Master’s Program: 40% complete

The Master’s Program that I am taking is rather unique. It is geared towards teachers, although you do not have to be a teacher to be a part of the program. It is through Middlebury College in Vermont and the program is the Bread Loaf School of English. The program is simple in concept: take two classes each summer during an intense 6 week session (a total of 12 classes; 36 class hours) for 5 summers and receive a Masters of Arts degree. We are mandated to take 2 British Literature courses pre-1700s; 2 British Literature course post 1700s; 1 American Literature course; and 1 World literature course. The remaining 4 courses are electives. The program takes place on four separate campuses: St. John’s College in Santa Fe, NM; UNC in Ashevill, NC; Middlebury in VT; and Lincoln College in Oxford, England. I spent my first summer in NM and this summer in NC. I am now 40% done. I have completed the pre-1700 requirement and I have completed half of the post 1700 requirement. I took my first elective course this summer, a class entitled, Rewrite a Life.

This point in the summer is always bittersweet. I am more than ready to go home and relax: spend time with family and pets; sleep in my own bed; eat what I want to eat when I want to eat; and read something of my own choosing. And yet, there is always a melancholy feeling that the summer is over. I think we spend so much time in class, studying, reading, taking notes, writing papers – that when it abruptly stops we are left wondering how to handle the new-found freedom. There are times in the summer that I wonder why on earth I have chosen to torture myself in this way, and there are times that I am absolutely thrilled to be in the company of other like-minded professionals who love literature and learning as much as I do.

This summer has been especially wonderful. I managed to have a single room, which for some might have been too solitary, but for me was absolutely perfect. I am an introvert by nature and it was especially restful for me to know that I could always retreat into my own room in order to energize. The classes that I took this summer were mixed. The Shakespeare class did not meet my expectations, but the writing class more than exceeded any pre-conceived notions I had. I have never taken a writing class before and I must admit that I was very apprehensive about taking this one. While the work was constant: drafting, revising, editing, workshopping, etc…..the end result is that I discovered I really love to write. I have no aspirations of becoming a professional writer, in fact that would probably take the fun out of it, but I do love to write. It is a way in which I can be self-reflective and play “what if” in the safety of my notebooks. I have a voice – which was a surprise to me – and I have a need to express that voice, even if no one else reads it but me. I am hoping to continue this writing lifestyle when I return to Kansas, and perhaps even enroll in a continuing education class that will help further develop this voice, and the imagination muscle that has lain dormant for several decades.

I have one more class to attend tomorrow, the graduation ceremony of a fellow Bread Loaf student on Wednesday, and then I return to home on Thursday. Life will begin shortly after that, with meetings at school, lesson plans to write, family obligations to attend, and household chores to complete. I am ready – but there is a part of me that will miss the wonderful academic lifestyle that was lived in Asheville, NC this summer.


  • Trish

    Congrats on being 40% done, Molly. I really admire your drive to give up six weeks of your summer to devote to getting this degree. It sounds like an amazing experience.

    I'm sorry that the Shakespeare wasn't as good as desired, but how cool that you loved your writing class and found your voice. This is something I've always struggled with, but it's amazing how much blogging helps our voices come out.

    Glad to have you back. 🙂

  • Tammy

    So does that mean you'll get to go to Oxford in a year or two? When I was in law school, we had the opportunity to do a summer program there. My friend went and had a blast.

    I occasionally think about taking some advanced lit classes (we live in a college town) but then I think I wouldn't enjoy it under pressure. Good for you for sticking with your program!

  • ANovelMenagerie

    What a wonderful accomplishment, Molly. I am so proud of you. I know what you mean about a voice laying dormant. You are a fantastic writer and a great blogger. I can't wait to watch your success unfold.


  • JoAnn

    Congratulations, Molly! Sounds like quite an intense program. Hope you get a chance to relax and renew before preparing for the upcoming school year.

  • Nan

    Congrats on being 40% done! I completely understand what you mean about the "new found freedom" when the work suddenly ends. When the school year gets out for me in June, I always feel so funny at first. Then, if I take some classes during the summer, the same feeling returns when the classes end.

    Enjoy the rest of your summer!

  • bermudaonion

    I'm so impressed with you and your efforts at completing your Masters. I'm sure it's not easy to be away from your family like that. I know that you're a wonderful student and that makes you an even better teacher.

  • Margot

    Your summer program sounds so good, I'm envious. Sounds sort of like summer camp for English majors. Did I read that right that you were in Sante Fe last year? My two oldest children graduated from St. Johns. The campus is spectacular, isn't it? Hope you have a bit of rest and rejuvenation before heading back to school. Soak up some of that famous midwestern sun.

  • Beth F

    Good job. I so admire you. It can't be easy to make the sacrifices needed to pursue your goals, but you're doing it anyway. I'm rooting for you.

  • Anonymous

    It really sounds wonderful. I can see how you could end the summer with a bittersweet nostalgia kind of feeling!

  • Belle

    What a lovely way to get your Masters! And oh, Molly, you do have a voice – I already knew that, just from reading your blog, and I'm sure everyone else will agree. I'm so glad you're back, and equally glad that you had a good time! (BTW, I sent you an email back – let me know if it didn't get through to you)

  • Jenners

    This sounds like a fascinating program!!! And I love that you go to different locations. I imagine it is intense but at least there is an end in sight with the summer aspect of it. I'm glad you "found" your voice in writing … that is terrific! : )

  • Bonnie

    Congrats on your accomplishments so far Molly! It sounds like a wonderful program that you are in and quite intense. I think that your writing is wonderful already and that you have a strong voice that you convey here on your blog.
    Good luck as you transition back to your regular routine.

  • Dawn - She is Too Fond of Books

    Molly – what a fantastic program to be part of! Yes, as others have said, what dedication and sacrifice on the part of you and your family; I'm sure you couldn't do it without their support.

    I knew you were in a Master's program, but didn't realize what it entailed – very cool!

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