Friday, September 22, 2006

Shortest Semester Yet

Monday I'm going to withdraw from my class. I alternate between being relieved and disappointed about this, but here is what it boils down to: If I am going to haul my aging ass up to the school and pay for my classes my own self then by gum, I am also going to drop them if I am not satisfied with my performance in them. And I'm not satisfied at all right now, which is just a sugarcoated way of saying I did not get my assignment done and therefore I would be unlikely to do well at getting any future assignments done, since the whole deal with the class is that each assignment builds off the prior one.

Everyone out there with massive student loan debt is going to stone me for mentioning this, and I don't blame them, but my parents used to pay for my classes. I KNOW, I AM A SPOILED BRAT. You don't have to tell me. But the downside to that is that my parents did not and do not understand that nowadays it's quite common for the really motivated students to play the "drop it if I can't get an A" game in order to keep their GPAs up, and so any classes they paid for I had to stick out, even if I was failing them, even if I knew three weeks into the semester that I was bound to fail them. Thus it is that I have two grades for an engineering course in statics and dynamics: An F for the first time I took it and a C for the second time. A career in bridge-building or flood control systems management is officially right the fuck out for me. I cannot solve so much as a basic pulley problem. "The forces must all sum to zero!" Oh, it seems so simple put like that, but you would be amazed at the chaos I can wreak on freshman-level engineering problems.

Anyway, this class-taking strategy did horrible things to my GPA at UT-Arlington, but now that I'm in charge, and especially now that NMSU has graciously wiped the GPA slate clean for me, it isn't going to happen ever again. If I can't handle a course load one particular semester I'm going to admit that I can't handle it and try again next semester. And if I don't graduate before 50, SO BE IT. So say I.

My project from now until spring is to work out a way that I can work fewer hours per week yet make the same amount of money. I am going to put all my special engineering problem-solving skills to work on this and . . . okay, I guess I can rule out a career in finance, too.

One funny thing: This is apparently a weed-out course--which is weird, because normally you're done with that by the time you get to upper division--and I am apparently not the only student who failed to turn in this week's assignment, because at 10:15 last night I received an email from the instructor with the subject header, and I am giving this to you very nearly verbatim, "Homework Extension."

I had at that point already thrown up my hands and decided to drop the damn course but when I saw that I let out a whoop of joy and called the boyfriend over to witness this last-minute miracle: An extension! An extension on the homework!

Then I opened it and read the instructor's not-very-sincere-at-all apology for . . . NOT granting a homework extension. Now, I like my professor very much but good gravy, TALK ABOUT PASSIVE-AGGRESSIVE, or at least socially backward. Think how poor a communicator you'd have to be to write an email whose contents deliver nearly the opposite of what your subject line suggests. I have a hard time believing anyone, even a computer science professor, is that clueless. I think it was a sadistic little maneuver on his part and I bet you he laughed fit to kill typing it, too. Having spent hours myself laughing fit to kill at some of the bullshit excuses offered in pursuit of the almighty extension/retest/do-over at Tall, Dark, and Mysterious, I can't wholly blame him, either. Still: Sadistic, dude.

For the record, I was not one of the students who requested an extension. I never request extensions; that way I never have to hear "No." I can't understand how students like the one MS describes in the link above work up the nerve to ask.

UPDATE: On the other hand, if I needed reminding that I need to get some sort of actual career going for myself, well, the helpful nurse practitioner who just explained to me in a dictation that, and I quote, "'PA'--transcriptionist, that stands for physician's assistant," hath provided. Next she'll be telling me that "MD" stands for "medical doctor!" CRAZY.

By the way, unnamed nurse practitioner, if you ever spell "foci" at me again I'm going to stab you in the eye with my protractor. It's four fucking letters. Honestly, I think they believe my job is performed by unusually literate monkeys.

I know I am standing right up on that ledge of bashing all women for the sins of a few, but if someone could explain to me why it is nearly always the female providers who do this sort of condescending thing that would be grand.

16 comments:

Zendo Deb said...

Working full time and going to classes is hard. I managed it for 2 terms, and one term I only took 1 class.

Even though in theory I should have had plenty of time to leave work and get to class, something always seemed to happen and my boss needed me to stay late..... was horrible.

Best of luck. (What are you taking?)

ilyka said...

It was a class in compilers. You gradually build one throughout the semester. I figure, if I can't get the tokenizer, the first third of it, working by deadline, I'm screwed already.

I'm guessing somewhat, but I'd say the tokenizer was about a 20-hour project altogether, from just thinking about it to completion. I was sick Monday and Tuesday with this weird chronic-fatigue-like thing I get periodically (usually when stressed, ho, ho) and that simply didn't leave me enough time to hack it all out.

Last semester I took a Spanish class and worked 40 hours a week no problem. This one's just a little more demanding and even with the boyfriend assuming nearly all the domestic chores to help out, I was not finding enough time for it.

Auguste said...

Not my business nor important, but are you dropping early enough to get at least a partial refund?

Darleen said...

I won't throw books at you. If a class isn't working...don't flounder, get out and try again.

Of the general ed credits I had to retake (some were too old to transfer) was algebra. My study partner just couldn't wrap her head around it, no matter how many extra hours I and the instructor spent working with her. Indeed, the instructor firmly suggested she drop the class rather than take a bad grade and try again later (maybe some more tutoring).

Re: patronizing females... I don't know. With a few exceptions, I get less patronizing from the male attorneys in my office than the females. It's weird. They seem to forget that just because I'm a clerk rather than an attorney doesn't mean I have to follow picture diagrams to put on my bra each morning...

Anonymous said...

Hmmm. I can't even fathom what you are talking about with compilers and tokenizer (a machine that creates minorities for hire by compiling desired traits,e.g., "Computer, I need a crippled, Jewish, adopted, HIV+ programmer for the midnight shift,"?) and am thusly ready to award you a PhD.

Patronizing females; well, I think it's that pecking order thing. They know that their male colleagues don't consider them equal, so the only way to feel better about themselves is to condescend to those women below them--plus, it might make them look tough. I think we've seen that the sisterhood concept is a long ways from being roundly embraced. Of course, there are a LOT of stupid people out there. I could cite a local school administrator who said, in all seriousness, upon receiving the job, that, "I really don't like that LAZY FAIRY attitude the staff has."

ilyka said...

They know that their male colleagues don't consider them equal, so the only way to feel better about themselves is to condescend to those women below them

That's basically my best guess on it too. It's a "fighting over crumbs" kind of thing. Still, very annoying to be on the receiving end of it.

"I really don't like that LAZY FAIRY attitude the staff has."

Um--WHAT? Good grief!

ilyka said...

Not my business nor important, but are you dropping early enough to get at least a partial refund?

I doubt it, but I was paying installments anyhow, so it ain't like I'm blowing the full tuition. I'll just be out a couple hundred, which is still nothing to sneeze at, but it could have been the full $700 or so. I think if I HAD paid it all up front I'd stick this out a bit longer, but knowing that I hadn't done that made the decision to drop a ton easier.

belledame222 said...

god. I keep having nightmares that I'm back in school; usually a math or science class of some sort. It's the week of finals, I haven't shown up all semester, and it's too late to drop it without getting an "F" on my permanent record. classic, really, but seriously irritating.

ilyka said...

It's the week of finals, I haven't shown up all semester, and it's too late to drop it without getting an "F" on my permanent record. classic, really, but seriously irritating.

It is classic. Top Secret may be one of the stupidest comedies ever (so, naturally, I own the fucking thing), but I love the scene where Val Kilmer's being tortured and he loses consciousness, has exactly that dream, wakes up to find himself still being tortured and is all "Thank God!" just because he's not back in school after all. That is me right there. Bring on the East German torture team, it's fine, but please: NO MORE SCHOOL.

JackGoff said...

Yeah, I got student loans out the ass from when I was going to Cornell. I majored in mech eng, but I hated it and a lot of things conflated together to bring about a nervous breakdown a couple of years ago. I decided that engineering wasn't for me and that I wanted to teach math or physics, so I dropped out and applied to Seton Hall where I am now.

I'm in an infinitely better place since my mom is an administrator, but I still have those debts, and teaching isn't going to bring in the money. Hopefully I'll be happy, though.

John said...

I hated statics, too, but most practicing Civ. E.s don't understand statics either, judging by the state of the roads around here.

The Chem.E.s used to tease the Snivels at school: there are 3 rules to Civil Engineering Statics: 1) water flows down hill, 2)you can't push with a string, and 3)if it moves, it's broken.

Auguste said...

god. I keep having nightmares that I'm back in school; usually a math or science class of some sort. It's the week of finals, I haven't shown up all semester, and it's too late to drop it without getting an "F" on my permanent record. classic, really, but seriously irritating.

Wow. That's absolutely exactly the dream I had almost continuously for three years after I graduated.

I seriously thought I was the only one.

Beth said...

Patronizing females; well, I think it's that pecking order thing.

Or they're just idiots themselves, not to mention jackasses. I think that when people assume you're stupid, it's because they aren't too bright themselves. Like they can't fathom that people just MIGHT be smarter than they, the "geniuses" (LOL), are.

belledame222 said...

Haw! love Top Secret. don't own the DVD (yet), but good idea.

ilyka said...

Haw! love Top Secret. don't own the DVD (yet), but good idea.

Oh yeah, it was like $4.99 at Wal-mart (boo! hiss!) so I said what the hell. It goes real well with liquor.

Scott said...

You're probably wise to drop the class, but I'll tell you the truth-- people don't seem to care much about GPA at all. While I went to the effort to get a transcript (to have on hand should an employer ask, all sealed in an official envelope), no one has ever asked. I'm pretty sure they've never bothered, since the grades I got in my specialization weren't all that impressive.