Almost three down

Sunday, March 13, 2011

A week from today marks the end of winter quarter. At the onset I was full of dread. This was my first experience as a full time student attending classes on campus. Up until this point I only did one class at a time and that was more than enough. Unlike last quarter, I didn't have to juggle a job and three sports' schedules on top of it all. (Winters are pretty mild for our family as no one does an indoor sport so that's why I dove in with both feet) But I still had trepidation about the unknown.

To be perfectly honest, I wasn't too thrilled with going to a community college. When my advisor told me he would "let me" take half of my endorsement requirements there I didn't see it as a favor. Even though the cost would be substantially less, to me, it was like downgrading from a Mercedes to a Honda. I took the route of high school to four-year university without giving it a second thought. In my mind, junior college was for those who lacked goals and motivation and couldn't get in to a "real college" or 25-year-olds getting a G.E.D. I assumed the instructors were people who weren't able to secure a teaching post at a university so came here as a last resort. Boy was I wrong.

Within the first week I was so impressed by my fellow classmates. The diversity was a welcome change to the elitist attitude I experienced on the university campus last summer. I sat next to a 65-year-old great grandmother who was returning to school, after a 45 year absence, in pursuit of a Fine Arts degree. Behind me was a 20-year-old homeschooler who had left a crummy college experience in the midwest and was starting over toward a degree in education. In front of me, a "displaced homemaker" whose life changed overnight when her husband walked away from their 24-year-marriage. I watched the "youngsters" show patience with the older students as they helped them navigate our online assignments. As we shared in classroom and online discussions, I was floored by the maturity, respect and brilliance in their thoughts, opinions and beliefs. I was in awe of their stories and their struggles. Not one of them lacked motivation, most were also working full time jobs in addition to their course load and no one expected anything handed to them.

My instructors have been welcoming, positive, kind, smart women who love what they're doing. They know how to foster a sense of community and impart a love for the subject at hand. They grade with realistic expectations but push their students to get out of the box. They respect and encourage. They believe in every student no matter what their background. It is so refreshing and makes me want more.

So maybe getting this degree isn't about my academic education after all. I'm getting a true education in the "classroom of life". What a welcome surprise.