can just look at which ever version was checked in before the deadline and give you your grade based on that.

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Re: I am such an idiot

Postby Izawwlgood » Fri Jul 15, 2011 10:22 pm UTC

Eh, sort of. The idea isn't 'lets see how far you've gotten with the project' it's 'Submit something finished'. I didn't do that in a timely manner, which counts as not doing it at all. It's how the world works; if a grant submission deadline is 5pm on the 3rd, and come the 7th I email asking for an extension, I won't be getting much in the way of a response, and I certainly won't be getting a grant.

That said, when I spoke to the graduate chair and hashed out the events leading up to the final call, he laughed at a bunch of the misgivings my committee chair had. "Seriously, that? Geez, what a stickler. 3 days? Pfft, so and so submitted 2 weeks late... Ah well, obviously it wasn't a good match and you didn't meet her expectations, consider it a lesson for the future."

I'm more upset about how poorly it reflects on me than the official ramifications. My boss is now going to think of me as the guy who can't turn things in on time, the graduate committee has to convene a meeting to discuss my failure (as opposed to accomplishments), etc, etc, etc. It's embarrassing, irresponsible, and frustrating. I put a lot of work into that project, and now I'll never know if it was up to muster.
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Re: I am such an idiot

Postby Parsifal » Thu Jul 21, 2011 10:21 am UTC

This is intended to be constructive criticism, not to insult your intelligence, which might be considerable but has nothing to do with your problem.

This isn't what you want to hear, but having already been told to redo work twice and also missing the ultimate deadline, have you considered that you probably ought to fail this assignment? If you do, will you fail the class/your dissertation/your whole program? I think I and others may have misread this as a thesis defense rather than a proposal for a class (special project?). Even so, if it comes to totally redoing your proposal versus perhaps graduating a year earlier with 'degree only' status - if your school offers that - you might consider it. After you graduate, employers will most likely only care about your level of graduate study and what your program was. If you're going into a field where they will ask detailed questions about your research and you're flunking the proposal requirement, you've got much bigger issues than failing a single class.

Sorry to be harsh (I've been there myself as an undergrad and high school student, both of which _required_ a thesis defense to graduate) but this is actually a great lesson to learn while you are still in school. In the real world, I can do (a) a great job, (b) a so-so job, (c) a total kludge that just gets the job done or (d) fail to ship my project. If (d) happened more than once, I'd be fired pretty fast, which is sort of analogous to your current situation.

And now a brief anecdote - when I worked in a research lab as an undergrad, I spent one summer more interested in chasing a girl than finishing my work on time. It reflected badly on me, although my boss never directly told me this, and most likely cost me a spot at a colloquium which would have been great experience later when I applied to grad school. My boss was right to chastise me for not finishing an important project, but I can't undo it now. Did it make a big difference in my work ethic later? Absolutely!

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Re: I am such an idiot

Postby Izawwlgood » Thu Jul 21, 2011 1:48 pm UTC

Heh, yes. Hence the title of the thread, "I am such an idiot". I'm not sure you read my OP very closely if you're under the impression that I'm unawares of the fact that failing the assignment was my fault.

Also:
Parsifal wrote:I've been there myself as an undergrad and high school student, both of which _required_ a thesis defense to graduate

I'm a graduate student (well, for now). So, yes, I know deadlines aren't suggestions. As I mentioned. It was stupid of me to think I had more time. I understand that this was both an incredibly serious blunder and something that I shouldn't dwell on, and should just forge ahead and pick up the slack on.
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Re: I am such an idiot

Postby gorcee » Thu Jul 21, 2011 2:52 pm UTC

I'm just curious, from your OP it sort of sounded like there was some ambiguity with respect to the due date. You met with your professor on a Tuesday, and she said "you have two weeks." You took that to mean at the end of the second week, whereas she meant a strict 14 days, right?

Either way, I wouldn't worry too much. In a year from now, none of this will even really matter. To me, it sounds like you were a victim of unclear communication. I'd still put the burden of blame on you, as you made some assumptions, but in the scheme of things, it's a fairly easy oversight.

The lesson I'd takeaway from this is: always get a specific date. If someone says "bring this to me in 2 weeks," believe it or not, it can be ambiguous. If they say that on Monday the 1st, they might want it by Friday the 12th or on Monday the 15th. Also, consider that in the real world, in office environments, when people are under pressure, they make mistakes. Your boss one day could say, "I need this in 2 weeks," but he might be thinking "the due date for the proposal is in 2 weeks" and he really needs a few days before the deadline so it can get integrated into the final document.

I wouldn't worry, it's a simple mistake, and in the end, if you're talented, it will have zero impact on your future.

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Re: I am such an idiot

Postby Izawwlgood » Thu Jul 21, 2011 3:05 pm UTC

gorcee wrote:I'm just curious, from your OP it sort of sounded like there was some ambiguity with respect to the due date. You met with your professor on a Tuesday, and she said "you have two weeks." You took that to mean at the end of the second week, whereas she meant a strict 14 days, right?

Eh, like I said, the deadlines had previously been pretty lax, and when she said 'you have two weeks' I interpreted that to mean 'the Sunday of'. I'm not stating this to indicate that it was the professors fault; it wasn't, it was my blunder.

gorcee wrote:Either way, I wouldn't worry too much. In a year from now, none of this will even really matter.

Yeah, assuming next year goes well, meaning solid grades, solid research, solid TA'ing and solid final exam (the one I just failed was sort of a practice for next years final), then this will all go away as being just a hiccup along the road. If those things don't go well, then I'm out of the program.

And as I said, speaking with the graduate chair, he made it sound like A) many people have been in this position, and very few leave the program for it [and he somewhat inappropriately named a few of them] B) it was an honest mistake that resulted from a stupid blunder on my part and getting matched with a professor with a notoriously low tolerance for stupid blunders (again, my fault, not hers) and C) that while he thought it was a stupid blunder (he made a point of emphasizing the word stupid), he claimed he 'truthfully not that worried from what I know of you'. So. Eh, I'm kicking myself, but what's done is done, I'll be sure to kick ass in the year to come, and try my best to put it behind me.
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Re: I am such an idiot

Postby Izawwlgood » Fri May 11, 2012 8:48 pm UTC

I'm Necro'ing this as a heads up, for shits and giggles and for anyone who likes grad school woes.

I just submitted my qualifier exam proposal, and defend next Friday @10. This time in one week, I will know if I can continue in science.
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Re: I am such an idiot

Postby raike » Fri May 11, 2012 10:37 pm UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:I'm Necro'ing this as a heads up, for shits and giggles and for anyone who likes grad school woes.

I just submitted my qualifier exam proposal, and defend next Friday @10. This time in one week, I will know if I can continue in science.


As a future grad student, I wish you good luck and all the best!
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Re: I am such an idiot

Postby PossibleSloth » Wed May 16, 2012 2:45 pm UTC

Good luck on your Quals!

Your OP reminded me of an incident I had as an undergrad. One day in class, our teacher was telling us when we could expect the results of the test we had just taken. I had no idea what she was talking about. It turns out the test details had been posted on her website and I had somehow missed them. It was scheduled at night, not at normal class time so I didn't realize my mistake until the test was over and done with. Needless to say, I felt like a complete idiot.

These things happen, and there's always a way forward.

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Re: I am such an idiot

Postby Izawwlgood » Fri May 18, 2012 4:40 pm UTC

I passed! I partially started this thread in hopes that I'd be able to close it happily, and, so, I passed! I can totally add 'PhD Candidate' to my work signature now! And I think I have a Masters in Biology or something? Who cares! I passed!

In the defense, I got grilled pretty hard for like 9 billion hours (20m?) about some of the weaknesses in my written proposal, and had this fleeting though as cold sweat gushed down my back that I bet being a bike messenger is a pretty rad thing to do. And then I answered a couple questions in rapid succession that made the entire committee nod vigorously and everything turned around, and the chair started talking about why I was so much cooler than the other candidates and they asked me to sit down and we started chatting about the salami I brought instead. Man... Academia is weird.

This is how I felt for the rest of the exam though. Can a mod give me the satisfaction of locking this thread so I can put this shitty stressful year of being on probation behind me?
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Re: I am such an idiot

Postby curtis95112 » Sat May 19, 2012 11:51 pm UTC

Congratulations!
Mmm... Salami...
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