Monday, August 1, 2011

Blorp: the Update

As I managed to completely goober out and not check my Blogger Dashboard for comments, I missed that I'd had a couple in the past, uh, year. Simple mistake - I mostly use it so that I can read others' blogs and if I got notifications that I had new comments I missed them entirely. My apologies; it wasn't intentional. Hence, an update. A year is a lot to update, even in brief, so bear with me.

The last year has been spent with preparing for university work again and reviving my non-geometry-based-tailor's-math back up. OMDG, you were correct that I didn't need calculus. A school I was looking at wants to see a calculus-based physics course at some point but I know for a fact that there are graduates from my program who attend there and they didn't take that. At this point I'd like to take a precalc course just to be a little thorough but I'm not sure I'll have the funds.

I applied for admission to the local university and was admitted. I confess to some nervousness about whether or not they'd want me, but my first degree (people, music history is not necessarily the most useful major, tell your kids) had a GPA of 3.1 and was completed in 4 years and they like both money and proven finishers. The nervousness was more like that feeling in your belly that you get right before the roller coaster hits the first huge fall, that sense that "oh, holy crap, I'm really on the ride now!"

Since then, it's been financing Plink-O. There were hijinks between getting my two institutions to speak with one another and with the Dept. of Ed, then there were intra-institutional hijinks that finally took raising a little fuss to get attention on a minor issue so that my financial aid could be figured up. First we had to raise a couple hundred dollars beyond the financial aid provided, which we'd have been fine with and had prepared for, then the aid was modified and I had an enormous seven dollars' surplus in aid above all my fees, and then the Board of Regents approved a tuition and fee increase and now we're about $500 below my fees and tuition. Two things give me a smidge of hope in this. If I kick ass and take names, next year my financing should be much easier thanks to being eligible for tons of scholarship opportunities from a huge assortment of scholarships attached to my university that are only available for students in their second year there, or those in my program. For this year, there's a financing plan at my school that's interest-free and will take care of the remainder of my fees plus the little bit of books that I've got to buy. We'll need to raise a much smaller amount now, which should be do-able.

The remaining hurdle is child care. The solution that I previously had for that fell through and we're trying to find something else. I'm really in a bit of a Catch-22 with that because I might need to get something part-time but I live in an area that tends not to hire married women with children who are also in school full-time. You know, since clearly we should be at home taking care of children, a fate that drives me batty and shrewish. Anyway, to resolve this part we may end up getting a loan on that issue, but I don't really know. Unfortunately, we have no relatives nearby at all who could really help with this. My stepdad has some issues that would make that impossible and my youngest sister who lives with him is 16 and I'm not sure she really wants to be the childcare for my hellion of a three-year-old. We'll figure it out but dang, son, time's running on.

In a money weirdness I was able to buy my Chemistry texts and they included a book on algebra for chemistry students. I've nearly finished that and it's been about a week but I feel pretty much back up to speed on the math I need, which is a relief. (I loved AP Chem but they didn't tell me I needed to have completed the Alg II/Trig/Precalc course before taking it; lacking those math skills nearly killed my grade.) I've been taking advantage of iTunes U's various videos and reviewed an entire course of Biology classes this summer, though no labs or tests or the like, and have watched various videos of other classes, as well.

I tried to get into a volunteering position but the nuking of the child care thing took that out as collateral damage. So that sucks tons but I'm hoping that I might have that opportunity next summer or something.

I continue to be amazed at how far the technology has advanced since I was a college student my first go-round but expect to hear tons of whining, anyway, at which point I will likely break out my walker and tell kids to get off my lawn. I mean, for crying out loud, you can write drafts, get a peer edit on it, revise, re-edit, and then hand in to your professor without leaving your seat. Since they're providing cloud storage and the major bits of M$ Office ONLINE, you don't even need to worry about your computer losing everything if it kicks off without notice. You can even do craptons of research now that's of decent-to-quite-good quality at your computer, as I know from my own hobbies (I'm the freak who decided to research and teach a class on notable heresies from ~1CE to 1600ish CE, for free, to other history enthusiasts).

Heh. A crapton is NOT an SI-approved unit of measurement. Using conversion factors, convert the crapton of research into metric craptons and solve for the inherent weirdness quotient. Don't forget to retain only significant figures at each level. Do you encounter truncation errors?

So anyway, a year gone, and after a year of feeling like I was spinning my wheels, this past last Spring and Summer have been finally moving right along. I'm still nervous about things: do I still have the academic chops to learn quickly? I'm less nervous about other things: I know I'm a much better student, now, and I'm devoted to not coasting (yep, that 3.1 was me coasting through my first degree); as I've reviewed and whatnot I can practically feel the rust knocking off the mental gears. Classes for this upcoming semester are Chemistry, Zoology, Developmental Psych, and a PE because I needed 1 more credit, didn't want to overdo it my first semester out of the gate, and really need to work on increasing my stamina and losing weight put on thanks to having my youngest and living a near-enforcedly sedentary lifestyle.

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