Thursday, October 21, 2010

Back to School

I haven't talked about this much yet, but I imagine I should just get it out of the way. It's likely to make a semi-regular appearance here.

I was accepted to university after much "oooh we dunno, it depends on the budget" crap. I found out about the green light three weeks ago.


A bit of history:

I can't say my mom encouraged my brother and I to go to college. It was expected. It was beaten into our heads. We would go because she didn't and look at what happens? Nothing, right.

I didn't think much about where I'd go specifically until prooobably my junior or senior year of high school. I was a good student, I tried, but not to my potential. Also, I was a fairly talented manipulator. A quiet, well-mannered girl wants an extra day or two to turn this in? Okay! I still dunno how I got away with not doing the frog unit in biology and still getting the credits. It wasn't a matter of ethics or anything, I just...I don't know. I didn't want to do it and the teacher was a bit of a dope, so I wiggled my way out of it somehow.

My GPA wasn't bad at all (3.5+) but I had this inflated idea of what it really was in my head what with my English honors and AP courses, my French 3 Honors class, etc. Someone who should've known better actually allowed me to think I had a chance at Salutatorian. I didn't, of course. I didn't give honors or AP classes any thought until my sophomore year English teacher told me I was talented and really smart, worth so much more--and then recommended me for the junior English honors course (which I LOVED). I can't remember anyone ever really telling me those things or thinking those things about me before. I'd always loved English, writing, but never really considered it as something to pursue. Not that I had considered much--except for maybe working for Walt Disney one day drawing for his movies. Hahahaha. Oh, technology. But seriously, I liked to draw as a kid. Pretty good, too.

So I had a bit of a late start as far as giving enough of a shit. I was smart, my family said. Maybe not as smart as my brother, of course, who had completed Algebra I by the eighth grade, but smart. Mostly street smart. Got As, but yanno. Didn't get the computer, didn't know how to work a VCR by age 6, that sort of thing. He was smart, I was a smart-ass.

But I knew college was on the horizon. And I knew I lovedloved Santa Cruz. So I took a tour of UCSC and omg fell in love. It's a beautiful, gorgeous, outstanding campus--some buildings literally bestow upon its students a view of the ocean. Other classes are smack dab in the middle of towering Redwoods. It's an extremely liberal campus as well (i was a bit of a liberal teen) with its own dormitories for GBLTQ students and the like.

I could forgive that its mascot was a fricken banana slug. It had a fantastic English/creative writing program! Oh!

But, you know. It's a University of California. They kinda wanted good grades. Fantastic SAT scores. ACT. Extra-curriculars. You get the idea. I swept all reality aside and grabbed the appropriate papers and brochures and had wet dreams at night over going to this university.

3.5 GPA is good, but I don't remember if it was good enough. Again, I didn't give a shit until it was too late. I didn't know that my efforts weren't enough, and like many teens just wasn't motivated until it was too late.

Then I took the SAT and BOMBED the motherfucker. Seriously. I'm ashamed even now to disclose my score of which I've pretty much erased from memory. I do know I scored above a 1000 but not a hell of a lot higher. It was that bad, y'all. I should pat myself on the back for at least getting my name correct.

I think I did acceptably well on the ACT, but don't ask me what my score was. 24? 26? 27? I dunno. Maybe my memory of "acceptable" is just me comforting myself after an abysmal performance on the SAT.

I still don't understand these scores. I don't believe I'm dumb or that I ever was, so really? REALLY? Why didn't I retake the tests? I DON'T KNOW. I think by the time I got my score I had pretty much decided I wasn't going anywhere but the community college. I wasn't even sure the university I'm attending now would take me with that score. I didn't even bother looking into it. I just gave up.

My only consolation was that I'd attend the CC that my peers wouldn't attend. I wanted nothing to do with them after having grown up with them. Small town + nerdy rep + 12 years = suckfest.

So I signed up at the CC under the guise of "transferring to UCSC in two years." After the initial placement test, I was lauded as totally smart (this is not far away from said pre-columbine "everyone reads!" high school). I qualified for the equivalent of Algebra I and they were seriously impressed. I shrugged. My first semester at college was basically my senior year of high school replayed. I still got a C in science.

Then I met Squeaky, joined the church, couldn't figure out what the fuck I was going to do for school because English was unacceptable and I tired of my parents and their shit with my financial aid and their taxes. Eventually I burnt out and dropped out.

After that, I'd pretty much given up on ever transferring to a university. I dreamed about it, tried taking a few classes, but good moms stay home. I'd wait and maybe go when I was fifty.

So this is pretty awesome, and I am fairly terrified and nervous for a number of reasons. I'm doing my best to push those aside because it's pretty cool when you leave the church and find you can do stuff like this, something really good for me and for my family. That is my hope and my faith, at least.

You'll probably hear a lot about it. I might just schedule a once-a-week thing later. I dunno. My major is English Education. If I don't completely freak out and my emotions don't get the better of me and the planets align as I need them to, I'll be credentialed by 2015. Thirty-four years old. Has its pros, for sure.

But really, I hope to god I can be to some kid what Mrs. Parker was for me. I'll never forget her. She turned "go to college or else" to "you are smart and especially talented here. Go after this. You can and you should."

Can't tell you what that still does for me, nearly 15 years later. Amazing.


  1. congratulations on returning to school! please trust will do better than you think. my experience was that it was both easier (school work-wise) and harder (life wife) as a non-traditional student. i look forward to hearing about school!!

  2. This is awesome.

    I finished school as a single mother at the ripe old age of 32. One of the best decisions I ever made. And I was a much better student when I had that more adult perspective. You will do great! Congrats!