Fall semester preview…

So, with the fall semester slated to begin on Aug 9th, I sit here and contemplate my first full load semester.  I took 12 credit hours in the spring, but this should be a much stiffer test of just how “in the groove” I really am.  For those who have “been there and done that,” you may have your own ideas, but I have only watched from afar.  For me, this will be a chance to see how I handle a full load of five classes.  While most are not terribly difficult, and I am not really counting the “gym” classes, the nurse’s aide class is a more time consuming class than your regular 3 and 4 credit hour classes.   It should be a reasonable test of how I handle the kind of course loads that I will encounter later.

Since I told myself I would write about the good and the bad, kind of a journal or diary of my time in college, I must make note MAT-70.  That represents “take two” at getting on track with math.  As I noted in my “Math problem post,” that will represent my greatest challenge, in terms of putting past school experience behind me.  I’ll be working, both in class and outside of class, to pick up the math skills I should have learned in the past, and get caught up with where I need to be.  Assuming things go well this time, my planned progression should be MAT-70, MAT-171 Pre-calc Algebra, MAT-172 Pre-calc Trig, MATs-271 through 273 Calculus, MAT-285 Differential Equations.  As you can see from the minimum number of classes that I need to master, this will be the most time consuming part of rectifying my previous educational deficiencies.  Frankly,  I am not even sure that this is the best sequence of classes for me, but it seems to be the most straightforward.  We’ll see how I am feeling at the end of MAT-70 I suppose.

GEO-111 World Regional Geography and HIS-131American History I.  These two classes represent the final stretch for my side classes.  After these two classes, I only need a 200 level literature class to finish out my non-major class requirements and get all the “fluff” classes, if you will, out of the way.  These fill requirements for both an Associate in Nursing and an Associate in Applied Science.  Handy, since I will end up with both if all goes well.  I don’t anticipate any problems with either, since I have long enjoyed and studied both history and geography.  In fact, it is hard to properly study one without studying the other.  These two classes will probably end up being my “brain candy” if the other classes end up driving me crazy.  For those not familiar with the term “brain candy,” it indicates that something is mentally relaxing or relatively simple.  For instance, reading J.R.R. Tolkien’s “Simarillion” requires a certain concentration, while reading one of Clive Cussler’s Dirk Pitt books does not.  This is not a slight against Cussler, but those books go by fast and don’t require nearly as much focus and attention to follow along, hence brain candy.  The mental analogue to snacking on Reese’s Pieces rather than a full 3-7 course meal.

BIO-275 Microbiology.  I am so looking forward to this class!  While I still need to go and pick up the main text book, I already have the lab handbook.  That I read cover to cover as it described lab procedures, procedures for handling cultures, various lab tests for samples, and recipes for various stains to apply to samples.  I am very much pumped to return to anything resembling a lab after 20 plus years.  I know it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but I am excited!  My only solid science class so far has been the anatomy and physiology class.  That was nice, but I am looking forward to more.  I think this is going to be my favorite for the semester.

NUX-750 Nurse Aide I.  Interestingly, this class is not a regular class.  It is more of a certification course, but it is required that you must have taken it and subsequently be registered as a nurse’s aide before you can even apply to the nursing program.  I’m not sure what to make of that, but I have to do it regardless.  I’m not sure exactly what it entails yet, but in reviewing the class materials, it would appear to largely be a policies and procedures class.  In warning me about the load I was taking on this semester, an advisor warned me that I should count this as a 6 credit class when considering the course load.  I did have this in mind originally, more or less, but I feel the other classes will be easy enough for me that it should not be a problem.  Ironically, the “easiest” class in the mix, math, may be the wild card.  I am determined that it will not be an emotional or technical impediment this time around though, so I’m not going to worry about it.

Unfortunately, this NUX class is the main source of financial distress right now.  Financial aid does not cover it, but I have to take it to apply for the nursing program in January.  The class itself is paid for right now, but it is all the class pre-requisites that are the problem.  In my case, being old and not having any recent immunization records, it simply magnifies the extra requirements.  The class does not start until Sept 9th, so I have a bit more time, but I have to come up with approximately $650 dollars worth of vaccines (or tests proving I am already inoculated), drug tests, background checks, and a physical.  The variability is mainly a function of being unsure of exactly what vaccines or boosters I will actually need, though I think I have a solid idea.  Without these things, I will not be allowed to take the class, paid for or not.  Unfortunately, I don’t get much of a choice on this one.  If I cannot take the class, I can’t apply for the nursing program, and missing the January application window would set me back another semester or a full year.  That’s the stressful part.  For this semester, I have gotten everything else taken care of.  This is the one big problem.

The PED classes, Orienteering and Rock Climbing, we all know those don’t really count.  You have to take them, but they are not full classes.  After years of search and rescue, if I can’t navigate from point A to point B with a map and manage a few rocks, I am in more trouble than I think, LOL!  These are simply necessary credits which should be fun and easy to put away.  Hell, if they have some 1 inch webbing, I’ll even teach them how to tie an old fashioned swiss seat and rappel with nothing but a D ring.  To some of my readers, that won’t sound very impressive, and it’s not, but these days it may very well be.  For the rappelling portion of the class, I fully anticipate all sorts of new and unnecessary descent equipment that sticks out all over the place.  I also anticipate all sorts of expensive harnesses.  All to replace a rope, a D ring, and 12 feet of 1 inch webbing.  I can’t wait!  LOL!  I will have to pay attention to the climbing up rocks part though.  My procedure has always been to go around rocks, or jump off of them, not to go to all the trouble of actually climbing them.  So that part will be new!

And so, assuming that last bit of trouble comes together, it should be an interesting and largely enjoyable semester.  If I can get the classes on my list for the future, I should be (technically) completing an Associate degree in Applied Science by the end of the coming year’s summer semester (2013).  I say technically because, while I will have enough credits and the right classes, I will still not have had enough time to take the kind of math and physics that a university would expect of an incoming junior year student.  I will still have calculus and general physics (calculus based) ahead of me, classes that most science majors would have you taking during your freshman year.  That, I will still need to catch up on.

In the meantime, even if I successfully apply to the nursing program in January, that program will not begin until fall of next year and still require four semesters to complete, since they space the classes out regardless of what other coursework you complete.  The nursing classes still follow in the order and time frame that they run in regardless.  While that means extra time at CPCC, it also means that I can catch up on those other classes while I take the nursing classes.  Those must also be taken in a certain order and would take a certain amount of extra time as well.

It has been asked of me, “why not stick with the science and not bother with the RN?”  In a perfect world, I might consider that, but the RN will provide me with a chance to help my family and better finance future education.  Such a mobile career would allow me to attend any university that might take me, while still allowing me to take a reasonably good paying job in the meantime.  It also provides a fine career should any of these future plans go awry.  If any university wanted to provide a full scholarship and a sufficient stipend, that might be great, but I can hardly hope for such a thing.  In addition, if I pursue a science degree and later decide to stick with nursing, many universities have programs to convert a BS into a masters in nursing.  While I’m pretty sure of my path right now, that is valuable flexibility.  Deciding to convert a BSN into a masters in another major, would require much more time and effort.  So, as long as I feel my final destination lies in research science, I believe this path is likely to be the best one for me.

We’ll see how it goes!

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One response to “Fall semester preview…

  1. My college experience is VERY dated, but your remarks remind me of a couple of things from my ‘days.’ I was a physics/math major. Physics because I liked it (and the Navy was willing to pay for a physics major). I too was nervous about and didn’t like math (a chicken or egg thing). In any event, your math chain is the classic (and essential) one for serious science majors. And in phyics the two are inseperable. Perhaps not so much with biology. Turned out I did well in math – of the calc variety anyway. And I really LEARNED my math in physics – not in the math dept (too abstract there). Depending on your eventual major and university you might be required to take a statistics course.

    The bane of your existence as a science major is lab hours/credit hour (in nursing, it’s clinical hours). You’ve probably already discovered this. For example (and don’t hold me to the actual numbers) in, say history, 3 credit hour course means 3 hours per week in class. In say a physics lab a 1 credit hour course requires 2-4 lab hours per week – and the more advanced you are the more excruciatling are the lab reports!!!

    Great thinking regarding your RN vs science major strategy, Matt!! Academically, either either path allows you to jump to the other as your future is revealed!! And, yes, if your world falls apart Nursing is a really good brair patch to end up in!!!

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