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What Else Is In Scott's Head?

The blog site for writer Scott C. Smith. Some observations on the world we live in and life in general. And maybe some politics.

Saturday, January 01, 2005

My New Year's Resolution

Okay, I'm going to try something new today: talk about my life. Now, I haven't exactly created a list of things to do this year, but there is one thing that I've been putting off for a long time now: getting a college degree.

When I joined the military, I did so right at the start of my senior year in high school. The school had a career center, a place to go and read about various job occupations. I wasn't really thinking much about college as I didn't think I'd be able to pay for it due to my family's income.

There was a stack of brochures from the armed forces, and the one I picked up first was for the navy. I looked through it and a particular job caught my eye:

JOURNALIST

At the time I was working on my school's newspaper, and thought that I'd like to make journalism a career. So, it was off to the Navy recruiter, and I signed up for the delayed entry program, meaning I could secure a spot at the journalism school in advance. When I graduated, it was a month later that I went to boot camp in July, 1986.

Returning to civilian life in 1992, I tried to find work as a journalist, and discovered the job market for the media in my home state was closed. Eventually I ended up working in high tech as a QA test engineer, and worked in that field until I was laid off in 2003.

My wife is a college graduate, and she's encouraged me for years to enroll in college. It was one of those things that I had intended on doing, but kept procrastinating. I did finally get my ass in gear and started the process in December 2004. We have a great community college in the Portland-metro area, and there is a campus nearby.

The first hurdle was something I wasn't looking forward to: the placement test. High school was 18 years ago, and I wasn't sure how I'd do on the test. The placement test covers writing, reading, and math. And, depending on your score, you'd be placed into a specific math or writing class.

I was really worried about the math test, as math skills are not something I use very often. I was more confident about the writing and reading tests.

The testing took two hours, and we received our results about 30 minutes later. I was crossing my fingers that I had gotten into writing 121, which is the first college-level writing class offered (otherwise, you had to take the remedial classes for no credit). For math, I didn't have high hopes.

So, the minimum score for placement into writing 121 was a score of 45 and above; reading was 45 or above; and the math part was probably higher, maybe 60 or above to get into one of the college-level math classes.

In writing, I scored 46 out of 55, and in reading I scored 45 (they don't have a scale beyond the score of 45). I had made it into writing 121.

I then looked at my math score.

And my heart sank as I looked at my score:

40

Which meant I had placed into math 20, which is high-school level math. I wasn't surprised by the low score, but starting that low means taking several terms of basic math until I reached the college level. Which means every term taking basic math until I can get up to the math 111 area, when the classes start counting towards my degree.

It is pretty exciting for me. No one in my family has a college degree, which means I'll be the first, although I will not have a degree until I'm 40...but hey, better late than never.

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