I’ve made some crazy decisions in my life.
In the late 1970s, 1 month after graduating from high school, I made the brilliant decision to use what little money my parents had put aside for my college education, to get married. Brilliant. That decision alone should have made it clear to me that I needed more education, but it’s as if Life knew I wasn’t ready to learn that way. The marriage lasted 9 months, luckily the lesson lasted a lot longer.
As time went by, I knew I should go back and get that degree, but once again, Life had other plans. Divorces. Weddings. Kids. Jobs. I knew deep down, that I wanted to be a writer, so I took jobs to pay the bills, ever optimistic that I’d have time to either write the great American novel, or go back to school, some day….
I have to admit, that while I never did find that extra time or money to finish my education, I did write occasionally, and I actually did pretty well on the job front for a girl with a high school education. Assistant Manager for a finance company, Human Resources Assistant at the regional level of a national firm, Executive Assistant to a whole cast of characters, and everything from Board President, to Secretary, to seamstress on the volunteer level. I have a fabulous 25-years-and-counting marriage, we raised three kids who couldn’t be more different, or more brilliant, and who are all following their own passions. Now, after almost 40 years of deferring my dream, I think maybe Life is ready to let me take some me time. At least some part-time me time.
So I made another crazy decision, this time, to actually return to school as a non-traditional student. I applied to my local university, requested the transcripts for the 12 hours of college credits I was able to eek out in the 90s, and it all came together within the space of a week. I was feeling pretty clever. Then I spent a month waiting for itinerant archeologists to unearth my high school transcripts from the ancient tombs of the 70s where they apparently had been buried. But, finally, once everything, even the dreaded FAFSA was in place, I arrived at my appointment with my advisor, my ponderous chain of professional experience, and self taught accomplishments draped around me like Jacob Marley’s.
My advisor, the Chair of the English department, after first regaling me with his own scholarly if not cliche journey (fueled by coffee, 2 hours of sleep a night, barefoot, uphill in the snow both ways) was nonplussed with my uncredited learnings forged link by link in the school of hard knocks. Apparently, one does not simply walk into the Master of Fine Arts with Writing Emphasis program unless armed with 40 additional hours of required credits. 40 hours. At two classes per semester. That will take up all the years I have left! Oh, and also, in order to atone for my inability to pass a math class (35 years ago), I need to take a test on basic, algebra and college math to assess my level. If I can’t pass that, I’ll have to add a math class to those 40 credits. Great. This is hilarious. It isn’t bad enough that I’ll be in classes with students who could be my grandkids, but now I’ve got to relive the nightmare of algebraic equations, and pythagorean theories? Oh hell no!
Eventually though, I acquiesced. I signed up for the test, and I found my two first classes – Speech Communication on Mondays and Wednesdays; and Minnesota State & Local Government on Tuesdays and Thursdays. 90 minutes, 4 days a week – it can’t be that bad can it?
At 56, do I really know what I am getting into? Will I finally pass the math test? Can I fit in with this oh so youthful crowd? Can I re-learn to study and write papers? Well, we shall see. When I am not cramming for a test, or researching a paper, I’ve decided to keep you posted on my rollicking journey through the hallowed halls of higher education. Now that’s a decision I can live with!