Sunday, October 12, 2008

Reaction Paper

Psych adjustment 2101

The Psychological Adjustment of a non-traditional Student

By Jenn Ganoe









    March of 2007 I was wrongfully discharged from my employment with Washington State Prison. At this point the Department of Labor introduced to me the theory of returning to college. Quite honestly, I was a little put out by that thought; as I really did not feel I needed to return to school and that my education level was sufficient. I was wrong.

    I decided on entering the nursing program with the hopes of becoming an RN. This was a recession proof field that paid well. I applied to East Georgia College. Here I was introduced to red tape and I got very frustrated in the process of enrolling in College. I didn't understand why they wouldn't transfer certain classes and I didn't understand why I was being put in special education classes for math; I had done my time in college algebra. Then there was the general confusion about the nursing program and who the advisor was. I had a humanities instructor put me in classes as my advisor. Only to find out that I was in the wrong science program to get into the Darton nursing program. I had to go to the instructor for A and P and beg him to let me in late. To top off the first semester of Red Tape, I learned that the Darton Program was separate from the program offered at East Georgia. They were two different colleges. On top of the 17 credit hours I was working on I then had to apply to another college and meet their GPA expectations. I got looking at my GPA that transferred and started asking questions.

    At the end of my first semester at East Georgia College I wrote the Dean of Academic affairs a letter and let him know what I felt about the bureaucracy I had been put through for one semester of nothing. At that point, that is what I felt. I had learned nothing I hadn't already suffered through in my previous tenor at a college or through life learned experiences. And in quite honesty, I hadn't really tried that semester. I was discouraged by the way I was handled and only doing the minimum work because Dept of Labor was paying me. After writing Dr. Goodman, I saw my grades for all of my classes. I was irate at the History Grade. I then wrote the instructor, Dr. Derr, a two page letter about how I felt about his grading policy.

    He returned my letter. Dr. Derr informed me that his problem with my letter was that it was not based on the class it was based on the fact that I didn't know how to forgive. This of course did nothing but infuriate me. Of course I was fueled by anger and I replied to him. Over the break I did nothing but steam about the "C" in his class and the entire first semester experience at East Georgia College. I was signed up for my next semester of classes and questioning if I was going to go back.

    I returned for the spring 2008 semester. I had not got into the Darton Program and I was working of getting the "core courses" out of the way. Semester two was another whirl wind of crap. There was no new material presented to me. I said something about this to my instructor for A and P, Mr. Smoyer, and he told me that I would find a lot of the courses over lapped. This just frustrated me. Overlap was not the word I felt worked.

    It was this semester I caught someone cheating in Mr. Smoyer's class. I pointed this out to a classmate who sat next to me, she has seen it to. We decided to speak to him about the instance because we had taken a lot of time to study for that particular exam. He looked surprised. Worse, he looked like we had hurt his feelings. I will never forget that look on his face. It touched me.

One of the two students I saw cheating was also in my Spanish class. I (without mentioning names, either time) informed my Spanish teacher, Ms. Todd that I had seen someone cheat in a different class and that she was also in our class. She asked me who and I told her that I didn't tell the other instructor who but it was a student that was transient from another college. I wanted her to know because she was a really nice teacher and we had an exam coming up and I wanted her to have the heads up. She also looked insulted. I didn't understand that. I didn't question her either. I just got an attitude about cheaters in general. I felt like a heel for hurting the instructor's feelings and that fueled my already pending bitterness at being back in school.

Within this same time period, my friend Malory had a bunch of issues come up with her special needs child. She started to miss a lot of classes and was in danger of failing a few of them. She was complaining about this one day and I asked who her teachers were. She mentioned Dr. Derr. I told her to go to him and tell him what was going on. She looked appalled but did it anyway. After she had met with him she told me about the conversation. She said that Dr. Derr was surprised to learn that I had been the one who had given her the advice to speak to him and that he was willing to work with her. She questioned me about what he said to her.

I tried to brush it off but then I confessed to the ugly email I had sent him. I told her that I never questioned the quality of a person he was just his testing skills. She did not understand and I did not expect her to, nor did I elaborate more. She approached the subject a few times over the semester but I just changed the subject.

Summer 2008 I once again took a full course load. I experienced first hand an angry and bitter person. I over heard an instructor on a cell phone and he made the comment, "I have more then 9 students failing in one class and as far as I am concerned that is 9 less students that will receive the Hope Scholarship." I stepped backwards a few steps and walk the opposite way down the hallway. I was one of the 9 students that were failing and I had gone to him with a question. He never saw me and I felt that he was unaware that I heard his conversation. It was past the last day to withdraw from class, so I made no further effort in his class. Why try to pass a class when the instructor had a goal to fail a certain number of students. Knowing that I had an instructor was not there for the students added to my building bitterness and disappointment at the choice to returning to college.

I had a really bitter summer. One filled with outside forces that I had no control over. Situations erupted left and right and I felt like just quitting college and my quest to live a better life and provide a better quality of life for my children; and just living on welfare like the majority of under-educated adults do. But I am not a quitter. That and upon evaluating my life and feelings, I knew I had grown accustomed to living above the poverty level. I began to evaluate what I had learned at East Georgia College and what I was learning and how I would use this in life. I was discouraged by the results I came up with.

In the three semesters that I had been back to school I learned that nice people are taken advantage of. I learned how to observe people and saw the extremes they went through to cheat. I learned how to be a friend and give a friend advice; and to listen to her problems. I learned that there is red tape and that was not some myth that people talk about. I learned how to go around the red tape. I learned how to be a southern belle and be nice to someone's face and throw mud on them the second they turned their back. I learned how to use my past experiences to get through classes that I was taking no new content in from. I learned only one thing academically, statistics.

I had learned how to do statistics. A grade of "D" is not indicative of what I learned. Through the muck of summer, that was the only class that was new and I gave it 110% of my efforts. That and it was a welcome distraction from life the universe and everything that occurred over summer 2008.

Fall 2008 started with a startling bang. The young lady I had turned in for cheating was my lab partner for Chemistry. I approached the instructor about this and he listened to me but would not to switch my lab partner. I tried it his way a few weeks and then dropped the class. Which was a proverbially slap in the face. I need the class for my declared major of pre-nursing. I was almost maxed out on hours so by dropping the course I would have to switch majors or be unable to graduate. My ears were red about this for about a week. I was pulling the "Do the minimum to pass the classes and exert no more effort." For two of my three classes and the third class I was focusing on to the utmost.

Then we started a chapter in my Psychological Adjustment class about love. I did not take the chapter to well. Every word I read was the mirror image of what I had experienced in life. I was bitter. I was unwilling to forgive all the wrong doings in my life. How long had I been bitter? So, from that class I learned to view myself through other people's eyes. I didn't like much what I saw.

On September 29th, 2008 I realized that Dr. Derr was right. I had never learned to forgive. I was looking at the clouds on my way to pick the children up from school and daycare. There was a large black ominous cloud amongst all the white fluffy clouds. It looked like an angry black ape. I glanced at the cloud for about 4 miles and then the features became indistinct and just an ominous black cloud. A black cloud on a beautiful day and it made me think of bitterness, resentfulness, and how it was a reflection of me.

I realized, in the thirty mile drive to Swainsboro that I had started out returning to college to finish what I academically needed for a degree; but I had taken a lot more out of the experience. I had learned to balance my schedule of being a mom and being a student. I had learned how to be a friend. I had learned that telling the truth 100% of the time can be as damning as being a cheater. I had learned that I was not learning anything by holding a grudge; and started trying in all of my classes. I learned that Dr. Derr was correct and that I was having problems adjusting to being back in college because I lacked the ability to forgive. It wasn't that I couldn't adjust to college but more that I didn't want to adjust. I wanted to do the time and come out unscathed. Unscathed because I felt I was complete when I returned to school; only to find out that I was partially wrong. Dr. Derr gave the best contribution to my education by pointing out my biggest flaw. Sometimes to learn something and move forward you have to reflect and see where you have made your mistakes.

I had a rough start returning to college. I thought I was flawless. I was bitter about the wrongful discharge and only taking the classes to avoid looking for alternative employment. My experience at East Georgia has allowed me to learn how to learn and move forward with what I want and fulfill what I need. I have been able to stick to the program and look forward to succeeding. Attending East Georgia College has not only given me a new beginning but has potentially saved my life.


Blogger fermicat said...

Wow. I think you've learned a lot more about life and living in your three semesters than I did in my first three. When you come back to school after experiencing real life, it makes you a different kind of student - a better one in the long run. Great essay.

10/12/08, 12:16 PM  
Blogger Renie Burghardt said...

You did learn a lot, Jenny, and if I was your professor, you'd get an A + on it!



10/12/08, 4:31 PM  
Blogger JennyLu said...

TY Fermi- it was a difficult paper to write (esp being a catholic and living in the heart of the bible belt). It was even harder to post it to the online section of the class. I posted it here first!

Ty Renie, I wouldn't go as far as an A, but TY TY TY

10/12/08, 7:21 PM  
Blogger dr sardonicus said...

A bittersweet story. I'm glad it seems to have a happy ending. I don't know what options were available to you in your part of the world, but had it been me, if they would have hassled me to that extent about transferring my credits, I would have told them to shove it up their ass and enrolled somewhere else.

10/12/08, 8:22 PM  
Blogger JennyLu said...

I had to repeat History because I didn't have georgia history, I had to repeat spanish because I did not meet the foreign language requirment, I had to repeat a part of a semester of Algebra until I got an official copy of my transcript sent to me from Columbia Greene CC and then I went to the dean and said a few well chosen 4 star words. All is well.

10/12/08, 8:34 PM  

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