It’s August 1st, officially back to school time, when the aisles at the department store are filled with screaming kids and frazzled moms. The shelves on the seasonal aisle are packed with notebooks, boxes of crayons, and lunch boxes. And the soothing smell of fresh reams of paper and unsharpened pencils permeates the air. I love that smell. The ink pen and paper aisle in Office Depot is like the toy aisle for adults when you are a writer, am I right?
But August 1st marks 1 year since I went back to school myself. Yep, I bought a notebook and some new pens and a white board a year ago, but I haven’t stepped foot in a classroom. I’ve been doing classes completely online from the comfort of my home. I even take the tests at home with a webcam while an online proctor watches.
I’m still completely blown away by this technology and how far we’ve come since I was last in school 15 years ago. I remember having crude email that I didn’t know how to operate. You had to go on campus and register for classes. They were just beginning to experiment with you being able to register off campus by phone. And now here I am taking classes online at home!
While there is something to be said for the classroom experience, which I miss at times, doing it at home and at my own pace has been an interesting and enjoyable experience. It’s lonely at times, but the online support and message boards offer great support if I’m having troubles. So, I’m not completely alone in the process. I also have a mentor who acts as a cheerleader who I’m required to talk to via phone at least once a week. It’s usually a quick 15 minute call which is nice.
The semesters are 6 months long. You are required to complete 12 credits per semester, about 4 classes. You only work on one class at a time. But if you finish those early, you can keep working ahead, finishing classes early and getting closer to graduation. I was able to finish one extra class this last semester and had two and half weeks left. Rather than enrolling in another class, I began work on a class early but it will be my first class to complete in the new semester.
I’m still about a year away from graduation, and lucky for me this year was the first year there was a graduation ceremony right here in Missouri. I’m definitely going to go do that in person! I can’t wait to walk across that stage to accept my diploma! But I’ve still got a few semesters left before that happens. But just thinking about that keeps me motivated.
For now, it’s back to school. My third semester is calling!