Today’s post is by second year Southern Studies MA graduate student Caity Maddox.

Grad Student Guest Post by Caity Maddox: What To Do When You Don’t Know What To Do

image1-2Graduate school comes to us all in different ways: you might read a book that piques your interest, you might have a passion for a particular cuisine, you might have a career goal that requires a higher degree. Or you could be like me, and apply to graduate school because you’re just not sure what’s coming next. Two years ago I was finishing up a student teaching internship that just wasn’t fitting and I found myself wondering what on earth would come next, often out loud and often to my dog.

I discovered the South in much the same way my cohort did – I grew up here. It wasn’t until college (at Mississippi State – go Dawgs!) that I discovered the Souths in their dimensions and their multitudes. I took class after class and even added a second major because I just couldn’t get enough of the complex history of this place surrounding me. Google brought me to the Center for the Study of Southern Culture’s website and I was hooked. I applied to a limited number of graduate schools and in March 2015 I got an email – I was in!

Last August I moved to Oxford and jumped feet first into the whirlwind that is the first semester in this program – stacks of books littering my living room, happy hours at City Grocery with a bunch of new friends, the occasional foray out into the world (mostly thanks to class requirements to get outside), all the while still asking my dog what on Earth I was doing.   I made it through that first semester, a little battle worn, a lot smarter, and with a desire to sleep for the entire six weeks of my winter break. Spring came, and with it new classes and new challenges and by the beginning of May I could be found throwing my hands in the air and wishing I could jump for joy down the front steps of Barnard Observatory.

It’s a year later and I’m still not sure what’s coming next. Luckily for me, Southern Studies brings together all sorts of people who are now forced to listen to me try to figure this out. I’ve narrowed down some career thoughts and I am working on a project that thrills me. Thesis season is fast approaching for my now dear friends and I am looking forward to seeing the fruits of their hard labor. I haven’t had any epiphanies about the future nor do I have any sage advice or wisdom for those of you considering graduate school* – all I know is that if you’re like me and not sure what’s coming next, Barnard is a pretty neat place to sit a spell and do some thinking.

* – if you are considering a Southern Studies MA, please feel free to shoot me an email at and I’ll be happy to offer up what’s worked for me!