|My stole and cord--Ready and waiting|
I am supposed to be working on a final paper that I will turn in on Monday—the date of my last final exam. Instead, I am flipping through the web—random searches for news, Christmas gifts, homes in the area that are for sale…. I am putting off the paper. Why? I just arrived home from Chico and I am feeling a little dreamy. There is nothing else for me to do but to write and write and write and write….
I am scheduled to graduate on the 16th of this month, at the Golden One Center downtown where I will wear a black mortarboard and gown and a gold tassel. Monday is officially my last day of school at Sac State (CSU Sacramento) and I am feeling a little exhausted—and sad that I am leaving such an incredible place. Tonight, I found myself writing this—a blog about random numbers that relate to graduating with a bachelor’s degree at 54.
120: Academic Units required to graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in English degree—
I have 122.
19: Maximum Number of units I have taken in one semester—
In my final semester at American River, I powered through five classes—one of them was six units, another was four (the average class is 3 units). Three of these classes were honors classes, which meant more writing and a greater demand for class participation. For every unit, the student is advised to reserve two hours of independent study per week. 21 units=42 hours per week of study. You can see why students are considered to have a full-time job. This semester I had a pleasant 18 units—all English classes with the best professors.
3: Years of my life it has taken to do this—
At 52 I returned to college. I completed one semester of college when I was eighteen—right out of high school (1981). I hated college back then. It was lonely and hard work. No one knew who I was—or cared. When I returned at 52, I found the same loneliness on campus. Don’t misunderstand me—there are plenty of people and I have made plenty of friends, but it became obvious very quickly that each student is on a separate journey. Unless you belong to a club or involved in a group project, students don’t really have a sense of shared purpose. I had to remind myself that I was part of a family, a church, a marriage that valued what I was doing. This way, I did not lose hope in the journey, which can be very lonely at times.
3: Average hours per day spent in the library or Learning Resource Center
Best place to study at ARC? The Learning Resource Center. Best place at Sac State? The library. I grew attached to the community of nerds that hung out in both places, typing away or researching on the AMAZING databases we got access to with the price of tuition. Sac State’s library is so amazing—I have never seen its equal—and I’ve been all over the world and visited many libraries. I like the NYC Public Library in Manhattan, but I like Sac State’s even more…
2 and 2: Number of Analytical Math and Science Classes I had to take—
I am an ENGLISH MAJOR—a writer who knows how to BS her way through most subjects—until it comes to math and science. I took Geology (which loved) and then I took Biology (which I thought was the study of life but turned out to be the study of life systems and microbiology)—both in the summer where I got to sweat it out in summer classrooms for at least three hours a day. The focus helped. I had to pass Statistics –but ARC had a wonderful class called STATway—which is the hardest class I have ever taken in my whole life! Yikes! Thank God for my gifted, talented, and very sympathetic professors. They genuinely wanted to help me—I genuinely wanted to learn. Every single student who graduates with a bachelor’s degree has to satisfy the compulsory general education requirement to show you have at least a working knowledge of science and math. Ask me the odds that most students will forget what they learned.
550: Dollars I spent on parking passes—
Forget books and tuition, parking is expensive for students—and a pain in the butt. Everybody complains about parking; everyone has to do it. In my last semester at Sac State, the campus was at sixes and sevens because they were building two additional parking garages. Just in time for me to leave.
4: Number of rolling backpacks I bought—
Take my advice, if you return to school and plan to lug around books for as many classes as I took (I averaged 15 units per semester), INVEST in a good rolling backpack. My first two were actually rolling computer bags, but those things are meant for business people carrying a computer from the car to the office. I went through those wheels like a 14-year-old acne-faced skateboarder—and found that a rolling backpack was the ticket. My latest one is on its last legs, but it was a trooper: a black JWorld New York.
5: Average number of times I cried my eyes out in total frustration per semester—
This can’t be due tomorrow! I didn’t get published in Lit Mag again! I won’t be able to attend a friend’s wedding because I can’t dig myself out of my massive amounts of homework! This professor hates me! I talk too much!
You get it. Three weeks before the end of the semester is high stress, and I –like many of my fellow students—panic with the amount of work that has to be done in those last crucial weeks. I think this semester has been the calmest—maybe because I expected the overload.
1 guy who got me through this—my husband.
Without a doubt, I could not have done this without Mario. Then again, that goes for most of my endeavors. I cannot imagine anyone doing this while working full time or with a partner that does not support them. It is a hard business that requires intense focus. If your partner is not on board, it is virtually impossible to succeed. I had all the support in the world from Mario—and it shows.