“Don’t Know Much About History”

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So, I decided I needed something else to do.

I’m going back to school. 

Yep. I’m going to get the education I didn’t get 30 years ago. And I’m all in.

And since you have to start somewhere, I’m starting at my local community college.  Laugh if you must, but after everything that’s happened to me over the past year, a simple online course in accounting seemed like a good course to start with. Get the toes wet before jumping into the pool and all of that.

Last night I headed off to “New Student Orientation” night at Delaware County Community College, or DC Cubed as it’s sometimes called. So I park my car in the student lot after driving around for a bit and almost parking in the college president’s spot by mistake.

This is also known as “giving myself the tour”.

Anyway, I park and go inside and see that the coffee place is still open. I walk past the Delaware County Police Department recruits and realize they’re old enough to be my sons. Or I’m old enough to be their mom. Either way, I end up feeling like a cougar.

So I get my coffee and head upstairs to where the orientation is being held. At least I think it’s upstairs.

DC Cubed’s campus isn’t laid out like a traditional, suburban, college campus.  Instead of having a couple of main buildings connected with outside walkways, they’re all interconnected with overhead, enclosed glass walkways, which is a little confusing.

Okay. A lot confusing. Each room has a four digit number and according to the college website, the first digit is the building number, the second digit is the floor number and the last two is the room number. Which makes perfect sense unless you realize that the ground floor is actually the second floor and that they must have swapped the numbers on the STEM and Academic buildings because even though I should be on the second floor of the STEM building for this thing, it’s actually on the first floor of the Academic building.

So I give myself the tour of the third floor of the STEM building (I still have no idea how I got there) and ask a student who’s young enough to be my daughter where I am.

“I don’t know. This place is really confusing.”

I start looking for room numbers that sort of correspond to the room I’m looking for and the next thing I know I’m passing the art gallery and see a sign that says, “College Planning” with a big arrow on it. Mind you, it doesn’t say “New Student Orientation”, but it sounds reasonably close to the thing I’m looking for and if it isn’t, the people there might actually know what I’m talking about.

So I give myself the tour of the Academic Building and sure enough, it’s where I need to be. It is not where I thought I’d be, but a lot of my life has been like that.

I check in and get my official “New Student Orientation” folder and one of the women behind the desk says, “You know, your transcripts aren’t here yet.”

Full disclosure: I didn’t see anything on the website or in my “new student orientation” invitation telling me that I needed to have my transcripts there for this and I’d just faxed the request over that morning. It may have been on there, somewhere, and if it was, I didn’t see it.

“Um, I’m sorry, but I didn’t know that.”

“Well, I don’t know if you’re going to get anything out of this. After the presentation, you’ll meet with an advisor and schedule your fall classes and we can’t do that until we know what classes you’ve already taken.”

Oh. I didn’t see that, either. And that means I’ll also be expected to pay for them as well and I know that wasn’t there.  At all.

“And we need proof that you know math before you can take this accounting course.”

Oh. Well, I got through Calc Two and I did really well. “I’m sure you did, but…”  Yeah, okay. Got it.

“Do you want to take the math placement test?”

Now?

“Well, I’ve been up since 5 and I’m kind of beat.”

“It’s not hard.”

I really don’t want to take this. “Sure.”

So I give myself another tour of the Academic building, take an elevator up to the fourth floor, scoot along an interior hallway that overlooks some sort of study area three floors below (I’m beginning to look for moving stairways and talking paintings by now) and follow the signs that say “Testing Center”. I end up in a roundish sort of room with teal carpeting and a test proctor comes out to see me. I explain my situation and the next thing I know I’m sitting in front of a computer filling out my student information.

And as I’m wondering how hard can this be, the first question comes up and it’s an algebra one asking me what’s the correct equation for a discount. Which is pretty easy and I get the right answer and I move on to the next one.

It’s another algebra question. Okay, I can do this one, too. Then a few more that required me to do some factoring and to flip a fraction around for division and do I remember how to multiply exponents. And then it’s asking me for the roots of an equation and if the graph of this function is symmetrical around the x-axis. Or not.

And then it gets weird. And a little more difficult that I imagined. I factor some more and add polynomials and remember that if the coordinates are (-x, y) they’re in the upper left hand quadrant of the plane. And the old rule about absolute zero comes back to me (they’re always positive, which never made sense to me, but there you are) and I give up on more than a few of them and think about how pissed off I’m going to be if I just clicked my way into a remedial math class because an admissions person talked me into taking this.

I make semi-educated guesses about operations involving imaginary numbers and then the last question comes up and it’s an inverse function question. I can’t remember my f of x from my g of x by this point, so I click “C” for absolutely no good reason at all.

I signal to the proctor in the other room that I’m done.  He totes up my score and comes out to log me off the system. “Do you like math?”

“Sort of. Did I do okay?”

“You did much better than okay.”

I clicked my way right into any math class I’ll need to take at DC Cubed. So I grab my scores, head back down the hallway, look for Nick the Headless Horseman, get back into the elevator and hit the button for the first floor. The door opens and I’m in the basement in a construction area.

“Shit.”

Remember what I said about the second floor?

I go back up and follow the bread crumbs to the orientation room. I talk to an advisor, make a double pinky swear that my transcripts are on their way and register for my class.

I am all in and I’m on my way.

Next time I’m there, I’ll have to remember to look for the Fat Lady.

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