This Tuesday I trek to Farmington for an interview with the university and to take some tests.
In an earlier blog I told you I had applied to college, 22 years after graduating from high school.
Well, I was accepted. With conditions.
I knew this would be the case, so no surprises there. And I wasn't really that worried about getting accepted. The catch is, when you've been out of organized education for as long as I have, you can't expect to just start up again without being intellectually rusty. And if you were as poor a student as I was, as evidenced on my transcript, then you really need help.
I'll be interviewed by the admissions staff, it seems, to get a bearing on my life up until now, and my college aspirations moving forward. My 12-year career as a journalist; the publication of a novel; ten years as a web developer will all - I suspect - be counted in my favor.
But it doesn't preclude me from needing to take tests in math and science, my two weakest subjects. In order to keep pace with the incoming flock of freshmen - most of whom are fresh out of four years of English and science and math and history and computers - I will be required to catch up, in the form of "bridge" coursework.
The bridge program is non-credit coursework in areas I'm behind. Like math and science. A "bridge" to span the gap between the years.
I knew this was coming. I've always known that if I ever went back to school, this would be expected. To tuck tail and withstand the embarrassment of just not having the chops for certain subject areas. At 41, though, an amazing sense of determination has risen up in me. When I thought I would feel reticent and indignant about having to take "prep" classes just to be in the same room with 18-year-olds, quite the opposite has taken over me.
I'm not the least bit intimidated or embarrassed about admitting that I just don't know the subjects. I didn't at 18, why would I now?
It's strange being in this position. I am argumentative, stubborn and proud. I have always been resistant to authority. And I hated classrooms.
On the other hand, as I've aged, I've gotten better at staring down demons and admitting the lesser appealing qualities of my personality. Ten years ago, had I been told I would need prep work to enter college, I would have walked away, arguing, "Jesus I've been a regional news director for a major daily newspaper; I've been the manager of the ecommerce department of the third largest telecommunications company in the world. Screw this."
Suck it up and make it count.
One personality trait I am proud of is my ability to take on challenges in the face of ignorance. I thrive best in situations in which I am clueless. I tackled stage fright by trying out for a play. Now I love acting. I applied for a newspaper job back in 1990 without a lick of formal journalism training, and I grew it into a career; I drove 1600 miles to Minnesota with my family to take a job in ecommerce, a field about which I had no knowledge. It paid off.
I was stark raving scared in every case, but I hated the idea that fear or ignorance of something could beat me. Boy do I piss myself off sometimes with the whole fear thing.
So it is the same with college. It's going to be tough taking the math and science classes. It's going to hurl me back to my days in high school and force me to relive a particularly difficult emotional chapter in my life: I never fared well in lecture-centric learning. I was easily bored and if I didn't understand something, my wall went up and I stopped listening.
So - like acting, journalism, web development, novel-writing - I am throwing the gauntlet down at my own feet, and double-dog-daring myself to go to college, especially if it means doing classes that any high school sophomore could teach.
Hell, at the very least, it'll give me some GREAT blog material.