Wednesday, July 26, 2006

It’s Another Silly Season

Well, college registration is upon us. Spawn is going off to a 2-year college to collect some general education credits for cheap before heading off to a 4-year university. If he does so. Hmmm. Sometimes I worry about him. He can be so defiant of authority that he cuts off his nose to spite his face, and I’m feeling a distant zephyr of this particular ill wind right now.

He went to registration yesterday. As I watched the back of his head leave, I hollered out, “Make sure everything you register for is transferable!” I got a lax wave of the hand in reply. He returned, a couple of hours later, with his registration sheet, which includes all of 12 credit hours. My eyeballs started spinning. Then I read his class list and one eyeball started spinning faster than the other one. I can really put Marty Feldman to shame when I get in full Maternal Smother Overdrive!

Anyway, he signed up for one class called “Orientation to the College Experience”. What the hell is that? “Here’s the cafeteria; have your parents make their checks payable to the Bursar; don’t cheat on anything; here’s the library…”? WTF, dude.

When I went off to college, my parents cheerfully drove my boxes and me to a Very Large State University several hundred miles from home, scoped out my room; we dropped off my stuff and went to lunch. They spoke in encouraging terms and then dumped me at the dormitory door. I think they went out for drinks and possibly a lusty celebratory night at a motel afterwards. My “Orientation to the College Experience” consisted of trying to find all my classes by means of a map seemingly charted by directionally challenged illiterates and clutching my chest when I realized my summer earnings were not enough to purchase the de-luxe editions of all my required texts. GASP! At least the food was paid for in advance.

My roomie hated me before she met me because, unbeknownst to me, she had tried to get a friend from home as her roomie, and I had somehow usurped friend’s spot. Consequently, I wound up with anywhere from two to six roomies several nights of the week because my roomie’s friends kept coming over to keep her company and commiserate. Chopped liver, that’s me.

After several weeks of unintentionally stepping on people’s stomachs on my way to the toilet in the middle of the night, I complained to the Resident Advisor (an upperclass – er – person who was in charge of keeping it down to a dull roar on the floor) about too many overnight visitors, and my roomie took her revenge by using my cosmetics to paint an effigy of me on my pillowcase and hanging it from a noose from the 18th floor -- out our window. She then smashed all my breakables, which were mostly those same cosmetics, and had her bodacious friends come back over even more often and poke me awake during the nights.

Not surprisingly, I was less often than perky for my 8 a.m. General Chemistry class, where I was a yawning star amongst 350 other cross-eyed and dazed freshmen. That was followed by my first German class, where the scrutiny was intense, as the class had only 8 students, and then I had chemistry lab with the doofus partner from hell. After a short lunch break, which really got used by my dashing 80 miles across campus with 4,000 pounds of textbooks on my back, I had Calculus with possibly the mumbliest professor on campus. I think the excessive amount of facial hair he sported may have had something to do with the mumbling. I rounded off my day with freshman English and a computer science course back in the dark ages of punch cards.

Adding to my state of perpetual alarm was the fact that my counselor seemed to be on a quest to make me into the most overburdened student in history. First, she tried to convince me to come out of the starting box with a double major in Chemistry and Business. I demurred. She argued with me over taking German, since I already had sufficient language classes in French from high school, but I overcame her objections by trying to sell it as my “blow off” class. Hahahahahaha! Boy, was it ever NOT! It was, though, incredibly fun, and difficult in a different way from the analytical overload of the rest of my schedule. My counselor tried to add another class to my schedule, which would have put it in the 20-hour range and required dean’s approval, and I had to leave the room to hyperventilate in the ladies’ room. We finally compromised, and I wound up with a mere bleeding-from-the-eyes load of 18 hours. Now, THERE’s some “college orientation” for ya!

I was fortunate enough to be put on independent study for the English class, which saved me some time humping from one building to another during the day. It meant, however, that I had to write four upperclassman quality theses of 25 pages each, which were reviewed in written form, then I was orally quizzed by the entire graduate assistant component of the English department. I’d have been more intimidated by that if I’d known in advance, but I showed up for my first review, which I thought was going to be pretty casual, with just me and my instructor, to find a clump of 7 surly, long-haired grad students in English staring at me from their perches in the inner courtyard of the Humanities Plex. I don’t think I blinked during the entire 2-hour interrogation. I may have peed myself, but I honestly don’t remember to this very day. I spent the next 12 hours completely numb from my ankles to my fingertips, babbling about hubris.

Which didn’t make me any more popular with my roomie, who was flunking remedial BB stacking. About halfway through the first semester, I got to move to another room with a gal who, while she did not have a passel of friends over spending the night, did have the interesting quirk of being an amateur hairdresser. She earned her pocket money by cutting hair. In my chair, at my desk. And she didn’t clean it up. So, I got to come back to the room, sweep 8 different kinds of alien hair off my desk and the floor and relax by studying until someone yelled at me to turn off the &#^$%@ light and go to (&#$%^*(*^^ bed.

I passed everything somehow, and, being completely insane, signed up for 19 hours the following semester. My counselor tried to push me into triple majoring in Chemistry, Business and German. I think I started drooling, which was a marginal improvement over hyperventilating. Man, was I “oriented”.

So, when I look at Spawn’s 12-hour schedule, including “Orientation to the College Experience”, I have flashbacks and some low-grade envy. I probably would have benefited from an orientation class, depending on what’s covered. I know he has a tendency to take the Slacker Path, which is not something I can change, and the hours will, oddly enough, transfer to four-year state universities. Whodathunkit?

I spoke up, briefly, and tried to avoid smothering him about the hour count and how we were really only going to pay for 8 semesters, that how he filled them was up to him. He’ll have some bleeding-from-the-eyeballs semesters in his future, too. I hope he winds up with as many goofy stories and having had as much fun as I did. Because I really wouldn’t want for him to miss the REAL “College Experience” after all.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Nearly 20 years ago, as I was leaving (graduating from) Community College (the cheaper source for general education credits), they were about to make that Orientation to College course mandatory. It's an attempt to lower the number of students who drop out (this, of course, would include the ones who are too stupid to find the cafeteria, library, etc.). It may have some value but the course has to take up an entire semester, instead of being a couple of hours (real hours, not semester hours). The primary reason for the class is that way too many community college students never make it to university (or to graduation for the two-year degree) and that exacerbates the tendency of the universities to look down their collective noses at the two-year colleges. Deserved or not, it gives the community colleges an inferiority complex - and the administrators are constantly fighting that ("we are too good enough!!"). Perhaps, just maybe perhaps, he'll get something out of it (a better map?).