Friday, January 29, 2010

Night Class

Jedi Mama recently discovered night class. If one is a working adult but also a student, one is familiar with the night classes at the community college or at the university. I've attended night classes at UT as well. One semester, I had an Anthropology class in the bowels of the football stadium. That was fun.

When I was working full time, night classes were my best friend. It seems as if the community college's night classes are 95% adult students (nontrads) and 5% regular students who are only taking the night class because all the day classes in that particular subject were filled and they were left with no alternative. At the university, it seems as if there is a smattering of adult students in the night classes, but the classes are mostly filled with regular students who, again, were left with the night class because all the day classes in the particular subject were filled.

I enjoyed night class. Most of my night classes were more relaxed and it seemed as if my classmates participated more. Of course, it is not fun when you have to compete with the basketball crowd for a parking space or you have to pay to park in a lot you have a parking pass for because of an athletic event. "Blessed are the flexible . . ."

Night classes are a good alternative to the day classes. However, there is one drawback - getting used to the schedule change for me is like getting used to the time changes in the fall and spring. It takes me a while to adjust (sometimes I have a hard time staying awake!).

If you're a night classer, hang in there! Been there, done that, have the bags under my eyes to prove it! Buy a round of Starbucks for your classmates . Stay tuned . . . .

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Why So Many Books?

My classmates and I have asked this question often over the past couple of weeks. It seems as if the higher the course number, the more books the course has. For example, my Geology 201 class (biodiversity) has no books because the prof couldn't find one he liked. However, my Philosophy 374 class (the philosophy and religion of India) has 7 books while my history 476 class (Asian Studies) has 5 books! My History 474 class (Medieval Kingship) only has 4 books. That's a grand total of 16 books for 3 classes amounting to about $300 in books (groan!).

I should have gone online and rented the books, but I had several last minute changes in my schedule that precluded me from "planning ahead" this semester. Hopefully, my summer schedule will not be as fluid so I can actually plan to save money by renting my textbooks. Again, this is where flexibility, patience and humor come in. I look at this whole thing as a rather expensive character building opportunity. But, my education is worth it. Just think of how much (useless??) information I will know by the time I graduate! Ha!

I am sure I will be a well-rounded, flexible, thoroughly knowledgeable and patient graduate who is able to laugh at just about anything. (roll eyes) In the meantime, I have some reading to do. Stay tuned . . .

School or Not?

There seem to be many people asking the question, "Should I go back to school?" Returning to school is an investment in your future. What is it worth to you? That is the question one should ask when considering returning to school.

What has returning to school cost me? I quit my full time job in June to go to school full time. However, the job I have now has even greater potential than the job I left. My degree will also add to my job's potential. I have had to juggle family schedules and be deliberate about my family relationships. Going back to school has made me appreciate my family even more.

My degree means my future - greater earning potential, doing something I really like, sharing my story as an encouragement to others. When considering the return to school, family is a huge thing to consider, even more than the debt of student loans. I would quit school tomorrow if any of my children needed me. They all know that.

There are many reasons to return to school and many different things to consider when making the decision to school or not to school. Ask yourself what your education is worth to you, to your family. Good luck in making the decision. Stay tuned . . .

Thursday, January 21, 2010

And Another Thing . . .

Studentmum left a comment on my last post. One of these days, I really must get to England and visit her. I think we have a kindred spirit, though I could never Master's in Victorian Lit. I admire Studentmum for that. (A quick shout out to my buds at PSCC - you know who you are!! Hey!!)

I've been blogging a great deal lately about flexibility. While flexibility as a nontrad is important, so is patience. I've had a couple experiences lately where I've had to be patient while I wait on hold for the person on the other end to answer my call, while I wait for a professor to explain what they need, while I wait in one of the numerous lines that seem to define my life as of late, etc. Once that person answers my call (after having been on hold for what seems like days), how do I react to him or her? Am I short? Am I impatient? Am I angry? No, I should not be. That person at the other end of the line may be having a bad day. My negative emotion will just add to that. If I can smile with my voice (and say ,"Thank you."), it will make their day, and mine, much better.

I tell my children all the time that you catch more flies with honey that you do with vinegar (an old American adage). One of my favorite sayings is, "Lord, may my words be sweet, for tomorrow I may have to eat them." Even though I may be having really bad day, too, it is to my benefit not to take that out on someone else, but to stop, take a deep breath, pray (if that is how I believe) or go to my "happy place" and then deal with the situation.

Flexibility and patience - those two traits are good to have for they will take you over most of life's bumps. I'd like to add one last thing - humor. After all, if we didn't laugh about it, we'd probably cry about it. And what burns more calories and is better for you? Laughter!! Think of it as emotional celery. So, be flexible, have patience and laugh! Stay tuned . . .

But Is It Blogworthy?

I have read some blogs recently that make me think, "Does the author have nothing better to do? Do they not have a life?" I am of the opinion that if one is going to blog, whatever one is blogging about should be of some benefit and not just meaningless rantings, ravings, musings, whatever. It's like being a freelance journalist for the New York Times. Would the NYT pay someone to go on and on about nothing? I think not.

I often ask myself, "Is what I have to say blogworthy? Will people benefit from what I have to say?" There have been many blog ideas that have gone in the circular file because they were merely my musings, rantings, etc.

I think learning to be flexible is definitely a blogworthy topic. Lie is not always nice and tidy. Life does not always adhere to my "Plan A". I recently had a situation where my ex-husband thought it was going to turn out one way and it turned out another way. He was upset because the situation did not conclude as he thought it should. I often tell my children they should have a Plan B.

As nontrads, we are used to being flexible. However, it can still be a tad unnerving when even our Plan B falls through. What do you do then? Stop and step back, take a deep breath and reassess the situation. Having more time to plan, speaking to one more "expert", having to spend less money in the long run - these are all good things worthy of our ability to be flexible.

Is there something you're having to "Plan B" today? Don't worry about it. Thank God for another day of life, your family and your friends and attack that Plan B with confidence! Stay tuned . . .

Monday, January 18, 2010

A New Beginning

A great deal has happened since I last posted. I have a new job with new job duties, working to amicably end my marriage (long story), and I have already had to make adjustments in my class schedule since the semester began on January 13. This has been an illustration in "Blessed are they who are flexible, for they shall bend and not break." In each of the areas - school, work and marriage - the new year marks a new beginning . . . literally.

I am about a year away from graduating. I was originally supposed to graduate in the summer. Then I added a minor which pushed my graduation plans back to December of 2010. Now, due to family events, I have had to push that back the May of 2011. I told my boss I'd be there for a while. That's a good thing. Perhaps by the time I graduate, there will be a permanent spot for me in the department and I will have benefits and a tuition waiver.

What about my plans to go on to grad school? Those plans are up in the air. I may still go on to grad school - I have time. I can also go to school and work at the same time on campus. My only timetable with school is to finish my Bachelor's degree by next spring. After that, I have no definite timetable.

As a parent, I am used to being flexible. Little kids don't always want to fit into the boxes we make for them. Teenagers definitely don't fit into those boxes! I have learned that nothing is written in stone except that I love my children.

I am now a "Communications Specialist I" with the department and have been charged with putting together the annual report. This is quite an undertaking for someone who is working full time, much less someone who is in school full time and working part time on it. I dropped HIST 470 and added HIST 474. Both classes meet on Tuesday and Thursday. It took me 20 minutes into the class on Thursday to understand what the professor was saying in HIST 470. Then she went into so much detail about her grading, the projects, etc. that I think she lost half the class. I am at the point where I do not need to have classes in a specific category (like I am majoring in Asian studies and need all Asian study classes), but can pick the classes I want to take within my major. I did not need that class for my European history requirement, but could take another class instead. Flexibility.

I am looking forward to this semester and the challenges it will bring - academically, professionally and personally. It will be a new beginning. Stay tuned . . . .

Friday, January 8, 2010

Snow Days

We got our first snowfall of 2010 yesterday. It started about 12:30 where I was at and by the time I went to pick Megan up from school, it was in full swing, complete with emergency vehicles roaring down the streets to assist the latest unfortunate drivers.

We hunkered down about 3:30. It looks like we are going to be doing at-home projects today. More snow is on the way. Luckily we got our "snow supplies" yesterday, along with the rest of the citizens of this fair metropolis. Megan is out of school today and she is thrilled. She plans on "sleeping in". I, on the other hand, cannot sleep in when the canine children are whining to go outside and play in the snow. They go outside, play for about 30 minutes, come back in to get warm and we repeat the whole process again in about 30 minutes. Hmm - sounds more like children than animals!

Hoping I can get out tomorrow because I have a full agenda planned. I can only take one day of snowboundness. After that, I start to go a little looney!

Thank God for snow days. My sister in Florida gets "hurricane" days. I guess wherever you live, you get to have certain days off for acts of nature, etc. Other than the domestic projects, I am going to relax and psych myself up for next semester, which, BTW, is only five days away.

Hope you all enjoy your snow day! Stay tuned . . .

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Slowly but Surely

Campus is starting to "wake up". By the time Dec. 11 rolled around (the day after the last day of finals), the place started to look like a ghost town. Campus activity had seen a drastic decrease. The week before Christmas was even worse because even the folks who worked on campus were gone - faculty, staff, etc. Everyone was beginning to take their annual leave.

This week, campus looks like someone who has just woken up from a long nap. Folks are beginning to return. Campus is stretching its arms and yawning, rubbing its eyes and getting ready for the new semester. I am waiting for Einstein's Bagels in the business building to reopen. They have a better (and cheaper) decaf mocha latte than Starbucks. I am also waiting for Smokey's in the UC to reopen. They have better food than Rocky Top Cafe. Just waiting for campus to finish waking up.

I still have to get books, supplies and figure out which building BEC is. I thought I knew most of the abbreviations for buildings on campus. Guess not. Ah, well. One learns something new every day.

I am learning that my canine children have no sense of time. I would love to be able to sleep until 6 (or later), but the canine children are up and fidgety at 5am. I have to get up and let them out in the cold. By the time they are taken care of, it's almost 6, so why bother going back to sleep? I would love it if they would sleep until 7am. Such is life with "children".

I just learned that some schools are already back in session, with exams starting as well. Yikes! To those of you who are in this situation, hang in there and have a great term! To those of us who have yet to start classes, get ready! It will be here before you know it!! Stay tuned . . .

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Are You Ready??

I enjoy reading other nontrads' blogs. Studentmum is one of my favorites. She writes about trying to get an essay done while not particularly in the mood to do so. Been there, done that, had the writer's block to prove it. I hope she can find the motivation to crank that puppy out!

I just got an email from my Studies in British History professor welcoming us to the class and preparing us for the semester. Mind you, classes begin a week from tomorrow. I guess she wants to be able to sort out the slackers from the serious students ahead of time. If that were the only class I was taking, that would be the only class I was taking, knowhatimean? This looks to be one of those classes that one spends 40 hours a week on with homework and reading. Yikes! (I have no life, I have no life . . .).

Luckily, it's going to be just me and Megan this semester, so there shouldn't be that many distractions. It's a good thing this prof is letting us know what to expect. I wish more profs would do that. I don't know about you, but I have been exposed to as many teaching styles in my college career as there are species of salamanders in the Little Pigeon River (and that's alot!). Some profs prepare their classes ahead of time, others just jump headlong into it on the first day.

Am I ready to start spring semester? I am getting there (groan!). How about you - are you ready? What will it take to get ready? Have you bought supplies, textbooks, filled up your "volcard", figured out where your classes are? If not, you better get crackin'! Classes here start in one week! Stay tuned . . .

Monday, January 4, 2010


I just read several of University Mama's posts. She had a rather rough semester and was glad to see it end. I second that thought. I was glad the last semester finally came to a close. However I am looking forward to the next semester - with great anticipation. It's not the semester I originally envisioned (senior thesis, intensive language course, etc.), but with the change in my family situation, it will be a much easier semester (I hope). Plan B seems to be a tad more peaceful at this moment.

As I reflect on last semester, I see where it really was intense at times and I did not pay proper attention to my research or to my family. One of my goals this new semester is to put everything in proper order - from family, to schoolwork, to work.

The good thing about being able to reflect on the past is that is gives us direction for the future. What did I do wrong that I would change? What did I do right? What have I learned from the experience of last semester?

As I get older, I realize the value in reflection, in setting goals, etc. When I think of "reflection", I thing of the reflecting pond on the mall in Washington, DC. Even though I have never been, I have seen pictures of the pond with the Washington monument in the background. The photos I've seen have always been of the Washington monument reflected in the pool. It is such an awesome sight - to see that huge obelisk representing the strength and wisdom associated with our nation's first President.

What do I see when I reflect on last semester? What do I see when I reflect on the past few months and years of my life? Do I see good things, perhaps things I need to change, perhaps apologies I need to make and words of encouragement I need to speak? I don't ever want to be regretful, but grateful as I reflect. I want to be grateful for the things I've learned - about myself, about life, about the subjects I have taken in school.

What about you? What do you see when you reflect on last semester or on the recent past? We learn from the past and we move on. Stay tuned . . .