Wednesday, July 04, 2007

What graduate school looks like

I ran across some old photos from the 1980s and scanned them. This is what my desk looked like at some point:

I think these were in 1988. I had just come back from my first field season in Egypt and was studying for my comprehensives. Back then, our first day of grad school we were handed 116 questions that we had to find answers to all of them by our comps exams. I started studying in June 1988 and took them in December. December 10-11, I think. I sat in a room for 8 hours scribbling my answers. I was very methodical in studying. I would take a question, read some former answers, go to the library and look through the references, get any more that might be needed, and then write an answer for it. Each question took about 1.5 days. Then on Sundays I'd not do any new questions, but just review all the ones I'd done to that point. By the time of the actual test, it was pretty much just transcribing what was in my head.

This is what said desk looked like after cleaning it off:

Let's go through the contents!
-- Leading Edge PC XT clone. Those were all the rage in our department (except for the Mac geeks, of course). I had the phosphor green screen. Very easy on the eyes, actually. Check out the old software books (IBM) on top of the CPU. Nice keyboard, too, the old-style IBM ones that clicked (I have a modern one now).

-- Mug with my name on it. I still have it.

-- Radio: Essential. Don't have it.

-- Dot matrix printer! In the top photo. With its own little stand! Remember how you had to buy like 500 sheets of fan-folded paper?

-- The red binder is one of my comps notebooks. I actually still have all 5 of them with all of my notes. Pathetic, I know.

Here's one of the questions I got:
Brew (1946) advocates making use of many classifications, classifications matched to problems. Take a specific body of data and illustrate how a classification designed for one purpose is insufficient for others.

I still have the files of my answers, I should go find it and post it. . . .