When I was in my final year of college, I needed motivation to get through my courses. I took more than a full load to ensure I’d be able to finish in time for Spring Graduation. Most people know my college story, how I showed up and quit the band, changed my major, lost and gained friends, and then gained a social life and finally started maturing in ways I hadn’t in high school. (My first kiss was in a bar fueled by well rum.) So, let’s move past that and go on to Year 5. (yes, remember part of the story is ruining a year of school due to socializing. ahh, lessons learned.)
Year 5 started with a switch in residence. I was living with several other girls in a house off campus, but drama ensued and I moved in with my brother for a few weeks and then moved back into the dorms on campus. I took a summer intersession class on Death and Human Behavior that was very educational, but after the drama that had ensued also left me on the south side of happy. Coupled with my capstone course on the journals of war veterans, I was questioning quite a few things.
I devoted myself to school and actually attended classes and completed assignments. I also carried on a relationship with someone long distance over the Internet. When we met in person I realized I didn’t know myself at all, or didn’t value myself very much.
I won’t say that meeting people online or having friends online is bad. I actually know a lot of people that I met online. I also carried on a friendship long distance online that proved critical to my success in school. This friend reminded me of the endgame and why I shouldn’t give up or half-ass school. There were classes that I hated but had to take (PED 100.) For the most part, my courses that final year were all interesting and valuable, but they happened to just pile up at the end. I was in a do or don’t graduate with the basic computer class requirement (I never took the basic computer class because let’s face it, yawn. My options were to test out of the requirement or take the class the next summer. True to form, I put myself in this situation and knew there was no way I was taking that class in the summer. Thankfully, my experience the previous 4 years taught me enough about computers to pass the exam. Scrape.)
I also put myself in a neat situation with my math requirement. I enjoy math. I still do multiplication and division long hand except when I’m at work or don’t have a writing stick or paper. I do a lot of squirrely math to figure out any number of things like how much my personal property tax will be, or my household budget. Having taken every possible math course offered by my high school and achieving an A in each I knew I wasn’t going to take a basic college math course in college. I signed up for the 5 credit hour calculus 1 (the one that math and science majors took and not a place where many English majors ventured) and figured it would be fairly easy. There is nothing more humiliating (okay there is but this is well placed hyperbole) than failing at something you’ve successfully done before. Like weight loss. I attempted to retake the class a couple more times and failed each time resulting in 5 credit hours of D on my transcript. Resolved that I wasÂ better than my DDDDD (knock off a couple Ds and you’ve got my bra size) I decided to give it one last shot. Point of success number one: my teacher was a native English speaker. Point of success number two: my teacher was not obsessed with logarithms. Keep in mind this whole thing was a terrible blow to myÂ ego. I skated through math my entire life. I got a math award in high school. I taught my teacher in Stats class, where my grade was so high that it didn’t matter that I didn’t take the final. (the beginning of my learned indifference years and the beginning of a low point in my academic career.) So, that C I finally got made me happier than a lot of the A’s of my past.
Taking a a course load that is deemed over full-time requires authorization from the dean. I hauled ass from building to building across campus a few times that year for authorizations of all types. Bureaucracy is good exercise. There’s a reason they make you get permission. Those extra credits create stress and do weird things to your sleep patterns (or lack thereof), social life (or lack thereof), personal fitness (or lack thereof)– I think you get the point. By the end of the semester, I had a multi-page to-do list of yellow legal pad paper. There are events and times in life that shape you, teach you, test you, and refine you. For me, that semester taught me some of the things have become critical to my life and career.