They Never Told Me College Was Supposed To Be Hard

My associates degree came from a two-year technical college. Most of the classes were done online or even in the workplace. As you can imagine, the demands on my time, as long as I only took two or three classes, were not that great. In fact, the classes that taught programming languages, especially once I learned C#, mainly consisted of learning a new way to write a “Hello, world” program, followed by if statements, loops, and eventually talking to a database. I do this stuff for a living now.

Then I get to Wilmington College’s Cincinnati campuses. They have a program where I can take three classes a semester, but only have to take two at a time. My advisor suggested taking three during the summer. Since there are no accelerated courses in the summer, that ain’t happening. When I started my first class at Wilmington, the prof said first thing, “We expect two hours of homework time for every hour you spend in the classroom.” I hear that all the time. Nita and AJ, who both attend University of Cincinnati, Blue Ash, get that, too. Except most of the time, that doesn’t pan out. Then again, they are both taking technical majors. I am taking Business Analysis so I’m not a complete geek when I enter the consulting phase of my career. And boy, they’re not kidding at Wilmington.

Currently, I take a Society & Business class that runs the entire semester. That class is 2 1/2 hours on Tuesday nights. OK, that’s five hours of homework a week. I can do that easily enough. But both accelerated courses, Introduction to Management and now Modern Short Story, are four hours every Saturday morning. (I am soooo looking forward to December 15, when I can finally sleep in!) That’s eight hours a week.

Uh-oh. My job is 40 hours a week with 5-7 hours of commute time each week. Somewhere in there, I have to write. Somewhere in there, I have to spend time with my family. I have to exercise, get groceries, deal with car breakdowns, illnesses, bills… Yeah, 13 hours is hard.

I did have one classmate who is taking four classes this semester while working full time with a family. She takes two accelerated classes at a time. That would be 16 hours a week at home. Now I know not everyone’s going to spend that much time working on homework. We’re adults. Life doesn’t stop because we went back to school at roughly the same time as our kids started college.

The problem for me is writing. It’s hard to get it in when the coursework is reading and writing intensive. If I mention this problem, I hear, “But you like to write,” and “You’re always reading anyway.” The problem is a term paper on why BP looks rather saintly next to Kerr-McGee (Remember the movie Silkwood? Kerr-McGee did a lot of stuff like that.) doesn’t pay the mortgage. And I’m always reading because I want to, not because I have to.

Of course, you’re probably saying, “Hey, Jim, you’re writing this blog post. What are you whining about?”

I’m writing this on a Sunday morning, about the only time I have to do it anymore. But yes, I am complaining. I know I committed to getting a bachelors after I finished my associates. So it’s not like I begrudge the work. But it’s taken me most of the semester to find a way to balance out the work and still get writing and exercise and learning a new programming language in.

But there is some relief on the horizon. Originally, I wanted to get an MBA if I finished the bachelors by a certain date. (Right now, I can probably be done by 49.) But you get an MBA to impress someone enough to make you an executive at either the company where you work or another one. I work at a small family-owned business. They are not going to make me CEO or vice president of anything in the future. My next job will likely be at a consulting firm or as an IT manager somewhere. The only CEO position on my horizon will be at a company that has not formed yet. And the CEO’s position will not be determined on whether I have an MBA or not. It will be decided by me and Nita playing rock-paper-scissors. So no MBA. Which means no deadline to finish the bachelors.

Which means I can take whole semesters off.

Good. Because summers are for writing.

And margaritas.


One thought on “They Never Told Me College Was Supposed To Be Hard

  1. I understand completely. I’m not in school now, but I write a lot for my job. The amount of writing i can get done in the evening is often inversely proportional to how much writing I had to do at work. They operate on different sides of the brain, and moving from one to the other is not as easy as people who never have to do it think it is. It’s like drafting vs. editing. When i sit down to write, i can do one or the other; not both.

    Hang in there, and good luck.

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