No Business Like School Business
By Roberta Beach Jacobson
Without question, my parents assumed I'd be going away
to college. They bugged me about it all the time and
took me to see various campuses, but I had no interest.
I was an average high school student, looking forward
to graduating with the class of 1970, but most of my
thoughts were about love. My boyfriend and I wanted
to get married. He was my number one priority. I was
18 when he and I tied the knot. My parents, very upset,
refused to attend the wedding.
My Mr. Right turned out to be Mr. Wrong and a divorce
followed. Not knowing what
to do with my life, I joined the army and left for
assignment in Europe. I was 21. Living in Germany was
an adventure and I traveled across the near by borders
every chance I could. Weekends I would be in Paris or
Amsterdam. As luck would have it, I met up with another
boyfriend, a felllow soldier. Things went fine until
one day he got shipped to the states, to the Pentagon
of all places. I felt abandoned. So I signed up for
a night course with the University
of Maryland. I didn't even care much what the subject
was, I just wanted something to keep me busy in the
college was not in my plans or something I had put
much thought into doing. It just sort of happened. One
day I saw a UMD poster and it happened to be registration
time and so I just filled out the forms and suddenly
I found myself in a sociology course.
Not along after my course ended, I was shipped to the
States myself. My boyfriend and I met up in Virginia
and we got married in Maryland. Just like that.
The education center was one of the places I had to
stop by to get signed into my new post and I somehow
met up with a very enthusiastic guidance counselor.
She explained how I could get credit
for my military schooling aqnd earn a quick degree -
an accredited degree.
I went for it. She was right. The deal was, all I had
to do was to complete seven courses (21 quarter hours)
to meet the residence requirement of the college. In
between I took all sorts of no-cost tests (such as CLEPs)
for even more credits. Was it a stroke of luck? In the
part of Illinois where I grew up, we started foreign
language classes in fifth grade. I was pretty good in
my seven years of studying Spanish, which I had through
11th grade, and was able to test out at college level
via CLEP tests. Go figure.
The First Degree.
Once my military schools were figured in, I found out
I would have enough quarter hours to graduate. By day,
I was a soldier in an engineering unit. Evenings, I
rushed through my course work in just three quarters
(pregnant the whole time). The commencement ceremony
for Northern Virginia Community College was conveniently
scheduled a day before my due date. It was 1976, a full
six years after my high school graduation, and I had
an A.S. (Associate of Science).
And the Second Degree?
With a baby, a full-time military job and a husband,
you'd think I would have had enough going on in my life.
Hard as it was to fathom, I found I missed the challenges
of my night courses. I missed the interaction with fellow
students. I was ready to study! So I signed up for a
weekend course schedule on base and slowly completed
a dozen courses (36 semester hours) in human resources
management. Soon after that we found out we were headed
back to Germany. I had made the exact residency requirement
and was told my degree would be mailed to me overseas
come commencement time. Yippee! So off we went across
the pond, baby in tow, the start of another European
adventure. Nobody could suggest my life was boring and