Five Months In…

I returned to school on May 21st. I’m five months in of this nine-month program.

If I’ve learned nothing else, it’s that years later, I am still not an academic person. I am very glad I opted for trade school because if this is how I feel after five of nine months, I’d probably on the verge of killing myself if I had to commit for 4+ years to a university, or even just 2 years to a community college. Note the reason I chose trade school over community college and university is, with one exception, I wasn’t required to waste my time with general education courses. Yet I still feel 110% done with this!

Truthfully, my biggest gripe is having to wake up at 6:00am for half the days of the week. Yes, it’s a very petty complaint, but there’s a reason I’m not a morning person. To my credit, I’ve never missed a day of school or been late, and I’ve twice been awarded for perfect attendance. That said, I’ve overslept twice this week. On one of those occasions, I did wake up on time, but wanted to get five more minutes of sleep after getting dressed. That five-minute nap turned into a 45-minute nap. I’m sure Lyft was happy to take my money this week!

On the school side of things:

  • There’s no heat! This makes sense in summer, but not in autumn and, later on, winter. To the school’s credit, they do permit us to wear sweaters and jackets in classrooms, but I’d prefer heat! I’m cold!
  • We have a class on customer service. Enough said. I’ve worked in customer service for almost two years (10/31/16) and I have two retail jobs. Kiss my a**!
  • We don’t learn. It’s more similar to community college than I expected. In fairness, part of this is due to the program being fast-paced. Each class is a month long. Still, I don’t think a test should be taken every other day. If they feel the need to cram, the program needs to be lengthened. Granted, part of why I came to this school is I didn’t want to be in school for years, so if that does happen, I’ll be glad I missed it. Being delayed by two months was bad enough.
  • Expanding on the above, trying to cram everything into a too small period of time makes it hard to take class seriously. At one point, we took a test on a chapter we studied that very morning, and the test was to be finished at lunch time. That means no time for anyone who wants more than is offered in the vending machines to order lunch. I believe that was the day I stopped regarding the classes with much seriousness, though “customer service class” would’ve done that anyway.
  • We had a career fair that was embarrassingly disappointing. Admittedly, I don’t know how career fairs are arranged, so this may not be the school’s fault, but I expected more than five companies at a fair.

Those are all of my complaints for now, though I may add to this list later on. All of the above said, I still do not regret coming to this school, and I’m too far in to quit now. I can’t say I’ve learned nothing. I just don’t like how teaching is being implemented. To my knowledge, the tech program is much newer than the nursing program they offer, so it could be they’re still figuring out what works best for the program. That doesn’t bug me. Much of life is trial-and-error, is it not? I would know.

On a final note, my school allows students to wear costumes on Halloween during school hours. Yes, you can sit in class with a costume. I am totally not dressing up as Twilight Sparkle and taking advantage of that privilege! No, not me!

This makes everything worth it.

Or Maybe Not

I guess there’s a reason for the expression that you are your own worst critic.

I got a big surprise when, at my school’s brief award ceremony, I was given two awards! One was for perfect attendance while the other was for having a 4.0 GPA. Perfect attendance is easy for me, though I still very much appreciate the award. On the other hand, I have never had a 4.0 GPA in my life! I really cannot believe it and I am so stunned! And I am not a flawless student, as I think my last post makes evident. Yet, somehow, I achieved that! I really do not have words. My whole day has been made!

My school award certificates! School name, my real name, and signature of the director have been omitted.

Eighteen Versus Twenty-Four

I’m almost finished with my first class of trade school. I even finished the final project already. Despite my anxiety about the next course, I am glad this first one is almost over. Though, I’m disappointed I genuinely struggled with the “Student Success” half of it. Of course, I attended trade school to avoid such classes, but four weeks is better than two years of them.

One thing I hate my high school for is making life sound so black and white. They pushed the idea everyone who is successful goes to college, that there’s no other way, that there’s no excuse not to go, that community college is a waste (it was referred to as “the 13th grade”), and that all incoming college students were our age. What a load of trash. And I say that with zero fondness for community college.

I’m still getting over the feeling of being an “older” student, but I must admit I think I’m doing well because I’m not 18 years old in college. While I went to college for bad reasons to begin with (family pressure), there was more to it than that. I was also burned out from 14 years of mandatory schooling since the age of 5. Birth, if you count daycare, preschool, and head start. I didn’t want to go to any school anymore! I wanted to work, make some money, and go to college later! Obviously, that plan fell apart and I despise retail with an intensity that matches the sun’s, but I don’t regret it. I had more freedom as an uneducated part-time retail worker than as a jobless college student. If I had the personality for retail to be a lifelong career, I’d go for it and never have chosen to return to school. Unfortunately, being an introvert means that’s the equivalent of hell.

Having some years off of school let me have some experiences I couldn’t do while in school. And while not all of them were pleasant, it was still a nice, long break from being confined to one place for nine hours. It’s insanely ironic how being surrounded by hundreds of people for over a decade of your life can turn you into a misanthrope. I think my preschool self who was happier building blocks alone than being forced to “make friends” was on to something.

Experiencing something besides school (and bullying) let me feel more motivated and focused when I returned to school. Sure, I still have my grievances. I hate having to wake up at 6 AM and I wish I could’ve stayed with the first group of classmates I started with. But unlike my mandatory school days, schoolwork is not my life. It’s part of it, but I’m not forced to make it all of it. Again, the irony is insane. I get my schoolwork out of the way as quickly (and meticulously) as I can, to the point I will work through lunch to finish it. High school and under? Classwork and schoolwork was a battle to get me to finish if I wasn’t interested in the subject. I know some people do well under pressure, but I think I’m proving time and again I’m not one of them. It seems I do well when the pressure is off. That, and when I feel what I’m doing is worth my while. I still remember almost nothing I learned in high school, and what I do remember is limited to the Italian and French classes I took.

So, I don’t mind being a “non-traditional” student, as it’s called. I’m actually glad I can pay for my own schooling. It means no one needs to keep tabs on it besides me. Want to know my grades? None of your business!

Many Grains of Salt

I am more anxious than I expected to get back to school. Of course, I’ll eat those words when I really start, but it feels so strange to have so much free time. My hours at work have been heavily cut and without school, I haven’t had so much free time since I first began working. It’s hard to find much to do that feels fulfilling with the time I have and all that’s been on my mind is returning to school.

Yesterday, I spent much of the day reading reviews for the school I’ve chosen. For the sake of some privacy, I won’t reveal its name, but it is a school with a lot of negative reviews on a certain website called Grad Report. I am all for doing research on any school of interest. However, I noticed while some poor reviews had legitimate complaints, most were faulting the school for what was the student’s fault, either accidentally or intentionally. I understand many people throw legible spelling, grammar, and sentence structure out of the window when it comes to the internet, but many of the low reviews were typed so badly, I had trouble understanding what exactly the problem was beyond the reviewer simply screaming, “This school sucks! Don’t go here!” I am by no means suggesting any school is perfect or it’s always a student’s fault if they’re dissatisfied, but internet or not, I cannot take a review seriously when it reads like it was written by a hormonal middle-schooler. Some students did not even give the correct rating. They had nothing good to say about the school, but awarded it four stars. I truly hope that’s an odd glitch on the website.

Some complaints of a few reviews that particularly stuck out to me were:

  • The cost of the program(s). This seemed to be the most common complaint. The total cost of every program is listed on the school’s website, so if this was unknown beforehand, I cannot understand how this, while maybe a genuine unintentional oversight, isn’t 100% on the student.
  • A former student complaining she failed her chosen program for frequent tardiness and one day of absence while other students who missed multiple days were excused because they had notes. In most schools, including below higher education, too many unexcused absences and late arrivals result in the student failing the semester or the whole year, regardless of their academic performance.
  • Being expelled from the program for getting into a fight. In this example, the reviewer stated he was the victim. As a victim of bullying for all of my school years prior to high school graduation, I can find this believable on its own, but I’m skeptical because of its source.
  • One student had the entire cost of her schooling covered by FASFA, but complained she still had to work full-time to cover her unrelated expenses. I understand having to work and attend school sucks, but I found this complaint particularly egregious for two reasons: 1) The school has zero control over how much FASFA covers, so she is pointing the finger at the wrong people. 2) During what time was aid awarded by FASFA ever intended to cover outside expenses?
  • Being expected to provide their own lunch. When I attended community college after high school, if you didn’t have your own food and you were hungry, you used the vending machines. In other words, I highly doubt this is an uncommon expectation of colleges and trade schools. Even if it is uncommon, it’s hardly unreasonable. Heck, this was an expectation after elementary school! If you don’t want to pay for lunch, you bring your own.
  • Their degree or certificate (varies by location) being withheld due to being in debt with the school. This is stated within a handbook given to students, and I’ve found this to also be a common rule among colleges. There was one instance of a mother reporting the school to the BBB because this issue occurred with her son. To put it simply, she lost the case.
  • One student was unable to take a test for a license because she had no transportation to get there, and the school only covers the cost of the test for a year. Again, a situation that sucks, but is not the fault nor the responsibility of the school.
  • A complaint about being expected to wear uniform and abide by a strict dress code. This is another rule stated within the handbook and enrollment is entirely optional, of course. The dress code, while strict, is not exactly religious. I was permitted to wear flower-shaped earrings.
  • Another complaint about the uniform was only two are provided for free. It’s possible to purchase more uniforms, and to my knowledge, there is a popular chore called “laundry”.
  • One student complained there was no hands-on lab work. For a trade school, this would be a reasonable complaint. The problem? The student not only mixed up the name of the school with a university’s, but majored in liberal studies. How can a program for politics have any hands-on learning, short of an internship in a political office? I despise politics and am not on any side, but even I have to laugh at that one.
  • A student complaining he wasn’t told he needed a license to be a mechanic. Even if this one is true, I find it ridiculous. Why would you not research the requirements for the type of job you want?
  • A student who took night classes complaining no one has time to do book work, study, or prepare for tests because they have a day job. Again, I very much understand going to school and having a job at the same time sucks, but if you truly do not have time, why would you enroll in school to begin with?
  • A student who complained he still owed a balance, despite not having a job when he tried to enroll. When in history has lack of employment ever negated your bills? Note this student didn’t lose his job. He never had one to begin with. His complaint was his lack of employment wasn’t netting him a free ride if he enrolled.
  • In my opinion, the worst was from a mother. Her complaint was her daughter claimed she could take the test for GED and this turned out to be a falsehood. It seems neither she nor her daughter verified this. Why would a trade school, of all places, offer a test for GED?

The low reviews with valid complaints were outnumbered by reviews with complaints like the above and more. It’s one thing to be dissatisfied with the school and realize it’s not suited for you. That is absolutely okay and what happened with me in community college. It’s why I sought out trade school. However, blaming the school for your own mistakes and shortsightedness is a whole other matter. While I don’t believe all positive reviews and testimonials at face value either, they are more believable than someone who’s angry they still have to take responsibility for their life outside of school. There’s a reason for the old expression about leading a horse to water, but being unable to make the horse drink it. There’s only so much even the most helpful campus can do.

These negative reviews have not swayed my mind at all, though they were a surprising source of amusement for a full day. I look forward to returning and hope I get the best out of the program I’ve chosen. The campus has already proven themselves to go out of their way, so I have little doubt about their commitment, but time will tell where I stand.

Why Do You Go To School?

This was not a question someone asked me. However, I had to temporarily withdraw from school because my 24th birthday has not yet passed and I cannot return until May, after my birthday and when the program restarts. The reason for this is my father and I share the same household, so his tax information was needed and he refused to provide it. In fairness, that wasn’t a surprise nor is it something fair to fault him for. However, my mother mentioned he told her he doesn’t know why I’m going to school.

I wish I could say the truth.

There are the obvious reasons, like not wanting to be in retail for the rest of my life (especially with the nightmare I’m dealing with now), and my previous post shared very personal reasons. but there is one reason I didn’t say, mostly because I feel it’s a grim, perhaps even arrogant, reason.

I do not want to be like my family.

Allow me to say right now I am well aware school is no guarantee of anything. I also know there are several ways to succeed that do not require college, though none I’ve found myself to be adept at. Contrary to what some of my bosses think, I’m not an idiot. I am attending school with hopes, not expectations.

I’ve run this blog long enough for anyone who’s followed for a long time to know my family is not admirable. While I do love them, none of them have footsteps I want to follow in. My dad is one of those people. Life hasn’t been kind to some of my family members, but he’s not one of those people whose situation is due to unforeseen circumstances. He’s in the position he’s in because he wants to be. That position is living at home, being mostly financially supported by his father, while his bills are only those that are convenient to him. He is entirely capable of supporting himself fully, but he chooses not to. He also didn’t graduate high school, but he still turned out to be financially well-off, which I assume is part of why he believes my choice to attend school is a waste of time. Unfortunately, I had to add factory work to my list of things I am not suited for. A friend of mine who made more money than me at a factory told me he does not miss it after he moved to a different state to be with his girlfriend.

How my father chooses to live is not my business, but I personally can’t fathom choosing to be financially dependent. Before getting the pitchforks, note I am not talking about becoming financially dependent for feasible reasons. For example, couples where only one works while another looks after their home and kids, if they have the latter. I’m solely referring to choosing to rely on others’ financial support for no reason beyond you can.

I don’t want to become such a person. I ache for independence, and while I understand not everyone does, it’s my idea of a road block. I want to be capable of completely supporting myself. I want to have more options than taking something unpleasant (in my opinion) to survive. For almost two decades, I was vocal about how much I loathed school, yet I genuinely enjoyed attending this trade school. I hated needing to wake up early, but I looked forward to going. That’s how I want to feel about my job. I’m not suggesting my father hates his job, but he and much of my family have a personal opposition to jobs like retail, fast food, and even office work, so if he loses his job, his options are more limited than they naturally are. I am trying to open my options to find the door to a job that’s more than “tolerable” and “getting by”.

Yesterday, one of my co-workers generously took me home after we closed for the night because I couldn’t be picked up. While we were talking, I mentioned the situation with my school and how I was disappointed. Something she said struck me: “But it’s good you have dreams and you are not giving up.” While I never considered the career I’m aiming for a dream, her words hit me because my boyfriend referred to my goals with the same term: dream. Considering I’m trying again after a disaster with college right after high school, perhaps “dream” is an accurate word. Although, the real dream is a lucrative, enjoyable at-home career, whether through self-employment or a company.

So, let me answer this question. Why do I go to school?

  • I go to school because I want to have more options.
  • I go to school because I want to graduate college.
  • I go to school because I want to have a job I enjoy and lets me fully support myself.
  • I go to school because I hate the limited options I do have.
  • I go to school because I want to avoid the position much of my relatives are in (barring unforeseen circumstances; tragedy is no one’s fault).
  • I go to school because I don’t want to rely on my family forever.
  • I go to school because I want to prove my family wrong.
  • I go to school because I don’t want to give up.

That’s why I’m going to school.