Wednesday, December 31, 2008


With the new year around the corner, people are busy posting flashbacks or countdowns. I decided to combine the two! Here's a look back at University Mama's

ten+ new friends made

nine dollars per week spent on caffeinated products

eight a.m. daily departure (thank heavens for no 8 a.m. classes!)

seven textbooks that I bought but probably could have lived without

six hours of commuting per week

five hours straight spent sitting in a desk at school, three times a week

four-point-oh G.P.A.

three back-to-back semesters

two large notebooks full of class notes

If you are contemplating become a non-traditional university student in 2009 but think that finishing a college degree would take f-o-r-e-v-e-r, don't sweat it. Everybody knows that time flies in the "real world," but once a year is divided into semesters, it really flies. I speak from experience. I once thought dedicating two years to finishing a degree was an absurd reality, but here I am, wondering where time went.

You CAN do it. Write down "finish my degree" as one of your new year's resolutions today, then start taking the steps toward making your dreams a reality tomorrow!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Finish Line

I crossed the finish line today.

This morning I took my last final. Barring any unforeseen circumstances, I am finally an educated woman with a bachelor's degree in Communication Arts (Mass Communications).

I'm not going to lie: driving away from campus was pretty emotional for me. For the past year and a half, "college student" has been a large part of defining who I am. It also doesn't help that I'm a total "school nerd" (I love learning, homework, making the President's list--the whole bit). Of course, part of the emotion I felt was relief and accomplishment.

I'm still uncertain about the path that lies ahead, but I know that I am a better person for having run the race, especially since I've had my eyes on the prize for thirteen years!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

The End Times

Slowly, but surely, I'm coming to accept that the end of college life. People keep sharing their congratulations and well wishes with me (the winter graduate list was recently printed in the newspaper), my mom sent me a cute "Class of 2008" graduation ornament for my tree (thanks, mom!) and my sister dropped off a very generous graduation gift tonight (thanks, sis!).

The strangest thing for me to have right now is TIME. This afternoon, I napped just for the heck of it. I surfed the internet aimlessly. I ate too many chocolate chip cookies just because I had time. My Christmas shopping is complete, I have wrapped up all my photo sessions for the year and I'm starting to regain some kind of control over my household affairs. So, for the first time in a while, I have time to waste! Granted, some of my "free time" will be used for studying in the next couple of days, but it is a strange and somewhat terrifying/liberating feeling to have time on my hands.

The world is my oyster!

Friday, December 12, 2008

The Journey Back to Normalcy

Today, I turned in the work for my guided study class and took two of my five finals. Afterwards, I joined my hubby (who graciously drove me to school, allowing me to get some last minute studying done) for lunch at a great Mexican restaurant followed by Christmas shopping. We were even able to get many of our Christmas gifts wrapped before we picked up the kids. This evening, the girls and I did a 15-minute cleaning marathon and managed to knock out the clutter and chaos that has been driving me insane in our living room and dining room (it's really amazing how much can be done in 15 minutes). My oldest daughter and I braved the cold for a while and tried to get a good photo of the moon which is looking especially mysterious tonight. Now, I'm in my pj's and getting ready to join my daughters for an encore presentation of Samantha--An American Girl Holiday movie.

I feel very accomplished today, not in the "hey, I'm somebody" way but in a "wow, I got a lot done" way. I'm starting to feel normal again, like I can actually handle the day-to-day things that I've neglected in favor of projects and study guides and late nights in front of the computer.

Honestly, I've kind of dreading the return to normalcy, but right now, it feels just right.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Finals Stress

I got up early this morning with the intentions of devoting most of my day to studying for tomorrow's finals. It's now 8 p.m. and I still have not cracked a single study guide or book. Things like last-minute photo editing (things that had to be ordered today before the Christmas shipping cut-off), a daughter's orthodontic appointment and a quick trip to the dreaded department store ended up being the major time suckers. I just spent the past hour trying to wrap up the final chapter in my guided study class only to find that my software program is too updated for the book I'm using (which means I will have to spend some time in the lab tomorrow--ugh!). I'm trying not to stress out, but I do admit to feeling slightly panicky. Mostly, I'm just bummed that there is a lo-o-o-o-ng night ahead of me. Bummer.

Maybe a trip down memory lane will help. Remember this jewel of a poem: 'Twas the Night Before Finals?

'Twas the night before finals,
And all through the college,
The students were praying,
For last minute knowledge.

Most were quite sleepy,
But none touched their beds,
While visions of essays
Danced in their heads.

Out of the taverns
A few were still drinking,
And hoping that liquor
Would loosen their thinking.

In my apartment,
I had been pacing,
And dreading exams,
I soon would be facing.

My roommate was speechless
Her nose in the books
And my comments to her
Drew unfriendly looks.

I drained all the coffee
And brewed a new pot,
No longer caring
That my nerves were shot.

I started at my notes,
But my thoughts were muddy,
My eyes were ablur,
I just couldn't study.

"Some pizza might help,"
I said with a shiver.
But each place I called
Refused to deliver.

I'd nearly concluded
That life was too cruel,
With futures depending
On grades had in school.

When all of the sudden,
Our door opened wide,
And Patron Saint Put It Off Ambled inside.

His spirit was careless,
His manner was mellow,
A grin on his face as
He started to bellow:

"What kind of student
Would make such a fuss,
To toss back at teachers
What they tossed at us?"

"On Cliff Notes! On Crib Notes! On Last Year's Exams!
On Wingit and Slingit, And Last Minute Crams!"

His message delivered,
He vanished from sight,
But we heard him laughing
Outside in the night.

"Your teachers have pegged you,
So just do your best.
Happy Finals to all,
And to all, a good test."

To all a good test indeed.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

What I Love About College (& Will Miss the Most)

Lately, the classroom conversations have been about one thing: enrollment and the upcoming spring semester.

"Did you get into that class?"

"Do you like that professor? Is he hard?"

"Will this class meet the requirement for my major?"


It's making me get all sentimental and emotional. Okay, maybe I haven't shed any tears, but it does feel odd not to be enrolling. It is weird to see all the requirements "zero-ed" out on my degree requirement checklist. It feels strange to know that all the students and professors that I have come to know and enjoy will no longer be a part of my life come mid-December.

If I were to pull a "David Letterman" and make a top ten list of things I will miss most about university life, it would probably be...

10. Discounts. I don't get to take advantage of them quite enough, but it's a great feeling to be able to get into a theatre production for free or save a buck at the movie theatre simply by whipping out a college I.D.

9. Ham & Cheese Sandwiches at the Market. I'm probably the only one on campus that likes these (I mean, it's only ham, cheese, and rye bread), but I do! Maybe it's not-so-much the food as the much needed break between class.

8. Wearing my "Good" Clothes. I've been a stay-at-home mom for ten years and my uniform of choice has often been "whatever's comfortable." Jeans and tees or hoodies are staples in my closet. Sure, I don these for campus life too, but I'm more motivated to put on my "cute clothes" when I'm hanging out with a bunch of 19 & 20-year-old girls for some reason. If I continue working from home, I may just continue the tradition of wearing my "good" clothes, just for kicks and self-esteem...maybe.

7. Listening to Morning Edition on NPR. I used to only relate NPR to those totally hilarious skits on Saturday Night Live, but now I am a total addict. It makes the drive to school so much shorter and allows me to get caught up on important news in what I feel is less biased and definitely less stressful than watching broadcast news. I mean, come could you get upset about plummeting market conditions while Mozart is playing softly in the background? I totally accept my new found state of nerdness.

6. Interesting Conversation. Most people in my household aren't really interested in journalism or issues therein. So, if I want to have any interesting conversations or debates about the field, I must meet-up with like minded people. Granted, not all college students get on fire for stimulating conversation, but some do.

5. Grades. Yes, grades. Being the over-achiever that I am, I have taken great pride in the fact that I would have had a perfect 4.0 GPA since going back to school had it not been for one measly "B" (darn you, Biology!!!). Sure, I have some real issues with perfectionism that I need to tackle, but I ask you: what feels better than getting a good grade? It's like a subliminal pat on the back!

4. Red Bull Energy Drinks. Now that I'm not going to be trying to cram homework, motherhood, and a "real" job into 24 little hours, I should be able to refrain myself from indulging in so much Red Bull. At one point, I could have just hooked up an IV of the stuff for simplicity's sake.

3. Leaving my Home. I primarily work from home and it's likely that I will continue to do so after graduation. Sometimes, the walls feel as if they are caving in on me and the only thing that makes me feel better is getting out of the house...even if it's for a short walk to the mailbox. I really like how my school schedule mandates that I get out for some fresh air and actual human contact regularly.

2. The Commute. Actually, I look forward to skipping the 120 mile round-trip daily excursion, but I'm not being entirely contradictory. While I hate trying to stay awake for a long drive home after an exhausting day at school, I really enjoy taking in the scenery along the way. The mornings are an especially beautiful time when the sun is just peeking through and wildlife is wandering about. I'll miss watching the clouds and the multi-colored sky.

1. Students. I really love my classmates and have developed some friendships along the way. I mean, how could I not love them when they say things like, "you don't look 31" or "I thought you were like 24 and just had kids when you were really young," etc... They tell me their troubles & I sympathize remembering when I, too, had "been there, done that." We share stress and misery and occasionally food in an effort to rid ourselves of the former. We also have a lot of fun together, joking, sharing goofy YouTube videos, chit-chatting about our favorite television series, etc. It's safe to say, of all the things I will miss about college life, I will definitely miss the laughter I've shared with my classmates.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

When the Best Laid Plans Go Astray

The plan: spend all weekend in stretchy pants wearing no makeup and looking too scary to leave the house, thus propelling myself to sit in front of the computer for hours and complete the projects for my guided study which are due on Friday.

The reality: I brought my book home, but left my project CD (I'm creating projects from graphics & photos that are on the CD that came with my textbook) & my USB drive at school. School is 60 miles away. Professor is out of town, thus unable to unlock the computer lab where all my goodies are located.

The back-up plan: I don't have one! I'm really stressed out about all this. I spent over an hour working on one project yesterday; they are pretty time intensive. I have somewhere around 12 projects do the math.

On one hand, I feel kind of liberated from the school shackles that I had planned to be wearing. Suddenly, I have a weekend of nothingness to look forward to. That mean I can tackle mountains of laundry or do some online Christmas shopping or work on editing a last batch of photos.

On the other hand, I'm restraining panic right now. I HAVE to complete this project or I won't graduate! If worse comes to worse, I will sacrifice my 4.0 GPA this semester on the alter of "getting it done" and just turn in enough to pass satisfactorily....but it won't make me a very happy girl.

Deep breaths...deep breaths....I think I can handle this.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Crunch Time

I'm tired. I'm stressed. I'm anxious. I'm worried. I'm excited. I'm exhausted. I'm working like a madwoman. I'm sad. I'm drained....

...but I'm almost a college graduate.