Candidacy Exam Anticipation… Forever!

As a warning, this is going to be a bit of a whining post, but I really want to get it out. I’m in a molecular biology PhD program and in my specific program I have to write an approximately 20 page proposal on a topic (completely unrelated to the topic I’m actually studying in my lab) and then defend it in front of four established professors in my department (usually in a 3+ hours meeting with only white boards as props) in order to advance to candidacy. I’m at the stage where I submitted my proposal, have done a mock defense, and am now just waiting for the thing to be scheduled (professors are busy!)… it’s now been over 3 weeks since I submitted it and there’s no date picked.

To be honest, when I looked at the calendar just now and calculated it’s only been just over 3 weeks (I submitted it Feb. 16th), it made me feel a bit better — it feels like it’s been 5 weeks or so! I also did my mock exam (with a group of graduate students from the professors’ labs) pretty early on, just a few days after I submitted it, so it’s been a while since I’ve had that preparatory experience. But, it’s just been really eating away at me — I’ve done most of the studying/rehearsing I can stand, have cut back on any long-term lab projects (mainly cell culturing), and can’t really enjoy “fun” events so much right now.

I’m conflicted because I want to get back into some long-term lab projects, but have no idea when my mock could be — they do the scheduling a week in advance, and if the next week doesn’t work then they start scheduling for the week after… (such as, last Thursday I was told it could be this week, on Wednesday, but was only told today that it won’t happen… and they’re starting to check it if can happen next week, but that’s doubtful with faculty going on trips over Spring Break). People tell me not to worry about doing experiments right now, but it’s just kind of hard to for me — I want to get things done and get out of grad school eventually, not to mention feel more productive and accomplished…

Socially, it’s been hitting me a lot too — even when I haven’t been studying/reviewing and have been trying to have fun with friends, it’s been hard. Even when not studying, I’m a lot more stressed and anxious than usual — I’m a bit of a catastrophizer and the exam is always lurking in the back of my mind, and I know I won’t feel better until it’s done. Also, some friends have been trying to plan an all-day party event with us and their other friends, but I haven’t really known my schedule in advance because any time I might find out my exam is a few days away, and then I’ll need to review/study/rehearse more…

Anyway, I just want it to be over with, but at this rate it may not be until April… I’m tired of putting off friends and work, but oh well, I guess that’s grad school.

7 Responses to “Candidacy Exam Anticipation… Forever!”

We all want it to be over to! We miss Teisha. 🙂

Ted - March 10th, 2008 at 11:57 am

Poor kid 🙁 *long distance sympathy*

Mallorn - March 10th, 2008 at 12:11 pm

That’s what everyone must experience…. you will get it over! :d

Li - March 10th, 2008 at 12:49 pm

we all sympathize with the unremitting stress! Maybe the catastrophizer in you can use this as a time to practice positive imaging techniques…. Like, “here is Teisha, successfully passing the exam and feeling euphoric,” “here is the happy party afterwards,” “here is the joy of working in the lab without the exam hanging overhead,” etc, etc!

Meg - March 10th, 2008 at 1:01 pm

[…] of Teisha’s candidacy exam (see her anticipation, below), we haven’t really started planning for our wedding yet. Which isn’t so bad, […]

Paradoxdruid’s Rants » Blog Archive » Wedding Planning– It Begins! - March 12th, 2008 at 3:10 pm

Though the exam is now over, I thought I’d post here to give this thread its happy ending. I found out the morning of Friday, March 21st, that my exam was scheduled for the following Monday, March 24th (!) — so, that weekend was nonexistent… But, I took my exam Monday afternoon, and passed unconditionally! Yay!

My lab threw a little impromptu party in the break room (another kind grad student even bought champaign — I like to think they thought I’d pass!). We all drank and people told other candidacy exam stories for the rest of the afternoon. As my reward, we went to my favorite little food place (an Indian place called “Naan Stop” in Isle Vista — I love their Saag and boba tea) and then I promptly collapsed at home.

But, my real reward was having my parents visit from Colorado later that week (I don’t get to see them nearly enough!) — they came out for four nights over the weekend and we had a really great time, made greater because the stress of my pending exam was gone. Yay!

teisha - April 4th, 2008 at 11:33 am

Congratulations again and always. 🙂 You did great, Teisha, and have overcome a big milestone in your professional career. Now, if only we could actually eat all the leftover treats from your parents’ visit!

Paradoxdruid - April 4th, 2008 at 2:45 pm

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