Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Bittersweet

I took my last final today as an undergrad. I hope I passed. It was in my most difficult class - Spanish. For some folks, language is no big deal. However, because language and math reside in the same part of the brain - the logical part - language is difficult for me. If I had another 16 weeks, it would be fine. Since that's not the case, I just had to make do. I studied for three days. Even if I did not pass the class, I will still be able to walk, just as long as I make it up in summer school. I am hoping I passed the class.

Don't write me off as a nontrad has-been just yet!! I plan to enter grad school as a non-degree seeking student so I can take classes and take my time studying for the GRE. As an employee of the university, I will be able to take classes for free. Maybe I can get my Master's totally paid for by the university! We'll see.

Hello, my name is Connie and I am an education addict! I love being a student!!

Okay, application time. As I reflect back over the last four years as a nontrad, what have I learned??
1. Just do it!! Deciding to go back to school as an "older" student is like jumping off the high dive at the pool - grit your teeth, close your eyes and jump!!! If you spend time questioning and second guessing yourself, you'll never get it done.
2. Find/Build a support structure. Nontrads need all the support they can get because returning to school can be a frightening prospect. In case you're wondering - yes, you will fit in with the younger crowd; yes, you will remember how to take notes, study and write; yes, you will learn how to manage your time; yes, you can do this!! Also remember to form study groups in your classes.
3.Take advantage of on-campus resources. The Writing Center, the Math lab, the Student Success Center, the Student Counseling Center, etc. - they are all there for you to use so you can be a successful student.
4. Give yourself grace. It may take a while for you and your family to get the hang of this, so give each other grace, grace and more grace.
5. Start out small. Start at night at the community college. That way, you can find out if returning to school is something you really want to do and you won't spend a fortune in the process. Attending school part time at night will also ease your family into the idea as well.
6. Ask lots of questions - from other nontrads, from the admissions office, from your family and friends. Question everything and everyone! The more you know, the better off you'll be. Never be afraid to ask questions.
7. Recycle old school supplies. Only used half a notebook last semester? Tear out the old notes, file them, and use the rest of the notebook next semester.
8. Rent textbooks whenever possible. Profs seem to change book editions each semester. Don't get caught with a textbook you don't want or need. Renting textbooks makes more sense unless it's a consumable book like a workbook.
9. Get to know your profs. Some of these folks will be good references and may end up as life-long friends. Dr. McKinney saved my arse several times this semester regarding the hoops I had to jump thru for my minor (Environmental Studies). Most profs will be impressed with your efforts to return to school.
10. Take your time. If you cannot be a full-time student each semester, that's okay. It's also okay to bi-school - take classes at the community college and the university at the same time. Just don't burn yourself out. Have fun being a student.

I have thoroughly enjoyed every moment of my nontrad experience. There have been some difficult times as a student, especially when life was happening at the same time (my dad's death, my divorce, empty nesting alone). I had a good support system - family, friends, other nontrads (thanks to Deb, Elizabeth and Betsy at PSCC - Blount County). Now that I (almost) have my Bachelor's degree under my belt, there ain't nuthen I cain't do!! Watch out, world!!! Stay tuned . . .

4 comments:

threecreditsatatime said...

Congratulations to you, Connie! Well-earned! I'm jealous of you being able to continue taking classes for free. That's a nice perk.

I've got one more paper to submit. My first draft is done, and tomorrow morning I'll send it in...and be done. Done for good!

Jan said...

Well done & congratulations on getting to the end. Your journey has had its ups & downs - you should be very proud of yourself and I agree, Studying is addictive!
Enjoy your graduation.

Please post some photos of your graduation or 'walk'

E. Sheppard said...

Hey, Zickbee. I will still be your fan as you go on with school and learn, learn, learn. I can't wait to hear about it too.

Betsy said...

Congratulations on your accomplishments, Connie! I am selfishly delighted that you will still be on the UT campus--I'm sending a couple of STARS your way!