Non-Traditional Student

Weak Meals
Dinner.

A few months back I wrote about my dilemma of going to school now or waiting three years to use my husband’s GI Bill benefits to pay for it. I had to come to the conclusion that spending the next three years asking people for permission to ask them questions despite the fact they called in to Customer Service for help may in fact lead to a certain kind of death.

I had to rush and pick a school to complete Statistics as a prerequisite. I picked my Alma Mater. From the website, it looked like I would be paying around $250 per credit hour by two ways. First of all, military personnel and dependents could get In-State tuition, and secondly the tuition for online only programs was around that same price. So I was good to go! Except I wasn’t. My tuition bill was $1421.

What I had failed to realize in my haste was that there was a deadline for claiming military status. It was in May but it was June when I realized I needed to take this class! Then, the online only course rate only applies if an online major is declared! Word of advice– just put down your mom’s in-state address.

I was anxious about taking the class because I’m terrible at math and had poor study skills when I was in college. But I’m grown now so I thought I’d do better since I’m responsible. When I was in college my Asian boyfriend did my College Algebra homework online and I still barely made a C. Nevertheless, I was cautious but optimistic.

The first assignment was to post “A little about yourself” on the forum and comment on two other students’ posts. Being old, I wrote a paragraph about myself instead of a numbered list with only the requisite three facts, and commented on several others posts. I eagerly awaited for someone to respond to my comments or my post, which no one did.

When perusing the forum, I realized I was the only graduate in the class. Do you remember being in undergrad and having that one lady in her mid-forties in your class that you kind of unfairly couldn’t stand? I recall having several classes with this woman who was frequently lost, but still tried to answer every question the teacher asked despite the fact she truly had no clue. In fact, she often ended her answers with “I don’t know.” She caught on slowly, but was self-sufficient enough to ask [stupid] questions to find her way.  Well at one point I realized I might be her when I saw that I was the only person posting in the forum regularly regarding TECHNOLOGICAL ISSUES. In addition I was probably the only person with an email thread going with the professor about various inquiries. But I was also probably the only one paying my own real life, non-Sallie Mae coins to take the course, so judge me.

Taking an online class and being a full-fledged adult was much different from undergrad because I had to work all day and do homework at night and grow a fetus. It was also a five-week course. Each week had a lot of work, but Final week was intense: two tests, four assignments, four quizzes, and a project AND the final, which I had to take off work for and pay to use a proctoring service.

P Value

Anyway, I was pretty stressed before the final. I wasn’t sure how I would do because I had gotten stranded in struggle city with the last couple chapters. I felt like my fate on the test was decided because I knew I didn’t have the mental or physical capacity anymore to “pull an all-nighter.” But on the other hand, DO YOU KNOW WHAT I COULD BUY WITH $1400???

I was so glad to be done with the class and statistics as a whole. But was also not 100% sure I didn’t fail. The feeling of relief after the final was like being post-coital, but then also like when you’ve just nearly missed being in a horrible car accident.

You can imagine how shocked I was to find that I had made an 88%! I was just hoping for a C. But I was really floored the following week when I checked my grade and saw that I had earned an A!!! I cried.

I cried because I had found a lizard in the shower that morning and was emotionally drained, but also because after 15 years, I finally had proof I wasn’t an idiot. I couldn’t help thinking back to struggling in Pre Algebra in 7th grade and the beginning of believing I wasn’t actually gifted or intelligent. If I had never stopped believing in myself, I would be a psychologist right now. I considered myself “bad at math” from then on, but looking back it had more to do with external factors than my actual intelligence. I could get deep and talk about how I was black and poor, and all my classmates were white with two parents and lived in nice neighborhoods together and studied/copied each other’s homework, but I am happy to simply say that I am finally ready to do my best.

One thought on “Non-Traditional Student

  1. This hits close to home. I went back as a nontraditional student after I earned my Bachelor’s degree too. I wanted to go into medicine, and I needed another Biology as an undergrad class. No one wanted to be my partner in class (my teacher liked the group learning thing). So I did my stuff as a group of one and kicked ass! All the young kids were struggling, and I had my A. Nontraditional students are always the best in my book.

    Congratulations on the pregnancy! Make sure you sign up for Dolly Parton’s reading program. She will send you an age appropriate book once a month until the child is five, all free!

    Like

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