It was intimidating at first, seeing those directed studies courses. When I added them to my plan a few years ago I assumed by the time I got to them I would feel more comfortable: I would know what I was doing, and have a clear goal. The first one I took was English 491, it was a great introduction to this form of studying and I was excited to work on a topic that had intrigued me from a previous course. I was able to develop my own topic and do research on it from the perspective I wanted, answering the questions that had plagued me.
Most recently I have been working on WGST 465, another directed studies course. This time I had a background in ENGL 491 so I knew what to expect. At least I knew more of what to expect than I did before. For this course I was able to explore another topic that I touched on in a previous course, one that I had written a paper on, but not to the depth that I wanted to. Because of the word count limit, I wasn’t able to explore it in that course in a way that I felt the topic deserved. So when embarking on this course I knew there would be a significant amount of work and research involved. But in this case, it did not feel like work. The research was all information I wanted to read, I wanted to understand, and I read through paper after paper about the topic.
As I near the end of my degree I am finding my motivation lacking. The feeling of being burnt out follows each draft of each assignment. I was struggling to get through my papers; in WGST 465 there is a short paper assignment due before the final paper. But the short paper was simply a review of the articles, it seemed like an extra hurdle I had to jump before being able to work on the final paper, the paper which has been haunting me since my last paper on the topic. As days passed with little work being accomplished and my frustration building, I decided to take an unorthodox approach to the topic at hand. I decided to put aside the courses and papers that I could not get motivated to write, and work, instead, on the one I had a passion for. I sat at my desk for eight hours and wrote, researched, and edited my paper. I drank my fill of coffee and moved onto tea while the sun rose and set in the sky, the day passed quickly, and I had pages of research, pages of my paper. And, I had my voice.
I rediscovered my passion for learning, for working on papers, I rediscovered what it felt like to be excited about a project, rather than simply trying to get through it. As I wrote my paper, as I saw the words coming alive on the screen, I felt giddy, almost hyper. It was a feeling I had been lacking. Writing something I have a passion for, something I am proud of, has reignited my passion for school in and of itself. Directed studies courses are an incredible opportunity to undertake research under the guiding hand of a supervisor. Having someone to guide your passion, and advise your research, or simply discuss your ideas with, it an opportunity that none should pass up.
Deanna Roney is an AU student who loves adventure in life and literature