Friday, March 09, 2007

Flashback Friday: a Walk Through My College Transcript

I've been telling people that I am planning on going back to school in the fall to pursue an M.S. in Education, however, that's not entirely true. I'd decided to go back to school, but until this week, I hadn't actually done any planning. Realizing that the fall would be upon me in a flash, I decided I'd better get moving. So get moving I did--literally. I walked the 15 minutes to the community college to request, in person, the first of my transcripts. I attended there so long ago, requesting them online wasn’t an option. (Has it really been almost 25 years?) One hour later, I was back at home for five minutes before hopping in the car to drive the two miles to the small, private university where I would request my second set of transcripts.

Here, because the university is so small, I was not required to pay for the transcripts and I was able to wait (about three whole minutes) to get an unofficial copy for myself. Ouch. I'd forgotten what a horrible student I was the first two and a half years of college. As I perused my mix of As, Bs and Cs, (and one D--shame on me!), I also was treated to a little slide show of memories. So, the following is probably both my debut and final curtain call of Flashback Friday. Debut because I can't resist sharing this walk through my transcript, and final curtain call because Sunshine Scribe, Alpha DogMa and I'm sure a couple of others are much more able to do it justice.

Let's set the Way Back Machine to August of 1983. I weighed a mere 109 pounds and owned a pair of Dolphin shorts and sported a full, layered, hot rollers-required do. Blue eyeliner was popular and my favorite pair of shoes were white leather shoes which looked like the pair on the cover of Joe Jackson's Look Sharp album. I'd already dropped out of community college the previous year, and after working full-time since then, I'd decided I was ready to go back to school. I convinced my wealthy father, from whom I was estranged, to pay the significant tuition and so I found myself--in a turn of events I did not come close to appreciating--attending college with my tuition and dorm residence paid in full. No student loans. I was only required to pay for the few meals my meal card didn’t cover, gas and car insurance. One part-time job at a software development company took care of that.

More interested in "experiencing" college than attending classes, I managed to fritter away my time in such a manner that I ended my first semester with one A, two B's and 2 C's. (Lest I forget to tell you, I not only took it easy in my classes, I never registered for more than 13 units. I was definitely not the driven to succeed type.) Well, don't be impressed in the slightest with the one A because it was New Student Integration and only worth one unit. A future English major, I managed a C in Grammar and Composition. (I now hang my head in shame.) Grammar and Composition was taught by a teacher who my friends and I decided had no business teaching college students. Because we were 18 & 19 years old and knew more than any other people on the planet, we felt we were making a point by sitting in the back row and making fun of her and skipping as many classes as humanly possible. Life of Christ I, the class responsible for my other C, was taught by a revered professor, required weekly Scripture memorization and commentaries (An assignment in which we were required to take copious notes on assigned verses of the Bible from the collection of Bible commentaries in the library.) If you remember how well I did as a senior in high school with mundane, repetitive work, you might guess how earnestly I did NOT apply myself to that task.

I did better in my Introduction to Psychology and Theology of Ministries classes. The psychology class was taught by a brilliant, funny professor and had multiple choice tests, so with a little reading and decent class attendance (encouraged by a TA who took an interest in me), I managed a B. I remember little about my efforts in the other class except that the teacher was eccentric and as long as you made sure to parrot back what he wanted, it wasn't too difficult to get a B.

(Don't worry. I’m not going to take you through all 63 units of my career at this college.)

As I examine my transcript for the years 1983-1985, I see a pattern emerging. A steady stream of Cs and Bs with a few As thrown in for good measure. Sadly, I can explain almost all of the As away. For example, my oral communication class. I received an A. The teacher for that class, whom we called Dr. Chins--for reasons which should be self-explanatory--had a habit of falling asleep during speeches. That's right. Nodding off, head on chest, I think he gave us the benefit of the doubt. Of course, he may just not have wanted to risk a student complaining about a bad grade. Next, there's Journalism for Publication. I was the editor-in-chief, star reporter and graphics designer for the school paper. Why? I was the only one who took the class that semester. Ah, the good old days of layout boards, typewriters and rubber cement. I got an A because the paper was published, not because I was good at publishing it.

I am actually somewhat proud of the Bs I managed: Introduction to Literature, World Civilization since 1600, American Government, Romans. These were classes with teachers I respected and subject matter which interested me. My lack-of-study-habit affected me, but I managed two papers with perfect grades of which I am proud to this day. As I peruse my Cs, the characteristic which they all have in common is lots of busy work. Now, I'm not saying it wasn't worthwhile busy work, but huge notebooks with fill-in-the-blank worksheets and weekly Scripture commentaries were too time consuming and uninteresting. I simply chose to spend my time doing other things. (See making out with Paul reference later in this post.)

In addition to my classes, I also got flashes of other memories of that time in my life. When I look at that C in Grammar and Comp., I not only remember sitting in that back row, laughing at our teacher's Pebbles-like pom-pom on top of her head, I also remember the four or five of us who hung out in those first weeks of college. I can recall the nights becoming more brisk and walking around campus laughing at anything and everything. Oh, to be that young and that arrogant, or should I say ignorant, again.

I'm also transported back to the early days of my relationship with Paul when I would be hoping to catch glimpses of him as he attended the state university across the street. Eventually, I would get to know him much better as we sometimes made out in his or my car (rarely, only rarely). I can remember talking to each other over the patio wall of my dorm room and walking on the overpass bridge which connected the two campuses.

A parade of roommates passes through my mind. Most of whom, I got along with. One, well, let's just say I don't know how I made it through one semester with her. Wait, make that two. I just remembered the girl who used to wake up at 6:00 every morning when she would proceed to turn on a particularly heinous Christian song (Powder Room Politics) with no regard to the three of us sloths who woke up just in time for our 8:00 a.m. classes. Blech! There is only one of my roommates with whom I stayed close for any length of time. We were close for many years before life, with its way of interfering, finally sent us down that road of still treasured but distant friends.

These were the years when I started creating some distance from my family for reasons I wouldn't understand until well after the birth of my son. I was always home for holidays but it was rare for me to otherwise spend a day at home. (I only lived 20 minutes away.) In December of 1985, my father presented me with a list of demands. After two and a half years of not interfering, he decided it was time to assert himself. I finished my last semester, inquired of my employer whether I could work full-time and then simply cut off contact with my father. The story is very complicated. (Aren’t they always.) I can't pretend I made all the best choices, but ultimately, I don't regret that temporary severing of ties.

I didn't return to school until after I married Paul. A couple of years older and in a stable relationship, I became a better student. My second semester at UTD, a fellow classmate and I decided to get together for lunch to discuss an upcoming assignment. Hours later, sitting over gigantic cups of coffee at The Dream Cafe, the lunch crowd long gone, I had a new friend. One that I believe I will have forever. With both of our husbands frequent travelers, we spent vast quantities of time together eating Le Petit Ecolier cookies, drinking coffee, making German pancakes, studying, eating even more food. We read and corrected each other's papers and were there for each other through a few personal crises...

But that's a story for another day. Maybe after I get my transcripts from UTD.


meredith said...

I can't believe you were able to get Petit Ecolier Cookies! My beginning college days were less than brilliant, I only did good the last year, when I realized I really wanted to graduate and get on with my own life, not dependant on my parents, although I did have mega student loans...

metro mama said...

It's a good thing I went to university later in life. My grades in college (right after high school) were horrendous.

Terri B. said...

Bringing up the topic of old college transcripts made me shudder. Mine sound a lot like yours! I was using college as a way to "run away" from home so it isn't surprising that my grades were all over the place. And at age 18 I didn't fully appreciate that my few A's would not offset the B's, C's, and one D in the greater scheme of GPA. I just didn't care at the time but later came to regret not working to my potential. I think that leaving college after 2 years and not returning until age 26 was a good move -- it kept me from damaging my GPA too badly until I was actually ready to be in college. Nothing like some adult 8-5 work years to put some perspective on things!

Beck said...

Yeah, I was a complete bone head when I went to university and managed to drop out not once, not twice, but THREE TIMES!
AS I said, I was a big bone head.

Sophie said...

We grew up at the same time -- your reference to Joe Jackson is a flashback just by itself! I graduated in 1984, but not until I recoverd from failing a class in my sophomore year. Nothing like dragging your GPA up from nothing!

Mel said...

Oh about a stroll down memory lane.
Bell bottom pants, even. Oh my gosh. LOL

I don't have any qualms about the GPA on my transcripts.
I do have some problems remembering college. LOL I was a bit ...ummm...preoccupied?
The grades are good, though!
But actual 'learning'.....I learned things. LOL Just not what they intended me to learn?

Terri B. said...

Forgot to mention that I remember the hot roller hair and your white leather shoes! I can't believe I actually remember the shoes. I guess they must have made an impression.

Sandra said...

I loooooved reading this. Quite a trip down memory lane ... every bit of it.

MarillaAnne said...

mmmmm (as in mmmm these chocolate chip cookies are soooo good) so enjoying getting caught up on your blog.

I hope you do more of these from time to time!

Yeah and you and I have similar transcripts for similar reasons. I have no desire to go back for any reason, however.

That said, I'm not about to give up independent studies! I absolutely find learning so much more interesting now. So, I absolutely understand why you could want to go back.


Anonymous said...

LOL I was only 13 heheh


daisies said...

what a fun read :)

oh how i miss school or maybe its the bloom of youth and anticipation of life ... hmmmm, and yet, yup, there it is ~ my cubicle hasn't killed that yet :) I'm glad your going back and I'm glad I'm taking classes again too!

thanks for sharing yourself my dear!

Julie Pippert said...

What a fun flashback!

You reminded me of so much and of course always fun to read other memories.

In 1984, I had a favorite outfit. It was pink plaid shorts (plaided with gray and cream). I had a slinky shoulder short sleeve sweater to wear with it, matching socks and even matching loafers. Hello prep.

I wore it to see the 1984 Summer Olympics parade of triumph aka Drool Over the Men's Gymnastics team.

It's funny, I never thought I'd feel wistful over the past, but somedays, what I wouldn't give for good school and the joy of a simple afternoon with girlfriends.

Mary-LUE said...

Stu, Don't rub it in! :P

Pam and Sandra, Thanks!

Julie, Did you live in the LA area in 84? I was in Orange County but we had quite a few of the Olympic events here at our local state u.

Mary-LUE said...

Oh, and Daisies? You're welcome! ;)

Julie Q. said...

I'm impressed that you have such concrete memories from your college years. I can hardly remember my string of various roommies. Maybe I was too busy studying or something silly like that.

Good luck in the return to school. From personal experience (and watching returning students in my own classes) I'll bet you'll have a very different set of grades when you're through. It's amazing how students take their education more seriously when they are older, wiser and spending their own money.

Anonymous said...

I often look back on my college days with a balanced mix of nostalgia and regret. I'm pretty sure I made a good number of wrong choices, but I figure in the end, they made me who I am, right? Sometimes, I still don't know...

Really enjoyed this post. It gives me things to ponder over the weekend.

Alpha DogMa said...

My univ experience was very dull, basically just an extension of high school as I lived at home and took the bus to school. Then I graduated and had a meltdown because I was woefully unprepared for reality.
Please, can we see a photo of your from the days. PLEASE!