February 11, 2020

Back to School!

How cute was I on the first day of preschool? That is my friend Sarah with me--our moms got a first day of school photo of us together every year.

I fell down a rabbit hole today and spent all day there.

It started when I turned on a documentary this morning. It was about hospice care, and ever since my grandma was dying of Alzheimer's, I have always thought that being involved in hospice care would be a great field for me. I think that my empathy would come into good use.

However, I have no interest in being a nurse. In an ideal situation, I would be a grief counselor or something like that for the families and what they are going through while their loved one is dying.

Before I get into all that, let me explain my college background:

When I was in high school, there was only one option when I got out--go to college. In my generation, college was forced upon us and as far as parents were concerned, there were no other choices. And now, most of my friends who got their bachelor degrees in this or that aren't even using them.

I wanted to be various things growing up, but I ultimately decided I wanted to be a psychotherapist. And silly me, I thought if I majored in psychology, I could use that degree to be a therapist. I enrolled in Eastern Michigan University and started college in the fall of 2000. I declared my major as psychology, and began all the general education requirements, as well as some psych classes for electives.

It wasn't until two years later that I discovered that you can't really do anything with a psychology degree. What I'd needed was a Master of Social Work. By that point, I was two years into college and I had no idea what to do. But I needed to figure something out, and fast.

Since the Registered Nursing program at the community college is only two years (after the general education requirements), I thought that maybe I could get into that. I applied, and was rejected due to my GPA. It's really stupid how they calculate points to choose the nursing candidates.

It's a point system, and you earn points for things like GPA, test scores, in-county living, etc. Well, the biggest point-earner is from GPA. You pretty much have to have a 4.0 to get in. The GPA they use is your cumulative GPA from your most recently attended school (whether high school or college).

So, they looked at my GPA from Eastern, and it wasn't great (I think 2.8?). The counselor suggested that I take just one simple class at community college (a physical education class, an "easy A"). And then that would give me a 4.0 on their point system. Isn't that ridiculous?!

I didn't want to waste a whole semester on a PE course, so I looked into a certification program for Medical Assistant. It was only a one-year program and then I'd be done. I signed up for the required courses, and actually got a 4.0 (in all five classes!). Then, halfway through the one-year program, they canceled the Medical Assistant certification! So, I'd taken those classes for nothing.

Now, I really was desperate. I applied for a dietetics program at another community college, but I was also getting married, and I ended up declining the spot. I just wasn't feeling it. Instead, and I have no idea what possessed me to do this, I signed up for some Criminal Justice courses. About a week in, I dropped those classes (because why was I taking them?!). I was promoted to assistant manager at Curves, where I had been working, and decided to drop out of college.

I just couldn't figure out what it was I wanted to do... I didn't feel a passion toward something, and the few things I did think I'd enjoy (like a psychotherapist), I didn't have the patience (or money) to go through the entire program.

I don't regret quitting college at ALL. It just wasn't for me! I went because I felt like that was my only option. I paid student loans for several years after Jerry and I got married. And then I got on with my life. I had a couple of kids, I left Curves and worked for my OB/GYN from home until he didn't need me anymore (I scanned in all of the charts to electronic medical records).

So, fast forward to today. I started watching the documentary about hospice care, and out of curiosity, I dug out my old college papers. I was curious about what would happen if I applied for nursing again (I don't know why--I really don't want to do nursing!).

When I made an account and signed in, I noticed on the community college website that I am just two credits away from an associates degree. I had no idea! I had 56 credits at EMU, but not all of them transferred. (I earned 28 at the community college.)

With the credits earned at the community college and the transferred credits from EMU, I have 58 (I need 60 for an Associate of Science degree). I've fulfilled all of the general education requirements, so now I just need 2 credits from any class I choose to finish the degree.

(And yes, I checked with the registrar to see if my 100-year old credits were still good--they are.)

I don't need the degree for anything, but I figured that since I'm so close to getting it, it can't hurt. I can take a class that genuinely interests me. There is one called Mental Health, which might be cool. Or a coding class could be useful.

Or I could take a couple of phys ed classes (there is literally a class called "Jogging"--and I'm pretty sure I could teach it, hahaha). That's just one credit, so I could take a second phys ed class (Fitness Walking?).

While the mental health or coding would be interesting, I think I may go with the latter option. The classes are super cheap and I wouldn't need to spend a fortune on books. And the best part is that exercising will literally be graded, so I can't skip workouts or slack off. I have to show up and do what is required to get the credits.

I don't need to finish the associates degree because I don't plan to use it for anything; but being so close to completing it, why not?

So, I spent the day elbows deep in all my old paper work and new forms to fill out for transcripts to try and figure out some plan--I even looked into the social work idea, but it would require exactly 100 years and $1 billion to complete it.

The registration for summer classes don't start until the end of next month, so I don't know exactly what my options are (the schedule isn't listed yet). But I'm pretty sure I'll be going back to school for a semester 😂 I'm really tempted to register for one of Noah's classes. Wouldn't that be so fun for him, having his almost-40-year old mom in his class? ;)

Speaking of going back to school, I took Eli to his open house tonight for high school. Unlike Noah, Eli is going to the regular high school and not the community college for dual enrollment. Eli really wants to stay at his school (to be with his friends and to make sure he can play baseball in the spring). I don't want to push him into it, even though the middle college that Noah goes to is an amazing opportunity. It's not for everyone.

Eli's high school will be the same school that I graduated from in 2000! (I cannot believe it's been 20 years!). We sat in the school cafeteria for a presentation, and then we walked around the school. I showed him my old locker and the group of lockers I used to "hang out" at with my Kindred friends. I pointed out my favorite classroom (journalism with my favorite teacher EVER, Mr. Sontag).

Eli seems so nonchalant about high school. He said he's not nervous, but he's not excited, either. While Noah is extremely self-sufficient in getting his work done and knowing what he needs to do, Eli just goes with the flow. I think that the high school will be better for him, honestly.

Anyway, it was fun to go to my high school and walk around, feeling nostalgic. Next time I step foot in a classroom, I'll be the one random old person among all the 18-year olds, hahaha. And you know what's the best part about it? With age comes wisdom--and unlike in high school, I don't give a shit about what people think of me! :)


  1. I work at a college in Flint and we NEVER just cancel a degree or certificate without teaching it out. We make sure all students in that program finish before it is canceled for good. That's unfortunate that happened to you. I went back for my bachelor degree 7 years after completing my associate degree and I'm so glad I went back for the degree. It is something that you will have forever, no one can ever take it away from you. What an accomplishment! Also, I'm sure you'll be pleasantly surprised that there are many adult learners so I'm sure you won't be out of place!

  2. I agree. I feel like I was basically forced into college, with no other options given to me (I graduated high school in 2005). I have never worked a job where I need my degree. I did get my degree, but did it in 3 years instead of 4 to just get college over with. We are the generation of pointless degrees. We are also the generation of having to pay back massive student loans for much of our adult life. Seems wrong to be both of those things.

    If you can get your associates with two credits, it makes sense to go for it! The exercise classes would probably be fun, even if you don't learn anything, and who knows, you might get a fun different perspective on something, or make some new friends to run with.

  3. You are such a badass! Good for you, Katie! And please know that you can totally become a hospice care worker without an MSW. A lot folks I met when I was getting my MSW had been led to graduate school because they had already been doing similar work, through chaplaincy and other roles through nonprofits and faith-based organizations. Just wanted to put that out there in case it feels like an interest you want to pursue. Let me know if you ever want to talk about it and I'd be happy to help however I can.

  4. Hi Katie, a lot of hospice providers use volunteers. They make things like hats and blankets for patients but also go and visit patients and families just to chat. The hospice company would provide training. You should reach out to local hospices and see what they offer. (I worked at a hospice company for about 2 years.)

  5. Psychotherapist, chiming in here. I think the Mental Health course would be fascinating for you. I mean- I obviously find all of that stuff so interesting, so I'm biased:) What I remember most from my psychopathology class (probably the same as a Mental Health class? We learned about all the diagnosis and symptoms and stuff) was that we were all self-diagnosing the whole semester. You hear the OCD symptoms and are sure you have it! Then you learn Generalized Anxiety Disorder and OBVIOUSLY you have that too! And so on... :)

    Either way- finishing a degree would be really exciting! Good luck!

  6. You should look into becoming an end of life doula. They are incredible.

    1. I was going to suggest this as well. This might be something you’d be interested in Katie! They are non-medical professionals, caring for a patient’s emotional needs.

  7. I went to university after being out of school for ten years and I had three children by then. It was a long five year slog to get two degrees and start working BUT I was really surprised at how many "older" people go later and not directly out of high school. About twenty years later I went back again for a graduate degree in Guidance and Counselling (three years of evening and summer classes) and this time it was almost all working adults in these classes.

  8. That's so exciting! Can't wait to read your blogs this summer :)

  9. I'm someone that graduated from a college prep high school in 1983. I went to college for one semester and did not like it - frankly, it was a shock and I didn't know how to handle it. I wanted to be a travel agent - so I got a job and did that for 5 years. Then off to marriage, etc. But I always wanted to finish college. So I went back and tried again. Another year under my belt. Quit. Eventually, around 2000, I finished an Associate's degree! Then in 2011, I went back to college to finish my Bachelor's degree, which I did in 2015 at age 50! I always wanted to finish for ME. For my feeling of accomplishment. And I did, so I'm happy about that. Don't think that college degrees 'are not used' if someone doesn't get a job in the specific, certain field of their degree. Sometimes great jobs require a degree - any degree. And all applications with a degree go in the 'keep' pile, no matter what the major. Getting that degree shows many traits that an employer would want - perseverance, focus, a well-rounded viewpoint, experience working in groups, etc. I certainly don't think everyone needs a 4 year college degree to be a good employee, but going to school and finishing a degree means a whole lot more than just the fact that a person finished some classes. Don't forget that taking classes opens up your world to different people(other students and instructors) that could lead you in a direction for more classes, a job or some other opportunity you never even thought of!

  10. This is awesome. I didn't finish college either....but I have a ton of credits, and I never thought to see if there was a degree that I might actually complete by searching what my completed courses would count towards! Thanks for the idea!


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