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Confessions of a Thirty-Whatever-Year-Old Who Is Technically A Junior But I Sure Wish I Was Done With This Shit: Fall Semester 2016

Confessions of a Thirty-Whatever-Year-Old Who Is Technically A Junior But I Sure Wish I Was Done With This Shit: Fall Semester 2016

(Note: I started writing this damn thing on January 6th. It is now February 3rd. I haven’t felt motivated to do anything because of Reasons, but I’m getting it done now.)

The slog, it does not end.  After being unusually optimistic about how quickly I was going to be done, I decided not to be a fool and double-check the admissions requirements of other schools… because if someday I’m taking Ye Olde PCAT, I’m going to apply to more than one school.

Guess what? My target school has requirements that are a lot different from most other schools. What was looking like another year and a half, tops, is now looking like two plus, more if I don’t get in. FML. Now I need to find time for economics- Micro or Macro, school depending, another social science, and if I wanted to go to Utah, a few years of foreign language. (Spoiler alert: I don’t have time to learn a foreign language, so if I am to ever live near the Rockies again, it’ll have to be on the Colorado side of ’em). I’ll probably have to re-take Psych again to get that grade up to snuff, too. For what will be the THIRD time. I want to strangle Fresh Out Of High School Going To Dixie Because Of Friends And Family History Me to death.  Dixie State was an experience that helped me grow and appreciate things, to be sure, but if I would’ve been smart, gone to the U, lived in the dorms, et cetera ad infinitum different life blah blah blah. Of course, as this unhealthy spiral of What If continues, I again come to the ultimate conclusion of If That Would Have Happened, No Move To Georgia, No KLynne, No Max and Bumi, Therefore Would Make All Of The Same Mistakes Again, Yes, Even The One That Required Me To Get An Anti-Stalking Injunction Against Crazy Ex, Because KLynne And The Doggos Are Worth It.

Ahem. Sidetracked.

Dr. Teach Your Own Damn Self

Dr. Teach Your Own Damn Self is a firm believer in what is being called “the flipped classroom”. Essentially, in a flipped classroom concept, it is on YOU to teach yourself all of the concepts on your own time through reading and online lectures (done by other people, mind you) so class time can be a never-ending orgy of Let’s Do Some Practice Problems, with the professor acting as some kind of oracle for you to pose questions to or beg to help you with difficult concepts.

This is a scheme that I’m sure the professors love the shit out of, because LESS WORK, right? Numerous studies show that it’s more effective as an educational tool. I trust these studies about as much as I trust studies done on the effects of tobacco funded by cigarette companies.

I don’t like it.  I’m paying lots of money TO BE TAUGHT NEW CONCEPTS, not to teach them myself. I do well in a lecture environment. Lecture, throw in a video or two, add activities to cement concepts. Expect me to do reading, but come the fuck on… don’t expect me to be a subject matter expert capable of teaching the class myself. But wait, there’s more! The class that Dr. Teach Your Own Damn Self teaches is ORGANIC CHEMISTRY, which is known far and wide as a weed-out course for anyone hoping to gain a biology degree or go into medicine or chemistry. I’ve had multiple pharmacists tell me that if I can survive OChem, the PCAT and the rest of Pharmacy School will be cake.  The most difficult undergrad course offered, according to Fastweb, that “separates the doctors from the wannabes” and causes many a STEM student to change majors and NOPE their way out of the sciences.

I’m not done yet, though! This man DROOLED scorn all over me for daring to ask him a question about the content.  HOW DARE I NOT HAVE SPENT YEARS AND YEARS AS A WORKING ORGANIC CHEMIST AND PROFESSOR, right?

This was the first day of class.

It took me twelve hours to teach myself the first chapter of material and finish one assignment. This was not sustainable.  I dropped the class after one class session and one lab session. I replaced it with a nice relaxing Survey of US History course, and a return to

Dr. Has Forgotten More History Than I Will Ever Learn

AKA Dr. G. If you’re reading this, Hi! Dr. G is the only professor who calls me by my nickname (the others seemed kind of weirded out when I asked it, so eventually I stopped) and the only one who kn0ws this URL. Who knows if he remembers it, but here I go.

I had Dr. G for my very first class in this Going Back To College Odyssey and I didn’t start this series of updates until FALL 2013, not Summer, so he didn’t get a nickname then. He gets one now.

Originally, I took Survey of US History 2 from Dr. G, which at my school starts just after Reconstruction (and “redemption”, ugh) and ended somewhere around the 2000 election. I learned much in that class, although the concept of uploading my notes every day to the LMS that the school uses was a pain in the ass (although it is a good way to make sure that people are paying attention, I will grudgingly admit).

Getting my second history class taken care of isn’t a prerequisite for Pharmacy, but it is necessary if I’m going to stick around and get my Bachelor of Science, so it was an easy pick. The fact that it’s Dr. G was gravy, because I got along well with him the first go-round. (It’s always nice being one of maybe two people in a class that get pop culture references that sail over the heads of the rest of the class).

Survey 1 tracked the story of the US from early Colonial times ’til—you guessed it—Reconstruction. I learned a lot in the class-particularly about the giving of gifts in different cultures, how Texas was founded, the great American tradition of “We want this thing, but we sure as hell aren’t going to pay for it”, and (as in any history class) man’s continued inhumanity to man.

I don’t have any bitching. I still find Dr. G to be one of the best professors that I’ve ever had, and I’m not just saying that. I’ve learned much more about things that I thought I knew in his classroom than I thought I would.

Professor Get on the Trail

Professor GotT taught the second class I added after bailing on OChem, Intro to Hiking. I had one outstanding PE requirement left in my Cores, so I figured that a hiking class would be good.

I don’t have much to say- the Prof was very nice and tolerated my out-of-shape ass slowing down the rest of the class (even if it led to part of the class getting lost on one of our hikes, oops). Most of the stuff in class I already knew, though… Leave No Trace principles, what kind of gear you need (and the law of diminishing returns on the really high-end stuff), and that we’ve got a plethora of good trails around us.

One thing that I really did like is a hike originating at the local Environmental Center. Out on this trail, in a semi-nowhere area, is a surprisingly large suspension bridge! Who knows how much money it took to erect that, but it was a really cool thing to see that I’m sure not many people know about.

Dr. Turn Down for What

Dr. TDfW teaches Cell Biology, and gets his name for a class activity where we absolutely DEMOLISHED a lab classroom to the dulcet tones of DJ Snake and Lil Jon… to illustrate cell apoptosis. The good Doctor survived med school and did postdoc at Emory and is very, VERY in tune with what the latest and greatest biological innovations are. On top of currency, the class also featured something that I’ve never seen before in my educational career… the concept of a mulligan.  You see, if you answer the Question of the Day (sent out via GroupMe), or win Kahoot! battles (Kahoot!, for those of you who haven’t seen it, is an online quiz platform), or attend extracurricular stuff, or… well, various other things… you get a mulligan. These mulligans are then spent on tests in class. If you aren’t sure of an answer, you use one (or more) mulligans on that question. If you get the question right, you lose the mulligan but who cares. If you don’t, that question doesn’t count against you so long as you can prove mastery of it at a later point in time.  I LOVED HAVING THAT SAFETY.  Loved competing for them. Loved knowing that if I felt really bad about a question, I could answer it later. It helped my confidence enough that I ended up with a bunch of them left over when all was said and done.  The ONLY things that bothered me were a) a wee organizational problem and b) when we were scheduled to take the first test, he moved it back a week on the day of just to make people study. That’s all well and good, but unfortunately I STUDIED MY ASS OFF AT THE EXPENSE OF MY OTHER CLASSES.  Argh. Cell bio itself fascinated me, and I’d love to learn more of it in the future. TOO BAD THAT MOST OF MY REMAINING CLASSES ARE CHEMISTRY, RIGHT?

Jesus.

Confessions of a Thirty-Three Year Old Blah Blah Blah: Spring 2016 Edition

Confessions of a Thirty-Three Year Old Blah Blah Blah: Spring 2016 Edition

Because I’m just crapping out short posts to clear my backlog (at least before the Big Soul-Searching Post that I plan on writing), you get an abbreviated slice of my life. DEAL WITH IT!

Dr. Plant Guy

Dr. Plant Guy is from Kerala. He loves cricket and visiting his homeland. He’s got an impressively high Google Scholar number for a dude that’s about my age and is Going Places™, or so it seems. Luckily, Dr. Plant Guy is also a good teacher. He’s funny and was full of energy. Class was always entertaining and I ended up making good friends with groups in that class.  Sadly, there was an integrity problem in that class— the group sitting in front of mine were, to put it bluntly, damn dirty cheaters who should’ve been expelled. Regardless, I not only survived but thrived there. Dr. Plant Guy also facilitated a very, very interesting experiment for my final project… I was able to test the relative effects of several different herbicides on the unending jungle in my back yard. Agent Orange was not one of them- I used glyphosate (AKA Roundup), triclopyr (Southern Ag “Crossbow”, which is less toxic to old growth trees but way more expensive and has a scarier mechanism of action), vinegar, and water (as a control, of course). All of ’em had a surfactant (soap!) added to get past the ivy’s waxy exterior. Turns out that the ivy in my back yard FREAKING LOVES uncut vinegar (it grew more than my control!) but glyphosate worked pretty well and Triclopyr worked REALLY well (that 1 M2 patch is still ivy-free). I need to get out there and get the rest of the yard taken care of.  I ended up with an A in the class and new friends, how can I lose?

Dr. Too Damn Quiet

Dr. Too Damn Quiet taught physics. Guess what? I hate physics with the rage of a thousand angry honey badgers. I know that it’s one of the core scientific disciplines. I know that it’s a prerequisite for my ultimate goal. I… really don’t care. Unfortunately, Dr. Too Damn Quiet was not good at MAKING me care. She taught from Powerpoints, didn’t inject much actual interest into what she was teaching, and spent a lot of time whipping through questions without making sure that the rest of the class understood what she was trying to explain. It took a LOT of Khan Academy to earn the B that I eked out of that class, even though I now know what the Normal Force is. Hopefully Physics 2 (taking that next Spring!) will make more sense to me. I’m not holding my breath, though.

Confessions of a 32-Year-Old Sophomore, Summer/Early Fall 2015 Edition

Confessions of a 32-Year-Old Sophomore, Summer/Early Fall 2015 Edition

While I slog through Fall Semester, I thought I’d keep everyone (and Future Me) updated on things.  Hi, everyone! Hi, Future Me!  Have the Avalanche won another cup?  Are the Braves threatening to move to a new stadium again?

Dr. Statistician

I can’t think of a clever name for my Stats professor, so I’m just gonna go with “Dr. Statistician”.  Dr. Statistician’s class was, as I’m sure you’ve surmised, an intro-level Statistics course.  And I enjoyed it!  I think that I was able to more readily apply concepts that I learned in that class to all of the stuff that I’ve done so far than any other class to date.  (Although I know that will change, but that comes later in this post.)  Of course, a few months out I don’t exactly remember everything– that’s the problem with summer classes.

Also, I was able to do things more quickly and intelligently with my newer, fancier calculator that never got the market share than the stupid TI-83/84 series ones that they’re still recommending.  SO THERE!  EAT A DICK, TI, FOR NOT PROPERLY MARKETING AND PIMPING THE n-SPIRE!

Colonel Geography

Col. Geography is, as I’m sure you can surmise, a retired army colonel who used to teach geography (among other things) at West Point.  (That’s how I found out he was a former colonel– looked for his name to be mentioned somewhere on West Point’s site.)  Even though a lot of the stuff in his class was old hat, I did learn a fair bit of new things from taking his class about why people live where they live.  Plus his class was an excuse for me to get some fry sauce from the Land ‘o Zion and serve it up as a Unique Ethnic Food™.  I had to use fries from Steak ‘n Shake so it wasn’t completely authentic, but CLOSE ENOUGH!

Both Dr. Statistician and Col. Geography liked me, which always helps classes go by faster.  It’s always good to have your work marked as “superlative” and to have your prof state to the class that a certain student who got their work turned in “really set the bar high” for everyone else.  Even though we didn’t have a curve in that class, it made me feel like a curve killer.

feelsgoodman.jpg
Oh, Pepe. You always know what to say.

 

Professor I’m An Expert In Teaching, But You’re Going To Have To Teach Yourself From The Book

This was Class Numero Uno for Fall Term.  Calculus-based physics.  I bought my book (International Edition, because it’s $175 cheaper to buy a book that’s printed and written in the US, shipped to the UK, purchased by a company in Singapore, shipped to Hong Kong, and then shipped back to the US than to buy the US release of the book), was mentally prepared for a semester of tough work, and then…

I get to class.  I am lectured to for a good hour and a half about educational theory and how lectures are bad and how this professor has a doctorate in quantum physics and a second in educational studies or something of the like and how he’s taught for soooo many years at other schools and knows exactly the best way to drill education into our heads and how we’re going to have to learn how to code in Python because you can do physics simulations in that language even though coding ≠ physics.  I’m excited at first, because yay, new means of pedagogy.  Then Professor Smartypants tells us how we’re going to have to teach ourselves everything from the book but use him as “a resource”, and how class will be all labs but we’re expected to know, verbatim, everything from the chapter.

Uh… guy… if I wanted to teach myself physics from a book, I WOULD HAVE DONE  THAT ALREADY.  I know that educators are decrying the commodification of college courses, but seriously… I’m paying good money to be taught.  Not to read and hope I understand and ask questions (but only during times that I’m working due to his limited availability) to a guy who’s setting himself up as some kind of wise man that you need to climb Mount Bullshit to talk to.  I’m more about using books as a resource to lecture material rather than vice-versa, and having open, in-class discussions.  Maybe Professor Too Good To Teach has found that his method works well with lots of students.  That’s fine!  More power to him!  I just know that I do best in a semi-traditional lecture setting.  I had bad vibes after this class.  I conveyed said bad vibes to KLynne, who said, basically, that I should drop the class like I’m holding contraband and the five-oh are in hot pursuit.  Rather than being wishy-washy about it (and having another Professor Harridan situation on my hands) I proceeded to hop online, bail on that class, and add another.  Sadly, I wasn’t able to get into another class that’s a prereq for Pharm School, but I did get something that is a degree prerequisite, if nothing else.  That’s gonna come later.

Dr. Kenya!

Dr. Kenya! gets an exclamation point after his name because he is so very, very enthusiastic about what he does and what he learns.  He’s a biochemist by trade (and was very excited when I said that my degree path is biology with a biochem emphasis, even if I am going toward Pharmacy) who spends his days working at the CDC but, as he put it, “got bored at night because his kids are older” and started teaching at my school for something to do.   He lectures in an entertaining manner, uses an antenna that he ripped off of a thrift store boom box as a pointer,

He lets us know that he is very aware of the fact that all of us have full-time jobs (it’s my first evening class) and that he’s tailoring the class to fit our limited time.  First test is Friday, we’ve had a few labs already that have gone well, and things are (knock on wood) going well so far.  Plus Dr. Kenya! has also taught genetics in the past, which means that if he’s doing that again, I might be able to take him again.

Dr. Wearable Technology

Honestly, I’ve only met Dr. WT once.  He was a nice guy when I met him, we talked about his Apple Watch, Google Glass, and what wearable to get.  The class is Intro to Computing— which I was, admittedly, too lazy to test out of— and is a hybrid, which means we meet “a limited number of times”.  In this case, it basically means that the class is online and we can go to lecture on Saturdays if we need extra help with any of the things that we’re discussing or MS Office products we’ll use.  I might be popping in to make appearances during some of the Excel and Access stuff, but right now we’re focusing on PowerPoint.

I will also be the first to admit that I’ve learned a few things in the class– Powerpoint (and I assume the other stuff in Office) has a decent background removal tool, and that paired with a circular crop and a background fade can make stock photography look decent.  Of course, if I actually knew Photoshop I could assuredly do better, but that’s a skill that I’ll just lean on KLynne to do for me I have yet to learn.

Updates on all this and more will follow at the end of the term… and looking ahead I’ve got Attempt #2 at Physics for Scientists (provided I can get the other professor who teaches the class), O-Chem if I can’t get into the class I want, and Bio 2.

Progress is slow, friends, but it is progress.  I just need to keep on telling myself that.

 

 

Confessions of a 31-Year-Old Sophomore: Spring Semester Update

Confessions of a 31-Year-Old Sophomore: Spring Semester Update

I haven’t really written much about school lately, but there were many happenings last semester.  Where did we leave off?  Professor Harridan berating the class and the school administration doing jack shit about it?  I think so.  In fact, I don’t think I covered a thing about last Fall.  So here goes:

Dr. Eastern European Guy

Attempt number two at getting a professor for PreCal was significantly better than attempt number one.  Instead of a shrieking, terrible ex-lawyer, I instead got a mild-tempered, friendly if sometimes difficult to understand gentleman from Bulgaria as my professor.  Dr. Eastern European Guy (EEG for short) did a pretty good job of teaching and was always willing to help with concepts that I didn’t understand. Dr. EEG did totally fit the mold of the Eastern European Guy, though… gold necklace, open polo shirt with copious amounts of chest hair flowing out… I did not ask him if he was a Wild and Craaaazy Guy, but he could have fit the part.  Hell, he even wore a track suit into class one day. I had OK classmates (although there was one dick asked to “borrow” my calculator during a test and didn’t give it back until I got mad at him) and there was really nothing of major note to report.  I’m still not the biggest math fan but at least I kinda-sorta understand what Trig concepts are all about.  I do wish that I would’ve had more time to get help studying, though.  Final grade in that class was my first B.  The streak had to end at some point, right?

Dr. Crazypants

The real trial of Fall semester was Anatomy and Physiology with Dr. Crazypants.  Dr. Crazypants was fresh out of Grad school.  Dr. Crazypants made me feel old as hell when Rhianna’s “Umbrella” started playing on Pandora and she said “Oh, this song reminds me of undergrad!” Dr. Crazypants had (and presumably still has) Big! Ideas! about pedagogy.  Let’s integrate social media into the class!  There will be things that you’ll need to do on Twitter!  Let’s put a bunch of interactive quizzes in the middle of our studies!  Let’s ignore the $200 lab book that was a requirement and free-form things!  Let’s have “real” assignments and “optional” assignments, but you’ll get a C at best if you ace everything that isn’t “optional”! Don’t get me wrong, I did learn a decent amount in that class… but not as much as I feel I could.  Y’see, although the class was mainly three hours of lecture twice a week, Dr. Crazypants’ tests were BRUTAL.  Her rationale for this was that “since we’re all future health professionals, one mistake could KILL YOUR PATIENT!”  I wanted to say “All I plan on doing is slinging pills, I don’t think that not remembering where minute fossas of the cranium lie is gonna kill someone”.  I didn’t.  The first test that we took nearly drove me to tears.  The average score between both of the sections of A&P that took it was a 46.  Out of 100.  We even saw a graph and realized that it wasn’t a case of a few major outliers jacking up the average, the mean was just that damn low.  Of course, this didn’t make Dr. Crazypants happy.  We got lectured at about how we JUST WEREN’T TRYING HARD ENOUGH.  Uh… I’m sorry, Dr. Crazypants.  It’s not us.  It’s you.  Further tests kept up the brutality (although I did do better on some of them).  I don’t think that I got above a C on anything but the final.  Still, with the massive amount of “optional” busywork piled on me, I somehow pulled an A out of the class.  I’m not going to question how even if I don’t understand it.  I’m gonna take that grade and run like a sonofabitch.  And don’t ask me about the structure of the brain… I STILL don’t get that shit.

And just to get it out of the way now that we’re more than halfway through Spring term, let’s look at…

Dr. Medical Miracle

Dr. MM has had damn near everything that could go wrong with her medically go wrong with her.  You know that childhood was rough when stories begin, “When I got back to Grade Four after that first round of chemo…”  Oh, and yeah.  That Grade Four thing.  Dr. MM lived in deepest darkest Canadia for a while— Winnipeg.  While my spittin’ rage at Winnipeg has faded a little bit (you can change the logo on the sweaters, but they’re still the Thrashers and I hope like hell that they keep on missing the playoffs… go Avs, but if not the Avs go whoever knocks them out of the 8 spot), she’s also from Wisconsin.  Yeah.  What is tempering that is that she also got her Masters at the same university that I’m hoping to get into for Pharmacy school and she has given insight about the city to me.  So, torn.  What I can definitely say is that Dr. MM’s A&P class is a completely different animal than A&P was with Dr. Crazypants.  We have a pretty set structure– Lecture for the first two hours, lab for the last hour (or so).  Dr. MM is pretty quiet but I’m near the front of the room so I’m OK.  My classmates aren’t bad, although I’m one of the younger ones. Lab work is from the lab book, needs to be handwritten in a comp book, and 3/4 of the labs seem to be busywork.  The labs that haven’t been have are either very interesting or involve dissections, which I hate.  So far I’ve had to dissect a sheep’s heart, a pig kidney, and I’ve got a big, horrible dissection waiting at the end of the semester… full pig.  I don’t want to cut up a pig, goddamn it.  I’d probably be more comfortable taking a scalpel to a cadaver.  The pig undoubtedly didn’t have a choice in the dissection decision.  Tests have been so-so– I did worse on Test 1 than I would have liked, but I knocked the first lab exam out of the park.  If I can maintain my progress (or better still, do well on the remaining tests + research paper + lab exam) I’m going to end up with an A or B.  Still, A&P has been hard as hell.

Dr. DD

DD is my calculus professor.  DD is from Haiti (as confirmed last week), is a wiseass, and… really rushes through things.  He’s smart, but the entire class is “Here’s a question from the homework, do this this and this and bango, right answer”.  No “Let’s have you guys do one, nothing else.  I blame the fact that I took the class as a hybrid (allegedly, hybrid classes have an online instruction component, this is just “you’re smart enough to figure out how to do calculus with one three hour period a week”) on that.  I have a passable understanding of limits.  Basic derivatives are fine, but when we get into chain rule and stuff like that I’m still lost.  Despite this, I managed to get results in the high eighties on the first two tests an an A on the third.  I still have two more tests to go PLUS a comprehensive final.  Tests and the final comprise 80% of the class grade, so I’m not out of the woods yet.  Still, if I can get past this I can get past anything.  I’m just… nervous.  And I know that things are going to keep on steaming forward whether or not I can handle ’em or not.

On tap for Summer is the last liberal arts class that I need as a prerequisite (Human Geography, which sounds very anthropology-ish) plus another class to keep the ol’ federal loan humming along.  Fall brings ABSOLUTELY NO FUN WHATSOEVER.  Calculus-based physics (Let’s get that out of the way while my calculus knowledge is still somewhat fresh) and Statistics (the final math prereq).  From there on out, it’s ALL SCIENCE CLASSES, ALL THE TIME.  Bio 1 and 2.  Cell Bio.  O-Chem 1 and 2.  Microbiology.  Yikestown. Then making sure that I do well on the PCAT, and then making sure that I charm the pants off of the people at the pharm school I want to go to, and then I feel completely overwhelmed.  Wait.  I currently feel completely overwhelmed.  And that’s just for the prereqs to get into that pharm school!  If I wanted to stick around and get my degree (which is required for a lot of the other pharmacy schools and “preferred” for my school of choice), it’d be a mere 35-36 more credit hours.  Two Phys Ed Classes.  Another history (yay!).  The second Calc-based Physics course.  Threeve billion more Bio classes in the 3000 and 4000 levels.

If you’ll excuse me, I’m going to find a wall to beat my head against.

Confessions of a 30-Year-Old Sophomore: Not With A Bang, But A Whimper

Confessions of a 30-Year-Old Sophomore: Not With A Bang, But A Whimper

I realized that I never shared the results of the Harridan situation. I ended up speaking with the Provost’s office, who told me that in all issues like this, she defers to the Dean. So basically, I was told to pound sand. I dropped the class. The Man 1, me nil.

The good is that Financial Aid hasn’t noticed that the class is missing, and I don’t owe anything… I still keep a weather eye on my account to ensure that I haven’t been stealth-dropped from my classes, a la my experiences at the former UVSC.

Chemistry keeps me busy. I managed 100% on my first (of three) tests, so go me… but I’ve run into a place where I have serious issues… chemical kinematics. I have issues figuring out the order of reactions. I have issues determining the value of k. I suck at finding out what units k is measured in. I know that it will eventually crystallize in my brainmeats, but that day has not yet happened.

Hopefully, my day off tomorrow will help me devote more time to study that and WON’T be spent napping while KLynne is in class.

Confessions of a 30-Year-Old Sophomore: Harridan Fallout

Confessions of a 30-Year-Old Sophomore: Harridan Fallout

After all of the bullshit regarding Professor Harridan, I (at the urging of damn near everyone on Facebook) contacted the Dean’s office.  I figured that something as serious as accusations of harassment would be dealt with quickly.  Boy, was I wrong.

I didn’t receive an e-mail until 12:30 today.  The Dean’s message was curt- it amounted to “I’m sorry you feel that way, I’ll let her supervisor know (note: said supervisor was not only ONE OF THE RECIPIENTS of the message, but was specifically addressed in the message) and you are more than welcome to withdraw from the class “if you feel that way”. So, basically, I was told to go fuck myself. 

I can’t simply withdraw from the class, because that will put me below the number of credits needed to receive Financial Aid.  I can’t go back to class, because the professor will know that I filed a complaint about her.  And honestly?  I don’t really like the idea of going to a school where complaints like mine are ignored.

Fuck me.

Confessions of a 30-Year-Old Sophomore: Professor Harridan

Confessions of a 30-Year-Old Sophomore: Professor Harridan

Brace yourself, this is a long one.  I need to write to get this off of my chest.

The semester is still young, yet I already have run into major issues. I have two classes, Chem II and Pre-Calculus.  Chem is a known quantity (same bat-Prof, same bat-time) but PreCalc is a new situation for me.  I’ve never attempted any kind of math like this, but I felt confident after finding out that the A I got in College Algebra doesn’t stand for “abysmal”.  PreCalc is a necessity for damn near every degree that I could possibly hope to get and isn’t even close to the level of math that I’d need for either a degree or the prerequisites for the program that I’m hoping to get into (a year of Calc and a year of Stats are required for that, not to mention that the Physics pre-requisite has to be calculus-based). From the second that I got into my PreCalc class, I felt a little bit uneasy.  The professor (who I shall refer to as Professor Harridan) explained that she’s got her JD and maintains an active membership in the State Bar, but she prefers teaching math.  She’s from New York and I noticed immediately what I consider to be a stereotypical New York attitude- she’s loud, she’s in-your-face, and she’s not particularly nice.  (Disclaimer: I’ve met plenty of people from NY who are nice, low-key, and stuff.  Remember, stereotype.) She spoke long and loud about how homework must be done, study must happen, and gave plenty of warnings about how if you don’t do your work, you should DROP THIS CLASS.  I wasn’t sure if she was just trying to drum out the slackers or not, so I continued. Class two happened and I immediately noticed a few things.

  1. She’s a fast-talker.  REALLY fast.
  2. She shows many, many ways to solve problems.  While this is good for some people, I’d rather learn ONE way to solve a problem and learn it really, really well.
  3. She hates technology.  I understand her ban on laptops (I usually take my notes in Microsoft OneNote because it’s easy to use, I type more quickly than I write, and I’ve got my stuff on me at all times since it’s saved to The Cloud™— she immediately put the kibosh on that), but then she got on me for my choice of calculator.Our syllabus (and, indeed, the standard rules for all Math and Science classes at my school) clearly states that we can use any calculator that we want so long as it isn’t capable of automatically solving symbolic algebra.  Specifically banned are the TI-89, 92, and Voyager 2000.  I use the standard, non-CAS version of the TI-NSpire, which was meant to be TI’s successor to the 82-83-84 series.  It uses a GUI and has a few extra features (It can handle logarithms with bases other than 10 or e! It has a bigger screen! It lets you do 3D graphing!) but basically the same functions.  My other professors (science and math) have had no issues with this when I explained that to them.  Not Professor Harridan.  She said that she doesn’t want me using it and that I need to use a TI-84.  Luckily for me, one of the cool features of that device is that it can be converted to an 84 with a special keypad, otherwise, I’d be shit out of luck.
  4. Even though this is an 8:00 class, we’re expected to be there by 7:45- at least.  I got in at 7:50 and she had already started discussing the lesson.

My wife, being the person with great foresight that she is, suggested repeatedly that I drop the class and find someone else.  I resisted, because RateMyProfessors had shitty ratings for the other person teaching the course, and Professor Harridan had 4 out of 5 in all of the categories.  I thought that I surely just got off on the wrong foot with her… so I continued.  Yesterday was the final day of Add/Drop. It passed, despite my wife’s final suggestion that I go for the other professor. This morning’s class was not a good one.  I had finished my homework on MyMathLab (which is another thing that grinds my gears, but that’s a post for another day) needing minimal assistance from the software (and my wife) to finish it.  I was feelin’ OK, since this is stuff that is technically review (but I still struggled with- fractions within fractions and factoring are two of the things that I can’t get to gel in my mind).  I signed the roll sheet, sat down, and was told to form a group.  We were given four problems— stuff like this:

and were told that we had 15 minutes to solve this.  I can handle questions like that (as can the rest of my group, I know)… but it’s going to take me a while, and I know this.  I let my other group members know this, and said that I’ll do whatever I can (maybe start the other equations) but I’m slow and will probably need help.  They were fine with that.  Professor Harridan was not.  She stalked through the class, proclaiming loudly that it was “obvious that none of us had done any studying or homework” (wrong), that “most of us were guaranteed to fail her class”, and that “we must be kidding if we ever think that we’ll be doctors, or scientists, or anything like that” and that even if we DID pass her class, the rest of the school of Science would “drop us like a hot potato”.  She grabbed my paper (before time was up), looked at it, proclaimed loud enough for the entire class that I was wrong, and said that “I must be stupid”.  She then (after snatching up all of the papers) spent another few minutes berating us, saying that “this is Math 99 stuff, if you can’t get this, should you even be in college at all?” and things like that.  Fun times, right?

I realize that I’m not great at Math. It’s something that I have come to accept, and I know that it’s going to be a long, grueling uphill climb for me.  I know that I’m going to be relentlessly bugging my wife for her help on questions when I’m working at home, and that I’m going to have to study my balls off for the tests and weekly quizzes that we’ll be given.  I don’t, however, need to be publicly shamed; I already don’t think that I’m any good at math.  Having an authority figure who, mind you, MY TUITION IS PAYING FOR, reinforce this fact by berating me and calling me stupid is NOT OK WITH ME.  If I wanted to feel inadequate, depressed, and self-harmy, I’d talk about my weight with my mother. Why Professor Harridan could have done something constructive- like saying “OK, this is wrong, let me help you with this” or even quietly saying “Meet with me before class on Friday and we can look at this, you need to do some more work here.”  I can handle that.   I would, obviously, still be disappointed in my lack of skill, but that’s me.  Instead, my mind is alternating between BEZERKER RAGE! and “GIVE UP, FIND A HOLE TO CRAWL INTO, AND DIE” mode.  It took an enormous amount of restraint to bite my lip and not let hot tears of shameanger stream down my face.  The only math that I could think of was what’s shown on drop tables from state governments based on my height and weight (the drop would be 5′, for those counting).

I survived the rest of class (we moved onto something that I’m not terrible at, word problems and the equations formed to solve them) but had to immediately leave.  One of my fellow students talked me down as I left and agreed that what Professor Harridan did was no bueno.  As I headed to the parking lot, another student (the older guy from either Laos or Cambodia, I can’t remember which) approached me and said that he was upset and angry with how he was treated. I was in a bad enough state that (rather than going to the library to study/kill time before having to leave for work) that I had to go home, wake up my wife, and talk to her about everything that went down.  I need to get my oil changed, but I didn’t want to break down in front of some poor mechanic because I’ve basically been told that my hope at getting out of the hole that I’m in is useless.

My wife provided hugs, confirmation that what Professor Harridan did was wrong-wrong-wrong-wrong, and discussed talking to someone at the school about what happened.  The worst part here is that Add/Drop passed yesterday, so I can’t withdraw without my transcript showing a big ‘ol W… and I can’t get into another class to keep my enrolled credit hour level above what I need to keep on getting my Stafford.  My best hope was to talk to someone at the school and figure out a way to get into another class (or at least have the issue addressed in some way, shape, or form).

I searched my school’s website and the closest thing I could find for a good number to contact was the Registrar’s office.  I was promptly told that I would need to speak to the Dean of the particular school in question (In this case, STEM).  I was transferred to a person who I was told was the Dean, but (I later found out) that it was someone else entirely.  My story met with disbelief, I was told that Professor Harridan “doesn’t act like that” and is “really nice”, and that for a problem like that I would have to speak with her directly.  I said that I don’t feel comfortable doing that, particularly after I was called out in front of everyone.  I was told that only after speaking with her if there was no resolution I could e-mail the Advising Committee and that “it would get into the right hands”.  I asked if there was, because there has been a CLEAR breach of the list of Student Rights (and, honestly, if I want to lay it all out on the table, a threat of being failed), there was a chance that I could be removed from that class.  I was again told that I would need to speak with Professor Harridan and/or send an e-mail to the Advising Committee.  So basically, I’ve been told to cram it up my ass, because I’m a lying liar who lies all the time.

At this point, I’m wondering if it’s even worth it to keep going on.

TL;DR: Professor shames me in front of entire class, tells us all we’ll fail, School Admin refuses to do anything about it.

Confessions of a Thirty-Year-Old Freshman: Fall 2013 Coda

Confessions of a Thirty-Year-Old Freshman: Fall 2013 Coda

Finals aren’t over yet (I’ve got one Saturday morning… yay?) but I figured this would be a good time to air out some thoughts about school.

  • Even though I promised myself I wouldn’t be that guy, I’ve already made a list of things that I need to work on for spring semester. The big stuff on the list? Procrastination, my old foe. Also, cracking open those $300 books once in a while might be a good idea, too.
  • I like my Chem teacher.  I really do.  He’s a great guy.  He seems genuinely glad that I’m in his class.  He’s just not a natural teacher- at least in English.  He falls into the classic traps of skipping too quickly through the class content and focusing more on having groups of kids work on problems.  I can’t say that I haven’t learned anything in that class (I most certainly have), but it has been a struggle.
  • In both of my classes, I have archnemeses.  In Chem, it’s the know-it-all girl at the front of the class who argues with the teacher and complains “that isn’t how we learned it in India”.  Well, y’know what?  It’s how we’re learning it here. rikerbearddwi
  • Conversely, in Algebra, my nemesis is a girl who is struggling with the class… but rather than asking for help, getting tutoring, et cetera, she spends the entire time complaining about how “this is stupid” and “this is too hard” and “this is bullshit”.  Annoying, yes (she sits right next to me), but the killer was when we were waiting in the hall for a test review, and she said that the professor was the problem- and that she “works just as hard as (I) do”.  I’m sorry.  I’m crap at math, and have had to study my nads off to get the grade that I’m getting.  I’ve had to bug my wife relentlessly for help.  To imply that you work as hard as I do when I see you sitting next to me, texting your friends, taking selfies with your stupid iPhone, and whining… you’re not working as hard as I am.
  • Group projects: they sucked in high school, they REALLY suck in college.  KLynne had not one but two projects that her members bailed on.  I had a science presentation where I did 95% of the work- from creating a lab write-up to making sense of the data we gathered (spectrophotometric analysis of common food dyes in various types of candy) to making the PowerPoint-  that was me.  You added to the lab report a little bit- a bit that I had to edit for clarity, grammar, et cetera.  That 100% is MY 100%.  The worst part— my lab partner wasn’t one of the young college kids that I talked about.  It was a dude in his 40s.
  • Finals are more stressful than I remember from Attempts 1&2 at school.  I only had two.  I’m a wreck.  I can’t even begin to fathom how it’s gonna be once I’m in the higher sciences.
  • I will admit that sometimes I hear about what the younger students are doing and get lost in daydreams— how would it have been to have lived in the dorms, dealing with roommates, getting my eat on in the Student Union Center?  What would life have been like if I would’ve gone with my original plan, enrolled at the U of U, lived in the dorms, and had a more traditional college experience?  Would it have gone better?  Would I have still flamed out?
  • The thought of being in Pre-Calculus terrifies me.  I never got that far in HS (I’m still amazed that I was able to graduate with the classes that I took, underachieving HOOOOOO!) and Algebra has been rough enough… but to have Precalc, Calc, and Statistics staring me in the face… kinda terrifying.
  • Despite all of this, I’m proud as hell of myself.  I haven’t given up.  I haven’t surrendered.  I have A grades in both of my classes (not counting the finals… here’s hoping they remain A’s)… and once my finals are over, I will have finally achieved the rank of… SOPHOMORE!

    EXCELSIOR!
  • Also… now I know why Spring Break is a thing. I’m putting in for PTO for next year, and I’m counting down the days until Christmas Break. I’ll be able to read recreationally again! I can sit on my butt and play video games once I’m home from work! GET THE HOUSE CLEAN AND DECORATED BEFORE OUR GUESTS SHOW UP!
  • And finally, because it bears repeating: I probably wouldn’t be doing this without KLynne, who lit a big enough fire under my ass to get me up and moving on this.  Thanks, dear.
Adventures In Higher Education, or Confessions of a Thirty-Year-Old Freshman

Adventures In Higher Education, or Confessions of a Thirty-Year-Old Freshman

Since having restarted school (again) this past Summer term, I have come to realize a few things:

  • Man, I’m old.
  • Laughing at references to 70’s and 80’s pop culture when no one else does makes you stick out like a sore thumb to your classmates, but it endears you to your professors, who are also probably feeling older and older with each successive class.
  • Damn near everything is turned electronically.
  • Damn near all notes are done in the form of a PowerPoint stack. No notes on the whiteboard (my school is too new to have any chalkboards, that’s what you get for going to the first new state college in the US established in the 21st Century).  No notes on transparencies.
  • Some professors will use technology (i.e. YouTube) as a crutch. You won’t learn a lot from those professors. Likewise, some professors barely teach and use the “oh, just look at the PowerPoint on your own time if you don’t get it” excuse.
  • JESUS. Lots of these kids are dumb as posts.
  • JESUS. I’m an idiot compared to some of these kids.
  • Keeping your damn mouth shut seems to be optional to some people.
  • College libraries haven’t stopped being awesome since my prior attempts at schooling.
  • Man, I’m old.

And fall term!  The school is packed, parking is a beeyotch, and I feel like Captain America in “The Avengers” when I hear other students talking about pop culture-y things.

 

I’m three weeks in and Algebra is already kicking my ass.  Chemistry is the toadie who is holding my arms behind my back while Algebra punches me in the nads.  Still, I have summer term’s grades to keep me motivated— and the promise that if I can keep a 3.0, I get the lovely HOPE Scholarship. Not having to pay for $3500 of tuition a year would be pretty frakkin’ sweet.