Summer is Over: The Review for Candidacy

How’s your summer going? Mine was great. Notice I used the past tense there.

With spring classes over I had more free time than I’ve had in well, ever, and I filled my days with hours at the beach with friends, peaceful drives in the Prius, weekend trips to Hilton Head, and hours of reading…for pleasure. I don’t mind telling you that I reread Harry Potter 6 AND 7. (Did I mention I’m 26?)

I was even feeling good about my thesis. Did I have a hard topic nailed down? Well, no, but I had a writing schedule in place, which made me feel good even if I didn’t stick to it. And I’d started free writing a little bit. I was thinking, brainstorming, jotting things down. It was like I could feel the wheels turning in my brain. It felt good.

But then one night I woke up in a cold sweat. Something had been bothering me all day, but I hadn’t been able to nail the feeling to any one cause. Sure, after a particularly bad sunburn I’d made the mistake of Googling “skin cancer,” but it wasn’t that. And yes, my DVR had failed to record The Real Housewives of Orange County, but that wasn’t it either. The problem that shook me awake at 4 a.m. was a responsibility I’d pushed to the back of my brain long ago: my 45 hour review.

Also known as the review for candidacy, this project is required of every SCAD student once they’ve completed 45 hours of coursework (15 hours for M.A. students). Guidelines vary by department (check the Graduate Studies website), but in general you select a committee, put together a portfolio of your work (“indicat[ing] the breadth and the depth of the candidate’s writing abilities” -Writing Review for Candidacy Guidelines), and submit it to the committee. Then the committee rates your work according to a rubric they’ve designed, and you meet with them for a presentation, and they decide if you can stay in the program. No big deal!

Wish me luck. This is how I feel…

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