Grad school? Paid for? Say whaaaat?!

I've had some people ask me how I got my graduate education paid for.
Well I'm going to tell you.
I applied to schools that I looked into and decided that I wanted to go to and then made a pact with myself that if anyone of them offered to pay for my schooling that would be the one I would attend.
Well nobody wanted to give me a scholarship/fellowship for my fabulousness, but the government was ready to throw me loans, neither of which I was happy with. (I just don't like paying for things, 20 grand in the hole when I got out wasn't appealing.) So I looked into assistantships.
There was a assistantship form to fill out online to almost every one of the universities I applied to. So I filled it out. But what does a form say about me? Nothing. So I did research and found out who was the director of the Graduate/Teaching Assistantships of the colleges I applied to. I would dress up professionally and go to the school and meet her/him, drop off my resume, say hello, and wow them with my charm (with what little charm I did have). That whole experience made me re-learn, yet again, that it really takes being proactive and knowing someone to get your foot through a door.
I knew one of the graduate students at FAU and I dropped her name when I met the director of GA's/TA's at FAU. Now I don't think I'll ever know for sure if it was just being proactive or name-dropping...or maybe both...that got me my GA-ship at FAU. But I got the GA-ship at FAU and not at any of the other colleges.
The benefit of my assistantship is that they waive my tuition (excluding parking fees, technology fees, etc.) and I receive a stipend on top of that. I know. Be jealous.
It's not a lot...I still have to scrape by...I still have Ramen Noodle soup. But when I get out, I'm not in debt, which was my goal.
So yay. I got this great awesome opportunity. How is it turning out?
Well the college took on other grad students, in addition to myself, to fill certain positions that needed to be filled. There were teaching positions and one lone graduate assistant position that required you to work on grant with a professor that needed to be filled. Well, I took the grant. The grant was awarded to the school in the form of AmeriCorp. My job is to manage/be the liaison between the students and non-profit organizations and complete the (extensive) paperwork for them. The whole process takes about 20 hours a week (which is the amount of hours required from each TA/GA).
It's been very interesting. I like the professor I work with, she is very willing to teach me whatever I would like to know about the grant process. I also get my own least for the time being. In October the college is going to move into a new building and I might not have one then....but I digress.
The whole thing is rather new, but very educational. If you don't know anything about AmeriCorp (which is pronounced like "Ameri-Core") it's a scholarship program awarded to students that put in exceptional volunteer service at non-profit organizations while at the same time taking a specific class for the program. I know, it may sound slightly confusing, but that's the best way that I can describe it.
So far, it's been just a lot of paperwork. A lot. Which isn't bad....just slightly tedious. So it's been teaching me patience...and how to avoid paper cuts. Both which will benefit me in the long run ;)
Overall though I have to say it's a pretty sweet deal. I scratch my schools back, they scratch mine; can't complain.
And...I get another joyous opportunity to live off Ramen Noodle soup. My favourite.

Week 1.5: Grad school

So a week and a half after being in graduate school at Florida Atlantic University and I must say I think I'm going to survive it.
My first week I was so scared that if someone told me that they didn't believe I could do it, I might have just dropped out. Class started on Monday of last week, by Thursday I was hanging by a thread, not even a thread, a spiders single strand. Happily for me, spider strands are pretty tough.
Hands down, graduate school may be the scariest undertaking of my life.....but I always believed that it's good for the human soul to do something incredibly scary every once in a while. Makes you aware of how tough you are. That first week I doubted my ability to finish it, I doubted my stamina, I just doubted everything in me to take on such a goal. I even told my mom "you have to still love me if I never graduate." Which is strange, because for the past year I was just salivating to get back into school, yet there, last week I felt that I had underestimated my ability to take on graduate school.
Graduate school is a whole new playing field. The professors and faculty almost treat you like a peer, but not really. It's a strange dynamic. One that I find I am still grappling with (grappling is a good word, I should use it more often). There are unwritten rules to this game I'm playing and you can only find out the rules by playing the game. It's incredibly different from undergrad. Whatever pretenses I came into grad school with from my undergrad, I had to quickly toss them out the window. It's whole different level.
Now it would be really nice if someone came up with a Grad School For Dummies Handbook...but I suppose each book would have to be tailored to each college, because I am certain that not every program behaves exactly like mine. Regardless some sort of handbook would have been nice. Warnings about the amazing amounts of material they expect you to read and befriend would have been helpful and about how what you say about a professor will travel to their ears which will influence whether they sit on your committee or not would be nice...information on how while, yes, you are in higher educated environment, that doesn't always mean people behave like you think higher educated people should, they can/will/might be petty. Information on how they will watch and observe you....on everything, might have been informative. Even this post will most likely make it to their desktop.....which is concerning to me. I don't like being censored, I don't like being monitored, I like my right (not that they're taking it away, they aren't) to be open, honest, and freely express myself. And knowing that I might have someone over my shoulder, I'm afraid might make me hold back something I would say normally. Now I'm not saying they would restrict me, they wouldn't. But I am concerned that they would be concerned about something I decided to blog on. Egh.
It's a lot of work to be conscious of what I'm writing about, instead of just having diarrhea of the mouth (beautiful mental image, I know). But in many ways I'm sure that this will be good for me.
Last week I walked away from my last class thinking "do I look as terrified as I feel?"
Now I'm not thinking that....most likely from the endless amounts of journals and research I'm supposed to read and the papers I'm supposed to write, I don't have time to think. Which is a good thing, means I stay out of trouble ;)
But I still wonder if I will come out of this alive....I like to think I will. Because after all, if someone else was able to do it surely I'll be able to do it. I suppose time will tell.
Till then, I'll just blog about my experiences with grad school. Good ole' grad school.