Wednesday, September 21, 2011

On Study And Practice

As I said in the previous post that I wrote, I had forgotten how challenging it is to be a full-time student. I wanted to elaborate on that some because it is close to the surface for me. It has been since the semester started, and I have a strong feeling it will continue to be that way for quite some time.

Both Jon, my son, and Nancy, my daughter, are full-time students. Jon is in his fourth year as a Psychology major at Keene State College. Nancy is in her second year as a Nutrition Science major at UNH in Durham. She originally majored in Biology but she was always really interested in the subject of nutrition. They both carry full academic loads and they both work incredibly hard. Sure, they have other things going on – they both have jobs and they also both have social lives – but they are, in effect, already working full-time at being students.

When I originally pursued a college degree many years ago, I did it in a sort of piecemeal fashion as I was working full-time and, when the kids came, working on being a parent as that was always first on the list of priorities. When I was going to classes, I made it a point to always do every bit of work that was required and to stay on top of the material because that was the only way that passing a class was assured. That has not changed. However, even staying on top of subject matter doesn’t assure the earning of a passing grade because it is always possible to stumble and fall at the last minute. That happened to me with one course I took, and I never forgot the lesson it taught me.

This coming Tuesday I have to take a major exam in Biology. It covers the first two units of material covered in the course so far, which is approximately 7 chapters from the text. The professor who teaches the lecture part of the course is really good about providing materials for study and review – she has published all of her lecture notes and she also has convenient office hours. I am in the midst of reviewing for it now, and this post is a break in the middle. As far as other work, I have a lab report due tomorrow for Organic Chemistry, and last night I took the first major exam in Statistics. I felt okay going into it but there were things I wasn’t really sure about afterward. All I can do is wait and see what happens. Plus, after the exam the professor started new material, including introducing us to a software package called SPSS. It’s been in existence for a very long time and has been modified repeatedly over its lifespan. The class is going to have 4 assignments due as part of the grade for the class, and while I think I will be fine with it, it adds to the learning curve of software use in the courses I’m taking. The other is a program called OWL, used for submitting homework assignments in Organic Chemistry. I imagine it has applications with other courses as well. We have all learned it on the fly, and while it is powerful, it’s not especially user-friendly. I’ve run into problems, as have others in the class, with doing problems where you know the answer you’re submitting is correct but it isn’t totally correct according to the user interface because of syntactical problems or usage of the IUPAC rules for naming compounds.

It’s hard work, and the details can sometimes be frustrating. But I am being constantly assured that I will do this, and I know I will. So far, I think I’m doing okay. I’ll have a better idea about that within the next couple of weeks. Until then, the work continues…

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