One aspect that really sets MSPP apart from other schools is the amount of effort the faculty put into their end-of-the-semester evaluations. At first, I was very frustrated by this process. Here we are at the end of March, and I still hadn't received my "grades" from last semester. (Note- last semester, we were on a Credit/No Credit system, but this semester we changed to a mixed system, where some classes receive letter grades and others are still credit/no credit).
I was told by my professors to be patient, because these evaluations are "special" and "take a lot of thought and effort." I thought to myself, "how hard is it to write "Satisfactory" on a piece of paper?!" Eventually, I stopped stressing over it and just continued on with the Spring semester. In fact, I had completely forgotten about the evaluations altogether.
This morning, I was surprised to find my completed evaluations as an attachment in my email. My "it's-too-early-for-this" brain grumbled as I struggled to open the attachment through half-open eyelids. I squinted down the page from my bed and saw "Meets expected standard" written down the side of the page for each category. My "it's still 6:00 in the morning" self was about to get very angry. Even though I was really not awake enough to get angry, I felt my blood rushing to my temples, my adrenaline rising, and my eyes opened wide. "I waited three months for THIS?!" I thought. I kept scrolling grumpily through the "meets expected standard"s until I found a section at the bottom. This is where the professors write individual comments for each student. Because I was still not a happy camper to be awake and reading email that early, I cynically thought to myself, "well, this ought to be good."
I was wrong. It was amazing. Each of my five professors had carefully written several paragraphs about my progress in the class, and my strengths and weaknesses. This was not the sixth-grade-style progress report I had expected by any means. There were details of my performance in the class that I had completely forgotten about. My professors' reflections were all very honest, and there was no fluff. Everything written directly applied to me. What was listed as my strengths boosted my confidence, and my suggested areas of improvement were a subtle reminder that I am still in my first year of a doctoral program, and that I still have a lot to learn.
Maybe it was because it was so early in the morning, or maybe it was because I watched too many episodes of How I Met Your Mother last night, or maybe it's just because I'm a sappy person, but for some reason, I was holding back tears reading some of my instructors' comments. They were so honest and genuine; it made me remember why I came to MSPP in the first place. I wanted to be guided down this road by people with my professional and personal development at heart. I don't think I could have found this level of individual attention and care at any other institution.
So thank you to each of my professors for paying such close attention to my personal strengths, weaknesses, and growth. All the time you spent writing your evaluations (even if it did take just a little too long) was greatly appreciated. I am going to sincerely enjoy continuing this journey with all of you.