Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Graduation and More

Well, I graduated with high honors from Delaware County Community College, officially on August 31, 2013.  Since then, I've been applying to four year schools.  I did not get into the University of Pennsylvania despite my 3.79 GPA.  That was a huge disappointment to me.  I got into Drexel, but even if I borrowed $9,500 a year I would still be about $10,000 a year short of their tuition.  So, I can't go there.  I applied to Bryn Mawr College for their spring semester, but because of my age, I am only allowed to apply for a fall admission.  So they're rolling over my application for the fall.  I applied and got into West Chester University.  Their tuition is so inexpensive that it will be covered by federal and state grants.  I will have to borrow $500 for books, though.  So, my plan is to go to West Chester this spring, and then hopefully transfer to Bryn Mawr in the fall.  But if I don't get into Bryn Mawr, then I'll have already started at West Chester.  West Chester is not my favorite choice.  You only need a 2.0 GPA to get in and while the low tuition is good for me, it also means they aren't hiring the best teachers, and they have larger classrooms.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Two Semesters

Sorry it’s been so long since I last blogged.  I had some medical problems over winter break and had to go to the hospital for a couple of weeks for a medication readjustment.


Quick recap of my fall semester—I got A’s in everything except for Calculus.  I got a C in Calculus.  It was a terrible class.  My teacher didn’t actually teach anything, he just read from the book.  The book, of course, was totally incomprehensible to me.  If it hadn’t been for what my dad could teach me in Calculus, I would have gotten an F.  I am so glad I am through with Calculus.  I just hope it transfers to whatever four year school I end up going to so I don’t have to take it again.


This past semester has been better to me.  I ended up only taking three classes.  At first I was signed up for five—Intro to Chemistry, General Botany, Western Civilization II, Microsoft Word and Microsoft Excel.  At first I dropped the Intro to Chemistry class.  I decided that that would just be too much for me.  My Western Civ. II class was a mid-semester accelerated course.  So I had the first half of the semester to think about it.  Botany was an extremely difficult and time consuming class.  Word and Excel—both online classes—while not as difficult were extremely time consuming.  I realized mid-semester that taking on an accelerated class at that point would be too overwhelming for me, and would probably affect my grades.  So I dropped Western Civ. II and just stuck with my three classes.  I was convinced that the best I could do in Botany was a B.  But I must have done better on the final than I thought, and I got an A.  I got A’s in Word and Excel as well.  So I’m much happier about this semester than last semester.


Because I dropped two classes, I have to take two classes over the summer to graduate with a summer graduation.  I’m taking Intro to Chemistry for the first summer session, and Western Civ. II for the second summer session.  Wish me luck.


So now I have to worry about applying to four year schools.  I’m going to apply (reapply) to the University of Pennsylvania and to Drexel University.  If I don’t get in to the University of Pennsylvania, then I’m going to go to Drexel.  If I don’t get into either of them, then I’m going to go to West Chester University.  West Chester University requires that you have at least a 2.0 GPA, so it’s not the best of schools, but a bachelor’s degree from somewhere is better than nothing.  Wish me luck on getting into a good school.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Dropped Classes and Scholarships

During my last summer session, I had been taking an SAT math prep course and Western Civilization I in the morning, and College Algebra and Trigonometry at night.  I soon realized that taking classes in the morning and at night was too much for me.  I dropped the SAT prep course and Western Civilization class.  I also had a morning/night schedule for the fall.  I dropped my fall nighttime class of Physics.  It will now take me a little bit longer to graduate, but I have to know my limits.  Too bad the classes weren't just scheduled back to back.  Then I think I could have done it.  I got an A in my math class.  If I had stuck with my original schedule, I don't think I could have done it.  So now I have a 3.91 GPA.  Never again a 4.0 thanks to that rotten math teacher that I had for my first summer session.

Well, I won a scholarship through the school, and I'm kind of disappointed.  Last year I won a total of $560 worth of scholarships which was just credited to my account.  This year I won a $250 book voucher.  I had thought for sure with a whole year of nearly straight A's I would have won more this year.  There were a lot of good scholarships available--up to $5,000.  I guess I should be grateful that I won anything at all.  It could have been worse.  The real disappointment was that I thought of this scholarship competition as a precursor to the big scholarship competition the Jack Kent Cooke scholarship competition.  The essay that I submitted was one that I specifically had written with the Jack Kent Cooke scholarship in mind.  If my essay wasn't good enough to garner a larger scholarship, then would it be good enough for the Jack Kent Cooke scholarship?  Maybe I have to go back to the drawing board and come up with something new entirely.  Students cannot apply directly for the Jack Kent Cooke scholarship, you have to be nominated by your school.  So the first order of business is convincing the school to nominate me.  Wish me luck.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

First the Bad News

I had the teacher from hell.  It was my summer I math class.  This teacher didn't give partial credit for partially correct answers.  She also marked it half off if you didn't format the answers the way she wanted.  She also was lousy at teaching.  She tested on things that she hadn't taught you.  And one day... after our tests were returned, some of the students were very angry about their test results, and said so.  The teacher became angry in return.  Then, unbelievably, she refused to teach the class!  She said we weren't in a "learning mood," and told us some pages in the book that we could read to teach ourselves.  I was so upset, I actually complained to the dean.  I wondered about how many other complaints he got.  Something must have happened, because the next day she was willing to look again at our tests for possible regrading.  My test was not regraded unfortunately.  I struggled with all of her special rules and regulations for formating the answers and got some bad test grades.  I ended up with a B.  That might not sound so bad, but I had a 4.0 average prior to that.  She destroyed my GPA.  If I had had any other teacher, I feel confident I would have gotten an A.  I'm so depressed about it.  About half the class dropped the class because they couldn't get a decent grade with her.  Doesn't the school notice things like this?

Now for the good news.  I'm starting another summer semester, this time taking math, Western Civilization and an SAT prep math course.  My teachers seem decent and reasonable, and this math teacher is willing to give partial credit for partially correct answers.  I'm taking the SAT math prep course because I've never actually taken the SATs.  I'm having a lot of trouble with the math section in the practice tests.  I'm hoping that this course will help me get a decent score, otherwise I just won't take the SATs.  The University of Pennsylvania doesn't require SAT scores for their school of Liberal and Professional Studies.  Yale has a special program for nontraditional students.  They strongly encourage you to have SAT scores, but it isn't absolutely required for admission.  I figure if my SAT math score would be low, I'm better off just not having an SAT score.

Well, off to study in this terrible heat.

Have a good holiday.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Busy Busy Busy

Hi all.  Sorry it's been so long since I've blogged.  I've been super busy with school.  My Spanish class is taking up most of my time.  It's incredibly hard this semester.  And right now I'm only getting a B in the class.  I'm hoping to bring it up to an A by the end of the semester so it won't screw up my 4.0 average.  In fact, I am going to read a poem in Spanish in the school's talent show next week just so I can knock off two of my bad quiz grades in Spanish class.  That was the deal that the teacher offered, and I'm desperate.  The rest of my classes are going well.  Math is very easy, fortunately.  English is time consuming, but doable.  And American National Government is boring, but I'm getting an A.

Well, I applied to the University of Pennsylvania, and I didn't get in.  The good news is that I can try again next year, and I won't have to submit my high school grades.  They must have given too much weight to my high school grades which were really bad.  I was pretty bummed about it for a while, but now I'm looking toward the future.  I am also thinking about applying to Yale and Columbia next spring.  They both have special programs for adult students.  And both of them basically require SATs.  I'll definitely be the oldest student in the classroom for that, but hopefully it will be worth it.

Here's a sample of my work from English class.  It's an analysis of a song.

Personal Jesus
Depeche Mode is a synth-pop band from the 80s.  Although they continue to make music today, they really peaked in the late 80s and early 90s.  Martin Gore, the writer for the band, has taken on many heavy subjects ranging from relationships to religion.  Depeche Mode’s song “Personal Jesus” is both a mockery of fundamentalist faith, and an expression of deep faith.  The song came out at a time when Depeche Mode was a very popular and influential band.  The song made them even more popular, and brought a lot of fans who really did not understand Depeche Mode, and so misinterpreted the song from a more evangelical point of view.  This song is, in fact, an attempt to free people from certain religious extremists.  Fundamentalists, for instance, who believe they have a personal relationship with Jesus, can be very aggressive with their faith.  They believe they have certainty of moral knowledge, and so cannot be reasoned with.  They can lack humility, quite unlike Jesus.  This song attempts to offer another point of view.
Gore has confessed that he finds religion very confusing.  Many of his songs speak about Christianity and religion in a very suspicious manner such as “Blasphemous Rumors.”  “Personal Jesus” was not intended to be a literal praise song.  This can be gleaned from the fact of some irreverent language in the song such as “Lift up the receiver; I’ll make you a believer; I will deliver; you know I’m a forgiver” (lines 22-25).   In these lines, Depeche Mode mocks the sales pitch of fundamentalists.  The sales pitch usually goes something like this: If you say the “sinner’s prayers” and accept Jesus Christ into your heart, then your sins will be forgiven and you will be given a whole new and wonderful life.  You will believe more and more as you get closer to Jesus.  If you have a strong faith, you will be rewarded with an unbelievably great life.  But if you have problems, it is because you do not have enough faith in Jesus.  The fundamentalists push their faith because they believe the more souls they “lead to Christ,” the greater will be their reward in heaven, so they are very motivated, “I’ll make you a believer” (line 23).
Some people, when knowing that the song is, in part at least, a mockery, might take the whole song to be blasphemous.  I do not take this view as I do not see it as an attack on Christian faith, but a particular type of faith.  It is an attack on a certain type of narcissistic faith—the kind that believes that Christianity exists to serve the whims and preferences of the believer, a personal Jesus who does not ask anything of the faithful.  He is merely “Someone to hear your prayers; Someone who’s there” (lines 6-7).  It is a vision of a Jesus who has been dehumanized and acts as a servant in the worst, most demeaning sense—an image of God made by man.
Marilyn Manson covered “Personal Jesus” and, being that he is a known Satanist, it is fair to assume that he did not have good intentions in recording the song.  In that sense, the song can be viewed as purely blasphemous and an attack on Christianity itself.  Many “believers” speak of having a “personal relationship with Jesus.”  Even Pope John Paul II said that believers have or should develop a “personal relation with Jesus.”  So “Personal Jesus” can certainly be seen as an attack on that type of Christian faith, or that aspect of Christian faith.  The song does mock the notion of having a personal relationship with someone who you can neither see nor hear, someone about whom there is no historical agreement.  I believe, though, that Depeche Mode’s version of the song offers more nuance that Marilyn Manson’s version of it.  Their intentions were better.
“Personal Jesus,” while no book of Job, is an expression of frustration with religion, and hence, an expression of deep faith.  “Someone who cares,” (line 4) “Someone who’s there” (line 7). These are words of bitterness to anyone whose prayers have never been answered.  They are also words of longing.  Would it not be nice if there was a personal Jesus “someone who cares” (line 4).  The song is intentionally vague so that people may interpret it however they like—if as a praise song, then as a praise song, if as a mockery, then as a mockery.  This probably has something to do with the song’s success.  If its meaning was clearer, it probably would not have appealed to such a wide group of people.  I believe that the song would have been a more controversial song had it not been so subtle, and had it not been for the fact that so many received it as strictly a praise song.
“Personal Jesus” also criticizes cheap grace.  “I will deliver; you know I’m a forgiver” (lines 16,17).  These lines, if taken literally, lead one to believe that no matter what you do, it will not harm your personal relationship with Jesus.  We know that in real life our actions and words have repercussions.  It would be nice if the world as a whole was more forgiving, but it is not.  So what, then, is the point of a Jesus who “forgives” people?  Wouldn’t a more loving Jesus advise people not to do things that will make them an object of contempt to begin with?  So, cheap grace is not, then, a very Christian way to live.  This is how the song is very critical of a certain type of faith, namely, one that promotes cheap grace, rather than being critical of Christianity in itself.
“Personal Jesus” has many different meanings to many different people.  To a fundamentalist, it is a praise song.  To a Satanist, it is a song that mocks the Christian faith.  To a moderate Christian, it is a little bit of both.  It is a brilliant song in that sense.  It is very difficult to write anything of substance that is yet so open to interpretation.  The song will undoubtedly remain one of their best songs for years to come.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Second Full Semester

Hi everyone.  Sorry it's been so long since I last blogged.  A lot has been going on these past few weeks.  I took a job at school as a Supplemental Instruction Leader.  It's for a developmental English class.  We're supposed to help facilitate learning, but we aren't allowed to call ourselves teachers or tutors, but really, that is what we're expected to do.  I'm supposed to give an hour of supplemental instruction before the three hour class starts.  It only meets once a week in the evening which is why it's 3 hours long.  I am to take the class with the students and act as the model student.  My first session did not go well at all.  I was ready to quit after it.  The teacher who teaches the class, after I give an hour of supplemental instruction, encouraged me.  I felt like a total failure.  And I was given next to no training for this job.  What exactly am I supposed to do for an hour with students?  Fortunately, some people have helped to give me ideas about what I can do to help teach writing and grammar to these students.  If any of you have any good ideas, I'm open to hear them.

Other than that, a new semester has started for me.  I feel now as I did at the beginning of last semester--overwhelmed and stressed.  I'm hoping that feeling will calm down as I get more accustomed to this new routine.  I'm taking American National Government, Intermediate Algebra, Elementary Spanish II, and English Composition 100.  I'll probably post final drafts of my English 100 papers as I finish them.  Spanish is going to be hard this semester.  My Spanish teacher does not allow students to make up missed tests.  He seems really harsh.

Well, I've finally applied to the University of Pennsylvania.  It will be several weeks until I find out a decision.  I've put everything I have into it.  I sincerely hope I am accepted.  I would be pretty devastated if I wasn't.  It's especially important that I be accepted now so that when I apply for the Jack Kent Cooke scholarship, I can tell them that I definitely have an educational home to go to should they give me the scholarship.  This is what my life is now--working toward winning this scholarship.  It's so important, though, as it will allow me to get a bachelor's degree.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Decisions Decisions

Now that the semester is nearing an end, I'm thinking about applying to the University of Pennsylvania.  I'm hoping to get all As in all of my classes, so that should boost my chances of being accepted.  But if I am accepted, I'm not sure that I will start right away.  The thing is: money.  If I were to enter right away I wouldn't have any scholarships and would have to take out huge loans.  At my age, I don't really have time to pay off huge loans and then start a life.  I'm going to check in with the University  to see if they offer any internal scholarships for full-time students.  I know they offer scholarships for part-time students, but I really want to get this over with as fast as possible at my age.  If I am not accepted at the University of Pennsylvania, I only have to wait a year to try again during which time I would get my associate degree.  I hate the idea of waiting, though.

The University of Pennsylvania's College of Liberal and Professional studies, to which I would be applying, is geared towards adult students.  I think I would feel more comfortable with people around my same age.  On the other hand, everything I've been reading says it's better to get your associate degree first, and then transfer.  It's only an extra year, but time is precious at my age.  Also, I already know ahead of time that I won't be able to transfer a lot of my classes.  I'll probably have to go at least 3 years to the University of Pennsylvania, despite having an associate degree.  I'm going to be old by the time I graduate from the University of Pennsylvania.  Better late than never though?  Right?

If I stay at the community college through completion, I'll be eligible to try for two big scholarships--the Jack Kent Cooke scholarship which is up to $30,000 per year for up to three years, and the Hites scholarship which is about $8,000.  If I won that Jack Kent Cooke scholarship, I'd be set.  All I have to do is continue to get a 4.0 average through the time when I would apply for it, engage in community activities on the campus, and be an overall fabulous student.  That's a lot of stress for me, but it has to be done.  So, yeah, I think I'll end up staying at community college through my associate degree, but I'm still going to apply to the University of Pennsylvania after this semester's grades come in.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

Well, Turkey Day is coming up.  I don't have anything fancy planned, just a turkey dinner with my parents.  I do get some extra time off of school, however, so that's a good thing.

I just had another round of tests, can you believe it?  The math test included extra credit questions, so I got 124%.  I barely squeaked by on the Spanish test with 92%.  I consider myself lucky to have gotten 92% as there was a lot of material covered, and it's getting more complicated.  I do hope to actually learn Spanish too, which is why I'll be studying over the holiday weekend.  I took my Interpersonal Communication test last Monday.  It was an essay test and the teacher still didn't have them graded by Monday.  That's so frustrating.  I hate waiting.  I took a Science test yesterday.  It was hard.  After the test I checked my notes.  I know I got 1 question wrong, but I got the bonus question right.  The bonus question corresponded with a regular test question which was this:  You accidentally knock over a tomato plant on its side.  After about a week or two, what will it look like (draw a picture)?  The bonus question was, "What is the exact term for this?"  The answer is "Negative Gravitropism."  Gee, everybody knows that. ;)  Like I said, it was a hard test.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

More Tests, and God Bless You

Gee, it seems like just yesterday that I had a bunch of tests, and now again.  Fortunately I got As on my Spanish test and Science test.  The class as a whole didn't do too well on the Science test.  2 As, 3 Bs, 2 Cs, 7-9 Ds, and 13 Fs.  I actually thought this one was much easier than the first one.  And I did really study for it.  The other person who got an A was also an older person.  I think when you go to school as an older person, you're more serious about your grades.  I just took a math test, though, and I'd consider myself lucky to get a B.  I don't know what happened.  The material was hard for me, and my brain froze during the test.

I've changed my mind about the difficulty of my classes.  Spanish is definitely the most difficult for me now.  Learning a new language is tough.  Science is the next most difficult.  Math is... well I hope it gets easier after that test, but I fear that it will get even more difficult.  I still don't know what to think about Interpersonal Communication.  We don't have any homework now, but we have a test next week.  It will be an essay format, just to see if we've been paying attention in class.  I do have my notes.

Sneezing.  "God bless you."  Is that what you say?  There seems to be a certain protocol when saying something after someone sneezes in class.  Personally, I usually only say "bless you" to someone who sneezes when they are right near me.  It seems awkward across the room.  Most people seem to follow this rule.  But some do occasionally shout across the room.  I dunno, I think that's kind of awkward, as if you're drawing attention to a person's loud sneeze.  But I guess if no one nearby says, "God bless you," then somebody's got to do it.  And do you say, "God bless you, "Bless you," or "Gezuntite" (I'm sure I spelled that wrong, but you know what I mean.).  I say "Bless you."  "God bless you" seems a little too wordy for me.  and the other word, well I think it's German, but since I can't even spell it, I probably shouldn't say it.

I believe this tradition started long ago with the mythical belief that when you sneezed, demons were coming out of you.  I guess you would want to bless such a person.  But on the whole, it seems like a nice little polite tradition, and one that college students practice studiously.  Somehow the classroom allows for it.  I'm not sure that I would say "Bless you" to a complete stranger on a train, but maybe at college I will learn that kind of courage.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Test Results

Well, I finally got my test scores back.  I say finally because it took my Interpersonal Communication teacher 1 1/2 weeks too finish grading the tests!  Okay, so, here it is:  On my Spanish test I got 96%, on my Interpersonal Communication test I got 93%, and on my Science test I got......... 100%!  Yay!  The Science teacher laid it out for us again about who got what.  5 As, 4 Bs, 7 Cs, 5 Ds, and 7 Fs.  And only one person got 100%.  I felt a little bit honored, but it did make me a bit of a target.  News got around about who it was who got 100%.  One of them asked me, "What's your secret?"  I explained my studying techniques and the girl next to her gasped and said something to the effect that, "So you have to do flashcards all weekend instead of going out."  Gee, I don't study THAT much.  But I guess I let them down.  There is no easy secret.  It just comes from studying, and that's how you do it.

In my Interpersonal Communication class we watched a film called The Station Agent.  It's about a dwarf and his life experiences and how he befriends some people.  Well after the movie, and in conjunction with an article we had to read, we came to a discussion of hurtful words, and how some commonly used words can be very hurtful to some people.  Among them were retarded and midget.  The word midget has a history in sideshows, which is why it is so hurtful, the correct terms being dwarf or little people.  I included the word ma'am.  I hate that word.  I don't think anyone should ever use it.  It's very hurtful.  But the teacher insisted that some people like to be called ma'am.  She didn't say who, though.  I've never met anyone who likes to be called ma'am.  What do you think?  Is there anyone who likes to be called ma'am?  Anyhoo, at least I tried, and got it out there.

We also talked about "totalizing" others.  This is where you attribute a whole host of characteristics to someone based on only one piece of information about that person, and it's usually negative.  I mentioned that homeless people are "totalized."  As I volunteered at a soup kitchen for four years, I can definitely say that homeless people have to take it from everyone.  People just don't have nice things to say or think about homeless people.  Just because they're homeless doesn't mean they're worthless.  They don't deserve to be treated worse than anyone else.  There are certainly people with homes who present well who are rotten to the core--not only homeless people, and not always homeless people.  Some of them have just had hard lives--lives that most people wouldn't deal well with.  Where's the compassion?  Homeless people are just as dynamic, intelligent, and worthwhile as anyone, just less fortunate.  Okay, I'll get off my soapbox.  Just had to get that out of my system.