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tuesday 10.10.2000
the plunge


i finally made a plunge today. as my "regular" readers may recall, i was going to try to go to school online. the whole thing fell through because the cost was $1300 PER CLASS, an outrageous amount for not even stepping into the classroom. considering the program was the ONLY complete online program, they can set their price, but that's too much in loans even for me. each quarter would require a minimum of $2900 in loans as the pel grant is only $1000 per quarter max. as you can see...this is without books, programs or equipment. so we're talking probably closer $3500 in loans if not more...EACH QUARTER. impossible for something that you can't guarantee a job in.

so...i have finally decided to go back to my university and finish the degree i had started. i am sure most people can't see the big deal, but for me it IS a big deal for several reasons.

the major is english, and it wasn't 100% my first choice. not that i am bad at english mind you, and the focus will be in creative writing since, as much as i read, literature is not my strong suit (at least not the literature they are talking about!). my original desire was a major called family life education, which is a holistic form of social work that includes EVERYTHING impacting families, from law to finance to sociology to psychology to communication, and so on. problem is MY school doesn't offer it, so i would have to go into what they call a special major. no big deal, right?

wrong. at the time i was on public aid. which gave the state the right to determine if i even got to finish my education. out in california, if you are on public aid, you must join their work program. if you don't find a job within a certain amount of time, you do whatever grunt work they hand you from 9 to 5 and are still expected to look for a job. they provide a training program that is actually pretty worthless for the average person. ok, i agree we have too many people on public aid, and far too many are turning into second, third, even fourth generation leaches. i understand this. BUT this program basically offers NO hope to the uneducated. college is not an acceptable thing unless you meet certain requirements, and THAT to me is WRONG.

in my case, i was already transferring in to my university from my junior college. and the calworks program was just getting started. as i was in mid-schooling, they had to accommodate my education...up to a point. that point being that my major had to be on their approved list. period. english and other similar subjects are on this list because california schools are in trouble...BIG trouble. not enough schools, and not enough teachers. fle is NOT on this list because it is a relatively new career. at the time i was looking into it, there were only 950 fle's nationwide. to me this is good, leaves the field wide open. to them this is bad, because they never heard of it and it's not on their "approved" list. so...i went for english since it was my best subject in my available options.

for the next 18 months i worked on getting out of their reporting program because, as my faithful readers know, another hindrance for me (other than transportation) is being there for my disabled son. it took them 18 months for them to say, "yes, your son is disabled" and to discharge me from the program. so why didn't i switch majors then? one was health, which i will share in a minute. but the other was this: i had enough units in the 18 months to become a senior and you can NOT take on a special major when you are a senior at this university. end of story. so now, i am in a major i don't exactly hate, but isn't my choice for area of study.

now add the mess my health was in. we didn't know i was adhd at this time. somehow in childhood i had managed it all by myself. managed it well enough to get decent grades in school, and well enough to get solid a's when i finally went to college seriously. then i became anemic. my fault. i was up at 6 a.m. and not back from school til 10 p.m. and in that entire time i ate maybe once. for nearly 2 years. my mind was totally in my books, my entire concentration was to get through my education as fast as i could because i knew the state was changing public aid and i didn't want to be caught in the middle of that change with no options (ok, so i pretty much did anyway, but that's beside the point). my grades started to slip just a little before i graduated with my a.a. not hugely, although a math instructor did notice problems: i wasn't in class as much (his was my first class and i admit, i was having problems getting up because i was exhausted, pure and simple), but enough to be noticed even by me. we got me tested and found an iron problem so severe that my doctor was surprised i was still functioning, and said that i probably had next to NO iron in my bone marrow. we put me on iron, i graduate and off to the university i go.

after i had been on iron for 18 months, and my levels were finally acceptable, my doctor weaned me off to see if my body could/would produce it on it's own again. no go. and the second time it wasn't a gradual depletion. i crashed and i crashed big. within a quarter i went from a's with a sprinkling of b's (from instructors who didn't know how to teach, i swear) to flunking. i couldn't stay awake, i couldn't pass the tests in my favorite classes, i couldn't even read the damn textbooks. what had once been easy for me became the worst struggle in my life. then i came down with a flu that i could NOT kick. i had it almost 2 months before i finally gave up, withdrew from my classes, and took a leave of absence. for months after that, just THINKING of school made me tired. i realize now that in addition to the anemia, which destroyed whatever management system i had for adhd as well as my health, i was totally burned out. at the junior college level i didn't have a single semester with less than 18 units (6 classes versus the usual 4 of every other sane person), and at the university i kept pushing 20 units per quarter (5 classes versus the usual 3). i killed myself by doing this. i also missed out on 3 years of kids' growing up.

i had come to the conclusion that i wouldn't go back. until now. i STILL need a degree to be able to do anything. no, i can't do the fle...i am still a senior and all the limitations still apply. but i can finish what i started. or can i? i don't know. everyone i know thinks i can. but i was flunking. my entire system went down the drain and i feel like it took my brain with it. i'm an insane overachiever that hates to do less than her best on ANYTHING. and knowing i got solid a's once before, knowing i managed to do this once before...WITHOUT help, then totally fell flat on my face, i just don't know if i have it in me to succeed here any more. but i have to try. for me. for my kids. and somehow, i have to convince myself that accepting the help i can now get because of the adhd is not failure. that it's ok as long as it helps me get through.

but it is a very bitter pill to swallow.

i have taken the plunge today. i have corrected my fasfa to go to my old university. i made a returning student appointment. i am going to be filling out the reentry application as soon as i have the appointment (on thursday). and i am scared to death that i will fail again.

oh, and, yes, i will still have to have loans. but not at the tune of $3500 per quarter.

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