Daily Prompt: Fifteen Credits


Another school semester will soon begin. If you’re in school, are you looking forward to starting classes? If you’re out of school, what do you miss about it — or are you glad those days are over?

Photographers, artists, poets: show us LEARNING.

At my age, I should definitely be “out” of school, and I should be glad that those days are over and well-behind me.  As luck would have it, though, that’s not the case for me.  

CreativeSuiteI am getting ready to begin my last semester of my Associate’s degree.  I went back to school three years ago this September to finally get my college degree after taking a 33 year break from school.  When I graduated from High School at age 18, I was extremely shy and my parents were not well off.  I knew it would have been a stretch for them financially and it would have been a stretch for me personally so I went to work instead as a clerk-typist. If I had known then what I know now, I might have gone to school sooner.  It turns out that I am a great student.  Who knew?

When I went back to school in 2010, it was because the company I was working for was having financial problems and I knew I would soon be out of a job.  Facing starting over, I wondered if I’d be further ahead with a degree.  There were many times over the years when I wasn’t considered for jobs because of my lack of a degree.  I often wondered if I could have been something other than a secretary, too. I came to regret not going to college when I was young.

booksI have had a great experience with my school and with the degree program I chose.  Online learning rocks!  It has not been easy working full-time and learning a new skill at the same time.  I have wanted to pull my hair out at times.  Wrapping your mind around web design and coding web pages is not easy. There are platforms (or Content Management Systems) like WordPress that make setting up web pages a breeze for beginners.  In my college classes, we got down to the nuts and bolts and focused on hand-coding which is a different thing entirely.  You don’t have the structure or the shell that WordPress gives you.  You create all that from scratch yourself. It’s hard!

English2I am looking forward to starting classes, but I also feel a little sad, knowing that this will be it with Bryant & Stratton.  My first class for the fall semester will be English 250 or Technical Communication. When English ends, I will have my Capstone experience (this is what passes for my internship).  I believe I will be “selling” what’s in my Portfolio as I learn how to present myself and my skills to possible future employers. I’ve learned a lot from Bryant & Stratton.  It is a great school.  I’ve had some very good teachers.  

I’ve enjoyed the whole learning process so much that I’m not done with it.  I am in the process of enrolling with another online educator – this time to get my Bachelor’s degree in Web Development.  Those classes will (hopefully) begin in January after the Associate’s degree ends.  I am excited about the opportunity to go on farther with my educational quest.

I learned today that for the new school, I need to take a Math placement test (yay!).  The good thing about the Placement test is there is no “pass” or “fail”.  The test is just to determine where I am skill-wise.  I also need to speak to Financial Aid to make certain I am all set there. If all goes well, I will register for classes in October and start (again) in January.

Yes, learning is very important to me.  It took me 33 years to figure that out.  Now that I’ve gotten a taste of it, I don’t want to stop.

Teaching an Old Dog New Tricks

teach-old-dog-new-tricksWho says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks? When I decided to go back to school, I initially picked a degree program that was fantastically dull and way too easy for me.  I had some interest in Medical Billing and Coding, but for some reason that program wasn’t offered in my area. I settled for the Medical Administrative Assistant program. I was on the verge of a layoff at work so I figured maybe I could work in a Doctor’s office somewhere.

I took two classes, and I realized it just wasn’t for me.  It was stupefyingly dull, and it was a waste of my time and intelligence – especially if I wasn’t excited about using the knowledge I was receiving.

interactive_media_pngIt didn’t take me long to ask to change my degree program.   I selected Interactive Media Design.  I wanted a challenge.  I also wanted to be able to use my creative skills – something I had longed for.  As a kid, I dreamed of being an artist, but I wasn’t quite good enough to follow that dream through.

I settled into learning about web development and web design.  There is so much to learn.  Learning coding and HTML is really like learning another language. I won’t kid you.  It hasn’t been easy.  Who knew that the code in the image below (along with a separate stylesheet file) …


… would display a page that looks like this?


I’m still learning so obviously it still could use improvement. It’s a difficult process, and I think the purpose of the INMD degree program is to give you a little taste of each Adobe Creative Suite program and other freeware programs.  You learn a little, but you are by no means a master of anything.  That comes with time, practice and experience.

Along the way I have been pushed past my comfort levels in a lot of different areas (and I don’t just mean in the public speaking class!).  I have felt incredibly stupid more than once.  I also have shouted with jubilation when I FINALLY figured out a piece of coding, and the website worked.  I have had some fantastic teachers who have taught, prodded and supported me when necessary.  Their love of teaching and sharing their knowledge has been obvious, and I have learned so much from them.

They have re-awakened my desire to learn.  This “old dog” is far from finished learning new tricks.




Upcoming Graduations

GCSDIt’s hard to believe that it’s almost over.  Fourteen years ago when we started this journey by putting a 3 year old Autistic kid onto a bus to the early intervention program preschool it seemed like we’d never reach this point.  Three years ago when a 51 year old woman decided that it was perhaps time to get a college degree of some sort and maybe online learning was the way to go it seemed like a crazy thing to do.


The 14 years of preschool, grammar school, middle school and high school were not easy years.  There were so many bumps in the road and very high hurdles to climb.  The 3 years of an online only Associates’ degree program crammed into 7-1/2 week classes with never-ending assignments, discussions, reflections, exams, research and portfolio projects was beyond challenging.


boredAlex started out in the BOCES program and at times was in with some severely disabled kids.  Our fear was always that he would not excel or push himself to be the best that he could be if he was surrounded by kids whose limitations would only let them reach so high.  If the bar was set low, he would only reach the bar.  I started out in the Medical Administrative Assistant program because I didn’t know what else to do.  I quickly discovered that most of the program content (other than the medical terminology and anatomy classes) was content that I already knew inside out and backwards and I was bored with it.

iepOnce Alex started kindergarten within the regular school district he was within the Special Education program and entitled to an IEP (Individualized Education Program).  At that point they started to look more closely at what he could do and set goals that he would be able to reach.  They started to raise the bar.  Once I had spoken to a counselor and asked about a change in degree program, I started to think about what I could do.  I knew I was good with computers.  I also knew I had a creative side that I had never been able to fully explore.  My options began to open up.

Alex got all kinds of therapies and assistance and support.  He got occupational therapy, speech therapy, physical therapy and social skills group. I got training in the basics of HTML, CSS, jQuery, Javascript, Photoshop, Illustrator, Flash, Fireworks, Dreamweaver and Joomla.


Alex not only learned the 3 R’s as they used to call it (reading, writing and arithmetic), but he also learned how to communicate and how to interact with others in social situations.  He has come so far.

I learned how to do college level research, how not to plagiarize and how to properly cite my references.  I learned how to write college level papers and how to prepare and give speeches.  I learned the basics of graphic design and web development and design.  I have learned so much.

grad1In June when Alex walks across that stage and receives his diploma, we will look back proudly on his many achievements the past few years – participation in Chorus, his consistent placement on the High Honor Roll and his overall growth.  I will finish my degree program in December, but I won’t have the chance to walk across the stage until May of 2014.  I can proudly say (with four classes remaining) that I have maintained a 4.0 GPA, and I am a member of the Alpha Beta Gamma Honor Society.


Who knew when we both started our academic careers that we’d both end at around the same time and that we’d both exceed expectations? It’s been a wild ride.