Thursday, August 30, 2007

Times, They Are a Changin'

One of the big differences I have noticed between college ten years ago and today is the use of technology & multimedia. After all, I am typing this from a computer as I am waiting for class to begin! This week, I've watched UTube videos in class, almost every professor lectures using a projector, and everyone has access to computers (you don't have to go to the library anymore).

While I LOVE these changes (b/c I am a technology geek and visual learner), one thing is driving me nuts: the students will spend half of class time checking out their Facebook or MySpace pages while the professor is lecturing. I know the new generation is all about multi-tasking (heck, I am too!), but come on....there's no way they can actually be listening.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

I Don't Like To Be Wrong

Okay, so this isn't actually news for me. My nickname was "I Know" as a kid because whenever someone would start to explain something to me, I would interrupt with "I know...I know...." I'm a know-it-all smartie pants. I acknowledge this fault and embrace it. :)

Today, I was reminded just how much I hate to be wrong. I had three quizzes today. I actually prepared for two of them (except the second half of one which was unannounced and covering random current events). I failed to make 100% on any of these quizzes...and it bothers me to no end.

It doesn't matter that they were only worth a mere 10 points or so. It doesn't matter that no one made 100% in one of those classes. It doesn't matter that I was unaware of a reading assignment (as was half of my class) and went in completely unprepared. All that matters is that I didn't make 100%! I literally cringed each time I realized that I had missed a question. Likewise, I felt like jumping out of my seat & pumping my arms in celebration each time I answered correctly.

Why am I such a perfectionist? I swear, it's going to kill me someday. Man, it's tough being a know-it-all smartie pants.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Mental Health Days

One of my professors wants us to turn in any days that we plan to be absent this semester. That includes, but is not limited to: doctor's appointments, travel, mental health days or days we just want to skip for the heck of it. I think he's giving us approximately two skip days but expects us to be in class every session otherwise. We are supposed to turn in our "skip days" in advance so he can plan his schedule accordingly.

I think it's plenty generous of him to allow us "mental health days" (Lord knows I will need them!), but my skip days will be of the "unplanned" variety. You know: I'm puking, kids are puking, husband is puking, funeral, terrorist attack in my rural Midwestern town.... those kinds of days.

If someone knows what days these may arise, I need to know by 2 p.m. tomorrow so I can let my professor know. Thanks!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Class Is Now In Session

My first day of class came and went rather smoothly, though there were a few surprises along the way:

*I did finish Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows after all! I stayed up way too late to do so, but it is finished! Yay, me!

*The bookstore failed to mention to me that they only hold the books they pull for you until 4 p.m. on the first day of class...which was yesterday. Grrrrr.... I calmly (while gritting my teeth) walked back out to my car and pulled my own books in less than three minutes, thank you very much! Luckily, there were plenty of used books left.

*Turns out, by enrolling in one of my classes, I automatically become a reporter for the campus newspaper...and by enrolling in another, I automatically become an editor for the campus newspaper!

*I actually had time to eat lunch (being that on the first day of class it is a cardinal sin to keep students for the entire hour and fifteen minutes). I didn't try the cafeteria, but the food court was actually good. We don't have any of those fancy franchises in our food court, but I was able to enjoy a nice grilled chicken sandwich nonetheless. Choices and flavors have vastly improved since my first go around in college world.

*There were a lot of "getting to know you" exercises today (especially given that my major is Mass Communication). I told a girl in my first class that I had been out of college for ten years now and that it made me feel old to say it. She said, "you don't look old at all!" You've earned some serious bonus points, Missy! In my last class, I had struck up a budding friendship with a gal who asked me "Are you living in the dorms or commuting?" Bless you! A thousand blessings upon you! I thought it was a wonderful way to start and end my day.

*There is a good chance that I might write myself into oblivion this semester. News writing should be fine, but Advanced Composition is questionable. Things I now have to add to my to-do list: write a 10 page research paper, a 15 page paper to submit to an academic journal & a 60 page book. On the upside: there's not a lot of reading involved.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

On the Eve of Reentry

Tomorrow, I will be sitting in a desk for the first time in almost 10 years (well, at least a desk that is not exclusively my own).

I'll admit it: I have a few butterflies. I have also managed to give myself a headache. I originally wrote it off as a sinus problem but is more likely due to the list of incomplete projects I wanted to be finished by today.

One of my goals was to read the 6th (and final) Harry Potter book before school began (you one last recreational read before the mandatory stuff is piled on). Having only purchased the book late on the 24th, I can be pretty proud that I've managed to sneak in about 500 of the 740-something pages, but I didn't meet my deadline. Oh well...surely we won't be covered in homework on the first day (will we?).

There's a whole slew of household projects left unfinished, not to mention time consuming projects like digitally designing my children's scrapbooks (covering the past 2 years...yeah, I'm a little behind).

I don't know why I insist on pushing myself to have every "i" dotted and every "t" crossed. It's not as if life ends tomorrow. Right???? RIGHT?????

Beat the Rush

If you're not a freshman student, it's likely that there's no hand-holding for you throughout the college process. You're basically on your own to figure out when to be where and what you need to do before class begins. That can pose a problem for some of us who can't exactly remember all the details about the registration process.

I got lucky.

I was on-campus earlier this summer to finish my enrollment (basically to "seal the deal" before I could back out -- lol!), and I happened to be in the Registrar's Office when I overheard the lady "hand-holding" for an incoming true freshman. She explained where several key buildings are located, told her where she needed to go next (get her ID card made & pick up a parking sticker, neither of which my advisor mentioned to me) and, the best tip that I overheard that day: to go to the bookstore.

Evidentally, some university bookstores have been feeling the pressure from online retailers and resellers and are now trying to keep the cash at home. I went to my bookstore and they wrote down my schedule and will have all of my required books pulled and waiting for me when I arrive on campus this week. They will simply hand me a bill and a bag of books then I will calmly walk right out the door. I can tell you from experience, the bookstore can be brutal during the first week of school. There are plenty of long lines, students running around trying to find all their books, and cranky store employees. Whoever came up with this "pull the books in advance" idea was pure genius.

Honestly, every place on campus will be swamped and crazy during the first week of class. My advice: if it's not already too late, go take care of all the "little things" (ID's, parking stickers, books, any financial aid loose ends, etc.) before school starts. It will save a little bit of your sanity!

Monday, August 20, 2007

Backpack vs. Messenger Bag

Is this really a dilemma? I think I'm finding myself in the same old struggle that I had back in grade school. I want to be cool! I want to be in the "in" crowd! (Shouldn't I have outgrown this by now?).

Okay, I really don't want to be in the "in" crowd (what's the chances of a thirty year old Mommy being in the "in" crowd anyway?), but I don't want to be an old fuddy-duddy either. A messenger bag really appeals to me, but....I think sentimentality has won out.

I think I'll go with the navy blue, plain-jane but super-strong and functional JanSport backpack I purchased at the w-a-a-a-a-y overpriced university bookstore as a freshman. Just don't tell anyone how old it is. ; )

Sunday, August 19, 2007

"I Bet You'll Be The Oldest One in Your Class!"

"I bet you'll be the oldest one in your class," my sweet, eight year old daughter mentioned to me. She said it in a sort of "cool" tone as if being the oldest would actually be a good thing (I guess it is neat to be the oldest when you're in third grade). Bless her heart, she had no idea how often I've considered this possibility on my own already.

Actually, I doubt that I will be the oldest. According to some reports, adult learners are now becoming the majority on campus verses the traditional early 20's crowd. If I were still preparing to become a teacher, I think that I would be accompanied by a large amount of students older than myself, but now that I am a Mass Comm major..... who knows?

I'm not afraid of the college workload. I actually look forward to the challenge! I've always thrived in the classroom situation where I knew exactly what was expected of me and what was required in order to excel. The one thing that is constantly on my mind is how I perceived the older students in my classes when I was a 19/20 year old student.

I'll be honest: they were annoying. They answered all the questions and rambled on and on. It was as if they were trying hard to win the teacher's affection. I rolled my eyes many times when they began to speak in class. I would like to think that it was just the personalities of these particular adult students that I objected to (these women were apparently on the same track of classes as I was). Actually, I don't remember any other adult students who caused me to react in this manner.

Nonetheless, I think about my eye rolling and how I hoped not to get paired with the older students when we had group projects. I don't want to be on the receiving end of those kinds of feelings now that I'm the older student in class.

I wonder if I will try to restrain my natural inquisitiveness and desire to give my "two cents" during classroom discussion in fear of being labeled as one of the "old guys."

What was the real reason that I didn't want to be paired with the adults for group studies? Was it because they were stupid? Nope. It was because I knew they took class seriously, something I often did not. I was afraid they might actually want to meet after hours when all I wanted to do was to see my boyfriend or watch "Friends" on t.v. The real problem was that I wanted to do the bare minimum required of me.

So, I guess being labeled one of the "old guys" might not be too bad after all.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Who is "University Mama?"

Do you wanna hear the whole story?

I married while I was still a sophomore in college, but being the independent, strong-willed sort of female, I was determined to finish my studies nonetheless.

Life happens. My husband needed to jump-start his grad school studies so we moved to campus for a bit and I became the primary breadwinner for a year. When it was my turn to head back to school, I found out I was pregnant. Both my husband and I believed it was important for me to be a stay-at-home-mom when we had children, so we made a new plan: I would go back to college when all of our children were old enough to be attending school.

Turns out, this was a difficult plan for me to stick with. For several years, I felt that I had let myself and my dad down (I promised him that I would finish my degree since I was marrying so young). I also struggled because everyone I knew was defined by what they studied or what they did for a living and I felt left-out. I dabbled in a couple of internet classes along the way, but never jumped in whole-heartedly; I just didn't have the time or the energy (or the cash flow, to be honest). I did, however, start my own business later which did help with my mini identity crisis of sorts.

Looking back, I wouldn't change our "revised plan." I have enjoyed staying at home with my kiddos and I truly believe it has given them the best start they could have in life.

This fall I am enrolled full-time in a local unversity (by "local," I mean 60 miles away-yikes!) and I have changed my major from English Education to Mass Communications (something I never thought I would do). I'm nervous and excited as my class start date looms near.

I have created this blog to journal my experiences as an adult student retruning to the classroom after an almost 10 year absence. My hope is that other "univsersity Mamas" will join me on this adventure so that we can share our tips, stories, and frustrations and laugh together along the way!