Well, I did not have a meltdown when my semester started and even though I came to the realization I could not take 5 classes 3 weeks after the semester began, I still did not have a meltdown. Instead, I emailed the professor, explained to him my dilemma and dropped his class. I actually liked the class and if things were different it would not be the one I would choose to drop, but it was the one that had to go based upon my schedule. I have now completed almost 7 weeks and today Thursday, March 13 I had my first meltdown of the semester.
Looking back over my meltdown history, one thing has always been a common thread – the University does not respect the adult student. This is common denominator of all my frustration.
Today, I met with my advisor to discuss shifting my extra field experience hours from the fall to meet the requirement this spring. Our meeting was not so simple. First he hassled me about an email I sent him with a very detailed record of my hours. I am meticulous, but he questioned how I could have worked 94.37 hours. How did I get .37? Should this be an issue? No, it is called math and I keep very accurate records.
Next, he mentioned emails he read that I sent to another Advisor when I was transferring to the main campus. It was quite the ordeal and I was met with resistance every step of the way. I handled the whole thing professionally and it was the advisor who was very condescending to me. I told her my limitations and tried to find honest answers as to how to proceed. She kept sending me possible schedules with 18-20 credit hours. She didn’t listen to me when I said I could only take 12 credit hours a semester and all I was trying to do was to figure out how to fulfill my cohort hours in the fall of 2013. I was not in a hurry to graduate. I was in a hurry to fulfill my cohort requirements because driving to and from the main campus every day takes 2 hours round-trip. This is not an easy thing to coordinate with my children’s schedules and I had everything lined up for the fall 2013, except I was short on content hours, which I was not aware of. Once we got all of that worked out and I signed up to take 9 credit hours during the summer, she emailed me and told me I had not registered for a class I needed to take. I replied that I did not register for it because it started at 8:00 AM and with my children’s schedules I couldn’t take an 8:00 AM class. I asked to be put on the waiting list for 10:00 AM class and asked if I didn’t get in, if I would just wait and take it next fall. She replied and told me I was not allowed to take the 10 AM class and then questioned how I was going to fulfill my other obligations. Had I thought all of this through?
Well…you can imagine how I took that. I am a 34 year-old woman. I have three children. I did not go back to school on a whim. I went back to school to become a teacher after already living through a lifetime of experiences in my short life. I know what is required of a teacher, but while I am a student paying thousands of dollars my husband, who pays my tuition, cannot take off work so I can be at an 8AM class when the same one meets at 10AM. When I have a job and I receive a paycheck our schedules can then be adjusted to accommodate work, but to alter the schedule of my husband, who works based upon commission and supports our family of 5, is simply the most ridiculous thing to demand – especially when another class meets later. I am not taking out student loans and living on credit like all these other college students. Have some compassion and understanding.
Ironically, the 8AM class ended up being cancelled and everyone was put into the 10AM class anyway. I was very angry when I learned this the first day of the semester. I nearly threw in the towel and changed my major when I got that email because I was so tired of fighting.
So, now back to the incident today. My advisor/professor had read all of those emails and he was more or less confronting me about them. I broke down and began crying. He asked me if I knew what student teaching required. He explained I would have to work teachers hours. I LOST IT. I WAS SO UPSET. DID HE SERIOUSLY ASK ME IF I KNEW WHAT STUDENT TEACHING ENTAILED? Of course I know what student teaching entails and I was highly insulted that he would use emails sent over a completely different matter out of context to question whether or not I knew what I was getting into. He also said, “If you knew you had obligations with your kids and your husband couldn’t change his schedule then maybe you shouldn’t have done this.” HE SAID THAT!!!!! HE ABSOLUTELY SAID THAT!!!! I lost it.
I suppose I should mention right now that I am 14 weeks pregnant. He is aware of this and has shown compassion to me in the classroom, however, I don’t need special treatment because I am pregnant. I need to be respected because I am an adult. My decisions affect 4 other lives and now 5.
Today I was not asking for an “exception.” I have fulfilled the required hours of my program. We had a certain amount to fulfill in the fall and a certain amount to fulfill in the spring. I was only asking that the extra hours I worked in the fall be applied toward the requirement in the spring. This seems like a logical request, but my advisor/professor made me feel like I was asking for an “exception” and he presumed I always asked for “exceptions” based upon the email correspondence, which he took out of context. Given we are in the field of English/Language Arts he should understand the importance of context. Context, Context, Context. Everything in proper context.
So as I sat there sobbing trying to explain myself, I told him I often wondered where the college was for adults. He softened, laughed, and said “That’s actually a good question.” He shared a bit about the road he has walked and it made me wonder where along the way he forgot to look at me with understanding?
I went to class with him after this meeting. I made the best of it and I got about halfway home before I truly allowed myself to have a meltdown. I turned the radio off and I cried out and talked to God. I read the verses from my morning devotion which state: “The Lord is like a father to his children, tender and compassionate to those who fear him. For He knows how weak we are; He remembers we are only dust” Psalms 103:13-14.
Throughout this whole process I have just wanted someone to understand. Someone to see me for who I am and what I have to offer. Someone to not put me in the category of 18-22 year old students. Someone to understand what I am trying to achieve and to help me do it as efficiently as possible. Someone who understands I don’t have time to waste. The thing is no one human like this exists. Only God can fulfill this role. I made the mistake of relying on myself and others too much. Sure sometimes when I pray God makes the path easy, straight, and certain, but more often than not when I pray, God throws in a curve just so I remember to look back and rely upon Him.
All day today all I wanted was for someone to understand and provide comfort and HE did when I finally remembered to ask.