Last year, I ventured into the world of college education. With my retirement from the Navy fast approaching, I needed to get into gear and get a degree prior to starting the next stage in my life: Navy Veteran. Fortunately, I have a job that is very accommodating in achieving a degree. I got started with Southern Illinois University, partially because of the credit granted for my military experience and partly for the degree that they offered: Electronic Systems Technologies with an emphasis in Management, basically what I’ve been doing for the last 19 years. The classes are held on base every other weekend and I complete a class in about 6 weeks. The pace is fast and furious, but it allows a degree in 16 months, as long as all of the other requirements for the degree are fulfilled. That’s where the fun part starts.
Originally, I had planned to knock out as many classes as possible through taking CLEP exams with Navy College. That idea faded after I completed the first CLEP exam, for English Composition. Even though I scored a 57 on the test, enough to claim credit for the class, I needed a 60 in order to receive 6 credit and fulfill my English requirement for SIU. Given the choice between attempting to cram enough information into my brain in order to pass a CLEP test for credit and taking the class and actually learning the material, I chose the latter of the two. Of course, the cost for taking the classes is significant, but I think actually learning something instead of going off of the collection of knowledge in my head is a better deal. And for some reason, taking the classes makes it easier to get the credit. I just wish it was not as expensive as it is. I take my general classes through Coastline Community College, largely because they are online and I can manage my time better that way than sitting in a class someplace a few hours every night of the week. Coastline offers two 8-week sessions each semester, so for the fall semester I took another 4 classes while I was attending SIU on the weekends. Now if you’ve been keeping track, that’s 24 credits in one semester. When I tell people that, they are incredulous.
Well, for all the work it took me this last semester, I got straight A’s at Coastline and straight A’s at SIU. Yesterday I received a letter in the mail from SIU stating that I was named to the Dean’s List for the Fall Semester. The Spring semester is rapidly approaching for me, with SIU classes starting this weekend and Coastline’s classes starting on the 28th. I decided to take a step further into chaos and try my hand at 3 classes in the first session at Coastline. If I can pull this off, between the two sessions of the Spring semester, I’ll have completed all of my lower level credits, fulfilling the requirements for my degree in 3 semesters. That’s right, I’m planning currently to take 30 credits during the Spring semester. Once I retire, I’ll have more to worry about that taking freshman classes, so I need to get them out of the way. I’m currently scheduled to graduate from SIU in May of 2014 and I’m due to retire from the Navy in March 2014. I’ll be done with all of my classes in December of 2013, just shy of being able to graduate at the end of the year. Then I can set my sights on my next goal: Juris Doctorate.