There's No Business Like School
(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
of making the first impression on the professor with
the first exam, of seeing which friends were in which
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.