After my rant of the ridiculousness of college placement exams, I can now say that I am officially a college student. It was a little easier than I expected it to be, since the hardest thing I had to do was study my butt off for the placement exam, and then actually pass it!
Getting enrolled into college, although is a step-by-step process, is actually quite simple – if you know what you want to study. I knew for a few months now that I wanted to go to school for Web Design (Web Graphic Design), so it was a matter of finding a school that would allow me to take online classes, and that even had the course I wanted to take.
I did some looking around at the big name colleges, like DePaul University and Columbia Chicago, but none of them had Web Design. They had Web Design as a Certificate course, but I wanted an actual DEGREE. So I had to keep looking. I looked at UIC, St. Xavier’s, Triton, DeVry and quite a few others. Although Triton had Web Graphic Design, the campus was too far away (if I needed to take onsite classes), so ultimately it left me with DeVry.
DeVry was recommended to me by my older sister’s documentary producer, who had a friend that graduated from there. I looked into it to see what courses they offered and whether online was an option, on top of where the closest campus would be. Luckily the campus is only a 30 minute drive south so, it’s close enough that if I needed to take onsite classes, I won’t have to wake up BEFORE the roosters just to make it to class on time. The next step was to request some information from the campus, and wait for someone to either call me or email me.
I don’t know how long exactly I waited for someone to contact me, (since I usually don’t answer numbers I don’t recognize) but once I decided to answer the phone to see who was bugging me, it was DeVry wanting to set up an appointment for me to come in and speak to an admissions advisor. I set up the appointment for the following week and was all jittery with excitement that I was actually doing what I’ve been telling myself to do. I had procrastinated on looking for a school to go to, for two years and with a little encouragement and motivation from my boyfriend, I was making it a reality.
We talked about Web Graphic Design (Associates Degree) and the possibility of just going straight to Multimedia Design and Development (Bachelor’s Degree for Web Graphic Design). If I just went straight for a Bachelor’s Degree I would be able to bypass a couple “prerequisite” classes, because they wouldn’t be necessary in getting a Bachelor’s Degree. Although it sounds like a good idea, I stuck with just getting an Associate’s Degree. Despite getting a Bachelor’s Degree being a good idea, I wanted to make sure I was spending my time doing something that I like. I mean, I like being able to make websites and stuff, but I just want to make sure that what I’m going to school for, is going to be what I think it is.
We discussed whether I wanted to do online classes, onsite classes, or both. I know that because of the fact that I have a 2 year old, I want to be able to do online classes so that way I can spend as much time with my daughter as I can and work around her, instead of the other way around. I can also do onsite classes at the same time, and only be at the campus once or twice a week, which is no big deal. I don’t want to spend all my time at the campus, and barely any time with my daughter. To make things a little more complicated, I’m pregnant again with child number two, so I don’t want to have to try to plan my pregnancy around school too. Luckily the semesters are short, so I can do onsite classes NOW, and when it gets closer to birth-time, I can switch to purely online classes no big deal.
What I didn’t know, was that for first year students, because they/we don’t know how to navigate the online class stuff yet, they require that the first semester be attended at the campus so that way they can teach us HOW to navigate the online stuff. Each semester is only 8 weeks long, so I’ll be done with my first semester at the end of February. Then once March comes along, I can switch to online classes for that semester and the next. It’ll give me time to adjust to having another baby in the house, and I won’t have to worry about taking time off school. I can still do what I have to do with the baby (and toddler) and be able to study at the same time, which is a huge plus.
Next was to talk to a financial aid representative and see what my options were for getting financial aid and figuring out how much I would be getting, compared to how much each semester costs. Lucky for me, the amount of financial aid I’ll be getting THIS semester is actually MORE than what I need, so I won’t have to pay for anything out of pocket (which is a huge relief). What’s really great about the people in the Student Services office is that everyone is really nice and extremely helpful in answering all my questions, since I’m totally incompetent when it comes to financial aid and that whole process. My financial aid advisor was able to break it all down for me in a way that I could understand what he was talking about and what I had to do to pay back whatever financial aid I had to pay back.
Next was to actually apply, take the placement test, and the ultimately get my schedule. My admissions rep kept telling me that he wished he could waive my application fee, but because I didn’t have previous college credits he wouldn’t be able to. Lucky me there was an engineering expo that happened 2 days prior and he was able to waive that application fee anyways! I studied for the placement test for a solid week and went unit by unit studying my butt off for the test! Ultimately I passed it my first shot with an almost perfect Reading Comprehension score, a perfect Writing score and high math scores for both Arithmetic and Algebra.
Determining my schedule was the best part of it all. I’m only signed up for 2 classes this semester (math and some other one) but I’ll get 7 credit hours right away for these 2 classes. What made my day that much better, was that I don’t have to keep up with the class – I can actually speed up and go BEYOND everyone else! Since the classes aren’t being lectured (which is my understanding) I can do my homework and quizzes online and then come in the next school day and take my test and then proceed to go even further.
If I finish my one math class before the 8 weeks are done, I can actually start the next math course no big deal! If I don’t finish it within the first set of 8 weeks, it doesn’t really matter since I didn’t sign up for 2 math classes. Once the next semester starts, I can just pick up where I left off and if I finish that one early, then SWEET!
I have my school Orientation on the 20th, and my first day of school starts January 2nd. As weird as it is for me to be back in school after 2 years, I know it’s the best thing I can do for myself and my family. So thanks Danny for helping to motivate me and keep me encouraged!
Guest post written and submitted by Heather P. If you’re on Twitter, you can follow Heather P, and engage with her and fellow Hush Hush fans and Twilight book fans.