Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Got some rest...now for the back story.

This past 5 months have been an absolute nightmare, college wise. Of all the semesters I have endured (5) this one, hands down, meant to do me in. It has gone wrong from the start and keeps going wrong in so many ways my head is still spinning from the damage I have done to myself through sheer exhaustion and single mindedness. Read this and tell me I am my own worst enemy...seriously.

When I signed up for my last set of classes last semester, my advisor gave me a list of classes I needed to complete my degree, the have to takes (generals) and the ones pertaining to my field (psych classes). Chemistry was on that list and the very last class I signed up for. I had absolutely no experience with chemistry in my life so all I knew is that it had lots of formulas...like Algebra and I got through that...so, no big deal? Boy was I wrong.

Along with chem I had statistics (again, no experience with that) and my advisor cautioned that taking both of those classes together might be difficult. She suggested I space them out but I wanted to get this over with...I did NOT want to face another semester. To add to the difficulty meter, stats was an online course. I absolutely hate online courses. I need to see a teacher, see the board, see my course information in action so to speak. Online courses are notorious for slipping by while you are busy doing other things...and end up spending copious amounts of time catching up before a due date arrives (at least that's my technique if you will). I also had a drugs and behavior class online...OMFG!! was it hectic to remember to log onto those classes and see what assignments there were and due dates etc. I ended up missing the very first damn assignment for that exact reason. Forgot to log in and get started by the due date....but I had an excuse...CHEMISTRY!!!

All my other classes combined did not give me half the amount of grief that chemistry was determined to mete out. From day one I felt like I was learning chemistry in a foreign language...like Swahili or something. While I was in class 5 feet from the board and she explained it...it all seemed to make sense. Soon as I got home and opened the book to do the homework, I was completely lost. I had never been so completely frustrated and feeling like a failure (academically) in my life. Chemistry just would not get IN MY HEAD and stay there. Because I was having such a freaking hard time with chem...spending all my free time on it and ignoring my other classes (5 all together)...my grades were suffering for the first time EVER in my academic life. Again...failure failure failure!! I was ready to pull some serious hair out...mine and anyone else that claimed chemistry was easy. How many times I resisted throwing my 10 pound chem book at that person should be noted. A reward or something at least.

I was barely staying above a C- minus and that was fighting tooth and nail for every point. I had mostly C's or B's in the other classes as well. Unheard of for me. I wanted to quit so many times that I very nearly did at one point. I threw the chem book in the garbage and stormed up to the college to do just that...but in the time it took me to get up there I calmed down and thought it through. I had come so far and was nearly at the finish line...was I about to let a little thing like chem throw me off my path? I continued on....ugh!

The final straw came when she handed us a chapter exam. 11 pages full of formulas and problems that took forever to work through. Even the students that KNEW chem told me later it was a damn hard exam...for a freaking chapter test. They barely got through it before class was over...what chance did I have when I had to take my time and really think my way through each question and each formula? When class was over I was barely half way through...but I figured she would let me stay and finish it as every other teacher I had had allowed that. She didn't. She pretty much pulled it right out of my hand and said my time was up. I was doomed. I failed that test simply because I didn't have enough completed to pass it with a C even...which means my grade had dropped to a low D if not worse. I knew I could not improve it in the time I had left because I was struggling with it as it was...so I went to the office to see about dropping it (even if I had to do it over at least I might get a teacher I could relate to better...as I did with problem solving). Apparently in this respect I was lucky as dropping full time classes without penalty had only 2 days left. I had no clue about that part...just went there hoping. Yay for me though I still felt like a failure.

So my work load and stress decreased amazingly and I set about concentrating on my other classes. In short time I had all those grades back up to A's and B's...so not a complete failure...however...due to my complete focus on chemistry early on in the semester I let a very important due date pass me by...a date that has affected every thing I have done since in horrible ways.

I forgot to sign up for graduation.

When I was in the office dropping chemistry I happened to overhear someone mention it and asked when the due date was...4 days ago. I asked her if I could still sign up for it...how difficult could it be just to add my name 4 days later? They just needed to know you were graduating..and that you needed a cap and gown...that was all. She said no....period. I had to wait for the next graduation due date...which was in the Summer. I planned on moving from here as soon as school was over as I had had enough of this town and wanted to see other places...now I was stuck well into the Summer. I resigned myself to this particular fate and got on with other things....however, I was currently missing something else that I had no clue about and which would bite me in the ass even harder. I'm telling you...I spent the early part of the semester not aware of a single thing outside of the demands of chemistry and trying to get by in the other classes. I was barely getting any sleep (working the night shift and college during the day and so much time spent on chemistry) that I was not really capable of focusing on anything else...which means I missed another important date.

In order to graduate our college has an Assessment Day (I would assume all colleges have something similar)...a day when you present many example of the work you have done...do a video of something...generally just showcase what you have learned, how you have grown etc. A personal profile type thing. Apparently you have to sign up to do that...and can't graduate without having done it. I missed the sign up...which peeves me to no end because a reminder email would have been nice from the college admins as they know who is ready to graduate (more or less) and a friendly reminder wouldn't go amiss. At any rate...I missed sign up so missed the Assessment Day...and thus couldn't graduate in May as I was expecting too (did I forget to mention that even though my advisor suggested I do chemistry...I, in fact, did not need the credit to graduate as I had taken Biology already...but I will have to do chemistry at some point in the future and she was just wanting me to get it out of the way from now...thanks Jan...all that grief for nothing).

I went to the office once again to inquire about Assessment Day...she said I could do the online course that had started already and try and catch up. The online course is done over a period of weeks while the day itself is just one day of doing everything you need to do (with a list of what you will need etc. to accomplish all that). Ok so..do it online..no big deal. I went home to take a look online. Hmmm.........

There were tons of assignments to do...things we had done already throughout our college experience as well as new stuff she wanted us to do. There were group activities...which I had missed obviously...and due dates of assignments that I had missed as well. So all in all...there wasn't a whole lot I could do  to catch up...which meant I had to make due with what was left. Not a whole lot...only 2 weeks of the class left. I tried but there were way too many papers to write (with points taken off for lateness for the ones that she allowed me to do) and group activities going on of which I had no clue because I had missed out so much already. I was overwhelmed once again.

I went back to the office. She said I could sign up for the Assessment Day in the Summer...and since I had to wait for the Summer to graduate anyhow...why not? So I told her I would do that instead. Burden gone. Or so I thought. Apparently I was still expected to get a grade in this online course (I thought it was understood I wouldn't complete it due to me signing up for the Summer one...but what do I know)...which I wasn't informed of and so failed it. Due to dropping chem and failing this class...my credits needed for being considered a full time student had dropped to just one under the required amount. This meant my Pell Grant status was in danger of being revoked which meant I could be forced to pay it all back. How nice. The fan just kept blowing the shit my way this whole semester.

Currently I am waiting for the college to open again so I can once more go to the office and see how much trouble I am in this time. I don't have a lot of hope in that regard. When it rains it absolutely freaking pours. All my fault, of course...I was completely oblivious to all these dates going by without notice or reminders. I could kick myself after all the work I have done...among other things.

At any rate, I finished the semester with 3 A's and a B...I earned an A on every single paper I had to write throughout my college experience with much praise and feedback. I'm rather proud I was able to come back from those dismal grades I did have earlier on. Especially proud about that stats grade as that wasn't an easy class either for me...and online to boot. Yuck. I haven't received my over all GPA due to not having finished the assessment but I figure it's around 3.4 or 3.5...nothing to sniff at but boy what a headache it has been. I don't recommend it at all. Lack of sleep alone is probably a big factor in why I am in the situation I am in...concentration levels were low throughout the semester and I seriously had to force myself to focus on each class...each assignment and exam...at THAT time...and then pretty much forget about it until the next exam or assignment. No way to get through college. Again... I don't recommend it.

And chemistry. Need I say more. My nemesis and a HUGE factor in why this semester has gone to shit in so many ways.

Also, I had no time to write on this blog because my brain was blank on anything but chemistry...with what brain cells I had left to focus on the other classes. To say I am exhausted is a serious understatement....but it's done...except for the assessment I guess. Who knows? Not me...it seems I have no freaking clue what is going on and boy do I make myself suffer from that ignorance.

Oh yeah...and I can't actually graduate until next May '13 as that is the only time they do graduation ceremonies...so I either stick around until then (I do not intend too) or I skip my actual graduation and miss the diploma being handed to me and wearing the cap and gown etc. They will mail it to me I assume...but maybe I better check on that too. Hmmm....when it rains it pours.

Other than that...I'm doing great.


Anonymous said...

hi coolred, i am a long time reader, ur big time admirer and the first time delurker on ur blog... ur struggle with chemistry struck a chord and i had to comment.

first of all, hats off to u for all the hard work u r doing managing work and studies.

Chemistry was (is) a nightmare to me. Whenever i would sit down to study i would always finish chemistry first just to get it out of the way. Paradoxically i got good marks (a perfect score actually) and to this day i don't know how!

Hard work pays and for all the amt u have put in, i am sure things will work out for u. maybe staying back till summer will open up some new opportunity for u(even though u can't spot it till now)... Best of Luck!

Coolred38 said...

Thank you for the positive comment...one question..where were you when I needed help with chemistry???? lol Im glad someone figured it out.

Yes, I agree, staying longer than I expected might just be the opportunity for something else to come along. You never know. I sure don't.

Anisah said...

Maybe you can come back for graduation? Unless you need to graduate before getting a job or another degree in your field. I know you have worked hard, working and taking classes while being a single mom. I admire you!


Anonymous said...

Fabulous Coolred. Well done. I haven't been to visit your blog for a long time and I am thrilled to read of your wonderful effort.
Good luck with your further journeys.

Susanne said...

Thanks for the update! I'm so sorry you had such a tough semester. No wonder you are exhausted. I hope you are able to get some rest now. Where do you want to go next? Somewhere completely different or just another town not too far away? I'm guessing far enough away that your cap and gown have to be mailed to you...duh! I'll be looking forward to more updates on your life. Best wishes always!

Anonymous said...

You got to admit this-- when you finally "got" a new concept in chemistry, it felt pretty good, huh?

I slaved over chemistry, too, and hated it, but not as much as I hated algebra.