Friday, January 11, 2008

School Days

So, I'm getting old. It snuck up on me, and I don't always feel it....but I can tell my age in several ways including, but not limited to; the fact that my knee was injured two years ago, and I can still feel the pain when it rains. My back is constantly sore when I workout without a good stretch first. I NEED my seven hours of sleep or I just can't function. I say things like, "I just don't understand young kids." And when I get messages from my chemistry professor telling me that snow might cause our final to be postponed (as happened this past semester) I get angry.

I wasn't ecstatic at the thought of my final being postponed...I was irritated because I had been expecting to take my final on Saturday, December 15th at 10:30am for weeks. Moving it would screw up the rest of my holiday planning (that was supposed to happen AFTER the stress of the final had passed.)

I remember being a student in college and PRAYING for snow to cancel class, or miraculously, a final. What the heck happened to me?

Since I finished my first (three credit hour) class back in school (with an A!! Go me!!! :-) in what I considered the semester to "dip my toes back in the college lifestyle," I thought it surely wouldn't hurt to take a few more credit hours this semester.

So I'm now enrolled in 10. Sadist. I know.

I have Biology and Chemistry this semester. Both with labs. I probably won't be seeing any of you until May. When you do see me again, I might be stark raving mad, but at least I'll be 13 credit hours closer to applying to a school of veterinary medicine.

Now my evenings on campus include not only one class, but walking between classes, sometimes heading to the library to study (there is no studying in the chaos that is my apartment...) Another way I know that I'm old is when I'm hurrying through the cold to my next class and I get that "Hey Baby!" look from a guy. My first thought isn't, "How YOU doin'?" as it might have been in the past. It's now, "Please. I could be your mother. Would you check her out?"

That's not technically true, but it sure feels like it.

My Biology lecture is in a lecture hall designed to hold approximately 190 people. There are 220 people enrolled. Due to work, I get to class RIGHT when it's beginning. I am ALWAYS one of the lucky few sitting on the floor. Do you know what this does to a thirty year old back? Seriously? When you're simultaneously trying to take notes, and you can't sit against the back wall because you're too short to see anything from that vantage point? And yet, there are 18-year-olds in seats who are falling asleep during lecture. What, they're taking a seat for fun? Just skip for God's sake! Aren't you supposed to respect your elders? (Nevermind that I slept through class on a regular basis. I actually slept through much much smaller classes....)

Oh yes, and my first stint in college was at a private university. I am now enrolled at a public university. Let me tell you something, I was DUMB when I enrolled in a private university. In fact, I think I need to go home and apologize profusely to my parents who so generously funded my overpriced education. How do the two differ? Oh let me count the ways.

My chem class this semester is a continuation of the chem class I took last semester. I can use the same book that I purchased last semester. No joke. This NEVER happened when I was enrolled as an undergrad. I don't care if I was in Accounting 101 in the fall and Accounting 102 in the Spring. Two entirely different books. When I found out that I didn't have to buy a book for chem this semester, I almost wept for joy. (Apparently there are also major differences when your parents are funding your education and when you're funding it on your own.)

I have been in three classes now, and in each one they make mention of how much you're paying for your education and why you should attend class to make your dollar worth it. (I'm not saying this logic would have worked on my 18-year-old mind the way it works on my 29-year-old mind, but's nice to point it out.) Additionally, in EACH CLASS they put a note in there that if your education is costing you nothing, you should thank your mom and dad. Hmmm....I don't think tuition dollars were ever discussed at my overpriced alma mater. If they were, the idea of thanking your parents for financial assistance? Absurd. I think it was expected.

There is no Starbucks on campus. I honestly don't know how these public school kids survive.

Don't get me wrong - the education I received from my alma mater was a good one. At least I think it was. I don't remember what classes I had to take to get a marketing degree actually.... I just know they didn't include any sciences at all.... or anything that I really use today.... hmmmm.

I digress. My education really was a good one. I studied abroad, (which cost less than remaining in the States...why didn't I realize that then?!) and all the classes that I took abroad counted for college credit (though the work I did on them was negligible.) I had great (I mean awesome psych classes. All of my classes were always small (even the intro ones) was a good college experience. But was it three times better than what I'm getting now. Um...I'm going to have to go with no.

Last night I went directly from my class (which ended at 8:20pm) to the library to get some homework done. I left the library at 9:30pm. Would I have EVER done that as an undergrad? (Hint: the answer is absolutely not.) I was the girl who put off her semester long project until the day before it was due and just worked on it for 24 hours straight. Back then I would justify myself by saying that I put in as much time as anyone else, I just didn't spread it out evenly throughout the semester. Now I can admit that I was just lazy and dumb. Now I study because I can't honestly think of another stretch of free time when I'll be ABLE to study - and because I've learned that those easy points (like attendance, in class quizzes, online homework, etc.) those points are the ones that make the difference in your grade. You know. If your test scores don't fall exactly where you want them to...

So I'm usually thinking, as I wander on campus, if the differences that I'm noticing in this school experience in contrast to the last one aren't really differences, just the same things from a different vantage point?

Then I get checked out by another teenager and decide that this experience is completely different. (The girls who attended my alma mater will have to agree with me here. With the guy/girl ratio at our university, the chances of getting checked out were slim to none... Why didn't we visit the public university down the road, ladies? Not only are these guys looking, they're probably going to be DOCTORS!!! How dumb were we?)

Do me a favor and send your kids to a public university. Just make sure it has a Starbucks on campus.

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