CAS Decision Made

I have decided that I will not write my thesis and thus will not finish my Certificate of Advanced Study (CAS) from UIUC.

Earlier this morning I emailed my Dean, who is also my advisor, with my decision.

As some of you know, circumstances arose almost exactly 3 years ago that, at the time, I was considering a temporary derailment.  I had just finished my course work towards my degree and was registered for my 8 hours of thesis credit to be completed in the spring semester of 2008.  But I found myself unable to process the things I had learned, and unable to get them down on paper.  I was burned out after 10 years of mostly full-time education.  In consultation with my faculty, we decided I would take a break for a few months and then write the thesis.

Many things happened in the intervening months, some bad, most good. Some even extraordinary. Many have been mentioned on this blog. I now find myself up against a university imposed deadline of defending before the spring 2011 semester is over.  While I would like to finish, and have always intended to do so, I find my heart is simply not in it.

I know that many would counsel that I buckle down and “just do it.”  And while that is a strategy, it is not one that will work for me; not any longer at least.  It has been a couple of years now since I wrote anything “academic” and I am finding it more than difficult to pick up where I left off.

And, No, I did not leave this until the last minute. I have been re-reading and re-familiarizing myself with my materials and my argument for the last several months. This fall I had set myself two tasks. First, draft one, preferably two, chapters and send them to my advisor. It would have been nice to do more but I figured that if I could get that far—back into the groove, so to speak—then the remaining 3-4 chapters would come fairly easily. Second, write an article for a major journal based on my concluding chapter. In fact, if done correctly, it could then easily be retrofitted to serve as the conclusion. The article could have been simple or detailed. It certainly wasn’t a given to have been accepted for publication, but it was semi-invited.

I tried to work on these two tasks but I got nowhere. I put myself in anguish, I tortured myself, I scolded myself. I chastised myself for doing anything besides them, and I generally made myself feel miserable, all the while getting nowhere on them.

This needs to end now!

I even forewent taking any of several classes that I was seriously interested in this current term (Dec-Feb) at Briar Cliff with professors whom I want to study with. A couple of these are nearing retirement, also, so that was a tough decision.

Pros of not writing the thesis

  • Can stop causing myself so much anguish and other negative feelings, all of which have real consequences in my life.
  • Can move on with the many other interests and passions that are calling to me.
  • Will perhaps be freed up mentally and emotionally to finally write one or more papers on my topic, when I am good and ready to do so.
  • I still received—as in took—a great education at UIUC GSLIS.
  • I have the required professional degree required to be a librarian.

Cons of not writing the thesis

  • May need to get a 2nd masters. This assumes I get back in the academic librarian game, at a place with tenure and at one requiring a 2nd masters for tenure, and one which would have accepted my CAS as equivalent.

In a perfect world I would prefer to have finished this degree. While it was a struggle coming to realize what it was that I was going to do and that a decision had to be made, after a while, the decision was an easy one. Taking care of myself is what matters most.

I am still fully coming to grips with the decision but I do know that it is the proper one for me. I already feel a great sense of relief, and release, because this educational journey (the CAS) has been a huge part of my life for almost 5 years now and will take some time to fully process its end.

Thank you to everyone for your encouragement and support over the last several years.  It has meant a great deal to me!  I am still highly interested in Integrationism and issues of language and communication within library and information science. So you may well see more from me on these topics.

8 thoughts on “CAS Decision Made

  1. Having made a very similar decision about the PhD, I’m sure this is a terrific weight off for you and Sara – in both the short and the long term. I feel very confident saying to you what was said to me – that your ability to complete this degree was never in question! You have enough intelligent and probing thoughts to fill a book of CAS theses. But it sounds like this is the right decision for you – and the right decision for you and Sara – and I’m proud of you for being able to make it. Congratulations.

  2. I agree that this is probably the right decision for you. I’m not sure why a CAS makes sense anyway – I’ve never seen it mentioned in advertisements for academic positions – mostly a subject PhD. In the sciences they’re often happy with a subject undergrad and experience. I think your expertise in cataloging will sell itself. Good catalogers are hard to find. Anyway, glad you’re not fretting about it anymore.

  3. Thanks, Christina. It was mostly about getting more education and, if possible, getting some kind of credential for it (without doing a PhD). The CAS is a weird one, to say the least, and I was always aware of that.

  4. My second masters was supposed to be in linguistics. I could handle the analytical courses, but the social science type courses proved more difficult. After almost being kicked out of the program, I returned to finish all but the thesis. I sure like doing research more than picking topics to research, and could never find a topic for my thesis. Ideas I had were quickly shot down. Then came Library School, and my early graduate linguistics courses started expiring from consideration. I would either have had to retake the courses (including one from a professor who was a classmate my first time through!) or allow that degree to expire.

    By the way, it was while working toward the MA-Linguistics that I first began to work in libraries and discover my true academic love.

  5. Welcome, Geoffrey! This sort of thing happens frequently, and despite our thoughts at the time it isn’t really a big deal. The issue is with academia itself and its standards of success and the refusal to look itself deeply and introspectively in the proverbial mirrored face.

    Dropped your blog in Reader and looking forward to whatever you share.

  6. Yes, indeed, brother. ::bump::

    I received a nice reply from John, btw. One of my few regrets about how I spent my time at GSLIS is not getting to know him better. Too much of the military indoctrination of not “wasting” the big guy’s time or such some horseshit.

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