My Education

It’s 10:30 pm on Saturday, and this was due (by my own schedule, but still) on Tuesday at 10:00 am. Is anyone surprised at this point? You shouldn’t be if you’ve been paying attention.

Anyway, I figure this is a good place to share the story of my education. It’s a good one, story and education both, really. There are interesting anecdotes from pretty much every year. I had mostly good teachers, a few exceptional teachers, and only a couple truly bad teachers. I wrote 1,000 walking through it, but I don’t think you’re actually all that interested in those years.

Suffice to say that there were moments throughout, as early as third grade, that demonstrate I’ve always had ADHD and probably a mild form of dyslexia, dyscalculia, and/or dysgraphia, but I masked well and learned to compensate well enough on my own that by the time I sought testing as an adult the ADHD was diagnosable but the official statement regarding the other was that if I did suffer from it I “compensated well enough that it had no impact.” After all, I’d been compensating for twenty years at that point, it’s a written test to identify difficulties in reading and writing. It wasn’t as if I could stop compensating the way I could stop masking the ADHD.

Anyway, college proved much more difficult than I was prepared for, because I had never had to actually pay attention in class. In high school, class was just explaining the textbook. In college, I learned how much I hated listening to a lecture, how difficult for me it really was.

And then I got married two years in. That was wonderful, and I’m so glad I did, but getting pregnant proved to be a bit more of an interruption than I anticipated. I had hoped I would be able to attend class regardless, but morning sickness was too much for me. I had to drop out the semester of my first trimester, and I only took one class the semester during which my daughter was born, but I passed that class.

She was worth it, though. I didn’t mind the delay. It was only a year.

Except I was attending a private school, and it was very expensive, and looking at my degree requirements, well, I had taken all the courses for my major and minor, and all I had left was general education, so why not transfer to the state school down the road to finish?

So we moved down the road. And I took another year off. It was my health, the depression and migraines. It was our finances, classes meant childcare. So now I was two years behind. But I enrolled, and I had an excellent advisor. Not all of my classes transferred, but he took a lot more than most would have. That minor I had all but completed, though, well, it was 29 hours, just one hour short of most major program requirements. A lot of those classes were applicable to my new major, though. And that major? It covered most of a minor. Still, when I graduated with a 120 hour degree, I had 180 hours on my transcript. My four year degree had taken me eight years to complete, and that’s without once changing my mind about what I wanted to do.

I was discouraged. I was disappointed. But here’s the thing, the timing worked out in my favor.

See, when I first enrolled in college, I already knew I wanted a master’s degree in ESL, and I searched for dream schools I’d like to attend some day. I found… none. There wasn’t one. There were endorsements on curriculum and development degrees. Now, I’ll admit, I probably didn’t do the most thorough search ever, I was just day dreaming, after all, but that’s what a basic search returned. Then, when I decided to transfer over to the state school, about halfway through, I did another day dreaming search. I found four schools with a degree that sounded close to what I wanted. None of them sounded perfect, but one was really really close. They were all prohibitively expensive, however, and all of them were far away. None had distance programs.

Then, when I graduate with my bachelor’s, my husband took a job in Texas. We moved a fourteen hour drive away from everyone we knew to a town with a state school that had a program with a description that read like I had written up exactly what I wanted. It was the perfect degree. It hadn’t existed four years previously, not in the format I was looking for. And better? They had a grant that gave every new enrollee $2,000, enough to cover the first semester. That second semester? Well, my daughter had made friends in pre-k and wanted to have a play date. Her friend’s mother knew of a graduate assistant position opening up. My degree was paid for.

I happened to move down the road from a school with the perfect degree. I got a scholarship I didn’t even apply for that covered the classes long enough for my daughter to make a friend with a girl that happened to be in her class. Her mother happened to work in an office with an opening and was willing to give me a recommendation. My degree just happened through a series of coincidence. Or divine appointment.

All those setbacks and disappointments were part of a journey that took me to precisely where I needed to be when I needed to be there.

And my education isn’t even the most miraculous ‘coincidence’ I’ve experienced.

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