On Quitting

During week six of DBC, going into spring break with a major thesis deadline looming, I realized, somewhat abruptly, that continuing in the same way I had been would lead to unsuccessful outcomes in both the bootcamp and my thesis. The first thing I did when I realized I had to quit – and really, it did not feel like much of a choice at that point – was run my GPA for if I got an F in the course. I wanted to make sure that if I was sacrificing one grade to save the other I would not be inadvertently killing my chance at honors by dropping my GPA below the minimum requirements. That is how absolute and binary I felt that week; I’d spent three weeks throwing all my energy into DBC that the only way to write two chapters and salvage my thesis in the next two weeks was to reverse and throw all of my energy into the thesis. Even then I was not confident I would have a complete draft by the deadline, and sure enough I was only about to write one of the two chapters I needed.


After I ran my GPA with an F and knew I would still have a shot at honors, I asked myself how could I possibly get to this situation of feeling forced to move from one extreme to another.  The metaphor that came to mind was putting a frog in cold water then slowly turning the heat up till the water boils. As the weeks passed the heat turned up on DBC as we had more releases each week and began to do more complicated work with Ruby. The heat turned up on other classes and extra-curricular activities as the semester got into full swing. And obviously, the heat turned up on the thesis as major deadlines loomed. I neglected to look for a way out earlier not only because the build was gradual, but because I’d never been in an academic situation in which I felt like I was being asked to do the impossible and I was the only one who could question it. Even on the rare occasion when professors set class deadlines too close together or assign an impractical amount of work, the class usually comes together to request changes. Although our independent studies were cohorted, I was always conscious that our experiences in the course were very different based on our prior exposure, the other demands on our time and what we each wanted out of the bootcamp. Though in many ways that dynamic could have been a way to set independent expectations of success, instead I looked to the rigid structure of DBC as my guideline for what was expected and struggled to individually negotiate a different (less time-heavy) expectation of success or sufficient.


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