Bring It On

As I mentioned in my last post, it looks as if I’m going to be a student again. I received an email Friday indicating that I have been conditionally accepted into the Ed.S. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling program at Murray State University. The “conditionally” part consists of my keeping a 3.0 GPA for my first nine credit hours. Piece of cake, right?

hate_schoolThis may come as a surprise to all my friends I grew up with who considered me a super-nerd for all those years, but I never really liked going to school very much. I know, you’re probably sitting there thinking, “Duh, no one liked going to school very much.” I guess to a certain extent that’s true. I didn’t know very many boys and girls who couldn’t wait for the big, yellow bus to roll by or, later on, for that home room bell to ring. There was a lot more high-fiving done at graduation than occurred on a Monday morning, for sure.

“Disliked” is probably not as accurate a term as “uncomfortable” was for me, though. That feeling of high school awkwardness that most people shed once they hit their college years never shook off of me. I actually went through whole semesters at the university level without speaking a word to anyone in my classes. I hated going to buy books and getting i.d. cards made and figuring out where I was supposed to park. I don’t remember many days that I wasn’t just anxious to get the whole process over with.

And, yet, here I am again.

I still have some things to work out. I’m going to be making some calls tomorrow to confirm what’s going on with my financial aid, and I’m going to be meeting with an adviser tomorrow as well. I’m strangely not nervous about any of this. In fact, aside from occasionally wondering how all these classes would be paid for, I haven’t felt the usual jitters about immersing myself in the collegiate classroom experience again. I figure this either means I’m on the right track, or I’ve just been away so long I’ve forgotten what everything is like. I’m hoping it’s the former rather than the latter.

I really don’t have much more to say about this at the moment. This post was just more to say this is where I am, and this is where I’m going. Or, at least, I hope I’m going. Now, where did I put all those papers…?

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Facing The Freak-Out

I knew it. I just knew it. It never goes smoothly, so I don’t know why I thought it would this time. There is always something I don’t know or didn’t plan for or is more difficult than I thought it would be. I can feel my stomach tying up in knots right now just thinking about it.

I do – DO NOT – enjoy trying to get registered for college classes. At all. Whatsoever.

With that in mind, it was (of course) inevitable that I would experience at least one major freak-out in the process of pursuing a degree in the field of psychology. I would have hoped this would occur somewhere down the line, at least after I had registered for some classes. But, no, I couldn’t even get that far this time, even though if I had just used my brain for a second I would have realized what a dope I was.

Apparently, there are no grants available to post-baccalaureate students. The internet says grants may be available under certain circumstances, but I haven’t found anywhere yet that explains what those circumstances are. From the genesis of this idea to return to school, I have wanted to avoid a loan at all costs. My wife and I have worked very hard to keep our debt down, and piling up college loans would be very counterproductive to all that effort. I’m not saying I wouldn’t ever resort to a loan, but for the time being I would rather not.

now-panic-freak-out1That pretty much just leaves scholarships and grants to cover the costs of my Fall 2014 semester. Since I’ve missed most of the deadlines to apply for scholarships, however, that narrows things down to grants … which I just found out were unavailable. When I found this out yesterday, all my positive thinking, cognitive therapy, hopeful outlook went straight out the window. I felt like a fool. More accurately, I believed I was a fool. There was no way this could work. Why don’t I just give up right now?

Stepping back and looking at things today, I can see all is not lost. My main problem is I would like to obtain a degree which will take multiple semesters to complete right freaking now. The thought of having to begin with just one or two classes didn’t compute. “Do not despise these small beginnings…” I’ll definitely be out more of my own money than I was planning on if we go the route of paying for things ourselves, but it is possible to get started that way. And, really, I’m just beginning to discover what’s out there as far as areas of study and aid options go, so there may be something good waiting for me yet.

I don’t write all this to portray myself as some kind of martyr of the big, mean, expensive system of postsecondary education (although I do think it is absolutely outrageous what schools are charging for tuition these days). I’m writing it to say this: I freaked out. I thought I was moving past doing that, but I went headlong into it yesterday. Granted, in the past, I would still be freaking out today (and the next day and the next day and…), but it was a little frightening to see that side emerge again. I didn’t like it.

What I do like, though, is that I’m able to write all this down in past tense. I’m still extremely nervous and frightened and impatient when it comes to this new course (which I may never even get to), but I realize now there are going to be obstacles. There is going to be time involved. I’m going to have to what I can when I can. The main point of pressure is going to come from me, which means an occasional flip-out will be nearly certain. The real challenge will be whether I can recover from those moments.

By the way, if anyone reading this has had a similar experience with trying to get back into school to complete a post-baccalaureate degree, please contact me. Quite honestly, I have no idea what the heck I’m doing at the moment, so any and all advice would be appreciated. And feel free to share your own freak-outs as well. I’m sure we’ve all had them.