Back In Class – College In My Thirties – Continuing To Pursue The Dream – Part Four

Sometimes lights can be so bright you feel blinded. My excitement about being back in class didn’t quite prepare me for what was in store when my courses began in the fall of 2019.

The “thirtysomethings” are typically the time in many people’s lives where they’re established in their career or chosen path in life, and they’re perhaps continuing to do what they can to excel or move up in life. Then there are those of us who may not entirely be there yet. Maybe we’re established but starting something new. Or, in my case, finishing something I began almost 16 years ago. No matter the circumstance, everyone has their own story to tell, and this one is mine.

Another Year Has Come And Gone

One year and a day since my last published blog entry appeared in this series. Man, I need to get it together, don’t I? When I began the first draft of this article, I realized I need to do away with the long pauses in between writing, so I don’t forget too many important details. After all, those details are special to me. So, here we go!

Selfie taken walking around my neighborhood in early March 2020.

RELATED: A Light In The Dark – College In My Thirties Part Three

Excitement To Begin Again

After several years of trying to get myself to a place where I could go back to school, I was finally there. My school of choice? Wilmington University based in Delaware. My pick for a degree? Communication, of course!

At Wilmington, courses for online students occur in blocks. An older word for it would be a term. So what that means is in one semester, you do two terms of classes. The classes go for about seven weeks and cover a semester’s worth of learning in half the time.

My excellent advisor at Guild, the partner of Disney who manages the Aspire program, suggested I take no more than two classes at once while working full time. Doing so would ultimately have me as a full-time student since I would take four courses a semester this way.

I was willing to do whatever I needed to do to get it done as quickly as I could. So if that meant taking two classes at once, I was on board with it.

My advisor, Marilyn, suggested I do a lower-level class and an upper-level one together so it wouldn’t be too overwhelming right at the beginning. While this turned out to be great advice, I admittedly became a little overwhelmed anyway.

The two classes I chose were Intro to Critical Thinking and Computer Applications. Both classes are listed as part of the General Education requirements and a suggested place to begin.

Since I didn’t get everything taken care of in time to begin the fall semester for the first block, I would be taking these classes in block two, which I believe started in October. At this point, I had plenty of time to prepare to be in class again.

I could not stop talking about it. I told everyone I spoke to about going back to school. I attended the Disney Aspire expo and was featured on their Instagram account. Of course, I posted about it on social media a gazillion times. I was elated and needed everyone to know about my triumphant return to class.

Then it came time for class, and I don’t think I was quite prepared for what it would be like after all the time I had been away.

Back In Class

Even though I had previously taken a class online, I wasn’t prepared for some aspects of virtual learning. Especially in my life at that time.

When I took the interviewing class with Troy University back in 2015, I was working full-time, but at that time, I was still performing. That way of life is very different from office life.

When I was performing, I would have a lot of downtime at work. I would spend a lot of that downtime working on assignments, reading or studying my materials. I was indeed able to devote more time during work hours.

Once classes began for me with Wilmington in the Fall of 2019, I had difficulty figuring out why I was struggling to get my work done as quickly as I remembered doing it before. I learned I could only work on school at home when I wasn’t at work.

Whereas before, I was able to work throughout the day every day without doing a lot of planning, now I had to schedule school time in my calendar every week, or it wasn’t going to get done.

This go, I consistently said to myself, “I don’t want just to take classes and get my degree; I want to learn. I want to succeed. I want to try hard to make good grades.” To do this, I had to figure out a lot more about time management than I ever had to before.

Add to that equation the fact I chose to begin classes at the busiest time of the year. The holidays!

I love the holiday season. Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and all that’s in between are my jam. Working at Disney, one comes to love them even more because of all the fun activities offered in the parks during that time.

Since I still perform around the area at times, I like to participate in opportunities in that realm. For example, I sang in the Candlelight Processional Cast Choir that season.

There is lots of traveling during the holiday season to see family etc.

I chose to begin my education again during the most wonderful and busiest time of year, and boy did I realize it.

Singing in the Cast Choir for Candlelight Processional 2019 was incredible.

Learning While Learning

That seven weeks of borderline chaos brought forth a lot of learning. Not just in the educational sense, but in the life sense too.

I learned how essential time management skills are when juggling full-time work and full-time school, the holidays, and just life, in general, like having fun, meeting friends, or just binge-watching your favorite TV show. Did I mention this was when The Mandalorian first came out too? A lot was going on at the end of 2019.

Even still, with all the insanity and variety of things happening around me, I still committed myself to do well in my courses.

While I thought I had picked two easy courses to start with, the lower level one, the computer applications class, turned out to be the biggest headache.

This class was essentially learning how to use Microsoft Office applications like Word, Excel and I believe Powerpoint some too. Easy right?

No.

Why?

Because they’re for the PC versions, and I have a MAC…

Every week of this course, I needed a conversation with my instructor on adapting the assignments for my software. While this was a bit tedious, I was very excited my teacher was so willing to help me, especially with it all being virtual.

In my critical thinking class, I was writing papers every week. I was obsessed because I enjoy writing, and someone was reading my work providing feedback on it.

These are some of the reasons I enjoy school and learning so much. It puts forth an opportunity to learn and develop interests, crafts, and skills.

I love to write, but I often don’t know if my writing style is good. I don’t know if it’s interesting. I don’t know if it’s compelling enough to draw people in and want them to read what I have to say. When I’m in school, I learn more about my writing. I know someone will be reading my work, giving me feedback and suggestions on improving. I know I will grow.

Adapting Well To Change Paid Off

By the time mid-December rolled around, I would love to say I had found a groove to things, but one thing I can say is I have never been one to get into a groove. Change has always surrounded me, and I try my best to be adaptable, so I adapted to my situation.

Even with all the frenzy that surrounded my first seven weeks back in class, I ended the term with two A’s and pride in myself. I had finally accomplished something that had taken me years to start back again.
I spent the rest of the holiday season with friends and family. Even though I enjoyed the time, two big, crazy things were coming for me.

One I was prepared for, and the other changed the world.

To be continued…

Part Five – Unprecedented – Coming Soon

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