Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Journey

Returning to college has both been easy to do and extremely difficult to do. How easy it was for me to reapply to Lamar, since I was a former student. But certain parts of this journey have been hard. I document this not to complain, but so I can look back and remember.

Step 1: Meet with an advisor. I made an appointment to meet with my advisor early in the day. Husband had worked out to go into work late and make up his time so that he could stay home with the boys. I have a building and room number on campus I am to go to. I know where there is some visitor parking and head to that parking lot. I arrive to the parking lot five minutes before my appointment time. I look at the campus map and see that the building I am to go to is halfway across campus and far away from were I am parked. And it is pouring. And some dear person in the family broke my nice, new umbrella. So I have to book it across campus in the rain with no umbrella. I near the building where I am to have my meeting wet and hot, and immediately notice visitor parking spots RIGHT IN FRONT OF THE BUILDING. If I had parked there I wouldn't have gotten a drop of rain on me. I quickly stop by the restroom to try and repair my frizzy hair. Not happening. I head to the office I am to go to, sign in, sit down to wait, and I am burning up. I get called back to meet the advisor in a few minutes and I at least stop sweating a little. I felt a bit flustered, but the advisor was helpful and encouraging and I get signed up for my classes. I did not enjoy the walk back to the van through the rain.

Step #2 Apply for Financial Aid. This was fairly easy to do since everything is online. I entered our numbers and was thankful to see that I would be eligible to receive a sizable grant that almost payed for the entire tuition. YES! But before the aid can be released I have to take paper copies of our tax return to the financial aid office at Lamar. The boys and I head out and make the twenty minute drive to the Lamar campus. We head to the financial aid office and there is a line going out the door. The boys and I wait for 30 minutes and finally get to talk to someone and show my documents. It passes inspection, we are done, I am on my way home and I won't have to drive back out to Lamar again. I get home and husband mentions that I need to get my student id card. The student id card is like a debit card and is how they give you your financial aid money. The next day the boys and I have to drive back out to Lamar to get the id card. We find the location and the kind lady takes my picture. She lets me know the picture doesn't look good and we need to try another one. She approves of the next picture and I am all set.

Step #3 Orientation for Online Students. Husband has some vacation days scheduled right before school starts so I am able to go to Orientation for online students. Big surprise- it is raining that day and I still have not replaced my umbrella. This time I leave early and drive up to the building and see a close parking lot. I still get rained on. I head to the room. It is comforting to see young students, middle aged students, and several older students. I'm not the oldest! I learn all about how to manage online classes and how they work. I'm ready. But disaster strikes at our house. Our nice, somewhat new computer crashes. It won't even come on. This happens six days before classes are to start. I begin to panic- how will I take online classes without a working computer?? Husband takes the computer to the repair shop and they predict they will have it back to us by the end of the week. This will work, the computer will be back before classes start. We do have an older computer but it only sometimes works and the Internet is extremely slow.

Step #4 Getting the Computer up and running. I love computers, yet I hate computers. It is so frustrating when something goes wrong with them. Friday comes and goes and we don't hear from the computer shop. I call them on Monday, THE DAY CLASSES START, to inquire about our computer. Their non-helpful answer, "Well we haven't had a chance to look at it- we will soon." WHAT!! I am totally stressed out. Monday I try to use our old computer and check into my classes but I can hardly do that. Tuesday I am really feeling the pressure. When husband gets home from work he encourages me to drive to the Lamar campus and use the computers in the library. (I do pay a library and computer fee so I should use it right?) I head to the school at 7:00 and I am there until past 11:00. I am able to answer my discussion questions, print out syllabus', and take a few quizzes. On Wednesday I call the computer shop and they say they are unable to figure out what is wrong with it and they will have to take everything off and reload windows, etc. I say okay just do it. They think it won't take long. We don't hear anything until Friday afternoon at 4:00. The computer is ready. We get it home but have to reload Microsoft Office, our printer, all that fun stuff. I am ready to go and ready to work. One of my classes has an hour long lecture I need to watch. I turn it on and there is no sound. Dear husband looks and looks at it and spends hours trying to fix it. Monday night I start to freak out. I am tired and so frustrated about this computer!! This morning I call the computer shop and they say to bring it by that they should be able to fix it quickly and that I can wait for it. This afternoon the boys and I head to the computer shop and it is RAINING! I take it in and at first the man tells me I have the mute button on. But then he says no that is not it. He takes it in the back and we wait for about 30 minutes. He comes out and says he will try one more thing and if that doesn't work I will have to leave it. I have already decided I can not leave it, I have work to do for my classes. He walks out five minutes later and says he fixed it. YES! The heavens sing!! I love sound!!

Step #5 The hard part really starts. So everything is working- computer, sound, printer! Now I have assignments like having to post a substantive response to the discussion question, "Was Descartes Insane?" and "Can we trust the five senses or do they lie to us?" and "Compare the approaches to colonization of the English, French, and Dutch." And this is just the beginning.

My Role Models.
My Dad earned his bachelor's and master's degree. When he was first married he and my mom had one car. She was working and he was taking college classes. He didn't have money to buy the textbooks for his classes so he would visit the college library to read the textbooks and study. Sometimes he was able to drive and other times he would ride the bus. The bus would drop him off at the bottom of the hill and he would walk up to the library. Other times people in his classes would let him borrow their textbooks for a day.

My Mom started her college journey after she had four kids. She begin attending a community college. Our family moved and college was on the back burner for her. When I was in high school she started taking correspondence courses. She then earned her bachelor's degree and received a teaching job. But she had to take more classes to get her teacher certification. She taught school all day and would drive across one of the busy highways in Dallas to attend night classes at University of Texas at Arlington. She took a full load of classes. Many weekday evenings that she would be at class the weather would be awful- terrible thunder storms. But she powered through and got it done. Then she later earned her master's degree while working and taking a full load of classes.

My husband was able to finish his degree in December 2009. He started back taking classes while working full time from home. He would drive to campus sit through a couple of classes come home work eight hours late into the evening, then spend the rest of the night studying and completing assignments. He got all A's in four classes and he was taking upper level classes in Finance. I know this was hard.

So when I am overwhelmed this semester I will think of my Mom, Dad, and husband. I am following their footsteps.


Grannie said...

Hang in there! You can do it

Holly Young said...

Lori! I am so proud of you! I know you can do it!!