Print Story After Almost 20 Years...
Diary
By atreides (Tue Mar 30, 2010 at 02:18:06 AM EST) (all tags)
...I am once again enrolled in college.


Nothing spectacular. It's just Austin Community College. As community colleges go, it's pretty good. Probably since it's got classes that are on par with the University of Texas.

Why now? And why not before? Well, that has a lot to do with me. You see, when I made it to UT back in '91, I was pretty burned out on school. Maybe it might have been better if I had taken a year off or something but probably not. I had brains but no self-discipline. As one friend of mine pointed out, before I went in the Army, I couldn't be trusted to tie my shoelaces. So when I got into college, I started out attending classes, but by the end, I was just hanging out in the Student Union all the time playing bridge. Didn't have much money so when my grandmother needed more help than she could get living at home, there were only two choices: I stay in college or she goes into a nursing home. So I dropped out. I never went back because I didn't know what I wanted to do in school and I figured there was no point in wasting money going if I wasn't working on something specific. Now, many years down the road, I find myself in an interesting position... One of the reasons I'm having trouble finding a job is because I don't have a degree. I can go toe to toe with someone who only has experience. I can go toe to toe with someone who only has a degree. Now I'm facing off against people who have both and I can't compete with that. And this being Austin, there's everywhere. Show me a more overeducated city and I'll show you...well, something. The point of all this is that if I'm already wandering aimlessly, I might as well wander aimlessly in a certain direction. Maybe it helps and maybe it doesn't, but I'm no worse off than I have been and I have little to lose. Besides, how can I convince my wife to take that last class and finish her degree if I'm not even trying to do something educationally? How do I convince my daughter to go to college when I haven't really given it a serious chance? If I'm going to convince her, I want to be the example, not the cautionary tale.

As fate would have it, ACC doesn't accept the SAT so even though I had SATs good enough to get me into UT, I still had to take their battery of placement tests. All my writing/english testing was fine. They showed that I've mastered the language even though my proofreading sucks (though how their electronic essay could so easily figure out that my writing lacks focus is beyond me. It's as if they read my diaries here...). My math, however was surprising. I told the test administrator (a young girl I'm not sure was even alive when I was last in college) that I expected the math section to say that I need to refresh my math skills. When the test results came out, she looked at them and looked at me and asked me "When was the last time you took a math class? According to this, you qualify for Trig!" Not doing that, though. Since the last math class I ever took was a Calculus class in '91, maybe I should brush on some of that stuff before that. I think I'll start with something simpler than trigonometry to spin myself up to all that.

The overall plan is this: I've gone back to my original major, Astronomy. Realistically, I'll take the few extra classes required to get Physics also because the two disciplines are pretty closely aligned. If I get though three years of all this, I'll try to transfer to UT and finish there since it's one of the best schools in the country for Astronomy. If it turns out that I just can't hack the math anymore, I'll just change my degree to something lighter like history or something. At least I should have more than enough math for something like that by the time that might happen. Of course, this assumes that I don't get hit by the lightning bolt and figure out what I want to do with the rest of my life.

On a completely different note, I took the Despoina over to my mother's house for the afternoon yesterday. It was pleasant. The Despoina had fun tearing things up and my mother had fun playing with her. I had a little aggravation because neither of my mother's computers can handle mp4s (no, Windows Media 11 doesn't play them without special codecs. What's up with that stupid horseshit?) but it was managed. And before we left, my mother gave me something. She scanned and printed out a photo of my great-grandfather who died in 1928 in a fire in Wichita Falls. I mention this because its funny how parents lives affect children. Because her father died in a fire, my grandmother avoided fire like the plague. In fact, she lived in the same house for over thirty years and not once did she ever allow the fireplace to be lit. And of course, I'm doing genealogical research for the Despoina because my mother knew about all this stuff but never told me any of it. And I'm sure this stuff I'm doing will affect how the Despoina life is led in some way I cannot currently fathom. And that's how the world keeps turning, I guess.

Lastly, remember about 2 years ago when I was "Leveraging Synergy"? And by that, I mean building stuff out of foamcore for playing 40K? Well, I made the momentous choice to give some of it away. I had/have too much for the storage of our smaller living space. With the more sturdy terrain I've acquired (GW buildings, resin cast pieces, etc.), I almost don't need much of the stuff I've made. So I have separated the more generic pieces from the special pieces and given away half the generic buildings, ruins and whatnot. I'm actually thinking about parting with a little more. It's rough having so little storage space here in contrast to the old house where I had a room devoted to 40K. Of course, I haven't played in over a year so that brings up the need to have terrain at all. Well, I've gone pretty far on a broad number of subjects in the last few months, but there are some things that I'm just not ready to give up. And I guess that's one of them. Maybe someday, but for now, I'm still keeping the creative work of my own two hands.

For now, that is all.

< Life's little surprises are not always pleasant | Life EEEEEESH/Etchings, Number 5 >
After Almost 20 Years... | 39 comments (39 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback
How far are you from graduating? by muchagecko (2.00 / 0) #1 Tue Mar 30, 2010 at 03:49:51 AM EST
Good luck.


A purpose gives you a reason to wake up every morning.
So a purpose is like a box of powdered donut holes?
Exactly
My Name is Earl

Far... by atreides (4.00 / 1) #12 Tue Mar 30, 2010 at 10:27:13 AM EST
Pretty much starting from scratch. But it's not like I'm doing anything else...

He sails from world to world in a flying tomb, serving gods who eat hope.

[ Parent ]
Ooooh! astronomy sounds exciting! by ammoniacal (2.00 / 1) #2 Tue Mar 30, 2010 at 04:21:41 AM EST
Hey, I'm a Libra. Could you do a reading for me?

"To this day that was the most bullshit caesar salad I have every experienced..." - triggerfinger

According to your chart... by atreides (4.00 / 2) #13 Tue Mar 30, 2010 at 10:29:07 AM EST
...you will feel muted humor toward this comment!

He sails from world to world in a flying tomb, serving gods who eat hope.

[ Parent ]
Astronomy, eh? by ana (2.00 / 0) #3 Tue Mar 30, 2010 at 07:18:38 AM EST
Not exactly career-oriented, though I'll admit it's a heckova lotta fun. And yeah, get all the physics and math you can under your belt. Maybe in association with a teaching certificate; you can really fire up the imagination of (some) kiddies with astronomy.

"And this ... is a piece of Synergy." --Kellnerin

Well, I've already made money... by atreides (4.00 / 1) #14 Tue Mar 30, 2010 at 10:31:12 AM EST
...the way one does in Astronomy. I've worked in a bar.

Not sure I want to teach, but I already figured a little playing by ear for a bit is in order...

He sails from world to world in a flying tomb, serving gods who eat hope.

[ Parent ]
Trig is all memorization... by wiredog (2.00 / 0) #4 Tue Mar 30, 2010 at 08:14:32 AM EST
And a bit of Algebra. If you've had a calculus class, and passed it, then algebra will be mighty boring. Take the Trig. That'll be all the familiarization you need.

Earth First!
(We can strip mine the rest later.)

That's what summer sessions are for... by atreides (4.00 / 1) #11 Tue Mar 30, 2010 at 10:26:02 AM EST
If I had to spend a year getting up to speed, that might bore me all to heck. But spending three months over the summer taking them quickly? I think I can handle that as a refresher...

He sails from world to world in a flying tomb, serving gods who eat hope.

[ Parent ]
excellent! by clock (2.00 / 0) #5 Tue Mar 30, 2010 at 08:52:49 AM EST
This is a good decision.  Congrats!


I agree with clock entirely --Kellnerin

Well done by riceowlguy (2.00 / 0) #6 Tue Mar 30, 2010 at 09:07:46 AM EST
Sort of like those posters that say "nobody ever says 'I wish I hadn't gone to the gym today'", I imagine very few people say "I wish I hadn't gotten that college degree".

Plus, your wife gets to say she's sleeping with a college kid again.


Oh, by ni (4.00 / 1) #7 Tue Mar 30, 2010 at 09:33:29 AM EST
I know lots of people who say it all the time. Degree-regret is way more common than people seem to believe. I, for instance, have a pretty superfluous one I could have done without. Do I regret it? Well, I regret not using the time more wisely, anyway.

See also.


"These days it seems like sometimes dreams of Italian hyper-gonadism are all a man's got to keep him going." -- CRwM

[ Parent ]
far more true of post-graduate degrees by gzt (2.00 / 0) #8 Tue Mar 30, 2010 at 09:49:39 AM EST
And, yeah, people regret the college degree they have, or how they wasted their time getting it, and other stuff, but, on the whole, they do appreciate the benefits. It's merely generalized regret about not maximizing the opportunity.

But, yeah, a lot of people, their masters or ph.d. was just a waste of time.

[ Parent ]
Yes, I think by ni (2.00 / 0) #9 Tue Mar 30, 2010 at 09:57:32 AM EST
you're probably right, broadly speaking.

I think there's an impression that getting [another] degree is always a reliable fallback plan -- that it will always lead to some net benefit; that it's always a safe choice. It isn't. It's expensive and potentially pointless. Yes, this is probably less true of first degrees, but I don't think that any degree should be seen as some reliable silver bullet in life.


"These days it seems like sometimes dreams of Italian hyper-gonadism are all a man's got to keep him going." -- CRwM

[ Parent ]
a college degree opens a lot of doors by gzt (2.00 / 0) #10 Tue Mar 30, 2010 at 10:14:49 AM EST
post-graduate, not so much.

[ Parent ]
Not so sure about this... by littlestar (2.00 / 0) #21 Tue Mar 30, 2010 at 11:02:13 AM EST
for a lot of degrees only a post-graduate does anything at all, cause, a Linguistics Hons. B.A. gets you people telling you you're overqualified for jobs (so diddly-squat) and without a post-grad completed not qualified enough for the cooler and more wanted jobs. At least with a Masters even you can teach, which is a job you may not have dreamt of but it pays money.
*twinkle*twinkle*


[ Parent ]
oh, yeah, it opens the teaching gigs. by gzt (2.00 / 0) #24 Tue Mar 30, 2010 at 11:06:20 AM EST
that's all.

meh, I've found that once one is in, they care more about work history rather than exact degrees, except management or higher professionals often "need" one of those nonsensical businessy masters degrees.

[ Parent ]
Indeed by riceowlguy (2.00 / 0) #16 Tue Mar 30, 2010 at 10:42:17 AM EST
I was mainly speaking of first undergraduate degrees.

One does wonder if the bar will keep on moving forever, i.e. if someday 4-year college degrees become as common as high school diplomas, will post-graduate degrees become necessary in order to have "real jobs"?

For the time being, the four-year bachelor's degree is the shibboleth (I'm probably misusing that term, but hey, my degree is in compsci, not religion).

[ Parent ]
that's a very inefficient social use of labor by infinitera (2.00 / 0) #18 Tue Mar 30, 2010 at 10:45:12 AM EST
Most jobs don't require a college degree. They require basic reasoning and writing skills that most people didn't get in the 12 years of public time wasting.

[…] a professional layabout. Which I aspire to be, but am not yet. — CheeseburgerBrown

[ Parent ]
basic writing skills by aphrael (4.00 / 1) #19 Tue Mar 30, 2010 at 10:48:21 AM EST
you'd be astonished at how many professional software engineers (and lawyers for that matter) have shit writing skills.

i mean, "what the fuck are you saying?" level skills.
If television is a babysitter, the internet is a drunk librarian who won't shut up.

[ Parent ]
I reassemble thet remarked! by wiredog (2.00 / 0) #20 Tue Mar 30, 2010 at 10:56:51 AM EST


Earth First!
(We can strip mine the rest later.)

[ Parent ]
no i wouldn't by infinitera (2.00 / 0) #22 Tue Mar 30, 2010 at 11:02:31 AM EST
My partner and I comment on it daily (she's a lawyer).

[…] a professional layabout. Which I aspire to be, but am not yet. — CheeseburgerBrown

[ Parent ]
More importantly by riceowlguy (4.00 / 1) #26 Tue Mar 30, 2010 at 12:26:42 PM EST
I really think that what employers are looking for when hiring somebody with no work history is some kind of indicator of whether or not this person is likely to be somebody they can trust to a) not steal things from them, b) show up on time and properly dressed and reasonably sober, and c) be able to complete assigned tasks without constant adult supervision.  A high school diploma gives no guarantee of that.  A college degree doesn't absolutely guarantee that, but it's a hell of a lot closer.

I just listened to this story from This American Life about the NUMMI auto plant in California, so I'm kind of down on the American working class right now.

[ Parent ]
Further thoughts by riceowlguy (2.00 / 0) #27 Tue Mar 30, 2010 at 12:31:51 PM EST
So, basically, the public school system would need to become more like college.  There would have to be a real possibility for and consequences of failure.  That does not seem to be a possibility in our current political climate.  I mean, the very name "No Child Left Behind" seems to imply the opposite direction.

I remember thinking the same thing when I heard, after I'd graduated from the New York State public school system with an optional Regents Diploma, that they were going to make the Regents Diploma mandatory for all kids.  Fine, you've just made the regents diploma meaningless.

[ Parent ]
i don't think failure alone is beneficial by infinitera (2.00 / 0) #28 Tue Mar 30, 2010 at 12:51:48 PM EST
You actually have to fail in something meaningful.

[…] a professional layabout. Which I aspire to be, but am not yet. — CheeseburgerBrown

[ Parent ]
inefficient use of labor, yes by lm (2.00 / 0) #31 Tue Mar 30, 2010 at 04:28:46 PM EST
But that presumes that the goal of education is qualification to be grunt labor.

It's interesting, though, that the sort of vocational training once offered by trade guilds and such has now become the raison d'etre of the university to the detriment of both.


There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
that's how riceowlguy framed it by infinitera (2.00 / 0) #32 Tue Mar 30, 2010 at 04:53:42 PM EST
One does wonder if the bar will keep on moving forever, i.e. if someday 4-year college degrees become as common as high school diplomas, will post-graduate degrees become necessary in order to have "real jobs"?

At the same time, parents generally expect public schools will provide the job-skills for their spawn. But like you say, applying this framing to higher education has been detrimental for everyone.

If K-12 didn't suck, employeers wouldn't start listing degrees as requirements for non-specialist jobs.

Certainly K-12 should provide an education not specifically targeted towards jobs - but so long as it actually provided one, employers would care.

[…] a professional layabout. Which I aspire to be, but am not yet. — CheeseburgerBrown

[ Parent ]
I don't know about the employer thing by lm (4.00 / 1) #33 Tue Mar 30, 2010 at 05:46:26 PM EST
I think it less a function of K-12 education sucking and more a function of the increasing high school graduation rate. Once upon a time, employers could narrow the stack of applicants for general labor positions down by requiring a high school diploma. Now that almost everyone has one, that doesn't work any longer, so employers went to using some college as the bar, then that became more common and employers went to college graduates. As that becomes more common, the next step would appear to be, as riceowlguy put it, graduate degrees.

But I don't know that the problems exhibited by education in general really have anything to do with this. I think the suckitudality of the US educational system is a distinct problem. The evidence would seem to be the areas of the country where the K-12 system doesn't suck that still have the problem of needing college degrees to get generalized positions.

Further, I don't think the first point has much to do with using the university system as a glorified  craft guild for arts and sciences.


There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
i don't understand by garlic (2.00 / 0) #35 Thu Apr 01, 2010 at 08:34:14 PM EST
what you mean by saying that the university system is a glorified craft guild for arts and sciences.


[ Parent ]
The university system by lm (4.00 / 1) #36 Fri Apr 02, 2010 at 01:16:12 PM EST
The university system was originally developed to educate human beings as human beings. It was education pursued for its own sake and the courses followed the liberal arts practicum. One learned science and math only in order to be able to study the higher arts and sciences, chief of which was either philosophy or theology depending on your point of view.

In most cases today, a university education is looked at as a way of preparing people for the workforce. Consequently, they serve the same purpose that the trade guilds did in the past. The point of the experience isn't to develop well rounded human beings but to produce workers with the requisite skills to work in this or that industry.

There are some exceptions. There are a few liberal arts and great books colleges that don't look at a university education as being instrumental to employment but as instrumental to the development of a human being. But they are relatively rare and the people that attend quite frequently see them only as being instrumental to studying law, etc.


There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
so by garlic (2.00 / 0) #37 Fri Apr 02, 2010 at 11:32:16 PM EST
Your complaint is that the modern system does too good a job preparing people for jobs? Or not enough of a good job 'educating' people? Neither seems like a common criticism to me.


[ Parent ]
I'd be surprised if it were a common criticism by lm (2.00 / 0) #38 Sat Apr 03, 2010 at 08:41:48 AM EST
But you've got it only half right. By using a method that is good for education pursued as education as a method of vocation training, the modern university system neither educates people very well nor properly prepares people for jobs.

I think expansion of vocational type training and an increased emphasis on apprenticeships would do far better at preparing people for most jobs.


There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
a problem by garlic (2.00 / 0) #39 Mon Apr 05, 2010 at 11:23:52 AM EST
with apprenticeships is that while they do tend to get you trained for a job, it's tends to be a pretty specific job. My general Electrical Engineering degree prepared me for a job as a circuit designer, a digital designer, a computer programmer, an RF designer, plus probably a couple others.

I see what you're saying now, though.


[ Parent ]
good enough use of the word by gzt (2.00 / 0) #23 Tue Mar 30, 2010 at 11:04:10 AM EST
there was a little bit of a trend towards that, at least in terms of advancement, not entering the marketplace, but that's mostly "professional" degrees, not academic masters.

[ Parent ]
Welcome to Yeropia by bobdole (2.00 / 0) #29 Tue Mar 30, 2010 at 02:33:53 PM EST
Where some countries anybody can obtain a master's degree... which in turn means that to be considered for most decent jobs, you'll have to play the game and get one. In practice it means little more than devoting 5 years of your life (well 3+2) more than it means any hard labour. I think I found writing my Master's to be one of the easier gigs I ever did. On top of it I got paid for it (I was a teaching and research assistant on the side).

In the arts and humanities it's even worse, just as littlestar says, "everybody" has a BA in Lit/Soc./etc these days... to stand out you'll at least need a MA or a PhD. Which doesn't really make you more qualified for any specific jobs apart from academia...

-- The revolution will not be televised.
[ Parent ]
MBAs by Merekat (4.00 / 1) #30 Tue Mar 30, 2010 at 03:04:36 PM EST
Look like they're made in factories. There were 3 MA in cultural and media studies (inc me) at my graduation, and over 150 MBAs.


[ Parent ]
the issue in that column by aphrael (4.00 / 1) #15 Tue Mar 30, 2010 at 10:34:45 AM EST
is why i've never attempted to pursue a postgraduate degree in history.

doing so would be a shitload of fun.

it would also cost a shitload of money, take me out of the job market for my prime earning years, and leave me with no obvious career prospects.

clearly the thing to do is to go get a postgraduate degree in history after i've retired.
If television is a babysitter, the internet is a drunk librarian who won't shut up.

[ Parent ]
I would like several degrees (after retiring): by infinitera (4.00 / 2) #17 Tue Mar 30, 2010 at 10:42:43 AM EST
Anthropology
Philosophy
Linguistics (both natural and computational)

Also, a pony.

[…] a professional layabout. Which I aspire to be, but am not yet. — CheeseburgerBrown

[ Parent ]
Linguistics by ucblockhead (4.00 / 1) #25 Tue Mar 30, 2010 at 11:50:38 AM EST
I wish I could go back to school and take linguistics...
---
[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman
[ Parent ]
I said it all the time by houser2112 (2.00 / 0) #34 Thu Apr 01, 2010 at 07:41:33 AM EST
After the many PE classes that were nothing more than "spend the next 40 minutes (pretending to be) lifting weights", and especially the one time I let my college roommate drag me to the gym (where unlike the PE classes, I actually lifted).  I'm lucky to have been blessed with skinny, because I despise labor for the sake of labor.

[ Parent ]
After Almost 20 Years... | 39 comments (39 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback