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There's No Business Like School Business
(Continued from 1)

Work was strenuous and the hours long. By then I was a junior platoon sergeant and had to be at the barracks at 5:30 in the morning to wake up my troops. I was burning the candle at both ends to attend evening classes. Graduate school. My son was barely two years old.

Less than a year after our arrival back in Germany, it was time for me to leave the military. What a relief. Working a 9-5 civilian job on base left me more time to continue my education and by this time I was getting serious about it. Earlier it hadn't mattered much. I just signed up for whatever courses were offered, did the work the best I could manage, didn't spend too much time studying or worrying about grades.

Luckily, my GI Bill was covering my education expenses, everything except the books. My graduate work was in human services and counseling (under the department of education) and I loved every second of it. It was in no way easy. I had tons of homework and term papers. My husband complained I was gone too much. I let his comments roll off my back. I was loving school.

Then my four-year degree just didn't happen - and there I was already deeply involved in graduate school studies! I had sent off for my official B.S. transcripts, a very routine matter. I was totally unaware I hadn't quite met the requirements to graduate with a Bachelor of Science. It was a fluke. Although I'd completed the university's residence requirement and had all the right credits for a bachelor degree with them, the small print had eluded me. The rules stated the last 36 semester hours had to be done with that university and I had innocently taken a single evening course with another university because philosophy was a requirement for graduation and my main university didn't have philosophy in their upcoming schedule. I hadn't a clue that anything was amiss. Nobody ever said anything about it to me and I was fully expecting to graduate.

When it became evident to everybody that my B.S. transcripts were not to appear, I had to save face and scramble to find a new plan - and fast! My fellow students were aghast I had the nerve to enroll in graduate school without even holding a four-year degree. Why had I enrolled in Boston University's graduate program, they wanted to know? I was humiliated beyond words.

I no longer attended my graduate courses. I met with several guidance counselors and was lucky enough to find out abut a non-traditional four-year degree program with no residency requirement. It sounded perfect for somebody like me.

I collected all my transcripts and mailed them to the University of the State of New York (USNY). For a fee, they did an initial evaluation and it appeared I more than met their degree requirements. So I ordered official transcripts to be sent to them for an official calculation of my credits.

Finally - the Second Degree.
Everything clicked. In 1980, I had earned a Bachelor of Science! Because of being in Germany, I was not able to attend the commencement in Albany, New York. But they mailed me my degree certification and I was thrilled to have the green light to get back to graduate school - legally. I missed the thrill of looking at posted course schedules for the next semester, of opening each new textbook, of making the first impression on the professor with the first exam, of seeing which friends were in which classes.

Graduate school was never boring for me. The professors worked us hard, expecting letter-perfect papers. It was a given we were not only to show up for every lecture, but were to participate in class discussions. In graduate school, earning a "C" is akin to being at the bottom of the class, so we had a lot of friendly competition. The hours in the library seemed endless and no excuse was given that we had families and full-time jobs and were exhausted at the end of each day. We just plugged away at it, even if the odds were against us. We sort of held each other up.


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