The University of Life

You know, when I enrolled at NC State almost 12 years ago (oh, it looks so much worse to put it in writing), I don't think anyone who knew me would have imagined that I would be in school (again) at almost 30. Of course, I don't think any of them would have imagined that I wouldn't have finished my freakin' undergrad degree yet either. I was, in a word, a nerd. I wasn't a geek and yes, there is a difference. In all honesty, I was a band nerd. The distinction? Geeks were in chorus. The same definitions may no longer apply, but that was how it worked where I went to school.

Anyway, most of my friends from back then are totally shocked that I didn't finish school. Honestly, I'm a little shocked myself. I had every intention of finishing, but I guess I let life take over and I didn't "stop the insanity" long enough to realize what was happening...until it was, how do you say, too late?

I know, I know, it's never too late to go back to school. Ha! That phrase is typically uttered by someone with endless funds, no family to support, all the free time in the world, or a combination of the three. Yes, techincally, it is never too late. But, as I approach 30 this year, I realize it gets much harder the older and more responsible you become.

I took the final step to begin classes again in the fall. I completed my FAFSA. (Hooray for the Internet...the FAFSA was a lot more time consuming back in the day. All the crappy forms and tons of writing in little boxes.) When that was finished, I actually registered for a couple of classes.

That may sound simple, but when you are trying to pick classes that count toward a major and are offered online or don't conflict with work, Abby's dance, Abby's gymnastics, Abby's swim lessons, Abby's church can get really tough to find a class or classes that fits into my (Abby's) schedule. I know as I get closer to finishing, I will have to allow school to overlap a few things. But, for now, I'd like to steer clear of disrupting Abby's schedule as much as possible. She shouldn't have to suffer because of my bad judgement over the past 12 year or so. (Ok, 11.5)

I am actually a little excited about going back to school, but terribly nervous at the same time. I've taken classes off and on over the past 5 years or so, but I never actually thought I'd be able to finish my undergrad. But, I've made that a goal of mine. Truthfully, I'll be happy if I can finish before Abby graduates high school...aim low! (She won't start kindergarten until 2009.)

A coworker asked me why I was even bothering at this point. Fair question. It's definitely not with the expectation that I will get a great promotion at work from it. That would have mattered more a few years back. Now, after being there for over 8 years, the degree wouldn't have much impact. For me, it's two-fold. First, I want to finish what I started. I started at NC State to earn a Poli Sci degree. I want the have the personal satisfaction that I did it, even if it took a little longer than the typical four years. Life-long education, right? Second, I want to set a good example for my daughter. I want her to see, from my example, that you shouldn't let other people get in the way of your goals or dreams. I realize that Abby really doesn't understand what I'm doing right now. But, as she gets older, I think she will grow to understand it more and more. Oh, and I guess there is a third reason - I wanna be able to look her in the face when she threatens to skip college and "be an adult" and tell her she NEEDS to finish college. The longer you wait, the harder it gets ('cause I would know).

I think my dream job would actually be to become a teacher. I'd love to teach social studies in middle school or civics/history at the high school level. But, I'm not really sure how realistic that would be by the time I finish school. I don't choose jobs based on the salary, but I also can't ignore the fact that I don't have wads of cash lying around because I simply make too much. I may have to settle for teaching part-time at the community college level or something. Hey, who knows? I may luck out a win the lottery and then I can get a job doing pretty much anything I want, right?

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