The Longest, Hardest Semester Is Over

I wrapped up my 17-hour semester and the grades have been rolling in for the courses lately. To my amazement, I landed a 79.99% “B” in Spanish I and was registered for Spanish II for Spring. While I didn’t manage to get a 4.0 (or even a single “A”) this semester, I’m more than happy with my grades considering running my business for countless hours and working on homework every weekend.

I can tell how busy I was by how much “free time” I seem to have now – it’s ridiculous, really. When Kristin goes to bed, I don’t have to work because I was at school during the day. When the weekend rolls around, we can go shopping or just lay around watching TV and deciding what to eat next without working on Spanish or some other online deadline.

I’m on my way to the advisor today to see what I can do for my final elective. The exit requirement sheets are so darn confusing, it’s better to go see an advisor and get into the right class without any surprises when I apply to graduate in a few weeks.

HS-graduationDid I just say “apply to graduate!?” It’s been a long road since this high school graduation pic was taken in 1997: in the last decade/century/millennium. The road started out promising: full-ride scholarship plus books to any state school and got accepted both to USF and the Honors College. Something just wasn’t clicking right in my brain and it took too long to realize that college students actually have to study to get good grades (at least when they’re 18). I quickly lost my scholarship and had to get a job, and another, and another. Going back to school wasn’t really an option when I needed to provide my own health insurance and things just seemed too busy to go to school and work. I had no idea how anyone could do both.

A few years later, some friends of the family made me an offer I couldn’t refuse. I was pretty close to having my A.A. and the offer was for a 50% scholarship to finish my 2yr degree at community college. I finished in 3 or 4 semesters while working during the day after all.

Love and marriage kept things going pretty easy in my life by having a partner to share the load of day to day living and I kept plugging away at my 4yr degree with the school assistance program at work. I got something like 7 out of 8 classes with an “A” and got those all reimbursed. When I left that job, I was on my own for school again and had to take the summer off. We hit classes hard this semester with the goal of walking in May 2010.

After meeting with my advisor, it was going to take 17 hours (including Spanish I) for the Fall and 14 hours (including Spanish II) in the Spring. No slips. No D’s. No vacations. No hospitalizations. Hardcore school all the way for the next 30 weeks with 4 relaxing weeks in the middle. Time to get my USF diploma on the wall next to Kristin’s to make for 2 HCC diplomas and 2 USF diplomas in the house.

Here we are in the middle – to be continued…

Work Smarter, Not Harder

I’m sitting here in my Modern European Novel class listening to person after person whine and complain about how hard James Joyce’s Ulysses is so far. We made it all of the way through Flaubert’s Madame Bovary already, and they haven’t figured out the biggest characteristic of our professor: he likes to tell you EXACTLY what you need to know for the study guides and exams.

This is my second course with this professor, so I came in knowing this about him, but now they have no excuse. For my Summer semester British Lit 1900-1945 class, I started reading the first story and realized that he just stands up there and talks about every important paragraph, sentence, motif, character, and author style that we need to know. Why read the stinking books? I have a life, and a busy one at that. I’m not going to waste my time reading the thing if I’m just going to be spoonfed directly from the maker of the exams.

So, for 13 weeks, two nights per week, 4 hours per night, I sat there and worked on websites and recorded his lecture while taking sparse notes and got an A-. I have no plans on changing my tactics this semester, and I am not sure why no one else can see this pattern after three 3-hour classes with him. These are juniors and seniors with 100+ credit hours. Can’t they see a free ride when they get one? As long as you can write coherent sentences and regurgitate his major points, you score easy points.

That’s all I have for now… gotta load up Word and get the notes file ready for class.

Biting Off More Than I Can Chew

It seemed like a good idea at the time: take 12 hours of classes this summer because they are short semesters and one of them is online. After my first week of summer session, that’s not such a wise thing after all.

Taking that courseload was going to be a sacrifice, and we knew that, but until you take that sacrifice for a test drive, it’s just not possible to get the full effect of what the next 15 weeks were going to be like. This week went like this:

  • Left home at 6:15am Monday, got off at 3:00, got my books, ate dinner, arrived at school, and got home at 9:30pm.
  • Left home at 6:15am Tuesday, got off at 3:00, ate dinner, arrived at school, and got home at 9:20pm.
  • Left home at 6:30am (pretty tired) Wednesday, got off at 3:00, ate dinner, arrived at school, and got home at 9:20pm.
  • Went back to bed to sleep until the last minute and left in a rush at 6:30, got to my desk, logged into the USF website, and dropped my Monday/Wednesday class.

I feel much better now that I’ve done that. I was missing our small group on Mondays, putting in too many hours away from home, spending extra money on gas and eating out, and I could see that for the next 15 weeks I was going to be doing a pretty “average” job at everything and leaving loose ends everywhere.

I can’t operate like that. My plate needs to be full, but I need to be able to clear it on a whim in case other stuff (especially paying stuff) comes up. Nothing like someone saying they want to pay you $1,000 to do something that takes a few evenings to do, but not be able to commit to doing it, right?

So, I’m still taking one online class and one on-campus class each semester session this summer with a 3 week overlap for the two campus classes. Not too bad. Life just got simpler.

To Post, or Not to Post? Seriously, That’s the Question.

I hope hope most of you are aware that I’m a non-fiction writing major at the University of South Florida (go Bulls!) and wrapping up my Junior year this Fall. Good, because I am getting tired of typing out Professional and Technical Writing so many times.

One of the benefits of so many literature and writing courses is producing writing material. I’m checking to see if there is any interest in checking out my work and using it as bonus content on the blog to defer some content to other days. That said, here is a sample of my last paper for Expository Writing, which earned a 96%, and I know there are two typos in it to take care of before posting the entire thing. Here goes nothing:

Boob Tube or YouTube?
Technology has a way of shaking things up from time to time. The staple of the music industry for decades was the vinyl record, which gave way to CDs, which have been left on dusty shelves since the advent of online music sales. No one wants to buy an entire CD of second-rate songs when they only want the one smash hit to listen to until they can sing it backwards. The next big revolution is targeting television and the way we watch programming. Why would anyone want to sit in front of the TV with all of its commercials and drawn-out programming?