Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The College Story

I finished my degree!!

Ah, it's been a long time coming... I originally went to college (Moody Bible Institute in Chicago) after high school. After a year and a half, for many reasons (some which I was realized at the time, some not until later), I moved back home. I worked as both a camp and a church secretary, and was perfectly happy in my life. I never really considered going back. Who needs college when a husband and babies were all that was needed?

Fast forward a couple years. I met Jon. It was only because of his encouragement I ever even considered going back, but honestly, it still didn't really excite me. After that first deployment, we lived in Georgia for a few months while Jon was still in the Guard, and I taught at a small Christian school. I absolutely loved it... which made me realize that maybe finishing my degree wouldn't be such a bad idea after all.

We moved down to Ft. Stewart in January of 2007, and I promptly began classes. I took one in-seat, and one online. I very much remember leaving that first day for class. It was January 8 (both my sister-in-law's and my brother-in-law's birthday, so it's a memorable date), and I pulled out of our driveway in our black Ford Ranger. Jon stood in the driveway and waved as I drove away. I think I cried.

To be honest, even then, I didn't think I'd finish. I thought it would be really great to "work on" my degree... until we had kids... at which time it would just... sorta... "go away"...

After that first term (my school has 8-week terms, not 16-week semesters), I only took one class at a time (always online). Looking back, I really wish I would have done more before kids!! I was working, but it was only minimal hours... I really could have done more. I think I just didn't want to invest too much.

That December, I had Sophie. Actually, I had her the week of finals... I had to get an extension since she surprised us early! I took one term off, and that March (while Jon was deployed), for some unknown reason, I registered for classes... once again, TWO classes. That was fine... until, once again, finals week. It just so happened that I closed on our house, moved, and had both finals all in the same week. With a 5 month old. And no husband at home.

I vowed never to take more than one class at a time again.

But, I kept registering. I took another term off when we moved to Huntsville, then I met with the adviser here. I had been working toward a degree in sociology. She pointed out that, with my transfer credits mostly counting as electives, I would end up having to take more credits to get in all the classes I needed. On the other hand, if I were to switch to a BA in Interdisciplinary Studies, they could count ALL my electives... plus, I wouldn't have to take those nasty stats and research classes! :-)

I think that's when I began seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. She showed me how I could CLEP out of more credits than I had thought, and take a few more electives to fulfill all my credits. So I took two classes, then another two terms off to have Ransom.

In that time, I took two CLEPs, worth 6 credits each - one of them was History and Social Sciences, which wasn't much of a sweat for me. The other one, though, was Natural Sciences. I haven't taken a science class since 10th grade biology, which I quite literally slept through. I have NEVER liked science.

I got a couple study guides, and went to work. Uh... it was like Greek. Mitochondria? Nucleus? Lunar Phase? Atomic Mass? These were all words I had heard of, but the study guides assumed I already knew what they meant! Way over my head. I had to literally Google things like "what is a cell" and "what is an atom." I can analyze a social situation and tell you what classical and contemporary social theories apply... but atomic mass? Not so much.

I studied. HARD. For about 3 weeks. After the test, I nervously awaited my score. I passed!!

So, this term - my last - I got special permission to overload: take 3 classes. I have to admit, I have enjoyed the classes this term more than any others I've ever taken. Columbia now offers a Human Services major, and if they would have 3 years ago, that's what I would have done! So I rounded out my electives with courses from that degree, which I loved.

All that left was one more CLEP: Intro to Computers. I actually took the DSST version, as either would have counted, and I have read that one was easier! :-) Wanting to get it over with, I've studied the last few days...

And now, I'M DONE!

I have literally laid in bed at night and daydreamed about what it would be like to be completely done. I can't count how many times I wanted to give up, how many times I cried to Jon that I was just "done." But I am so glad I finished. In the last 3 years since I went back, we've moved 3 times, had 2 kids, and gone through a deployment. It's been hard - but life won't get less busy! Though I don't plan on going back to work for several years (at least until the kids are in school), I'm glad this box is checked. Because my BA isn't in a specific field, I very well may go back (in a decade or so!) and get my Master's. A BA will just open up a lot of doors - I'm realizing there are many jobs that you just have to have *A* degree - regardless of what it's in. We shall see. Right now, I'm just looking forward to spending more time with my kids! :-)

If you've actually read all this, thanks. Sometimes when I write, I go back through and delete things to keep it short enough to maintain interest. Today's post was more for my benefit I think. It's good to remember what I went through to get here.

And now, I'm done....

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Black Hawk Down

Last week we went to the Garrison Prayer Luncheon. These things are all basically the same - a bunch of people go to the Officer's Club to nicely decorated tables, there are some prayers, some Scripture passages read, special music, a buffet dinner, and a speaker. I've probably been to a dozen of them.

Last week's was pretty cool though. Sometimes the speakers are interesting, sometimes not so much. Mike Durant happened to be the speaker at this one. You've not heard of him? Yeah, me either...

But what I had heard of was Black Hawk Down (though I've never actually seen it... I don't tend to enjoy war movies...). He was the real pilot that movie was based on. He didn't have anything extraordinary to say, but I appreciated the fact that he's willing to talk about his experiences. He spoke of how he dealt with the aftermath of what had happened in Somalia, and that, in addition to physical, emotional, and mental well-being, he had to focus on the spiritual.

On another note, when we first got there, the chaplain in charge mentioned he needed to find someone to read scripture, as the lady who was going to couldn't make it. I said, "Oh, I'll do it." Totally not a big deal. Jon & I were talking later about how, as pastors' kids, we're used to jumping in. I have played more than one offertory on a moment's notice!

In other news, we're crossing things off our to-do list for the move - we even sold the boat a couple weeks ago! It will be here before we know it!