school daze

13 Nur 168 B.E. (Baha’i Calendar)
Soundtrack in my head:  Western Roots, “Rockers Galore”

The other posting I was going to post but never got around to was the posting about school.  School is one of the reasons I have difficulty posting to this blog on a timely basis. But I’m experimenting with writing out my posts on my Android phone, which hopefully will result in more frequent and shorter posts.

Just as most students in Madison were celebrating being out of school for the summer, I entered school for the first time in 22 years at the University of Wisconsin.  I am actually not a graduate student yet–I am taking a statistics course as a prerequisite for my graduate program that starts in the fall.  So I am considered a “special student” this summer and a graduate student this fall–that is, if I get a C or better in the class.  

And that distinction is apparently throwing a curve ball at the computer system involved in processing my financial aid/student loan application.  The UW isn’t that much bigger than the University of Illinois where I got my bachelor’s degree, but somehow it feels more intimidating. Either that or I just didn’t worry as much the first time around.  In any case I feel like a freshman at 43 and need one of those kind-hearted guides in the red Wisconsin t-shirts to guide this scared little puppy through the system.  (“It’s okay, young man.  Maybe a serving of Babcock Ice Cream will make you feel better.”)

I discovered, however, that there’s a few perks to being a student.  Even a three-credit class like mine entitles me to many perks that full-time students receive, starting with the ASM Bus Pass.  Apparently my student fees entitle me to a free bus pass each semester, which can be used anywhere on the Madison Metro system. So rather than pay $55 a month for a monthly Metro pass,  it appears that the university will provide me with one–theoretically until September 2015.

The first day of class felt quite strange.  The instructor eased us into class by having us interview and get to know the person next to us, and then introduce them to the class, which is has about twelve people.  Then he started talking about statistics.  As I sat in the class, I found myself thinking, “All rite, how does this lurning thing werk?  How much of this of this lekture am I suppozed to memurize?  How duz this all end up in my brane?”  But by the second class I felt more at ease.

Mercifully, the statistics class is geared toward social workers (meaning right-brained people like me) and is part of the Social Work department.  This is good because my brain definitely needs help in grasping these abstract concepts that are more challenging that “A train leaves Kansas City going eastbound at 75 mph and another train leaves Cleveland going westbound at 65 mph.  What is the conductor’s name?”

My classmates are an interesting mix of people–like me most are going back to school.  Several are married with children.  So I don’t feel like I’m sitting in chairs entirely too small for me in my old kindergarten class–even though most UW students weren’t yet born when I graduated from college.  Grad school means you don’t have to apologize for being older.