Monday, February 17, 2014
It's been a long and arduous road for me to go from graduating high school to graduating college but as of this semester i'm finally going to be able to do just that. Not only will i be able to graduate with my Associates of Applied Science majoring in Computer Programming/ Systems Analysis, but i also found out at the start of this semester that i was exactly 1 class away from graduating with an Associates of General Studies majoring in General Studies. It just so happened to be the worlds most basic computer class as well, CIS-100, Intro to Computers. So i figured what the hell. Put in an extra $213 for the class and finished it within 5 hours. It has taken me almost exactly 4 years to get my first Associates degree and if it wasn't for my discovering how dangerously close i was to my AGS, i'd only be walking away from 4 years of school work for a 2 year degree which seems rather un-fulfilling. And i think here-in lies the major problem with higher education. In higher education establishments they always advertise to you the wonderful dream of "oh finish your Associates in 2 years, bachelors in 4, masters in 6 or Doctorate in 8!" but it's never that easy. For all the new students walking into college for their first semester next semester (Fall of 2014) i want you to understand something. Those numbers when referring to the years it will take you to get your degree are after you've completed all of the pre-requisite general education credits. Depending on where you land in your placement tests, if your school even has placement tests to void your some of your core classes, your general education credits could take anywhere from a year to three years to complete just by themselves. And if you're not going full time (for my college that was 12 credits or more a semester for most others it's 15 or bust) then it will take you even longer. Then, once all that is said and done, you finally get to move along to what are called your degree classes, These are the classes that are always listed as the only classes needed for the degree on any college or university website. This list will take you x years depending on the type of degree so long as you fill a couple of requirements: 1) you take a minimum of 15 credit hours every semester or at least average it out to 15 a semester until you graduate. 2) you can manage to navigate which semesters the classes are offered and create a master key of sorts determining which semester exactly you're going to take what. In order to do this you need to consider things such as semesters offered, number of credit hours the class is, the actual time scheduling of the class so you have no overlap, where is it offered, and what pre-requisites you are required to have taken in order to even have access to the classes. 3) you also need to manage to keep a flexible schedule because the parameters you need to factor for in number 2 can and (chances are) probably will change from semester to semester. 4) you always acknowledge that the advisory team in your college/university are a bunch of turkeys in a thunderstorm. if you leave them alone for too long they'll drown themselves from stupidity. So always have a game plan going in, And be sure to only ask them yes or no answers. They're going to dodge the answer with a bunch of mouse clicking, tabbing through screens, printing papers and saying very sophisticated jargon. but generally if you press hard enough they'll either say something along the lines to "yes, it seems like you know what you're doing" or "No, this is how it really works *insert a bunch of convoluted bullshit here*". at which point it doesn't matter if your question has been answered you've reached the end of your conversation tree. it's time to move along to the next checkpoint. Seems easy enough right? well i promise you there will be at least one required class, gen ed or degree that you will unexpectedly fail. At this point you have one of three options: 1) tack that class onto the end of your degree plan, which will add another semester to your plan 2) Try to find a low credit hour semester that you can cram it into, and then desperately try to cope with the now heavier workload when that semester comes around. 3) take it over summer if it's even offered over summer. none of those options are that glamorous but unfortunately it's what you have to do to graduate. There is a a silver lining to all of this. Every stormy cloud and all that bullshit. That siler lining is that if you do decide to go with an associates first like i did, then you have the unique opportunity of getting all of those general education credits done before you step into your bachelors program. This saves a colossal amount of money and once you do get into a real college you can avoid all of the gen ed classes at the uni which is where professors go to die. and you can just focus on degree courses which is where professors go out of passion. Granted, you'll still just be a number and most of what you do still won't matter but at least you'll matter a little more walking through the door. To those who have not experienced College yet, i hope this helps you on your journey. To those who have gone already and have survived, i hope this has provided you a laugh or at the very least a subtle head nod in acknowledgement that you experienced some of the same problems i did.