Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Degrees of Difficulty

So, I started back to college about a month ago. I'm taking 3 courses, English, Pre-Calculus, and an Introductory C++ Programming class. So far, things have been going well enough. This week, exams start to roll around.

the C++ course has so far been a breeze for me. Computers seem to come pretty naturally to me, programming included, and I have a little prior Java experience, so thinking in code came back to me pretty quickly. So far, I've been able to complete my homework assignments entirely in the lab time, so I haven't had to spend much off-campus time on this course. However, I do need to get caught up in reading my book, especially with exams coming up.

English I've always found a little difficult to categorize. It doesn't seem to be problematic for me, but I can't say that I enjoy it, or that it requires no thought. I don't enjoy writing x-hundred words papers on random subject y, but I don't find it really hard either. This class is Lit II, so it involves analyzing short stories. I've read non-stop most of my life, but usually either for pleasure or for educational value. Stopping, and trying to find deeper meaning in the stories I read for fun is some work. However, this class keeps its own exam schedule, so that is a small blessing. The only problem I've had in this class was not getting my textbook until the day before my third class (which since this is a Saturday class, means the third week).

Pre-Calculus is the class I'm having the most difficulty in. Up until high-school, math was a subject that also came easy to me. In 8th grade, I was skipped past pre-algebra with one other student, and began taking math with the class ahead of me. In late high-school, I slacked off and stopped doing homework or paying attention. I've taken a couple college level math classes before, with passing grades, but they were about 5 years ago. You forget a lot in that time span. I'm finding in this class that I understand the concepts being taught to us, and partially remember many of them, however I often have trouble with some of the underlying algebraic manipulation. I will know what to do, but forget the rules of solving equations, for example: how to handle radicals, or logs, when solving for x. I had a friend who is a math wiz and a math teacher-in-training give me a quick refresher lesson, and I grabbed a College Algebra textbook from the local Half-Price Books to try and refresh myself. However, I'm still trying to fit the time in as the class gives large amounts of homework.

Overall, I've found it takes all my free time to keep up with the homework, and this was when I wasn't working. However, I just started a new job, and am working ten hour shifts. I get home about 2 hours before I need to leave for class, and I have to go to bed immediately upon getting back from class, because I have to get up at 3 in the morning. So, this will greatly affect my study and homework time. Not to mention I may be forced to miss some class due to mandatory overtime.

On top of all that, since I'm getting federal student aid funding, I can't just drop classes, or I have to pay back some of the money. Failing, or withdrawing will also activate re-payment status on my student loans. So, there is a bit of pressure on me to pass, in addition to my natural desire to. And thus, I'd say, for me at least, school just got a whole lot harder.

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