A few weeks ago I floated the idea of going back to school. I put it into the universe by saying it out loud to a few people, I looked into options, and found a program that would both suit me and excite me. There were two choices in the beginning. University of Phoenix’s program centering on the psychology of social media and technology, and National University’s program for sport psychology. In the end I decided a general psychology degree would be best, with the option to take two sport psychology related courses as electives. So I applied to National University. And the universe said “Slow your roll, player.”
A Brief Walk Down Memory Lane
It wasn’t my goal to be a career student. I didn’t really want to be a student at all, ever. I hated high school and was shocked to learn I graduated with a 3.8 GPA when all was said and done. I’d started working summer jobs at 15 and by 18 I had a steady job that I thought could be my career path. Of course, I did my time taking courses at a community college, without a single clue of what kind of degree I was going for. The only thing I knew was I wanted to study psychology. That was the first class I signed up for and the only one I attended without feeling obligated.
When my steady job turned itself into a full-time job I quit college and settled in to be an accounts payable clerk forever. Over time I did some dumb ass things, which resulted in me getting fired. A few things I learned from that experience: I was stupid when it came to trusting men, when I wasn’t calling in sick with bogus illnesses to hang out with one I was doing stupid things to impress one I worked with. Young and dumb I was, yes. (Should be read in a Yoda voice); I don’t panic in stressful situations; I always turn to going back to school when I don’t have any better ideas.
For 18-months I went to ICT College, a trade school, and studied business management. I was lucky enough to spend those years focusing on my classes and nothing else. I graduated with an Associates degree in Business Management and told the universe I needed work at a company whose focus was sports. It wasn’t long before I was an accounts payable clerk at Fox Sports and life was grand. Especially when they promoted me to a higher position a few short months into my tenure. Fox had a rash of issues with stolen and forged checks, and they created a new position, mine, to catch the bogus checks as they cleared their bank accounts. I missed three checks, getting too settled and taking too much advantage of my cushy job and they had no choice but to let me go.
As you can guess I did what I do in these situations. I went right back to school. But this time I had the plan to go at night and work during the day. So I went back to ICT to finish out my Bachelor’s degree in Business Management and started my search for a part time job. This time I turned to entertainment, and within a few months I was working as a paid intern in a business department at Paramount Pictures.
The entire time I attended ICT (18 months) and worked at Paramount, I held a 4.0 GPA and missed one day of school. 9/11. I graduated valedictorian. And I turned my internship in the corporate accounting department into a full-time job in the marketing department in the motion picture division. Once again I was set. And then DreamWorks and Paramount merged, I was “laid off” and of course…I went back to school. In a total 180, this time for graphic design. Just to be clear, it wasn’t out of the blue. I was surrounded by graphic design at work and I had been running a Web site for an entertainment magazine in the midst of all this. When I graduated with my Bachelor’s Degree in Visual Communications I found it hard to find a job and that has been my life for several years.
Why Does Any of That Matter?
Both colleges I attended for my degrees are no longer in business. ICT changed hands twice, and Westwood just flat out closed down. And that matters. Because in order to go back to school and not start at square one, I need my transcripts. Westwood was kind enough to set up an online record keeping company for such things. So I have those. Which would be great, if I hadn’t fought with them to allow me to transfer credits for courses I took at ICT. Who’s new company in charge has informed me they cannot locate my records.
First they asked me if I attended under a different name. Nope. Then they asked for my social security number. When that yielded no results I got a short, snippy email that said “I don’t have your records,” and was promptly ghosted.
Eighteen months of hard work, a 4.0 GPA, Valedictorian. Gone. Poof. “I don’t have your records.” Period, end of sentence, I’m not even going to try helping you further.
Where Does That Leave Me?
So I had to ask myself several questions. The main one, truthfully, is how much energy I have to go through all this again. I’m 46 now. I’m not 19, 25, 30. Do I really want to fight this hard to become a student again? And how much debt do I want to be in to get a degree that to be honest, means dick all to anyone I actually want to work for? If I want to do any sort of counseling I need a master’s degree. So my cost has now skyrocketed from $30K (if I can somehow prove I don’t need the basic courses for the 7th time) to $75K to continue on to a useful degree. And is it a useful degree, really, if I don’t intend on using it in the end?
I still have social anxiety. And despite great strides in my health and strength, I’m still disabled. I’m not working now for many reasons. When I couldn’t find work I had to fight with the government to stop asking me for money to pay back loans I couldn’t afford, which meant for 5 years I had to continue to prove I was too disabled to work (that time has passed, but so has my relevancy). I’m 15 years removed from any kind of accounting job and my graphic design training is already outdated. It would actually cost me more money to make money at any kind of design firm.
And that brings me to the bottom line: when I really take a long hard look at things, I just want to write. I want to write about sports and people who have issues and things that mean something.
Would having a psychology degree help that? Certainly. But so might a $400 writing course. Or maybe I should read several (or all) of the books on writing that have been collecting dust on my shelves, or in my Kindle library.