Well, it’s September 6th and I’ve officially been back in school for one month and one week. That’s one reason why the blog has been so quiet since mid-August. I took my first final exam just two weeks ago on a Saturday and I passed!
I’ll take my second final exam tomorrow morning at 9am from the comfort of my office, in front of my desktop computer, with a proctor watching over my shoulder from the webcam I have set up across the desk. Who would have thought that just 13 short years ago I was having to go to classrooms, standing in lines at the bookstore, fighting for a parking spot, trekking across campus, writing papers, taking pop quizzes, and more.
My, how things have changed! As I said in my previous post, “back in my day” we still had to register for classes in person on campus. We didn’t even have school email addresses until my last year, and then no one ever used them because it was impossible to access them. And who had ever heard of taking classes online?
Needless to say, my online college experience today has just been phenomenal. The books and course material are provided online. I take one class at a time and work at my own pace. And the only grade I’m working for is passing the final exam – plain and simple. The coursework is outlined for you, again, all online. I read it. I do it. I take notes. I check it off the list when I’m done and have a progress bar that shows me how much of the course I’ve completed. It’s really neat!
However, it’s also a huge eye opener for me about the direction our country could be going in for tomorrow’s generation. Computers and the internet have both their good and bad qualities. First, we can stay connected with friends and family across the globe each and every day thanks to sites like Facebook. For those of us who grew up without computers in the household, stop and think about that for just a moment.
But that’s also the drawback, computers have caused us to cocooned ourselves. We don’t communicate face to face anymore. Kids are not developing communication skills. Instead, they are talking through their thumbs by texting. Heck, they are even getting bullied online! Back in my day (God, that makes me sound old!), I was bullied in person – on the playground or in the gym or in the restroom!
Now, I’m not saying getting my degree online is a bad thing, but that’s only because I’ve had that real-life on-campus experience and I still think that’s important. Nothing beats those experiences I had sitting in a classroom with peers. I have many a teacher to thank for making me who I am today. But as our society and our economy changes, who is to say that organization won’t crumble? It just won’t be available anymore. Like public payphones, and checkbooks, and Hostess Twinkies, could the physical university become an empty derelict building?
Like I said, the only money outside of tuition that I’ve invested so far is in a new notebook and some new ink pens. Other than the time I’ve given up that was previously devoted to other things and is now concentrated on studying, and the money I’m paying for tuition, that’s it. Some bookstore out there didn’t get my dollars this semester. I know what you are thinking…what’s a bookstore? And that’s sad because you know I love bookstores! And what’s even sadder is that I used to work in the textbook industry, and I still work for that company whose key chunk of profits comes from textbook sales.
But I’m still amazed at my transition back to being a student again. And it’s perfect timing. I’m earning my business degree and I have almost 20 years of experience already in the business industry. And I’m rewarded for what I know and don’t have to clock time spent in a classroom. It’s based on competency and shows me where I need to focus more and on what areas I don’t have to spend as much time on because I know it.
Back in school on campus, I’d still be taking those same classes I chose for three more months! Today, I’ve been in school for roughly only 40 days and I’ve already passed one course and getting ready to hopefully pass another tomorrow! But do I feel like I’m learning anything or getting the education I’m paying for? Absolutely!
I wouldn’t encourage anyone right out of high school to do the same thing though. Go out there and live and learn. Go to a physical school and buy a book and read it. Go to class and interact and meet people. But for any middle-aged person like me looking to better themselves, who has kids or pets or spouses and a 9 to 5, but you are ready to better yourself somehow and you have the time and a computer to do it? Go for it! It’s been an amazing experience so far and I’ve only just begun.