Posts tagged “School

Welcome to the Drama (partes 1-7)

Honestly, I don’t remember when the first part of this began, so it’s just easier to say there have been seven and go from there.

It became clear from the start that literary theory wasn’t going to be an easy class—and not in the least because the professor and my advisor both said it was the most difficult class in the entire program!

I’ll save you the vast majority of the heartbreak, though (or maybe I’m saving myself), and just fast forward you to the present as best I can.

(I’m also going to warn that this is a rageblog up front. I’m only a few sentences in and I can feel it coming! And it’s a long one.)

I had originally said sometime back that Southern New Hampshire was going to be my last stop on the grad school train, and whether I passed, failed or simply gave up, I’d clear the board1 when I was done, and that would be the end of my educational career.

So I have no clue why I was trying to dip my toe in the water at my alma mater in case I failed Southern, especially since I have very little interest in public health. (Maybe in terms of epidemiology, but not the field as a whole.) Perhaps it was the crazy idea that it would be all over in a year and I’d have a shiny new masters for my trouble?

Yeah, it was crazy alright, but more than I understood.

And I’m about to make it weirder by using my Yelp review to tell the story (with my commentary in Verdana). But rather than initials and Greek letters, I’ll make up names.


Our Players

Sam: the admissions rep that first made contact with me

Catherine: the admissions rep that I talked to briefly one day when Sam wasn’t available

Sally: the admissions rep that actually ended up working with me

Janet: a random admissions rep that randomly horned in on Sam, Catherine and Sally on Monday

Olivia: Sam, Catherine, Sally and Janet’s supervisor. The head of admissions (I think)

Tammy: works in the financial aid department

Liam: some sort of VP…I already forget his full title, because I pretty well blew off his sole email

Jeff: my academic advisor, who is also apparently the dean of students

Blake: some random guy with EU that called on Tuesday in place of Jeff

And, just in case we need them…

Michael: my advisor at Southern, who I’ve recently named my “school husband” (as opposed to “work husband”)

Sander: my therapist

 

Far be it for me to call my alma mater a scam, but this school has gotten really weird over the last decade. It’s like I found an old friend, but instead of being the nice person I knew, they’ve become nosy, secretive, forgetful and a liar.

If I had to guess, I’d say that after achieving regional accreditation in 2010, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools said, “Great! You’ve done the bare minimum to get here, but now you have lots more work to do.” I realize that doesn’t explain the weird stuff that EU was asking for if none of the other schools I’ve ever been to have done it, but it’s the best idea I’ve come up with.

First, and most importantly, is the lie that their master of public health program will only take a year. Four-week classes, just like when I was an undergrad. That’s what their website says [as of Tuesday], that’s what my admissions rep said…on Monday. Today [Tuesday], Sally agrees with Blake and says, “No, each class is two months.”

I was so surprised at this sudden change in information that I actually sat here and emailed Sally while I was on the phone with Blake!

Can y’all not count? Twelve classes times two months apiece is TWO YEARS! And they’re not going to double-up, because Everglades is famous for its “one class at a time” approach. (More about this shortly.)

That would explain why grad students only start on terms A and C (there are four per semester), but not why the school’s website says the degree takes one year! Plus, I don’t want to double-up! I’ve done it twice with two different schools and it’s a BITCH! (Any school that demands you take two classes per term/semester to keep your financial aid is out of its fucking mind. Find another!)

 

I have to pick up the narrative thread from the review for a minute.

When I first put out a request for information a month or so ago, Sam was the first person I talked to by email, with Olivia following up shortly after. She told me that Sam wasn’t available, but Catherine would be calling me at some point. (I don’t remember if I ever talked to Catherine on the phone, by the way.) I told all three of them the same thing: I look like I’m failing2, but I want to be completely sure, which is why Sam and I agreed to talk on August 31st.

Two weeks or so ago, I heard from Sally from the first time. She interrupted my nap (this is important to the story), we chatted for a few minutes, and I told her the same thing I’d told Sam, Catherine and Olivia.

That was it, until I filed a preliminary application with EU on Sunday (August 30).

Janet emailed me about scheduling a time to chat, and I also received an email from Liam, which I all but ignored because I was already making plans with Janet. We ended up agreeing on six.

About 2:20, Sally calls and I tell her about Janet emailing me. There’s a little (verbal) handwringing on her end, but I say (in so many words) that it’s bullshit, because she called me before Janet. She and I talk until about 2:50, at which point I have to get off the phone, because it’s time for a virtual session with Sander. (The low-cost clinic chain Sander works for is still not allowing its therapists to have offline visits.)

Sally calls again at 4:20 and there’s even more handwringing and many complaints of, “You’ve already talked to Janet and I don’t want to step on any toes…” She didn’t straight up say, “If I take Janet’s student, Olivia is going to be pissed,” but it sure as hell sounded like it.

Again, I try to tell her that it’s bullshit. I haven’t “talked” to Janet, we’ve merely emailed to setup a time to talk. If Olivia or someone has a problem with it, I have a papertrail to prove it.

“Setting up an appointment counts as talking,” Sally whinges, “And I don’t want to step on any toes.” (She literally kept saying that. I was getting tired of her using those words.)

“In that case, Sam or whatever his name is has priority over both of you! I talked to him first, then Olivia, then Catherine. Then you called me during my nap two weeks ago (you or Catherine…I didn’t catch a name) and I told you that Sam and I had agreed to talk today. If there’s any toe-stepping going on, it’s Janet’s fault!”

“Oh, yeah, I guess we did talk two weeks ago. Okay, I’ll tell them.” Olivia and Janet, I guess? No idea. Also no clue why Sam completely left the picture and Catherine isn’t even listed as an admissions rep. (But maybe she’s new…the guidebook I was reading was a year old.)

These dumbasses also tell each other absolutely nothing. I was on the phone for three fucking hours with Sally on Monday, answering questions for my "interview" (which I didn't know was coming) and handling general other things to get started.

When Blake called on Wednesday, he was starting to ask the exact. Same. Fucking. QUESTIONS!

As if that wasn't bad enough, when Tammy called to work on my finances on Tuesday, she whined that she couldn't get a hold of me.

Why?

Apparently in three hours of talking to me, Sally couldn't be fucked to update the system, so my mobile was listed as [two numbers ago], my work was listed as [toll free for library I was at a decade ago and never gave out] and there was no home number. (They also had a license number for me that was dead a good month before I started class with them in 2007.)

Oh, and they're also impatient little fucks: I hadn't even signed off on a transcript request yet and they were already calling my high school for a person that didn't exist outside of the internet back then! Didn't find out about that until someone called from the registrar's office complaining they couldn't find me. (*eye roll*)

think I can jump the review back in at this point:

 

Wednesday

This afternoon, Blake calls. (No idea who he was, because I was told my advisor was Jeff, who pulls double duty as the dean of students.) He [starts asking similiar questions to Sally's] and I give him dull answers. When I finally ask him why we’re scheduling an advising appointment for February if I start class in October, he says, “Do we have a problem?”

“Yeah, I’m starting to think this program has been SERIOUSLY misrepresented to me!”

I already had tears in my voice by the time I hung up.

Sally tried to call me ten minutes later, at which point I was already emailing her.

I yelled into the phone, "I don't want to talk to you!", and the dumb bitch barely waits five minutes to call back.

'Scuse you? "I don't want to talk to you" means that I, Dayanara Sanar Ryelle, do not wish to speak to you, "Sally [Surname]", because I am too worked up and because I'm already pouring out my feelings in an email.

You'd think she'd have given it twenty-four hours and then either answered my email or tried calling to see where we stood on me starting with them (especially as worried as she seemed to be about taking crap from Olivia), but it never happened.

[Paraphrasing this part.]

They also seem to be absolutely fantastic at losing important papers, or at least failing to read the email that they come in on.

At some point before Blake called, I heard from Sally.

"I asked you for two pieces of ID the other day. Where are they and where are your transcript requests and your timeline?"

"I sent you the two pieces of ID and the transcript request. I told you that the timeline file was corrupted. Did you bother to read the email?"

She went looking and found the ID, but complained that the only transcript request she saw was for undergrad.

Yes, they're so addlepated that they needed a transcript request to their own selves for my file. (A friend said it was for FERPA, but they'd already had me sign a FERPA release on Tuesday?)

"I told you in the email that I wasn't going to sign off on the high school transcript request with my deadname on it. They won't be able to find me and it'll be a waste of time."

Some babble about me changing it.

"Can't you change it?"

"No, you have to change it," or "it can't be changed" or some shit.

Seriously?  How hard is it to get a blank form and fill in the information I give you and send it off?

I think it was in response to the corrupted file that Sally said, "I've never heard of that."

Tough shit. I haven't heard of a ".numbers" file, either, but that's what you sent me and it's corrupt!

As if all this wasn't bad enough, they kept asking about shit they had no business knowing.

 

We need a copy of your driver's license and social security card.

Okay, putting your SSN on an application isn't unusual, but why do they need both when I'm an alumna? (If there's any lesson I've learned from all this, it's to be less complacent. Just because you think you know someone/a business/a school, doesn't mean you should get comfortable!)

We need your [high school] diploma and your transcripts.

I get not having my information on file after I've been gone a decade, but…why? Literally no other grad school has ever asked for my high school transcripts.

We need you to sign off on this warning that you're getting close to your max undergrad borrowing limit.

For grad school? (I think I asked about this one, and Tammy blew me off with, "It just a thing they make you do.")

How did you support yourself in 2018?

Why the fuck does it matter? What you need to know is on my FAFSA. What the government needs to know was on my tax return. Why do you think you deserve to know more than the IRS?

But who paid for your car, phone, utilities, etcetera?

I bought my car out of pocket. I don't pay for my phone. My dad pays for the utilities because they and the house are both in his name. I get food stamps.

Oh, well, you can't tell them [whoever "they" are] any of this, or they'll start asking awkward questions. Just say "N/A" for your car and say your dad pays for the rest.

 

Repeat after me: I do not need to know all this. It is none of my fucking business. As long as Dayanara has a safe, supportive home where she is loved and fed and her mental health issues are kept at bay, I have no reason to demand answers to questions that no one should be asking unless they are authorized representatives of the United States Social Security Administration or the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.


Petey says, "I knew you never meant to leave!"

Michael pulled my withdrawal request before it was processed, so my biggest concerns right now are:

1. My professional identity statement. I went looking for examples and found one from a therapist who went to Western…and it's basically a fancy biography (like something she might post to her Psychology Today listing, if she has one). I'm terrible at bios, and I'm not sure having instructions from a professor is going to help.

2. A new short story. I'm going to send my mom a link to this post, and I can already hear her saying, "You're creative, you'll think of something."

Which I'm pretty sure is momspeak for, "I have no clue. You're on your own, kid." (*chuckle*)

I also have to write a query letter for an appropriate publication for my story; but for some reason, that seems to be my least concern at the moment.

3. Did I screw up my invitation to ΣΤΔ? Theoretically, no, since my withdrawal was never processed, but we'll see. (If it arrives as fast as my NSLS invitation, it will be here on September 8.)

Thankfully, all of those seem pretty small in comparison to the stress of last term.

 

As for Sally? Ten to one, she'll finally call back after I've started term next week. (*eye roll*)


1There is a disability discharge available that would clear all my student loans, but it would also forbid me from ever going back to school again, since it’s nigh on impossible to do so without loans. So that’s why I call it clearing the board.

2If I had failed lit theory, I would’ve failed out of my program, as there was no other option except retaking it. And you know me—I’d never agree to a retake.


Death by Citation


Hello, I’m a Slytherclaw. ^_^

Once upon a time, I attended wizard school.

(Have I told this story before? I feel like I have. Oh well, I’m repeating it for a reason.)

(Also, I’m not putting a link to the school because they don’t deserve it and I don’t want to stir up old crap with them.)

Somehow—and I’m fuzzy on the exact details, because this was in 2007—I ended up becoming friends with one of the instructors (different department than anything I was interested in, so no conflict of interest there), who encouraged me to become a teacher’s assistant. Joining the staff meant that everything beyond what I’d already paid for in tuition was free and they would start paying me after promotion to instructor, which was usually about a year after acceptance to TA status and developing your first class. (In fact, they encouraged you to use the year to develop your class so the two requirements would be completed about the same time.)

I was doing well in my classes (to the point where I had two of my three nominations needed for the dean’s list), my aromatherapy classes were developing apace (yup, plural! I had that much material) under the supervision of my department head (I was in the healing division, which is why one of my lesser used nicknames is “Leuca Bleu”short for my wizarding name, “Melaleuca the Blue”*)…and then I met E.

CUE NIGHTMARE MUSIC!

Jaina Proudmore (of World of Warcraft/Hearthstone fame). Not my usual class, but I figured a female mage wearing blue was probably about the closest I was going to get to a blue wizard of the proper gender.

*Each division within wizard school was assigned a color and healing was blue. My minors were herbalism (green) and divination (yellow).

Now I’m not usually one to accuse someone of using untoward means to get to where they are; but if E was willing to blackmail me (and pretend she didn’t), chances are good that she got elsewhere with foul play, as well.

After all, I was down to the last assignment of my last class, both for promotion to level two and securing that last nomination to the dean’s list. What better way to ensure your student will bow down and kiss your hand then to threaten both their accolades and advancement? Of course, E never overtly said that’s what she was doing; but it didn’t take a genius to figure out her intentions, either.

I don’t remember what exactly we were supposed to do; but I suspect it was a lot like the herbarium I’m doing right now for one of my grad school classes, just with a lot less in the way of requirements, and with the information coming out of our textbooks.

Anyway, I turned it in and waited for my grade…only to be told that she “expects more out of [her] adult students” and could I please add some additional information?

That should’ve flagged. Hard.

Like “I should’ve gone running to D (my friend) and said, ‘HELP! E is trying to hit me with a double standard!'” hard.

Or gone to S (my advisor) at the very least.

But instead, I decided to stick it out and do what she wanted. I got out my favorite aromatherapy book, copied out the appropriate information and wrote at the bottom, “This information provided by [title] by [author].”

Probably not the best citation; but given that all the data was copied out of the same book, not the worst—especially when the worst would be no citation at all.

Oh, how wrong I was!

Probably the wrongest wrong I’ve ever been—and that’s even allowing for my failure to report the double-standard-blackmail bullshit E was trying to pull.

You see, there wasn’t a grand announcement when I joined the staff as a TA.

In fact, there wasn’t any at all, if I can remember correctly.

So when E announced to the staff mailing list that she needed help finding the anti-plagiarism lesson because “one of her students didn’t know better” (or some such) and she’d lost it on the forum (where they kept all their important papers, apparently), she had No. Fucking. CLUE that I was aware the millisecond she not only broadcasted to the entire world that I was a giant cheater (which was a horrendous lie that had dire consequences), but displayed her fucking email address (this was through Yahoo Groups) so the shit could hit the fan rather royally.

And boys howdy did it ever!

Lots of caps?

Oh yeah!

At least three profane words?

I’d be shocked if there weren’t!

Statements wherein you [A] Called E a liar; [B] Told E that if she had a problem with you, she should’ve contacted you privately; [C] Accused E of “dragging your name through the mud” or any combination thereof?

[C] Absolutely; [B] Very good odds; and [A] 50/50 probability.

I don’t know how I ever thought railing against her could have ended well; but rage screams first and asks questions later.

I’m sure the first thing I did was get out of E’s class. “If she’s not my teacher, she can’t hold anything over my head and”…yeah, I don’t know how I thought that would work to get rid of the plagiarism accusation. My thought was just to get away from her, find another class and do well so I could get to “second year” and make the dean’s list.

I was going to say that the second thing I did was use my limited TA powers to kick myself out of the class I was subbing in; but now I feel like maybe I was locked out instead. (I don’t remember the nature of the class, but I think it was an easy-peasy one that any Wiccan or Pagan could teach with even so much as six months in the art under their belts.)

And then there was dealing with the Ruling Council of Wizard School—better known as the Dragon’s Eye.

(I don’t remember the name or title of the woman I dealt with, so let’s call her Morgan le Fay and let’s say she was the Dean of Students.)

This is where the timeline gets tricky, so bear with me.

Let’s imagine E didn’t snap back at me but immediately warned Morgan of my rage. I’m sure I got an email from Morgan saying that there was no reason that I should be upset; that all I had to do was complete the plagiarism assignment, and once I’d proven I knew where I went wrong and was penitent, the Dragon’s Eye would almost assuredly take me off suspension and I could get back to work.

Good thing there were computers between Morgan and I so I wouldn’t have to decide whether to smack her, scream at her, or both.

Naturally, I screamed.

I railed at her for siding with E and her double standards, for allowing E to drag my name through the mud with false accusations (that wasn’t an arbitrary statement earlier—I at least remember that much from this whole fiasco), etcetera. I don’t remember if I dropped my classes myself or if they did it for me, but I know I got out and I slept badly that night; and when I woke up (at 7 or 7:30 that morning—that’s how bad it was), there was a message from Morgan in my Hotmail box saying—among other things, I’m sure—that E wasn’t dragging my name through the mud.

As the kids used to say: that’s so funny, I forgot to laugh.

I don’t remember how it ended, but I know I threatened to report her to her ISP for harassment if she didn’t stop talking to me. (Probably not as much of a threat back then as it is now with cyberbullying laws, but it was my go-to to get people to shut up.)


So this is how my papers look nowadays. Here’s the results section from my term paper with the sentences replaced with word count and the citations left in:

[1 sentence] (TRC, n.d.). [1 sentence] (TRC, n.d.). MedlinePlus [sentence] (n.d.). [2 sentences]

[Part of a sentence], Foster and Duke (2000) [rest of the sentence]. [1 sentence]. WebMD (n.d.) [2 sentences]. Hausen [part of a sentence] (in 1996) [rest of the sentence, plus 1 more].

[Part of a sentence] Tenney (2007) [rest of the sentence]. [Part of a sentence], Lawless (1995) [rest of the sentence]. Ulbricht (2010) [1 sentence + large quote]. Drugs.com (n.d.) [1 sentence].

Naturally, I had a professor say once in undergrad, “You use too many citations.”

Amazing how fast he shut up when I told him this story!

Guess what?

When this

is on the line, there is NO SUCH THING as too many citations!

(I’m switching out of MSCAM and starting MSA in the spring, but this was the only ACHS masters I could find. Thanks, Chris!)


P.S. from the following month: Turns out I told this story in 2016. This version is better.

P.P.S. (062220): Now it seems like the class I was subbing for was on the elements. Like I said, easy!

I also left ACHS for SNHU to resume the grad program I left at the end of 2016. (Feel like I should put that in there, because I’m sure I’ll show this to professors as I go. Seems like I’ve already done it at least once.)


Last Week Right Now

Ordinarily, I'd fold a video a little further into my post, but I think it's important to start off with this one from John Oliver for a little background. The entire clip (eighteen minutes) is about standardized testing in general, but it's only the last eight or so that specifically pertain to me.

Last Week Tonight? Mmm…no. Try Last Week Right Now.

I hope you've never been under the impression that the people scoring your children's tests are experienced educators because—at least at Pearson—you'd be sadly mistaken. All they ask for is a bachelors and (probably) proof of citizenship. (I don't even remember if they ever interviewed me the first time.) Oh and the degree has to be in hand…I tried signing up in 2010, but since Everglades wasn't going to mail me my degree until after the project was over, they couldn't hire me.

(I'm not trying to put myself down by including this picture…just using it symbolically to mean "no one special". Incidentally, this was taken eight months after I finished my bachelors.)

John isn't wrong about how Pearson sources their staff, either. When I signed on eight years ago, it was after seeing an ad in the classifieds. (What is Craigslist other than a massive global classified section, anyway?) Despite the fact that I ended up leaving before the end of the project (more on that in a bit), they drew me from the lottery two more times, most recently at the beginning of the month.

 

I don't remember if I ever got a chance to state my preferences the first time. I'm guessing I did, because otherwise, I probably would've ended up with math a lot harder than third grade. I didn't get a chance to say I didn't want full time, though (I didn't know there was a part time option until I was actually there), so I had the wonderful luck to pry myself out of bed so I could be there at eight. I don't know how I ever made it without my anxiety freaking out, but maybe that's because it was saving itself for later…

We were packed almost elbow-to-elbow in what I think was a converted grocery store, because it still had the hydraulic door mats. I'd say there were five rows of five computers each, and then the sixth had three laptops for the supervisors, who sat facing us. The cafeteria—such as it was—was packed even tighter, and we had to take our breaks/meals in shifts because there were so many of us. We didn't have to ask permission to go to the bathroom, but that's probably because they kept it refrigerator cold (undoubtedly so we wouldn't linger).

I spent six. Fucking. Hours staring at triangles! It was supposed to be eight, but the guy to my right was a Pearson vet and warned me that if you didn't do things just so, they'd kick you to the curb so fast, your butt wouldn't have time to blister. My anxiety reared its ugly head so bad that I went home early and never went back.

 

My name came up in the lottery again in 2013 for the same fucking third grade Maryland triangles. I told them to get bent, but stupidly kept updating my application…which is how I got into this mess.

(The picture is a link to the relevant deviantArt page, by the way.)

(Also, new rule: if I use a permutation of “fuck” more than twice in a post where I’m relating something that happened to me, it’s automatically a rageblog.)


I got an email from Pearson April 2, with an offer to score ninth grade writing for the Texas STAAR, but I had to accept by the end of the day on the third. Thirty-two hours (or so) is a little tight, but I knew I wanted to take it, so it wasn't a problem. (Heck, I was so excited, I was doing a sort of "NO TRIANGLES!" dance! 😂)

Next phase was to get the usual paperwork done. I think they were a couple of days in getting my "onboarding" stuff to me, and even though it violated their deadline, I didn't think it was a problem if they didn't. I ran into a problem doing my i9 (a citizenship form) and I emailed them about it, but didn't get a response. Called scoring support, decided I didn't want to wait on hold and eventually found the place to raise a help ticket. It took them at least forty-eight hours to get back to me. At that point, I was a little concerned because it said I had to have the form filled out by the time I worked for them three days with pay, but I hadn't done that yet, so I didn't think it was a big deal.

In the meanwhile, I was supposed to "certify" (read: prove that I could see/grade papers the way they see them) between the fifth and the tenth. I didn't get the login info for that until the twelfth…and it was only when they said the deadline had been extended to the fourteenth did I realize they were running behind. (Again, no worries, because them being off track means they're not going to dock me for delays…right?) It took me two tries to pass certification, so even though I was originally supposed to do training April 11-14, I wasn't approved for it until the last day. Oh and I was supposed to do live training in one of four sessions…that ended Friday.

"Oh well," I thought, "I'll just do training as quickly as possible and catch up to the live scoring when I can." (The project was supposed to start yesterday and run to May 9.) "If they still want me to do live training, I'm sure they'll arrange something for me."

Sunday afternoon, I signed up for the 3-7 shift for yesterday (April 15). I login to the workspace…"we don't have anything scheduled for you."

Okay, fine. Maybe I dreamed booking myself for this shift.

Went to the booking site…yup, still there. (If you want to work that shift, it will say "submit"; if you change your mind, you hit "unsubmit".) Checked back in the workspace…same thing.

Went to raise a fresh ticket…"your login information is incorrect."

After just responding to the i9 ticket earlier? Ohhkay. Fine.

Called scoring support. After being on hold for a while and the rep taking forever to figure out what was going on, she announced that I'd been terminated April 5.

WHAT?!

THEN WHAT THE FUCK DID I JUST DO THIS WEEKEND, WORK FOR FREE?!

 

Terminated. Less than forty-eight hours after I hired on and before I could do any sort of training or anything.

What. The actual. FUCK?!

That rep said she was going to check into what happened and call back. She never did. (No surprise.)

Got a response to my ticket late last night:

Upon further review, this is to confirm that there is no action needed from your end regarding your Form I9 completion as of now.

Know what I said?

(No, not “your English is terrible”, though I sorely wanted to.)

Yeah, because I found out you fired me approximately 48 hours after I was hired and no one ever told me why.

It was very nice of all of you to string me along for two weeks and not have the gall to tell me until I couldn't login anymore.

If I believed in hell, I'd tell you to go rot in it.

 

I don't expect to get paid.

Or get answers.

Or anything, really.

I'd hire an attorney to go after them for my money, but it's so little that it's not worth it. (I was booked in for eight hours, but only worked a grand total of fifty-five minutes for certification purposes. So that's $96 before taxes at best and $12 at worst.)

Probably going to tell the attorney general, though. She'll want to know, especially if it turns out Pearson is still running scoring centers in the state.

I'll let a month lapse, though, just to be on the safe side. Stay tuned!


P.S. from September: Yes, I got paid, but this fiasco will ensure I never attempt to put up with their bullshit again. (Shame, though—if the certification papers were any indication, some of these kids have thought-provoking answers that would be [and were] a pleasure to read.)


Between Dreams and Reality

There are times where you have to choose between what you want and what you need. When faced with that decision last year, I chose wrongly and got neither.

 

I think it was about this time last year that I went to Jackson National Life to take some pre-employment testing. They turned me down at first, but a few months later, I got a call saying that they’d reconsidered and they would like to interview me. I was thisclose to getting a position in the call center (or so I think), but instead of accepting, I started crying (*headdesk of mortification*) because I hadn’t heard back from Pepperdine on whether they were going to accept me into their psychology graduate program. So–of course–since I couldn’t make a commitment, they turned me down.

This year, I made the cut at Consumer’s Energy for a position at their call center (providing I pass the drug and background checks, of course). With starting pay at over thirteen dollars an hour, benefits and hours currently running into overtime (not to mention the possibility of being called in for any and all storms that pop up in the state of Michigan), this isn’t a position to sneeze at. But it comes with a price.

I’m currently registered for three classes–Editing Legal Documents on Mondays and Wednesdays, Paralegal Career/Ethics on Tuesdays and Thursdays and Introduction to Forensic Science online. If I keep my classes, I’ll have training eight hours a day, five days a week (for six weeks); class two hours a day, four days a week (for three-ish months); plus the online class and homework. Between getting up at five-thirty in the morning, coming home at eight and going to bed at ten(-ish), I’ll be a mess. If I didn’t cry (and/or have a panic attack) on the first day of trying to manage that combination, I’d be shocked. So I guess I’m going to drop out of school.

My mother was surprised that I was going to drop out of school, but that I could do what I want. Well, no…I can’t do what I want. School won’t pay my father back, school won’t give me benefits, school won’t let me (finally) buy my own car, school won’t let me (finally) move out. But working for CE will do all that for me. I want to become a paralegal (since all my other career aspirations didn’t work out), I want to move out to California, I want to have the life I’ve always dreamed of; but I can’t. I won’t have time to go to school (working ten to twelve hours a day will certainly put an axe on that), CE only serves Michigan…the only thing I’ll still be able to do is write novels. If I even have the energy for that!

I never thought I’d see the day where I’d have to drop out of school because I can’t go to work and go to school at the same time, but shit happens. Life happens.


The Masters Dilemma

Sometimes, the truth is ugly. I know we all wish it could be as beautiful as Sofia Vergara or Heidi Klum (or whomever you particularly favor); and honestly, this sounds even worse coming from a dreamer like me. But here it is:

I can’t follow my dreams. Gods, how I wish I could, but every time I try, something throws itself in my way.

I wanted to go into the Navy or the Air Force, but my IBS stops me from doing that. (Even if there was a chance in hell it could be waivered, all chances went out the door when I was diagnosed with panic disorder. Of that, I’m sure.) I wanted to be a Naturopathic physician, but I couldn’t crack chemistry. I wanted to be a performance psychologist, but I didn’t realize that clinical psychology programs are extremely competitive. Now I’ve given up on nursing, because pharmacology is all or nothing–90% in all math portions or you fail the class. And that makes the stakes way too high for me.

I don’t know. Maybe I run away too easily. But I don’t want to spend the rest of my life trying and failing chemistry and nursing is obviously not the best place for someone who does not have math for a strong point. (It’s not just pharma–the information they gave us at the start of the class said that if you got into the nursing program, every class would have a math portion before the end of the semester. And eventually, they stop offering workshops for the struggling students, because they figure you know your stuff by then.) Maybe I should’ve kept trying to get into psychology grad programs and not gotten scared off after Pepperdine rejected me and after seeing the acceptance statistics for Central Michigan University. Yet I feel kind of guilty for wasting the time of the people I’m asking for recommendations if I constantly get rejected.

So I’ve decided to go into a field that I constantly see on the “high demand” lists Yahoo Careers periodically puts out. (Although now that I’ve started mentioning it to people, I haven’t seen any.) I’ve decided to become a paralegal, kind of specializing in family law, as I imagine that’s probably the next biggest need after criminal law. I figure if Yahoo keeps mentioning paralegals on list after list, they must really be in demand. Besides, my therapist says her cousin is a paralegal who lives in Arizona and has no problem getting work–and she’s paid relatively well, too.

But I have another idea bobbling around in my mind. Still trying to get a masters degree–in any psychological subject–so I can teach. At first, I wasn’t really keen on the idea of teaching, but my mom reminded me that if I teach at the college level, the kids are paying to be there, so they’ll (generally) behave. Mom thinks I’d be a good teacher and my counselor agrees with her. I still don’t know if I want to teach (despite the fact that it might be interesting to teach a subject that I enjoyed, like abnormal psych), but I do want a masters. Partially to feel special, I think. I’ve outdone my father by simply getting a bachelors degree, and I have to admit that it’s very likely that I want to outdo my mother by getting a masters.

If I do decide to try for a graduate program again–and it’s very likely I will, by 2015 or so–I’m going to try a smaller, less well-known school. Nova Southeastern has an M.S. general psychology–completely online and based in Florida, just like my undergrad program. (In fact, unless I’m greatly mistaken, I think some of my Everglades professors graduated from Nova.) And if I fail to get in there? There’s always the University of Phoenix. (*tiny raspberry*)