Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Going to college

I'm not sure if I've posted this before.

I took a few college courses before I was eighteen. First, I wanted to take creative writing. That class didn't go the way I had imagined. I met some nice people, but the teacher wasn't there a third of the time, we were learning next to nothing from him and mostly getting bad grades for our efforts. Out of a class of twenty-five students, only eleven stayed till the middle of the semester we we got back the grades from our first major assignment, and only three people stayed til the end of the semester to get credit for the class. I was one of the eleven, but not one of the three.

Freshman English was better, but still not quite what I needed. And since my mother was under the impression that we would be charged for a minimum of three classes, freshman history was also forced on me. I got an A in English but only a C in history. It was a lot of work for that C in history, so for the second semester I took the TV version. I still only got a C, but it was a lot less work and I only had to go to campus four times a semester to take tests.

I dropped out of two other classes, not because they were hard, but because we were moving and it was not convenient to drive that far to school three times a week.

Okay, so that wasn't all that exciting, and I took a year off from college. And unfortunately I mostly stayed at home that year, so that wasn't very exciting either.

Anyway, I was ordered to go to college full time, and after a year of sitting at home I was pretty much ready to try that. I took really basic stuff. The other half of freshman English, government, algebra, a couple of art classes, and astronomy. I found out that astronomy only counted as an elective instead of a science, so the next year I took geology, more art classes, trigonometry, sophomore English, and world religion. I won some art supply money and tuition for some more art classes.

There did not seem to be any connection between degree plans and getting a good job. Well, sometimes there is. Sometimes there is something really straight forward, like if you want to be a doctor you take pre-med stuff to get into medical school where they teach you to become a doctor. But liberal art degrees are not really like that. You read a lot of books in school and get an English degree, and then probably no one hires you to read books after school. Or you learn photography in college and get a degree in art before you join the military because you get paid more for going to college first, and in the military you end up doing who knows what, but it doesn't have anything to do with photography or art. So there doesn't seem to be many jobs that requires you to have a specific liberal arts degree, except for teaching one of the liberal arts. So be sure to get that teaching certificate just in case you decide to do that.

So I didn't want to become a doctor or join the military, but I was ordered to go to college and get a degree, just some degree, who cares which one. And my dad kept saying how people who go to college usually make more money, even if they don't end up doing whatever it was that they learned at school. So I was leaning towards getting an art degree. Most of my credits were in art, and I won some tuition money for art, etc....

So, when I transferred to a university, I signed up for more art classes and a foreign language. One of the art classes I signed up for was graphics 101. It was all about letters. I really didn't care much about it, but graphics was the only real job that seemed to come from getting an art degree. So I figured that I should take that stuff, just in case the freelance painting didn't make enough money.

Graphics 101 was rather like the creative writing class, except that the teacher was actually there for all of her classes. Still, she didn't seem to be teaching us anything, and then half of the semester went by before we did anything to get graded on. And then she just started handing back bad grades, with no real explanation as to how we might improve. At some point she said that a bunch of us should drop the class before we got an F on our transcripts. When I asked for help she just said that maybe I should have taken some other classes first.

I had taken the other classes first.

Well, I hadn't taken them from her.

I just couldn't do that. I can't just start over and take all the prerequisites again every time I get a new teacher. They are all supposed to be teaching the same thing. And the classes that she mentioned didn't have anything to do with what I was getting bad grades for. Design 101 was about the color wheel and such. We didn't even have any color in graphics 101.

So, I dropped that class. My parents didn't like that, but what else are you supposed to do when your teacher orders you to get out? My parents expected me to take it again the next semester, which I did not, because it the only person teaching it was that same professor. I would have to wait until someone else offered it. I didn't realize at the time how unlikely that was.

The next semester I dropped two other classes. One was an English class that was in the evening, and I just couldn't seem to focus, and they didn't have enough books for us so we were always behind schedule, and I just didn't think I'd ever catch up. The other was an art history class, and that I was supposed to write a paper for, but I just couldn't seem to come up with anything that made the teacher happy.

And then my parents asked me what job I was planning to get with my art degree.

I don't know. I was ordered to go to college, so I'm going to college.

At that point I was told to either switch to a different degree (they didn't know which one, probably English), pay for the rest of the art degree myself, or not go back to college in the fall and get a full time job.

I did not have the option of switching to an English degree in the fall, because I only had one sophomore English class. English majors had to have at least two, and maybe they even told you which two you had to have. But my parents did not want to hear that.

I couldn't pay for the rest of my education, but it took me a few years to figure that out. I kept thinking that I was going to go back after I saved some money.

I got some really dumb jobs. I worked at some fast food places. But those weren't full time, so I ended up working for a year at an amusement park.

Once I figured out that I wasn't going to get that art degree anytime soon, I went back to junior college to get that "transfer degree" which I hadn't bothered with before because it required speech and a couple of other things that I knew that I didn't need for the art degree. I was short a few more classes than I thought, so I ended up going back part-time for three semesters.

So then I had my "transfer degree". I started applying for jobs that wanted people with "some college". No one was impressed that I had this degree. I finally had to go back to work and took a job at a movie theater.

Now, at that point I probably would have just stayed there and then gone on to be the assistant manager of a movie theater, and even though I didn't especially want to be a theater manager I probably would have eventually done that. Except that I got married, and my weird hours didn't mesh well with my husband's weird hours, so I quit before I got that assistant manager job that I wanted.

And then my husband thought that maybe I should just not have a job for a while....

Several years later, I finally did go back to work, but not at anything that paid well enough to take seriously, and not at anything that I particularly liked. But then I got a job at a school, which was part-time and didn't pay much more than minimum wage, but I was really happy there anyway. And while it wasn't really college, I did audit a couple of classes, which made me want to go back to college for real, and with the job I had at the time going to afternoon college classes would have been easy.

Except that my husband got a job that he really liked, and they pretty much demanded that I work with him if he didn't want to be let go. I didn't like the new job, and they didn't like me, but they just wanted me to work for them so that they could save on motel rooms and travel expenses.

So between the travel I did for that job and some other traveling that we did, I didn't go back to school like I wanted for another three years.

By that time I had the idea that I wanted to be a teacher. Bad idea. But at the time I wasn't going to be talked out of going back to school, and I didn't know what else I might want to go back to school for.

I picked just the worst time to go to school to become a teacher. They were changing all the degree plans, and I just couldn't get a straight answer on anything. My degree plan changed three times.

I had a summer job taking care of ten kids. I decided that not only did I not like kids as much as I thought, dealing with parents is sometimes a pain too. I still wasn't quite ready to give up on the idea, since I had waited all this time to go back to school, and I knew that if I didn't get my degree then I probably never would.

My last teaching degree plan was for high school English, and then since I had most of the classes I needed for an English degree, I just switched to that. So then all I had to do was take a few more English classes, British history, and a certain art class to get a minor in art.

So I had this English degree, and as I suspected, no one wanted to hire me to read books. So far having a degree has not lead to a better job. In fact, so far having the degree hasn't lead to any job. Nobody cares that I have this degree. In fact, when I was seriously looking for work, the fact that I took off for several years to go to school seemed to count against me just getting the same boring jobs that I used to get.

So I pretty much gave up on trying to get a job. I still look once in a while, but my last interview was more than two years ago. That one really made me feel bad. Not only did he not care that I had gone back to school to get an English degree, but he seemed to be bothered that my last job was a temp job at a Halloween store. I needed some money and I took a temp job. What's wrong with that?


Ananda girl said...

I had a similar conversation with my youngest, who is going to college in a year. He was all flipped out about not knowing what major to have. I told him that everyone I know changed their major at least once, myself included.
You are right about the degree doesn't match up with your job later. In college I was a liberal arts major, a computer science major, and an art major. I do read for my living. To myself, to children and make recommendations to students and teachers about books. I never took library science classes. However, I did put in 13 years of being a librarian's assistant and I am sure got a better education through practical experience than if I had only taken classes and started blind. I believe I have the best job in the world. But I did sort of luck into it.

Like you, I was in and out of college before I got done with my lousy two years associates degree. We moved to a place that had no college. Then there was a dangerous pregnancy that knocked me out of school.

I hated speech. Speaking to people in public makes me ill. Loved my creative writing classes but I had a couple of very good teachers. One teacher had me write on the funeral practices of the Puritans to learn how to research. It was the most interesting subject, which still surprises me to this day and why I mention it.

I also had a lot of art classes. I would go back again to college now if I could because I enjoy learning. But that is out of the picture. At this point, it will not alter my job outlook... and I love the one I have. I am lucky and I know it.

Your last interviewer was a total ass. My opinion. I once had one tell me that I was too old to work in a fast food joint... I was 30. He said I wouldn't fit in with the other employees who were mostly young girls... and he was a young guy. Yeah, right. It bothered me for a long, long time.

dmarks said...

That interviewer sounds pretty bad. I'm not sure if Ananda has seen this, but here is a link to my post about the worst job interview I'd ever hear of.

Sounds like Ananda's fast-food job interview guy was looking to "fit" something in, alright.

Not sure if I have asked before, but Laughing, have you considered going back to see if there is something in the movie theatre? But I know your experience in that is so long ago.

dmarks said...

By the way, I was reminded of the earlier review post about Watchmen when I saw this comment "I saw "The Watchmen" or "Attack of Schlong Smurf." Didn't really care for it" at Shife's blog. No, I've still not seen that one. But that was a funny comment.

Tee aka The Diva's Thoughts said...

A friend of mine received a degree in Mass Communications (do they still even offer that degree??) and has never done anything with that after all these years. What a waste of money.