The only thing worse than having no shampoo is having nothing but grandma shampoo… You know, the kind that makes it shiny and sometimes makes it silvery? Okay… So it’s not silvering shampoo, but it is the kind that makes your hair shiny. Almost as bad as lavender conditioner. (Although on rare occassions, it doesn’t hurt to make your fur smell something besides “clean”.)
Okay, so not only was this the first day of college, but it’s the first post I’m making on WordPress 2.7! Exciting! No, really, it is. I always enjoy the thought that all you folks out there see the same old boring layout day after day, and I periodically get an entirely new writing experience when they upgrade WordPress! They really outdid themselves this time… I’m impressed. (Well, after I found everything. They moved everything around, and I mean literally everything.)
Nobody knows it except for a few select friends who enjoy keeping up with my life, so I figure it’s about time I said something! I’m going to college again. Everyone knows I went to a local community college called Ivy Tech. It was… Okay. Actually, no, I take that back completely. It was terrible. I had two good professors (mathematics and critical thinking) and the rest would only do what was expected of them. So would the department staff… Financial aid and registration. The works. They would all assume you knew exactly what to do so you could keep reminding them to finish their jobs. I’m dead serious when I say after one semester, you knew more about the process than they did. In fact, I wound up signing up for half my classes online and entirely by myself because my advisor suddenly had absolutely no idea what I was doing and where I was headed… That, and the course plan was messed up and he literally thew it away and promptly laughed. I asked him why it wasn’t accurate and he told me nothing goes to plan. Right… Am I the first person to use your planned course? How am I the only one who caught it? I was all kinds of unimpressed.
So Ivy Tech was 20 minutes west. 20 minutes east is a full fledged university. Indiana Wesleyan University, to be exact. I’d never realized this until my friend Iaian7 started going there. (But this was before I even started Ivy Tech, so it was a long time ago.) Still, after I got my A+, Linux+, Network+ and Microsoft certifications and I was turned down for a job at IWU to work in their laptop distribution department, I started noticing that most good computer jobs were asking for Computer Science. It seemed that no matter what you wanted to do with computers, they wanted Computer Science. Major overkill for some of the jobs, but still… So I decided that if I were to ever return to college classes, it would have to be somewhere I could focus on a Computer Science degree. I have the firm belief that state operating colleges are nothing but coordinated efforts to impart liberal humanistic philosophies on their students and then give them a couple years of actual classes pertaining to what they want to do. That really shouldn’t come as any surprise to any of you… After all, I’m the crazy Christian Conservative Republican, aren’t I! Plus, I absolutely loathe the idea of living in the room as some random person I’ve never met before then. I’m sorry, I’m not a people-person, and I don’t want to share a room with you. No hard feelings. That, and I am acutely aware of what occurs in the dorms. All manner of creepy things. Even Christian universities have creepy things going on. Where there are many people, there will inevitably be something creepy. Of course, Christian universities have this whole thing called “punishment” if you get caught. But that doesn’t change the fact that creepy things happen on college campuses. In short: NO WAY AM I LIVING ON ANY CAMPUS ANYWHERE, PERIOD.
That conviction alone left me with no choice but Indiana Wesleyan University. Ball State University is the next choice, but it’s an hour commuting time on good roads… Not a chance with these gas prices. So that’s the story of how I settled on IWU. If I have to suffer through general education classes that are meant to keep professors paid and to indoctrinate the students with a philosophy and approach to life, I might as well take it from a Christian perspective, aye? It’s Wesleyan, which I am not… We differ on a few unimportant issues, but the one major difference is that I believe Communion should be taken every Sunday or that church isn’t worth going to. Baptism the Wesleyans and I agree on, but their idea of special Sundays for Communion is not. Plus, I don’t go for the whole hierarchical command structure these denominations seem to have… Where a council says what the entire denomination has to do and they have to do it or leave. (Or call themselves Independent Wesleyans or Independent Methodists.) Denominations are so complicated and just plain stupid… All these dumb little cultural things. Why don’t we just read the Bible at face value and see what it says and stop trying to twist interpretations to preconceived ideas? Yeah, I know that’s asking for a bunch of malcontents who don’t understand what I mean to stop by and toss out some idiotic remark about some “literal interpretation” being wickedly insane. What they don’t seem to realize (or care to understand at all) is the context of anything. Ugh.
So! I signed up for IWU with a Computer Science major and my first classes were today. My classes are all on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, with the exception of computer lab time on Thursday, so I have a day off to do homework before the next classes. My schedule consists of roughly the following:
6:30am – I wake up. (Along with a certain Chicago resident by the name of Gary Hobson who happens to get tomorrow’s newspaper today, would you believe it? Would you also believe I’ve recently had an obsessive marathon with my favorite TV show of all time? Man, with the Internet’s ability to locate TV shows, you’d think I’d remember Early Edition. But I already mentioned this, so I shall abstain! Except is Chicago in the central time zone? Eh, who cares.)
7:00am – I leave. I don’t eat breakfast, and to be an early morning person, I have to get up with a purpose and have no time to lapse into a moment of nothing to do or I’ll most likely fall asleep again. So I give myself a half hour to get ready and leave. In the winter with icy roads, I leave at 7. When the roads are clear, I can drive normally and will only take 20 minutes to get there instead of 40, because…
7:50am – Macro Economics class! It’s a general education class… I have a lot of these this semeste because most CS classes are in Fall semesters. Oh well. I had the choice between a few economics classes, a political science class, a psychology class, and a sociology class. I have to take two… Can you guess what the second might be? It starts with “political” and ends with “science”! I settled on macro economics. You know what that is, right?! Micro economics deals with businesses and homes… Macro economics deals with national and global economies. With my crazy political hobby, following and understanding national economic trends will be very handy, not to mention incredibly fun. It’s right up my alley and I want to take it. This might be a required class, BUT I WANT IT.
8:55am – Intro to Computer Science… The one CS class I have this semester. I have a feeling it’s going to be like all the others I’ve experienced so far: Shallow and boring. People have to start somewhere, but I’ve already done this kind of stuff over and over and over again. Still, we’re going to be taught C++ (for some reason), so it might prove interesting as the days roll on. I have a feeling that it’s going to be more like a “here’s the idea of programming” class rather than a “here’s how to write programs” class, if you know what I mean. I don’t have this on Friday, so I get an extra hour of exploring before Chapel.
10:00am – Chapel… “This is what makes us different than any other college.” Basically, it’s mandatory church during the week. A little irritating, especially since they don’t do the whole Communion thing. It winds up being a huge lecture that’s opened and closed with loud modern praise music. Not my choice of worship… Not one little bit. It’s required and I don’t want to be there. What more can I say? At least it’s next to the CS building so I don’t have to walk 30 miles. Don’t be late or you start losing credits.
11:05am to 1:15pm – LUNCH BREAK! Chapel is actually two services… 10 and 11. I prefer going to the early service so I have a larger lunch break. The cafeteria is pretty dang empty at 11, so it’s my chance to sneak in and beat the rush if I so choose to eat there. I have a feeling I’ll want to eat here a lot, but it’s more money that I’d have to take a loan on, so I’ll wind up packing lunch. I bought myself a packet of turkey lunch meat… For half the cost, I could feed myself for a couple weeks. Good stuff. This is where I was planning to whip out my laptop and do some surfing. Not only did I come to the realization that I need a password for wireless unless I use the crappy guest service, but I came to the realization that my laptop only has 10 minutes of battery power ON A FULL CHARGE. Fun time came to a sudden and screeching halt right in the middle of eating. I was displeased.
1:15pm – World Changers class. A Wesleyan thing… It’s a little odd. It’s like a cross between Ivy Tech’s critical thinking class and my own church’s weird little “small groups” thing they have. Get put in a small group of people and… Mingle? I guess? I have no idea. Nobody does. This is another mandatory class that you couldn’t get out of. Ever. I don’t think anybody likes it… At least not with the jokes I’ve been hearing. Apparently, I have to do 10 hours of community service as part of my Wesleyan Christian duty with my group. Not only do I have no idea what that entails, but I have no idea who my group is, yet. Not a fun class. I am an obsessive planner and I get unnerved when things are left unexplained and hanging in the air. It also drives me nuts when classes draw to a close and my next class starts in 10 minutes and I have to walk across the campus to get there and the teacher doesn’t seem to want to stop talking. That’s this class.
2:20pm – Old Testament Survey. BEST CLASS EVER. The professor is 80 years old, has freely volunteered his time to teaching this class for the last 14 years, is actually a totally real archaeologist who’s been to Israeli dig sites, and barged into the room in old digging clothes, a straw hat, a huge box of tools, and said his name was Indiana Jones and that he’d be teaching the class for the day because the “real” teacher had fallen on the ice that day and couldn’t make it. You love him instantly. I’m talking about literally sit down, be completely enthralled for an hour, and then blink a few times and realize it’s time to go to the next class. No room for boredom here. None. Period. If you have a problem with this class, you have a problem with ME, you hear? He was handling 3000 year old clay artifacts like they were nothing. (Well, maybe not, but I was there thinking “oh man, 3000 years old?! I’m afraid to touch it!” And he’s going on about how to date pottery and handing them to people… And losing them for a few minutes at a time.)
3:25pm – World Literature. Interesting class… I admit I had a preconception on how this class would feel, and it was completely different. As a result, I am pleasantly surprised. The guy is totally unlike anything I would expect someone with large degrees in drama and literature… Once I had a chance to adjust, I came to this conclusion: He’s like Bill Gates. He sounds almost exactly like him and the way he walks up and down the stage. He even looks a little like him. Crazy. Apparently, we will also be forced into little groups. Why? Get this… He will assign us a book to reinact… On stage. In front of everyone. Dramatically. Bonus points for music and costumes. What the heck? I don’t do any of that stuff! I can’t act (yes, I’ve tried), I can’t write music (yes, I’ve tried) and I can’t make costumes (yes, I’ve tried). I could possibly write the script. That’s about my only artistic talent. But I was definitely surprised to see this in the syllabus. Acting? This was a reading class. Now it’s a drama class. Bah! It’s my last class of the day, too… Bittersweet. No more walking around the campus, but I get to dread these acts the entire day.
On Thursdays at 3:15pm, I have computer labs where most of the CS class will take place, so I’m told. I’m hoping I can complete the assignments at home and not drive in that day, but I’m at least going to the first one to see what it’s like. At Ivy Tech, labs were a “if you don’t have a computer you can mess up at home, you can come here” things… I have a computer I can mess up, so maybe I can do everything here and transfer my work. We’ll see.
So far? I think I like it… I’ve heard so many bad things about large universities and the administration from so many different people that I was expecting the worst, and maybe that’s why I don’t have a problem with it. Then again, I came from Ivy Tech and the horrible administration there. It’s been nothing but easy at IWU. Relatively speaking. We had to rely on Ivy Tech a couple of times and, of course, ran into problems… But once it was all in IWU’s hands, things went smoothly. I have to take a supplimental mathematics course and they suggested I go back to Ivy Tech during the summer. But I don’t think I will because I do NOT want to go through them again, period, end of story. It’s a pain, it’s stressful and I don’t want to deal with it. The hardest part of registering at IWU was getting financial aid sorted out. If I can’t get free money (though I really hate to call it that, that’s what it is), then I can’t go to school, it’s that simple. Luckily I got an academic scholarship for my 4.0 and a state pell grant… Added up, I only needed to take out a subsidized Stafford loan. Still, it was all pretty painless… Except for the cost of my books, which ate everything up in a hurry. I have 16 books, 1 of which I’ve learned is one I don’t need, so I can take back in 30 days for a full refund. I won’t tell you how much they cost. Suffice it to say, you can buy computers for less.
So that’s my first day’s experience with a real university! Exciting! I can’t help but wonder how my grade will turn out. They have the whole A+, A, A- thing here, whereas Ivy Tech only had A, B, C… I’m betting my GPA won’t be perfect anymore simply because there’s far more variation here. Oh well… The best I can hope for is that I do my best (and I literally try, to the point of blowing up my brain) and know that everything happens the way it does for a very good reason.