Friday, September 18, 2009

I'm Not a Student Anymore

Even though I walked across the stage in May for my graduation for my masters degree, I am just now finishing the big final project for that diploma. I am what is referred to, in academia, as a “star baby,” someone who’s finished all but the very last requirements and is able to march at Commencement, though with an asterisk by her name. My final project will be handed in tomorrow, and it marks the end of a very long journey.

I’ve been a college student for sixteen years. As a response to my marriage failing, I looked for an outlet, and it started with just one class, then another, and another. It took me nine years to earn my undergraduate degree in English here at Skidmore College, as a part-time student in the University Without Walls program. I took all my classes here at Skidmore, some seminars, but most sitting in classrooms with traditional students. I had to fit in evening and lunch-hour classes in order to get it all in, and it took a long time, this part-time student thing. Some semesters I took one course, others three, and sometimes, when I couldn’t jive my work schedule with course offerings – none. Most summers were spent with a course or two. My original goal was to complete the degree in ten years, by the time I was 50. I beat it by a year and graduated in 2003 at the age of 49, two years after Katie’s graduation from Skidmore in 2001. During those nine years I was often doing homework alongside my kids. Sometimes they’d complain because I often had my nose in a book. I looked at it as more than education. It was post-divorce diversional therapy, and I’d say something like, “It could be worse. I could be drinking or smoking crack!” Nice mother.

I’m not certain what motivated me to apply to Skidmore’s MALS program (Master of Arts in Liberal Science) other than the fact that I really enjoy the academic experience and didn’t feel “done.” There’s this insatiable curiosity that’s not always convenient. It all comes with a price: sometimes I’m overwhelmed. Often times I procrastinate and then have to work like a maniac to get it all done (my ususal M.O.). Sometimes what I write is crap and I have to start all over, or at least rearrange all the crap until it makes better sense. It’s expensive. And I never considered putting the rest of my life aside, so I tried to jam it all in, all at once. I won’t give up spending time with my family. I have to hang out with my friends. I continue to bake like a fool. I look forward to every visit with Russ even though any other couple would give up trying to jive two impossible schedules. I travel whenever possible, and it is possible at least once a year. And now I’m a granny, with little Henry just footsteps away in our new, shared home.

I’m handing in my final project. There may be revisions to make, but in my mind, I’m done. I won’t be a student any more, and it is going to feel weird after so many years. How will I fill that void? I don’t know. Hey Henry, how about taking a long walk with Grandma?

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1 comment:

  1. Jeannie,
    Congratulations! I remember the feeling well of turning in that final project for my undergraduate degree .. 6 years ago .. what a feeling of relief! Great job!