A MinD in MoTown


My Barbie lunchbox was better than yours.
May 13, 2009, 1:44 pm
Filed under: I am a dork, When I grow up

It’s easy to look back on college and say, “what a friggin’ ride,” nostalgic for the experiences (i.e. Thirsty Thursdays, getting my tongue pierced, regularly walking four-miles home completely intoxicated, etc.). And as a result, it’s fairly normal to wish you could relive those years rather than succumbing to the responsbilities of growing up.

But for many, it’s not so commonplace to recall those memories and also long for the lecture halls, homework, routine class assignments and overall education. Some of us, including myself, seemingly miss more than the “college experience”; we remember the six-pound Shakespeare textbook, the group projects, the two-hour analytical critiques and the studying, and yearn even moreso for those four-years we already left behind.

I attended a Newspaper Academy, hosted by the University of North Carolina and the North Carolina Press Association, last Friday in Chapel Hill. It was not something mandated by my publication, nor was it something my editor strongly recommended. It was an opportunity he placed on my desk that I eagerly jumped toward.

It’s been two years since my college graduation – damn, how time flies! – and in the back of my mind, I’ve always known how much I missed my years at Penn State, and not just for the crazy moments. It was more than my friends, my apartment, my free weekends and my far-fewer responsibilities I fondly recalled, but those days spent in the classroom, learning.

Since I was two years old, I’ve been that nerdy girl interested in school. With a lunchbox in hand, I’d prance around the house, asking my mother, “Can I go to school now?” My unfaltering anticipation led my parents toward enrolling me in a pre-preschool so their little girl could finally begin her school years.

Each summer, I’d impatiently wait for August when I could fill my backpack with school supplies and delve back into the books. Once my birthday passed in mid-July, it was nearly impossible for me to enjoy the rest of my summer because I so badly wanted to return to class. (Huge dork, I know.) And even now – as a 23-year-old with a full-time job, part-time job, way too many bills, responsibilities, hardly any free time, etc. – I cannot get the thought of heading back to college out of my brain. Friday’s day-long workshop at UNC simply cemented how much I miss learning and working toward a greater goal. Being in those lectures, taking notes, wandering around campus for a photojournalism course, all of those things truly narrowed my college nostalgia to my education, rather than just the fun I had.

So despite being $50,000 in the hole with the student loans I already have, I’m weighing my options and seriously considering either attaining my masters (something pertaining to social media) or working toward my third B.A. degree (in French). I’ve yet to decide which, and hell, I’ve yet to take my GRE which is a bit necessary if I’d like to be accepted by a university (probably UNC-Charlotte). I’m moving slowly with this newly-discovered desire, but I guess this realization was a long time coming. Thoughts of becoming a student again have danced in my head since I turned my tassel, but either myself or others have repeatedly convinced me that it was the life I led from 2003-2007 that I missed and not the learning experience.

On Friday, at UNC, those notions were swiftly proven wrong.

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15 Comments so far
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this post sums up my thoughts on school and college life perfectly.

I say, go for grad school but be prepared for the insane amounts of time you’re going to have to devote to it.

One of my last assignments for my PR class was to interview current communication studies grad school students about their life as a ‘grad school’ student and they all talked about the lack of ANY more free time.

Well, I definitely wouldn’t be able to be a full-time student. I’d have to attend part-time because I need both of my jobs and can’t sacrifice any of those hours toward school. So maybe (?) it wouldn’t be so bad?

Comment by thatShortChick

I dunno. You couldn’t pay me enough to go back to school right now… Now I get all the fun and none of the homework. But that’s just me…

You can always take one or two and see how you like it?

The homework would really cramp a social life. Hm… Something to ponder.

Comment by LiLu

There are degrees in Social Media? That’s way cool!

I think I’m going to hold off on the MBA for another year or two… boo. The programs I am interested in are $80K+ for two years, and I’m not sure I’d be able to sleep at night with that kind of debt hanging over my head.

Holy crap, that’s expensive! I haven’t even looked at cost yet, and to be honest, if I wasn’t approved for more loans – and that’s completely in the air with the load I’m already carrying – there’s no way I could attempt it anyway.

Comment by Cee

I love school too. No way I would still be going if I didn’t. Sometimes I forget that I love it, because I haven’t left yet. I think I said this to you before, but if you like school and you’re willing to take on the debt, then go for it.

Eh, I’d just be adding to the debt I already have, which will take me 30 years to pay off anyway. That part is the least of my worries, ha.

Comment by Ashley

This is when we’re completely different, I loathe school. LOL is that possible I say this now because I’m still in it? I call my school prison for a reason 😛

My brother was the same way. He hates it! He was never interested in classes or extra curricular activities. Always baffled me how the two of us could be related, but hey, not everyone has the same interests, right?

Comment by andhari

IMO, go. I’ve been fighting for the last five years to stay in school. I completed my associates in 07 and should be completing my BS now but I have had to take semesters off because of money issues. It killllllllllllllls me when I see the young freshman not caring at all about learning anything and just about the social experience, drinking and drugs and what not. I would do a lot of things to be in their position to have my parents pay for school or what not.

I would agree with some of the other comments and go for your masters. Not sure where having the major in French will help a lot (you have he minor already right?). Maybe a business BS? Idk, and I don’t think it matters much on what you go for or even where (online might not be a bad option either), I just think that you haven’t quinched your thirst for knowledge and you might never.

And yes you do lose some of a social life now, but if you kept on with your education and sticking with your primary job and moving up there, then you wouldn’t need a second job to begin with. Sacrifice now means easier/better life later…once again this is just my opinion…I’m very much in love with school and was never that way until I learned how to make it fun my senior year. I love to learn and I love the competition with other students, getting various academic awards, and everythin else. Um I’m rambling now so time to stop lol

No French minor. It was either Journ major and minoring in both English and French, or two majors, so I went for two BAs, journalism and English. Figured two degrees was better than one, right?

I, too, wish I was the kid whose parents could pay for my college tuition, but that didn’t happen. They definitely helped those first two years. Eventually though, the funds run low and that’s not as possible. Such is life in middle class Scranton… A business degree interests me zero, ha. And you know me well enough that I won’t do anything I’m not interested and invested in.

We’ll see what happens. I’d still have to take my GRE and I don’t even know when that’s offered. This is just something I’m thinking about right now; a path I’m interested in, but have to weigh the options before delving into.

Comment by Jonathan

Two years…isn’t in just insane to think about?

It certainly is.

Comment by hautepocket

Having been in your position, I can relate completely. After graduating in ’04, I enjoyed the life of a 20-something with money, but I really wanted to go back to school. Partly for the boozing and lack of responsibility, but also because I really like learning.

I wound up going back for my MBA in Jan ’07 and man, it was such an awesome move. I didn’t know how much I missed learning something new until I got a chance to do it again. Hell, it got to a point where I enjoyed learning so much, I left my job a year later to go at it full time (at which point the boozing kicked back in full force).

Now two pretty degrees and one potentially damaged liver later, I think it’s safe to say that I’m done with school…at least on a long-term basis. But I think I’ll go back for the occasional class class or certification here and there. Learning’s a life long thing.

Good luck on deciding when, where, and for what you want to go back to school for.

Thanks for the luck. I don’t think I’ll be hitting the bottle if going back to school, mostly because I’ll have to retain both of my jobs at the same time. Unfortunately, I’m in no position whatsoever to take school on full-time. I work 60 hours a week and need to. I think if I was able to leave my jobs behind and fully devote my time to classwork, this decision would be 100x easier. But there’s that “responsbility” factor – and the bills that clearly won’t disappear – to consider. =/

I’m glad you went back and are happy with that decision. MBA, awesome job! You’re right, learning is lifelong. I wonder if I truly need school to do so or not…

Comment by TOPolk

Goodness, I miss college like crazy… I miss everything.. my friends, the community, the campus, the squirrels… and definitely the classes! I couldn’t pick one major so I did an interdisciplinary with a minor (aka 4 minors)…

And now… All I can do is think about grad school. I know it’ll be a lot different than undergrad, but I still can’t wait. I hear from Roosevelt University soon… I feel like a dork, but I miss the assignments… If I never had to leave a university (academically, not as it is currently, since I do work at one), I never would.

I wish I stayed at Penn State longer than I did. I was so eager to get up and move on with my life, so excited to “be a real adult” that I didn’t stop and think about what I was leaving behind. I moved FOUR DAYS after graduation, even though I paid for an apartment there for three more months!!

All the woulda/coulda/shouldas don’t matter though. It’s so easy to miss that stuff, right? I’d love to work at a college though. ::Jealous:: Decreased tuition costs… Great atmosphere… I looked into it a few times, but no job openings that I could actually handle.

Comment by rini

Working in a university as far as the atmosphere is decent. It’s been fun having people my age pop in and out of the office. The decreased tuition is nice, but well, I doubt I’ll be going to NU. I’m just not interested in their writing program, and can’t take classes during the day (otherwise I’d take Mandarin II this summer)…

With working at a uni, you almost just have to get your foot in the door in any department.. hence why I’m in neurobiology. I’ll gain enough experience and then see about transferring.

Mandarin? That could’ve been fun. As you mention people your own age coming by, I guess that part could probably grow tiresome as well. How often do you really want to encounter people the same age as you, likely with fewer responsibilities?

If I could work at Penn State, I’d be perfectly okay working in any department. But seeing as I’d rather not move north again – despite my love for that particular town – it’d be great to one day, eventually, delve into working for a local university’s PR team or something. Maybe.

I’m really all over the place. Journalism is dying and it’s clear my options have to stay as open as possible.

Comment by rini

Working full time and attending college almost full time sometimes makes me feel as if I’m missing out on the “college experience” everyone keeps talking about. Sure, we hit the bottle every now and then, but never to the extent most college grads talk about. Having a mix of online and inperson lecture classes makes it hard to arrange a truly epic party. Maybe its because of this that I feel as if some people never become independent enough to learn on their own.

Degrees are important yes, but what is it that makes a guided learning experience much better than an unguided one? Is it having someone there to correct you and praise you that you truly miss? The goal set forth by an institution? Maybe I just don’t get it…

My articles are constantly critiqued at work, so I’m often tested here. It can’t be the praise that I miss. I really miss the classroom. I miss the learning environment. I miss being exposed to new things that I normally wouldn’t dare to delve into. I don’t think people realize how much an education provides them with in the grand scheme of things. You assume you do all this petty work just to get by, but there’s a variety of books and essays and even common knowledge things I never would have otherwise known or been interested in without schooling.

Wow, I’m lame. But I miss all of that, and I miss working toward something. At my job, I contantly try to meet goals, meet deadlines, but they pass quickly. I like the idea of trying to attain something a bit more challenging and on the horizon, rather than in front of me.

And maybe you are missing out on the “college experience” staying so busy, but you have to do what’s necessary to get by, right? After all, you really aren’t attending classes just so you could party. You’re in college for something bigger than that. The atmosphere and socialization are bonuses, and that’s it.

Comment by omegaradium

And I thought my student loans were bad? $50,000? Dude… I’m sorry.

Well, they’re down to about $48,500 now. 0o0o0o, go me! Ha.

Comment by Matt

I can relate to this. I enjoy learning. I miss it too. I’ve been looking at the grad school option as well, but I have lots of debt and I’ll need to be very certain about what I want to study. And I can’t really imagine myself getting into any more debt for student loans, so I think I’m just gonna hafta hold off. But it’s good to explore different programs. Fellowships and assistantships are out there…you just have to find them.

I remember talking to you about grad school. It’s a great option to consider, but you’re right, a tough one to tackle especially when thinking about money issues. I’ve never been entirely clear what fellowships and assistantships entail … or how to find one. Any suggestions?

Comment by Akirah

Well I think that the masters sounds more practical than another BA. But either way I think you’ll enjoy being back in the classroom. Taking notes for class is more exciting than notes at a school board meeting I bet. 🙂

Eh, those board meetings can be pretty damn riveting, ha.

Comment by Patrick

Good luck making that decision. I keep toying with the idea myself, going back and getting my M.F.A. in non-fiction. But where I hit my stumbling block is always when I ask myself “what am I going to do with that?” At least you’re going back for degrees you can totally use after graduation!

I’ve gotta admit though, now I feel bad we spent so much time in that ethics class working on sudokos….

Sukokus were important. And I loved that ethics class, so paying attention wasn’t always 100% necessary because I think we picked up everything from it anyway. Some day, it’d be ideal for me to work in journalism ethics with SPJ (Society of Professional Journalists for those who stumble upon this comment). I’d LOVE that. And nonfiction is workable, possibly? I’m not too sure, but French is not needed. If I have zero desire to be a teacher, what else would that degree do for me?

Comment by stealthnerd




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