Books and Grades and Money


So far this year I have yet to finish reading a whole book. I have a little bit left in my book about humiliation and international relations. But that’s the closest I’ve come. This is not to say I’m not reading. Every week I have to read approximately 300-400 pages of materials cumulatively from all my courses. They come from perhaps as many as 15 different sources whether they’re articles or book excerpts or Harvard Business School case studies. It’s cool and all but my method of counting books is not reflecting the work I’m putting in.

I say this also because I added three books to my Amazon wishlist that I need to read. And I have no time to read them. Some of them are intimately interesting to me, but what really bothers me are the books that are referred to often — reading them is becoming knowledgeable in the current ways of thinking.

For now I’m slogging through some boring academic materials and manuals.


Today we sat in on a briefing for our program. Second-year students who get above a 3.5GPA are bound to get some scholarship money for next year’s tuition. 3.7’s get even more, and 4.0’s get a full ride. I’m pretty sure Jen will get a lot of money for scholarship since she is an excelsior student. I got a 3.5 last semester. A in globalization, A- in int’l finance, B+ in int’l relations theory, B in int’l trade. The B was the one that killed me. The other grades were fine.

So I’d have to get 4 A’s this semester to bring my 3.5 up to a 3.7. This is unfortunate because I got an A in Arabic (5 days a week) but I don’t get credit for it. Plus I worked last semester. That should count for something, right?

I think I should do better this semester. I don’t have a class that will tank me like trade did last semester. I will probably average around a 3.7. Not good enough, but hopefully enough to earn a little bit of cash! And so far I’m more intellectually engaged than I was in college, where I got a 3.1. And DLI was difficult; got a 3.0 there.

But for what it’s worth, I can see stark differences between my goals coming out of this program and other peoples’ goals. I’m one of the few who are pursuing social entrepreneurship, and I also see the key asset coming out of this degree as being a generalist and a negotiator capable of adapting to many environments. Others see the degree as a mini-MBA where you learn “hard skills” or a policymaking degree where you learn how to manage a budget or pass bills through Congress. Frankly I think that’s all missing the point. We need people who can translate between different fields, mediums, languages, and socio-economic classes.