Monday, January 24, 2011

What Color is Your Pace Car?

Once again, I have a motorsports reference for my title. Does anyone know what a pace car is? It is the car (vehicle) that is out in front of the pack of NASCAR cars, Indy cars, etc. that sets the pace for the first "introductory" lap of the race. It is an honor to be the pace car (manufacturer - Toyota, Ford, etc.), to be in the pace car as a passenger and to be driving the pace car. The pace car makes sure the drivers don't start off too fast and end up getting jumbled up even before they begin the race.

I was thinking about this semester and how I will need to pace myself for the work ahead, especially since it is my last semester. Favorite colors are very telling of our personalities. I thought I'd go out on a limb here and not only encourage my fellow nontrads to pace themselves this semester, but also the best way to pace what color you are. Try this (hope you don't take this too seriously!!):

My pace car is:
1. Red- I am high-strung, non-nonsense, git-'er-done. I am a high achiever and I have already read all my books for the all my classes for the semester. I have explosive energy and am an early riser. However, if I don't watch out and learn to temper my energy, I will get burned out quickly and find myself existing on Red Bull and No-Doze - neither one of which is good for my body. I need to remember to slow down.
2. Orange - I am a cautious and run in the middle of the pack if I run at all. I sit in the back half of class and am very observant of my classmates. I will only volunteer the answer to a question if no one else does and the prof looks exasperated, even though I would much rather someone else participate than me. I tend toward shyness. I need to remember to assert myself.
3. Yellow- I am similar to red, except I am not as explosive. I am perky, full of energy and mostly happy. I want to get everyone in class together for a study group and I'll make chocolate chip cookies to bring to the group!! It doesn't matter what the weather looks like, you will always see me smiling and finding the good in life! I need to remember that not everyone likes "perky".
4. Fuscia - I am INTENSE! I am the girl in the back of the class who never stops talking! I run the risk of burning out like my friend, Red, because I have such high energy, however, IcantalkyourearoffatamileaminuteandnotletyougetawordinedgwisebecauseInevertakeabreathor pausebetweenmywords! YouknowwhoIam!!! I need to remember to shut up.
5. Green - I am quietly content to plug along in life. I am laid back, nothing bothers me, I don't stress out about stuff - like exams and research papers. I laugh at the prof's subtle jokes because I just get them. You'll find me at the local coffee house or pizza place, often with my prof and other "heady" associates. We're just killin' time. I need to remember to put a little more gas behind it.
6. Blue- I am definitely not a morning person. The weather severely affects my moods. I finished my research papers at least a month in advance. There is a place for everything and everything in its place. I am usually the first one in class and the last one out because I have to talk to the prof after every class. I need to remember to find balance.
7. Purple - Don't bug me, man. I'm in a haze. I don't remember anything.
8. Brown - Let's get down to the nitty gritty. I take my notes on my laptop and my flash drive is my best friend. When I'm not studying, I'm on the net playing the latest version of Warcraft or Halo. My friends sometimes call me a geek. I fantasize about being the young Jeff Bridges character in "Tron: Legacy". I need to remember that life is NOT a video game.
9. Black - I just wanna get through this semester and graduate.
10. White - It's all new to me!! I'm so excited!! I have coordinating notebooks, folders, and pens for each class! I clean my laptop everyday! I love a Venti Mocha Latte Triple Shot every morning! I sit in the front row and make annoying eye contact with the prof! I'm always at his or her office for their office hours even if I don't need to be! I love school! I need to remember that, heck - it's algood!

You may find your pace car to be a combination of a couple colors, or you may even find you're one color with racing stripes of another color or colors! Whatever color your pace car is, make sure you follow it and pace yourself appropriately through the semester. (I'm green with yellow racing stripes.) Stay tuned . . .

Friday, January 21, 2011

Moving Right Along

Now that I have the first full week of classes under my belt, I can say one thing - "Yikes!!" This is going to be a great semester as far as the content of my classes goes - lots of great information, lots of interaction, etc. However, it promises to be another intense semester even though there are no group projects on the horizon. Will have an uber major paper due in History (30+ pages), a paper due in Geography in lieu of class debates, and several compositions due in Spanish. What's even more fun is that for two of my classes (Spanish and History), I get to walk clear across campus - in the cold!! And I thought I wasn't going to have time to work out this semester! Ha!

Rumor also has it that I will also be picking up more responsibility at work. I may have to remind them again that I am primarily a student. Not 100% sure about grad school yet, so I am also looking for a job. Lots of changes coming up in the next few months. Wish I had some words of wisdom for those of us in transition, but I don't - other than take a few deep breaths, stay close to family and friends and don't sweat the small stuff.

Last semester, son getting married, new relationship - it's algood. Stay tuned . . .

Friday, January 14, 2011

Hitting the Ground Running

I have definitely gone from 0 to 60 in about .005 seconds as I begin this semester. I think I have whiplash. The profs wasted no time in assigning a boatload of homework for the weekend. I have to read the equivalent of two books by Tuesday and complete a Spanish lab. Didn't I say this semester was going to be good, but not easy? Yikes!

I got a comment on my last post from threecreditsatatime ( Three says that I should add "Be open" to my list of how to prepare for the semester. "Be open to classmates, to opportunities that might come up, to challenging yourself, to whatever!" I agree. Look forward to this semester with excitement and anticipation! You never know what will happen these next few months. Life is an adventure, live it!

My adventure is jumping into hyper space at uber warp speed as I hunker down sometime this weekend and read until my eyes cross! Thank God for a three day weekend! Stay tuned . . .

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Gentlemen, Start Your Engines

For those not familiar with formula one racing, the title phrase of this post is the phrase that marks the start of the annual Indianapolis 500. Thirty-three racecars roar to life in the hot summer sun, their drivers' hearts pumping as adrenaline courses through their bodies.

That phrase should also mark the start of the new semester. Over twenty-five thousand students come to life amidst the remnants of a recent snowfall, their hearts and minds anticipating the new semester. For some, this is their first or second semester at UT. For others, like me, this is their final semester at UT. My semester is once again marked by an initial excitement and expectation. So far, my classes look good. Not easy, but good.

My Spanish teacher is a native speaker, so that should make a huge difference. My Anthropology prof is one of a handful of anthropologists who are experts on oil spills, so he has been widely consulted on some of the recent disasters such as the BP oil spill in the Gulf. I have Geography later on today and my history seminar doesn't start until next week.

How does one start a new semester well, in anticipation of all that it will bring? There are a few things I've learned in my journey as a nontrad:
1. Be prepared. One does not have to be an ex-Scout to employ this tactic. Have your supplies - book, notebook, charged laptop, pens or pencils, travel pack of Kleenex - before you get to class. Profs like prepared students. Preparation is indicative of a serous learner.
2. Be alert. Be ready to participate in class. Listen to other students in the class as well as the prof when asking/answering questions.
3. Be present. I don't understand the students who only show up for exams then whine they got a bad grade. I am paying for these classes, I want to get my money's worth! Attendance and participation can often mean the difference between getting a B or an A for the class.
4. Be organized. Before heading off to class, make sure you have all the tools you'll need for that class - book, notebook, laptop and flashdrive, Scantron answer sheet or green book (if it's an exam day), pen or pencil, readings for that day (if separate from the book), etc. The class experience will be better for you if you are organized.
5. Be courteous. Don't text in class. Turn off your cell phone. Don't talk when the prof is talking. These things are common courtesy, but overlooked by many of today's younger generation. (Doesn't that make me sound old!!)

If this is your first semester in class, congratulations! You are about to embark on a wonderful journey. Strap yourself in and hang on! If this is your last semester, congratulations! We're almost there! If you are somewhere in between, hang in there. You're moving forward. Keep the goal in sight and you will do fine! I raise my glass in honor of all my fellow nontrads. Start your engines!! Stay tuned . . .

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Gearing Up for the New Semester

As I get ready for the new semester, I am both happy and sad - happy to almost have it over with (provided I pass Spanish) and sad to almost have it over with. This has been a great journey - being a nontraditional student. I would not trade this experience for anything!

As I prepare for the new, and hopefully my last, semester, I need to keep in mind the following:
1. Finish strong! Now is not the time to slack off, but to put my all into my classes and resolve to d and be my best.
2. Study hard! Again, no slacking off just because it's my last semester. I will give grace where grace is due, but for the most part, I will need to focus and make sure I am ready for exams, projects, etc.
3. Laugh alot and smile even more! Happiness is a choice, not a circumstance. I am glad I was able to go back to school and I look forward to what lies ahead!
4. Say "Thank you" - ALOT!! To my profs, my classmates, my co-workers and my family.
5. Remember that . . . "It's great to be a Tennessee Vol!!" Give back to my school when I have the opportunity.
6. Look forward, not backward.

I have a sign on my desk that says, "God grant me today, for tomorrow is gone and I can't change the past." Head up, eyes ahead and moving forward! The goal is in sight - I graduate May 13th at 8:30am. Stay tuned . . .