Yes, my shirt does have a Queen Bee on it.

This past week was Drexel’s graduate student orientation and boy was it a whirlwind; I’m still tired – though with a crazy weekend, and Week 1 jumpstarting, I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised.

Grad school kicked off with your typical orientation fare – talks by big wigs at the college, distribution of lots of pamphlets about resources, and an overwhelming amount of nervous students scarfing down free food and trying to be social. We’re gems, every one of us.

The Grad College waxed poetic about interdisciplinary studies (my ears perked up – really?), we were told how difficult our studies here would be – and then we went to lab safety training to learn how not to set the lab on fire. Then it was our specific colleges turn to scare us with our workload – seminars, teaching, grading, taking classes, research and rotations all leading up to the “Quals” which, if you fail, get you an MS with no thesis and a swift kick out the door. Wednesday was the scariest day, without a doubt.

After Wednesday is TA training – ten hours of people telling you to do things but not showing you how (i.e. ‘Be Prepared’, ‘Don’t let the students run you over’ – what?). The resources, however, were critically helpful – knowing where to turn if you need to deal with a student’s disability fairly, or a case of academic misconduct, was top notch information to receive. I left practice TA sessions with the nickname ‘Professor Barrett’ though unfortunately without the tenure or salary to match.

And now it’s Week 1. I’ve completed twelve bioraft safety videos/quizzes, filled out countless administrivia, attended a lecture on the development of fly brains, gone to workshops to learn to use Drexel software, done several hours of research, reminded my TA-training professor to upload the assignment for the course so I could (idk) do it, taught three classes, finished three readings, and begun a presentation due next week for my Readings class (where I present every other class period). Tomorrow is the BEES seminar and Friday I have lab, office hours, and the BGSA mixer – somewhere, in all of this, we do our homework and do research in lab??

I suppose I’m writing this update to let you know I feel overwhelmed, though I know that’s okay and I think most graduate students feel overwhelmed too. I feel overwhelmed by the work and expectations – the desire to be the best student, researcher, and TA I can be, all at once, and knowing that getting a 4.0 might no longer be achievable and that pushing each student individually will be so much harder when there are 75+ of them. Grad school is a different ball game – a different animal altogether. The nice thing about a personal blog with no real professional ties is that you can afford to be honest with yourself.

In other news, I’ve had several more poems accepted for publication – “Ashenhalted II” in Firefly magazine, “Strawberry Compositions” in UnLost, “Honeybee dance evolution from Apis florea to Apis mellifera” and “Body Volume” in Slag Review, and, just today, “Brilliant Moonbeam” and “Crassostrea virginica” in all the sins. So at least that’s a little confidence booster.

Categories: Personal


Meghan Barrett is a student at Drexel University, earning her PhD in Biology. She previously attended the State University of New York at Geneseo, where she earned a B.S. in Biology and English/Creative Writing and was a part of the Honors College. Meghan was a founding member of NeuWrite/Edu, a science-writing collaboration group at Geneseo, and worked as a Writing Intern for Phi Beta Kappa's Online News Site, The Key Reporter.

1 Comment

Bonnie · September 30, 2016 at 4:22 PM

“…an overwhelming amount of nervous students scarfing down free food and trying to be social”- perfectly describes my grad school orientation too. I don’t have nearly as many responsibilities as you and I also feel overwhelmed, so you’re definitely not alone! Also congrats on all of those publications!!

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