Classes, Creations, & Catastropies
My classes left me electrified each day, so why do the other students leave, looking stressful and worried? I know young people are busy, the world moves much faster than it did when I was in my twenties. But I live in the same world as they do. I may not have to balance work, school and friends, but I do have to run a household with a rockstar daughter, genius grandson, and my littlest addition, Alex, who at 18 months, has more energy than our local power company. We are all busy. More than ever, the old adage, “Work smarter, not harder” rings true. I, like most mothers, have become somewhat of an expert at time management. I just worked school into the existing schedule. The key is organization, which, like a puzzle, when put together correctly, will all fit together to make one perfect picture. I learned to study global music while doing the dishes. I practiced public speaking skills while making beds and sweeping the floors. I came up with the best thesis for English, while baking treats for Ethan’s third grade class. And it worked. My grades, beginning as low B’s and C’s, started climbing to B’s and even an A on one assignment. Not bad for a student who graduated from high school thirty-five years ago! It worked because I simply added schoolwork to what I already had to do, and everything got done. If my younger classmates could use what they already know, social media and technology would have them organized in no time.
All college students discover that partying all night, instead of studying, does not work. I am no exception to that rule. The first test I took in college was in my Human Communications class. The night before the test, my daughter had a job playing guitar at a very popular college bar in Cleveland. I must admit, the night was fun. So much fun that we did not reach home till the wee hours of the morning. I was confident about the test. After all, I had been communicating with humans my entire life. I took good notes, organized and thorough. I actually paid attention to every lecture and actively participated in class. I had even “looked over” my notes before we left for the party. However, when I got the test, I was totally lost. I struggled through an hour of guessing at the answers and held my breath as I turned it in, waiting for the grades to be posted. It was an agonizing 24 hour wait. I was sure I failed, something I had never done before. Why did I think I did not need to study? And when I saw my grade, relief swept over me. I had passed! It was a low C, but it was a passing grade. I was grateful that I passed, until I got in the car to drive home. I began to think about the grade. I got a C? Okay, now I am not relieved and certainly not happy with a C. I never got a C before in my life! So that is what partying all night, instead of studying gets you, a C. I have learned my lesson. Damn, you would have thought I had learned that lesson years ago, when I was in high school!
My English professor does not recognize my brilliance. I have been told throughout my life that I was a talented writer. And I have to admit, I bought into it. I am a good writer. But seeing the low grade on my first college writing assignment, was proof that I really do not know how to write. Dr. W. wrote positive, encouraging comments on my paper, along with a full page on what I did wrong. I was devastated. I thought it was my best work ever! So, I had a choice. I could be angry that she simply could not see the wonderful creation I wrote, or I could put my ego aside and learn from her comments. I chose to re-read her comments, not as negative as I first thought, and learn from them. I went to class each day and asked questions, admitted what I did not understand, and thought long and hard about how to write better. In retrospect, I feel sorry for Dr. W. in that class. There was much I did not understand. She was always patient, explaining over and over until she was sure I understood. I spent hours thinking about what I was going to write, writing it, and revising numerous times. The grades got better as I read her comments and suggestions with a new attitude, and learned how to write like a college student.
Hard work may not bring immediate results, but it does bring the best results. I worked hard the first semester in college. In addition to my lessons, I had to learn how to learn all over again. But as I listened, practiced, and participated in my classes, I found myself more motivated than ever. I learned so much in the first four classes I took. I can identify music most people have never heard before, and tell you what part of the world it comes from. I can write a strong thesis and prove it with evidence from prior readings. I can recite sonnets by Shakespeare and explain the meaning, or multiple meanings contained therein. I can give a speech to a group of people stating my opinion and citing sources that support it. After such a rocky start, I finished my first semester in college with a 3.7 GPA. I am on the Dean’s List. I am “way cooler” now, because I am the smart kid.
I have decided to go to college for the rest of my life. (Or until I learn everything, whichever comes first.)