At forty years old, I have decided to go back to school to get my Bachelor’s Degree.  My son, Austin, will be leaving next month for college in Chicago (Universal Technical Institute) and getting him ready kind of inspired me.  I’m not quite sure what I have gotten myself into.  I found an online program at Jacksonville State University (JSU) in Alabama.  I’m a little embarrassed to tell you their mascot is a Gamecock.  (Don’t laugh at me!) I will be majoring in Emergency Management with a minor in Public Safety Telecommunications.  The goal here is to increase my job opportunities when I become deaf, blind and too slow to keep up working as a 911 dispatcher.  I’m fairly certain I have hearing loss from people screaming at me on the phone through my headset.  The older I get, the more I find myself squinting at the screen.  And considering I have about 26 years left of my life to work, I need to make myself as marketable as possible.

 It has been twenty years since I was in college.  Just filling out all the financial aid paperwork (for both Austin and I) was difficult enough.  I feel like a fish out of water.  I felt like I needed a college degree just to comprehend all of it and I haven’t even started classes yet.  I have an Associate’s Degree in Corrections and quite a few of my classes transferred over to JSU.  (Yay me!)  I found out recently, after speaking to my academic advisor that I can’t take any of the fun classes yet.  I have to get through a few general courses first.  So, starting August 21, 2013, I will be taking English, American History and Basic Algebra.  For the love of all that is Holy, that sounds about as much fun as lighting myself on fire. (sigh)  I could have taken a placement test for the math section, but I have never been great at math and the “refresher” course might do me some good.  Austin has mad math skills, but he’s leaving me.  Something about starting his own life or some such nonsense.    So Taylor, who will be taking Algebra II in high school, will have to help me muddle through it.  She may hate me by the time this is over in December. 

 So I have been awarded my financial aid, registered for my three classes and ordered my textbooks.  I’m excited and nervous at the same time.  English should be fine and now that I’m older history really kind of interests me.  Algebra, basic or not, I am absolutely dreading.  I have never taken an online course before, but it sounds fun and I was hoping it might be easy.  WRONG.  To take my course online, JSU uses something called “Blackboard.”  It has (I’m not kidding you) FIFTY tutorials just to show how to use it.  I feel old.  Not only do I feel old, I feel overwhelmed and slightly stupid.  Eventually, I have to take Biology with a Lab.  How on earth do you take a Biology Lab course ONLINE????  How does that work?  It seriously boggles my mind. 

 The other fun part of going back to school is going back to working dogwatch.  Dogwatch hours are 9:00pm – 7:00am.  I haven’t worked dogwatch in years.  My memories of dogwatch include severe sleep deprivation,  exhaustion, constantly being woken up by the phone ringing, sunlight blazing through my curtains, dogs barking, kids laughing and playing, garbage men collecting trash and people generally enjoying life outside.  Ugh.  I am not one of those people that can get by on four to five hours of sleep.  I require A LOT of sleep to have a sunny disposition.  I’m not going to lie.  Sleep might just be my favorite thing in the entire world.  Seriously.  It takes a massive amount of effort to be nice to people when I am sleep deprived.   My family and coworkers can verify this.  So why would I put myself through the misery of working dogwatch?  Well, I’m thinking I might be able to get some of my schoolwork done when it quiets down at night.  That’s the plan anyway.  We bid shifts by seniority every four months.  So, if dogwatch is a disaster for me and everyone in close proximity to me, I only have to spend four months in hell (smile). 

 So I’m crossing my fingers and praying this adventure is challenging as well as enjoyable.  With any luck I won’t fall flat on my face and find that I’m way too old to go back to school.  And I wish the best of luck to my family, friends and coworkers in tolerating me as I adjust to dogwatch hours in September!