Tuesday, May 17, 2005

School..... Again......and Reflections

I'm back in school. I'm taking an intensive Oceanography class at Old Dominion University over the summer. It's a 4 day a week class at 5 hours a day. ( it includes a daily lab) I'm taking a follow up course after this one and a math class as well so that in 10 weeks I'll have pulled 13 credits!

This will be the first "semester" I'll have been able to complete since 2001.

All other attempts at college sine 2001 have been thwarted by reserve call-ups.

Given that I've done my 2 weeks for the Coast Guard Reserve, I should be able to get this out of the way with no trouble.

That will put me at about 3 semesters from graduation. I have a 6 month activation early next year, so I should finish college in 2 years. Not bad considering i had to just about start over with the change in requirements and given the non-complimentary nature of my major (Oceanography) and my minor (East Asian Studies). Depending on when I get back from deployment next year, I should be able to take the summer course in Japan......this of course is getting ahead of things, but the fact is I am making progress.

This does beg the question, how can anyone consider graduating at 37 progress? Indeed, I recently had a friend of many years "move on", presumably because of my recent lack of visible progress. This following on the heels of friends whoes last words to me revolved around "spinning wheels" was a bit demoralizing. This caused some considerable self reflection, however, upon reflection, I think I've been doing pretty darn well.

10 years ago I was living in my car, was making 16-17,000 a year and was right at $40,000 in debt. Four years ago I had a trailer, and was completely out of debt aside from a few hundred on my Sears card...(stupid dryer). I'd have likely finished college by now and might even have moved to Guam, orAmerican Samoa had I not enlisted (In the reserves) after 9/11.

On the surface, this was a mistake. It cost me most of my friends directly or indirectly, cost me money when I was just getting out of debt (and had no savings), and cost me all sorts of grief with the knee surgery, elbow injury and massively disrupted school schedule. I have completed ONE class since 9/11, and that because my teacher let me do independant study. Despite this I am VERY glad to have enlisted, and would not undo it if I could. My experiences in the Coast Guard Reserve, as unremarkable as my career has been, have been incredibly edifying and good. I have absolutely NO regrets regards my enlistment.

I'm driving a 14 year old truck you can see the road through the floorboards of, I'm living in a mobile home and don't have cable, but this lack of trappings have bought me a 401K and despite several setbacks, in 2 years or so, I WILL have a degree, I'll make a decision on Graduate school then, but with my CG experience, my HAZMAT qualifications and the degree, I'll be in a pretty good spot.

Yeah, I made some impressive mistakes that got me in the above mentioned fix, but I turned things around and did so without declaring bankruptcy. Not an A&E biograpy story, but I'm not exactly ashamed of myself either.


No comments: