“The Kid with a Kid Goes to College”

The Kid with a Kid Goes to College

As I mentioned in a previous blog, I became a single parent in my 40s. I would have to say it was the hardest and loneliest thing I’ve ever done. My daughter was ten when she moved in with me and we really didn’t know each other very well. Her mother and I split up when she was three. There was a long road of work ahead for us. But I am grateful for it now.

While attempting to raise a child with all the limit setting and rite of passage a young girl goes through, along with dental and doctor appointments, I could see that I needed to get into some interest for myself, to keep my sanity. One afternoon I stopped by the counselor’s office at Santa Monica City College. I just happened to get this incredibly enthusiastic woman whom I could see; her main goal in life was to get students into college. By the time I left her office I was enrolled in music 101 and a beginning computer class. Not too heavy right? I barely got out of high school 25 years earlier.

One of the things I liked about community or junior college was that the ages of the students varied, ranging from 19 to 50 years or older. So I didn’t stand out too much. With the exception of some of the higher math courses, it was fun and gave me some personal goal setting. Because every parent knows, when you become a parent there are many times you have no life, other than being a parent. It’s just how it goes. And you know what, I’m not even complaining. I am quite sure it is the most important job I have ever had.

Of course the greatest thing about community college is the prices. I never really thought I would last long enough to transfer to a university. I figured at my age I would just get an AA degree and that’s that. However when you do life one day at a time and one class at a time things can really pile up, as far as experience goes. I really enjoyed being there and the campus was not small yet not huge either, so getting around was very doable for me. Also most of the instructors I had were very good and some tried to make their course fun.

As I went along taking two or three classes a semester the day came when my counselor called me in and said “it’s time for you to transfer to a university”. No! I am not ready for that. I really loved this school and frankly was a little scared to move out on to a big school campus. But the counselor insisted. So I started the process of applying for UC’s and Cal State’s around my area.

Now the thing I missed most about community college was the size, the help and understanding, and the price. At the time I was transferring, universities were close to ten times the price of the local junior college. So I would encourage anyone on a tight budget (meaning most of us) to get your entire prerequisite out of the way first. As far as advanced transfer classes, I remember this one higher math course, Differential Equations. I was barley passing and one day the teacher asked us if anyone was interested in extra credit and if so they should see him after class. Well that was for me alright. I needed a grade bump.

What I had to do for extra credit was to grade several of his classes midterm exams. It took me all weekend and when I brought them to the instructor I really thought I had messed up. He asked me how I messed up. I told him half of these students didn’t pass the exam. He said that’s about right. Wow intermediate Algebra.

Throughout my educational journey, I was given help when I needed it. And I think rather than jumping in with 16 units or so, it would have put too much pressure on me and I may not have hung in there. Bottom line, one day at a time, one course at a time, I received A Bachelor of Science in Computer Science, with a minor in Mathematics. I am NOT a math guy. At least I used to not be one?

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