Thursday, May 5, 2011

Look Out, World...I'm Back!

When I first started this blog seven months ago, I listed things about myself so my potential future readers could get to know me.  One of the items on that list stated that it has taken me 14 years to get my Bachelor’s degree.  That statement back in October was more speculative than fact, although a week from now, it will be true.  I am very proud to say that I will be a college graduate in one more week.

I never meant for it to take this long.  When I got out of high school, I went to college like most people do.  However, I hadn’t really given it a lot of thought.  I went to college because that is what you are supposed to do after high school.  I withdrew from my classes in the middle of my third semester at Rend Lake College.  I really didn’t want to be there.

I was excited to go to college at first.  I was finally out of high school and it was time to venture into adulthood, but the vision quickly fizzled when I got to RLC.  It took about a month for me to come to the conclusion that nothing had really changed.  I felt like I was still in high school.  College was supposed to be bigger and better, but the only things different were the increased commute time and number of students on campus.  The classes weren’t even harder.  What was the point?  DISCLAIMER:  I want to make it clear that I am not bashing Rend Lake College or any community college.  They have their place, but I expected so much more than what I experienced.

I definitely could have made better choices, but I was 19 and wanted to get on with my life.  I quit school, moved out of my parents house and ventured north to be with the girl I was dating at the time.  We were together for about another year before I moved back to my home town.

Fast forward about ten years and I had reached a point in my life where I knew it was time to get serious.  I was a year into my second marriage, had two kids, had become a Christian and decided I wanted to go into ministry.  The spring semester of 1998 I started classes at Lincoln Christian College (now Lincoln Christian University).  College was a whole different experience this time.

We moved into Married Student Housing and I hit the campus full-time.  This time I wanted to be there and instead of barely making it through my classes, I was on the Dean’s List.  I loved it.  It was difficult to balance the family with school and definitely challenging to find time to sleep, but I pushed through.  With the exception of one semester of part-time studies, I went full-time for three and a half years.

The summer before my senior year I accepted a job as minister at a church in San Juan, Puerto Rico.  The plan was to incorporate this job into my internship and finish my schooling through distance learning.  It may have delayed my degree by a semester or two, but I would be working in my field already.  A small delay would not be an issue.  However, things did not work out that way.

Due to a variety of issues, we were only on the island for seven months.  I will tell that story in a future blog.  None of my schooling had been started yet and we came back to the States.  After bouncing around for months of not being able to find decent work and living with my grandmother, we decided to go back to Lincoln.  We were there one semester before I was kicked out (another story I will tell in a future blog).

Seven years later I start taking classes through distance learning.  Just a class or two per semester.  I even took two classes that were on campus.  Once a week I would drive three hours for a class and then drive three hours home.  I was accumulating more credits, but it was a tediously slow process.  Finally, last November, I started full-time again.  I decided I need to get this finished and finally have it behind me.  I even doubled up on classes to get it done faster.  I took 24 hours this semester; it has been rough.

I have a few more papers due in the next week, but nothing I am worried about.  Last night I turned in a rough draft for a major assignment.  It has had me stressed for the last month, but was the last big assignment.  I have to fix it for the final paper, but the bulk of the work is done.  As soon as I hit the send button to my professor last night, I felt a huge weight fall off my shoulders.



I have opted to skip the ceremony (en absentia - LATIN: see how smart I am now) and just have my degree mailed to me, but I am attending a graduation banquet tomorrow night.  I am not interested in sitting in a stuffy room for hours after spending money for a black robe I will only wear once, but the opportunity for free food cannot be turned down.

I will finally have that piece of paper.  I started at Lincoln in the spring of 1998, so it only took me 13 ½ years, unless you want to count when I first started at Rend Lake, then it makes 21 years.  I will, at long last, be able to say I am a college graduate.  I do welcome any congratulations, but would more appreciate prayers.  I am starting my Master’s Degree next semester and would love to complete it before I retire.

4 comments:

  1. Congratulations, college grad! Maybe Jane and I shall come and kidnap you for the weekend! I almost went to Lincoln...I probably would have been kicked out too! :)

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  2. Great Blog!! I enjoyed it. Congrats and good luck.

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  3. Thank God you went to Lincoln when you did. Those were some good times. I remember when you made my 8 year old sister eat dirt. That was great.

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  4. I was remembering those PR years today...actually I watched the Week of E video from 2000.

    Congrats Brett. Good luck in grad school.

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