(warning: this is way longer than it needs to be, so feel free to skim)
I need an attitude adjustment. I am 37 years old (will be 38 next month) and I need to go back to school to get a bachelorís degree. I am two years into a great career as an environmental consultant, with a great company that encourages personal/professional development. They provide a decent amount of money per year for continuing education. I sort of fell into this career by luck; I started here as an administrative assistant (which I had been at various companies since 1996) and then was in the right place at the right time to advance to project work.
I donít already have a degree for several reasons. I had to move out of the house at 18 and, of course, work full time. People can obviously work full time and go to school, but I honestly had no idea how to pay for college, nor did I really think I was smart enough to go anyway. So, I didnít go (well, I did go to community college for a while right after high school but dropped out because of money and lack of motivation; I also spent 2.5 years of night school getting a useless horticulture certificate in 2001-2002).
I thought I was one of the ďsmart kidsĒ when I was younger, but I distinctly remember suddenly losing all confidence in my intellectual abilities part-way into my junior year in AP History. And I never got it back. I coasted through senior year, did surprisingly OK on my SATs, graduated easily with a B average (public high school was really easy after all), and scraped together the money to apply for one college ($50, UC Davis), but of course didnít get in since you need more than Bs and OK SATs to go to a UC school. And again, I didnít know how to pay for it even if I had been accepted. So, all of that silliness behind me, I went about my life. Iím only explaining all of this to illustrate that school and I never had a good relationship. September and school supplies do not give me the warm fuzzies.
I got married in 1996, and had a series of crappy, decent, then better office jobs. When I ended up here in 2008, I never dreamed that this would finally turn into a *career*. Pretty cool, actually. So, until now, not having a degree hasnít really got in my way, although it has always been a source of personal shame. But, if I want to continue to advance and get promoted, I will need to get that degree. Everyone here has one and uses it (with the exception of admin. and a few other support roles). There are a lot of different types of engineers and scientists here.
So, why the need for an attitude adjustment when work will pay for most of school and it can only help my career? Because the very idea of school terrifies me. All those not-smart-enough feelings come back with a rush. Itís not my age, honestly, because I know perfectly well that there are all ages in community colleges and at whatever university I eventually transfer to. But the amount of time it will take looms ahead of me and makes me feel like, even starting now (well, next month, ďfallĒ) I will still *never* be finished. Ugh. Thatís exactly what my mom just said to me when I inadvertently let it slip that I was going back to school. That annoyed me, but only because she is right. Since I know I will not be able to handle full time school *and* full time work, and I need to work full time, school stretches on endlessly into my future. One too-hard-for-me class at a time.
Then, aside from all of that, I also have to (eventually, but not yet) decide what to get the degree in. Something in the broad categories of the environment or health and safety, since those are the 2 giant umbrellas over what we do here. And there are fewer health and safety consultants at my company, but this is a growing need for our clients, so I am leaning towards that. So, lots of choices, but nothing that stands out for me.
Oh, and math. Math?? I never ďgotĒ algebra, even though I passed the classes. My last math class was way back in 1991. Eek. Not to mention, night school. Double eek. My internal clock is morning-oriented, and I know from experience that going to school until 10 at night is really tough for me. My brain shuts off by 9. Unless I am under a deadline at work, which I have been since February, and then I can work until 10, but only a few days a week before I canít even put thoughts together any more.
So, I know that was long and whiny, but this is the first time I am putting all of these thoughts down. And if you were able to read even 25% of that, maybe you can offer some suggestions for how I can turn all these negative thoughts around and embrace the experience of school, to try to get the most out of it and enjoy the journey. Cause goodness knows, I donít think I can do that on my own.