Sunday, December 19, 2010

Class Is In Session

A while back I indicated that one of my goals was to reenroll in school and that I had started doing some research on colleges that offered degree programs in English that I could complete online. There were a handful of schools here in the Boston area I started with but many of them were a split of campus and online classes and that wasn’t going to work for me.

Its not that I’m lazy or don’t want to meet other people. The real reasons I like studying online truly fall into just two categories -- 1. class starts & ends whenever I want it to and 2. I don’t have to drive anywhere in the snow. Yes, I mean that second reason whole heartedly.

I really considered Salem State because they have an excellent English Lit BA with a track for an MA but I knew on snowy days (okay, this is Boston so probably even some not so snowy days) it would take me upwards of an hour each way to get to and from campus. Then add in the hours spent in class. Okay, but that’s just what happens when you go to college right? Wrong.

In the time it would take me to commute to and from, I could have completely finished another class if I was studying at home.

With that in mind I knew online was the way to go. Again. This foray into continuing my education would be the third try. But this time I’m doing what I truthfully should have done at age eighteen; I’m finishing a program that speaks to me and one I am passionate about. Unlike my last college experience.

I had started a program online with The Art Institute a whole bunch of years ago and to be fair the only reason I left the program is that I knew it wasn’t what I really wanted to be doing for a living. Interior Design, I quickly found, was loads more about politics and number than actual design.

Plus the hours I spent on school (up to and sometimes beyond forty a week and that was per class) made me question if that’s the kind of time I would have to spend per client because it wasn’t my first love and I had to really work for it to get it a lot of the time. Two clients a week and I would have been a puddle of goo.

Now I suppose it’s probably fair to point out that I am what most would call an uber overachiever. I have an innate fear of failure which keeps me motivated to forge on and throw myself one hundred and seventy percent into whatever it is I am doing. School was no exception and I was a 4.0 student because of it.

But the other thing about me is I also have instinctual intuition and I know when the exact second hits that I’ve stayed too long at the party. When I stopped caring if I got my work done, started completely fucking off and decided I would rather play and play all day instead of complete my class work, it was that moment to thank the hostess and bow out gracefully.

So I did and ever since I’ve been itching to go back.

In my sophomore year of high school I knew what I wanted to do. I was good at it (like I mentioned in the post about editing my friend’s paper; more on that in a minute) and really loved it but at age fifteen I had little, if any, self direction or discipline and without being the top of the pack or the bottom of the pack in school I kind of just faded into the very gray middle somewhere, unrecognized but also un-guided in my life path.

At some point in my life, and I really truly have no idea when it happened, I did a complete 180 from total slack-ass procrastinator to seriously over the top OCD overachiever perfectionist. So now that’s where I am today -- the land of striving for perfection, happy to be a geek, doing it all at once without the assistance of any good drugs (well, except caffeine in the mornings of course).

I found a school that really resonated with me and started researching them right away. Based in Iowa but offering a BA with a track to the MA online, fully accredited and well received from all I found when I Googled them, Ashford University is my new school.

And I already love them! My Academic Advisor is based out of San Diego and not only is he the most easy going guy, he’s really knowledgeable and helpful and he insists on being in touch a couple times a week during the first couple classes just to make sure I’m getting the hang of it all. The entire Administrative staff has been great so far and the application process as well as all that financial aid mumbo jumbo was super streamlined on their website. Unlike some of the other schools I looked into where the admission process seemed like it would be more difficult to figure out than the classes!

So starting on January 4, 2011 I’ll officially be a Bachelor of Arts, English major! (But we all know I’m going on for the Masters, I mean seriously…)

In the long run the degree will open up so many more worlds of opportunities to career paths I can pursue if I so choose (like teaching at the college level in many places, being an editor, etc) but the most important thing is that I will feel the sense of accomplishment that I’ve been longing for the past twenty five or so years. And it will ultimately help me when writing novels of course so that’s always a super bonus.

Oh yeah, and that paper of my friend’s that I helped her edit? Yeah, she got a 93 out of 100 so I guess I’m choosing my path well since clearly it was something I already excelled at. (High five for my friend getting an A!! Holla!!) The difference now is that I’ll just have a better handle on all those pronouns and will be able to prove it with that little piece of paper that reads ‘Graduated’.


KC McAuley said...

I'm so pumped for you. And I'm going to pay close attention to your progress. (I might have to go for the masters program myself. Another degree could be fun!)

Joan said...

Congratulations Jenn! Sounds like you are going to love it. My daughter's husband is getting his phd in English, at Brandeis. He loves what he does and it sounds like you have the same passion.
Happy Holidays to you!

pastrywitch said...

Go, Jenn! Go!

#1Nana said...

A great way to start the new year! At some time during your course of study I hope you find the time to do an internship within the field. Book learning is great, but the experience and connections you make during an internship can pave the way to real employment. Best of luck and best wishes for a happy holiday season.

Jenn Flynn-Shon said...

Thanks so much KC! You can't know what the support means to me my friend, its scary to try for the 3rd time and all encouragement is received with WIDE open arms. Keep us posted if you go back too! Yea!

Good for him Joan! Brandeis is a top notch school, he will not be disappointed with his prospects once he graduates. Thanks so much!

Thanks Speed Racer I tell ya!

That's definitely something I'm going to pursue in my third year Jann. I don't think the school has anything specifically geared for the online students for work study but I've thought about interning for a Publishing firm for a long time. But if you're not already in the industry or in school they turn you away! Can you believe that, free labor (well at least the few I researched...crazy!) Thanks for the encouragement and holiday wishes. I hope you have the most awesome Christmas too :-)

Karen said...

From what I've read in your blogs and on FB, I'd never have guessed you were an over-achiever ;)

Seriously, Jenn... this is great. I know you'll enjoy it and excel at it. Congratulations on what could be a life-changing decision!

Merry Christmas to you and Matt!

Suldog said...

Well (slightly premature) congratulations!

Rosebud Collection said...

Good for you..You know, I am a big believer in "goals"..I heard a priest say once.."It is never too late to start something good"..I never forgot those words and they fit so many things we do in life.
Wishing you the best..Now for the weather update..haha..right now rain, but that can be dangerous when it freezes..Hope our children can visit us this holiday..only an hour away, but the weather can ruin it ..
Wishing you a "Merry Christmas" and may God sprinkle blessings on you all..Sending love from Maine..

Linda Myers said...

Oh, congrats on your accomplishment. I'm taking an online course now, but I can procrastinate, which is not usually a trait of mine.

ginger said...

i don't know how you goal oriented types do all exhaust me. haha! i'm happy for you jenn. xoxo

Almost Precious said...

Great decision and one you will never regret.

It is hard to beat the convenience of online classes of course it probably works best for someone whose dedicated and has a good attention span (such as yourself) as opposed to someone with ADHD.