Here I am, registered at UWG as a full-time college student for the first time in ten years. I’m back in familiar surroundings…sort of. This University has changed so much since I was last here. The library has been remodeled and now includes a lot more computers, electronic book check-out, and best of all –they allow food and drink in here now. Several offices have moved to different buildings and several new buildings have been built around campus. At least most of the buildings are where I remember them so I'm not awkwardly wandering around campus (well, at least being lost isn't my reason for being awkward).
I feel a weird sense of both accomplishment and failure in being back at school. In a way I feel that I have failed in my first career and that’s why I’m starting over. Someone my age should be well ensconced in their career and not still trying to find out what they want to be when they grow up. At the same time however, I realize that there are many people my age and much older who choose to change careers and this economy has forced many people to reinvent themselves. I also recognize that I’m not truly starting from scratch. I have ten years of experience I didn’t have the last time I was here and I do have most of my core classes taken care of as a result of getting my first degree.
One thing that I am surprised at is how many “useless” classes I’ll have to take. I’m majoring in Biology now but I didn’t take a single Biology or Chemistry class my first go round. That creates an obvious problem – or at least it should have been obvious to me if I had really thought about it. I have to take the introductory classes first before I can truly branch out into the major. This means that I can only take one or two meaningful classes at a time (meaningful being that they count toward my major) with the rest of my classes being filler classes or classes that would work toward a minor. I have already fulfilled my core requirements and have plenty of upper level electives due to my first undergraduate degree. Then why don’t I just go part-time? Because I’m using the GI Bill which gives a housing stipend each month if I attend college full-time. If I only go part-time I only get half of the stipend. Why wouldn’t I take a couple more classes for fun if it means extra money each month?
I suppose I am really over-analyzing this. I should be thrilled at the opportunity to go back to school and to have, not only my tuition paid, but a stipend as well. After all, I’ve been wanting to go back to school since I got out of the Army nearly two years ago. I know I will enjoy school and I picked a major based on logic, ability, and job viability in the current economy. I suppose this first semester of useless classes will be a good way for me to determine if this major is really for me and if I can handle a full course load after so much time away from college. Oh, to be young and idealistic again and to labor under the impression that every class I take is a benefit somehow and that a degree = a job. Time to put on my rose-tinted glasses.