I’m Done!! I’m Done!!

School is over! School is done! I gave it my all and did the very best that I could. The last week was really just a horrific nightmare. There was just too much to finish up and complete. I wasn’t behind on assignments, but I (unwisely) also didn’t do any work ahead of time.

restSome of the assignments we were given early on in the program, with the idea that we would start them sooner. Of course, I didn’t. I procrastinate a lot. I tend to work better when I’m under a little bit of stress – self-imposed or not. I also had my hands full with work and work-related stress. Having to come home and do extra work to stay ahead of the game seemed like something I really didn’t want to get into at the time. So I did things the week they were due.

Several of the items due were done the night before they were supposed to be handed in. Why I insisted on working that way is a mystery to me, but that’s how I approached things this time around. I found myself late Friday nights knocking myself out, researching and writing multi-page documents. I literally made myself sick over things this last weekend. I was exhausted, my entire body ached and hurt. My heart raced, and I couldn’t relax even when I tried.  I was a mess.

I had high grades going in to the last week of class so I figured I could almost float by. I was foolish to assume that. The last parts of the assignments were the most difficult. I had to hand in a Final Exam “as is” because I couldn’t come up with the argument supporting the pretend client’s side of the issues.  Oddly enough, the case we’d been asked to work on was a trademark infringement case.

That’s odd because I work in Intellectual Property law in my day job. Out of all my classmates (who bitterly complained about having to work on an IP case because “it was too confusing”), I knew more about this case than any of the others I’d faced over the past two years. I understand this stuff because I work in it.

The case involved a made-up trademark holder who had gone after the pretend client, threatening to file a lawsuit for trademark infringement. I was supposed to research, find cases and prepare documents to support the fake client’s side of things. I couldn’t do it. The client was infringing, and there was no way around it. This case was covered in two separate classes. In the first class I recommended that the fake client change her business name as she was infringing on the trademark holder’s registered mark. The teacher told me that I was the only student she’d ever had who told her the client couldn’t win and stayed hard on it. She asked me to show her cases proving that the client was going to lose, and I could write it up that way. I was glad that I stuck to my guns because I was making myself crazy trying to do it the other way. I’m proud to say I got a 100% on that Final Exam.

My final grades were posted today. I got a 98.21% in my Capstone/Career Development class and a 100% in my Legal Research & Writing II class. Final GPA is a 3.98. I now possess two Associates in Applied Science degrees. This one was in Paralegal Studies, and my other one (4.0 GPA) is in Interactive Media Design. Not bad after postponing college until I was 51. I earned one degree at 54 and the other one at 57. Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks?

Now it’s time to reclaim me. I can rest, I can write, I can read, I can relax. Hallelujah!

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Soul-Searching

soul-searching3I have been doing a lot of soul-searching. My school advisor when she reads her emails will think she’s hooked up with a real nut job. I’ve written her three emails today. I’ve turned myself inside out and back again at least a dozen times over the past several days. This isn’t a snap decision. It’s been coming on for a while now.

When I originally enrolled in school back in 2010, I was working at a small start-up company that had funding issues. The reality was that I would soon be missing a weekly paycheck. I enrolled in school online because it fit my situation. Having dealt with job rejection in the past because of the lack of a college education, I felt that since I’d be looking for work a degree might be handy to have.

I did not know at the time that within 8 weeks of becoming unemployed, the patent world would suck me back in. The start of the new job forced me to cut back on my schooling. I was taking two classes at a time. When the new job began, the stress of working in a new environment and learning new things drove me to reduce my schooling to part-time. I couldn’t handle it otherwise – it was too much. I stuck with school, though. It took me three years, but I went on to earn my degree with the highest honors. I was so excited and proud to finally be a college graduate.

While school was finishing up, I spoke with a trusted advisor – the professor who had taught the majority of my web design classes. I asked her what she thought about my continuing on and achieving another degree. Her thoughts were that it wasn’t necessary and she suggested I instead work on achieving a number of certifications through Adobe. I decided not to go on with school. I was content with that decision.

A few months later, I changed my mind. Most of my (much younger) classmates were going on with their schooling. I felt left out. I was as good as they were at web design. I found my present school – another online program, and I began the enrollment process. I got to where I needed to take the placement exams. I changed my mind again and told them I’d decided to take some time off instead. I was content with that decision. It was such a relief to have time to myself again and to not have to worry over school assignments.

Then I began to listen to the people who suggested maybe I shouldn’t stop after all. It was a shame not to go on farther. My confidence had grown so much. Maybe they were right. Maybe I was selling myself short. I took the placement exam and finished the enrollment process. Classes began in February.

I didn’t enjoy school as much as I had the first time around. It was different. It was harder. There was more work to be done. The new school worked on a different schedule. Classes began the week on Monday instead of on Sunday. At the old school I used to get a huge jump on the following week by working hard on Sunday. I couldn’t do that with this school. Classes were of varying lengths. The classes at the first school were all 7.5 weeks long. The new school had courses that were even more intense and crammed into 6 weeks. Some courses lasted 12 weeks, and some were even 15 weeks long. Most of the classes at the new school overlapped. That meant that while you were working extra hard on a final project or presentation in one class, you would also be starting a new class and gearing up for that. There were very few weeks where you only had one class at a time. There are almost no weeks of time off at the new school. I believe there is a week off in the summer and 2 weeks off at yearend. The old school had a month off in the summer and a month off in the winter. There was time to recharge. This new school was a lot different. There is a lot of live interaction at the new school. The old school had almost no live interaction. You worked on your own and at your own pace. Nothing was really scheduled – you set your own schedule. The new school has live MEET sessions where you log in for several hours at a time and participate using a headset. It was no longer fun. This school also has a prerequisite policy. The old school had no prerequisites. The new school will not let me take any of my web design classes for at least another YEAR AND A HALF. I have to take all the Liberal Arts prerequisites first. At my first school the classes were more evenly distributed. I was doing web work along with liberal arts work. I was no longer content.

I do homework at lunchtime most days, and I spend most of my evenings in front of the computer, doing more work. It never stops. My day job is high volume and quite intense. Then I come home and continue with the intense work. Working this hard and this long every day is horrendous.

My soul is so thoroughly searched that it feels scraped raw right now. I have spoken to friends, and I have talked and talked and talked with my family. The advisor will find the last message from me this evening that indicates that by Monday I will be dropping all three classes I’m enrolled in for the summer. The Algebra class was to start officially on Monday. I’ve already done some of the assignments (they make you start working 10 days ahead of the class official start date). I have 2 weeks left on the Film Appreciation class, and I will finish that out and then consider myself officially done. I hope the school agrees.

So what does that gain me? I have the satisfaction of knowing that I gave it my best try. I had two A’s in two classes. I wasn’t failing by any stretch of the imagination. Something had to give, though. I was pushing myself so hard (not resting, not sleeping, and not eating well) that it was only a matter of time before something went wrong for me. I also do not regret or feel bad that I discovered it just is not for me. I have to step away from it now, and that’s okay.

I feel such elation to have reached deep inside my soul and found the answer.

Image courtesy of Pinterest