The Semester Ends
I haven’t been in a classroom situation on a regular basis pretty much since I was last at Binghamton University in May 1980. As a result, I wasn’t sure what to expect when I began my undergrad courses on August 30. The idea of two courses a day, twice a week, through December, seemed endless and, well, frightening to a degree.
Suddenly, there’s a chill in the air and the classes are over. A week from today I have my finals and then I’m finished.
Where’d the time go? Housatonic Community College is a mix of students from all walks of life with a fair number well above the average college age, as many return to school or, like me, look to change careers. Today in Statistics, we saw six group projects as each team analyzed data from a sample of 30 freshmen from th3 2009-2010 school year. As one would expect, no two sets of data matched. While the majority were women and white, the towns they came from, their GPA scores and other stats were all over the place.
I do observe that arriving late or skipping class altogether has not really changed since I attended school. With my experience, though, I note that I am far less tolerant of my peers not being here to learn. They miss work, and they’ve paid to be here, so why miss out?
Our group project counts for 30% of the class grade and we were randomly grouped. Of the four of us, one dropped out and one contributed nothing to the process. As it was, gathering us for more than one face-to-face meeting seemed impossible so I wound up taking point, drafting the PowerPoint presentation and building the charts we used. While a good exercise for me, it was also stunning to see how little one of the group seemed to care about contributing. The other was quite friendly and provided some formula and data for use, confirming my own math was accurate.
We talked about drawing inferences from the data and one thing that came up repeatedly was how low the GPA scores were and how ambition seemed to be lacking. I certainly saw that evidenced in both my classes.
I was also surprised at the difficulty some of my fellow students displayed being able to read aloud from the plays we had in the theater course. Yes, some of the language was archaic, but they were stumbling over words they certainly should have known. For people who want to act professionally, they demonstrated a lot of trouble with scripts which was a warning sign.
Life on a community campus is vastly different than a four-year school. There were no dorms and that robbed the school of a vibrant student life. At best there were some 20 clubs in existence and the campus paper comes out three times a semester. People, both fulltime and part-time, seem to be holding down one or more jobs, juggling coursework in the mix. There wasn’t a lot of time left for socializing and just handing out.
I truly enjoyed both professors, though. My Stat teacher lives in my district and also made a career change fairly recently so we had some common ground. She adjusted her pace to accommodate those who were clearly struggling with the material. My theater teacher was energetic and enthusiastic and made class a lot of fun. She was very welcoming and encouraging bringing her wealth of stage experience to the table.
Overall, it was a very positive experience and certainly a good way to acclimate myself to the rigors of being a student. After finals, I am free until January 4 when I begin five days of intensive orientation at the University of Bridgeport. As it happens, today I wound up on a 90 minute Skype session with UB’s tech teacher, prepping for the more intensive computer requirements for the grad program. It has my head spinning.
But first, studying for the finals.