A Change Will Do Me Good

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Today I made the executive decision to acquire a laptop for college. Between games, bookmarks, files, music, and other things, I have a ton of distractions on this rig that I fear might get in the way of me studying. Besides, this laptop is somewhat iffy on whether its battery will work, and the keyboard is still shot all to hell, so to keep from lugging a 17.3″, six pound laptop, plus accessories including power cord, mouse, and keyboard, I’m going with something smaller.

Fortunately this switch won’t be an expensive one, at least at first. I have a 12″ Asus Taichi 21 2-in-1 that’s mostly just sitting here. We purchased for a use that turned out to be impractical, so it’s been on the shelf, collecting dust since we got it three years ago. That’s going to make a perfect school laptop for now.

I would, however, like to look at the possibility of getting another laptop for use in class. I have nothing against the Taichi, but it’s small. There’s a full-size keyboard on it, but it doesn’t have a numpad, and I would very much like to have one.

I don’t need anything fancy – no 2-in-1 capability, no touch screen, no DVD or Blu-ray drive. I’d like an i5 – don’t think I’ll need anything more powerful than that – and I’d like for it to have a hard drive somewhere between 250 GB and 500 GB. Getting eight GB of RAM would be nice. And outside of that, I don’t really have much in the way of demands. I don’t think this will be an expensive laptop – I could be wrong – but I’d prefer to spend less than more.

That won’t happen until next year’s tax returns, if it happens at all. I’ll have the Taichi for the entirety of my first semester, and I may decide in that time that it will adequately serve my purpose for college. We’ll just have to see.

In preparation for its new use, I’ve created a user on it that’s attached to my school email, and done all the customizing on it that I would like. It’s currently charging its battery as I type this, and I’ll be able to see just how well it will work in a couple of weeks.

Ready As I’ll Ever Be

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(Today’s going to be a real short post, because I’m real tired.)

Today I put the finishing touches on most of the stuff that I have to do before classes start on the 28th. I got my student ID card made – I look appropriately awful in the photo – and I picked up the textbook for my Biology Fundamentals class. Both of these I did at the Round Rock campus – the fourth Austin Community College campus that I’ve been to in a week. I parked on the south side of campus intending to walk past the west side of the 3000 building to get to Admissions and Records in the 1000 building on the west side of campus, only construction had the pathway blocked, so I had to walk clear around the east side of the 3000 building to come back to the 1000 building to the west. I got in there, wiped the sweat from my brow – it was 101 degrees out, by my car’s reckoning – and thankfully only had to wait for a moment to get my photo taken, and only a couple of minutes after that to get my card handed to me. I went from there to the northeast side of the 2000 building to the bookstore, and then walked back along the east side of campus to get to the parking lot on the south side. And that was the end of my exercise for the day. Between the heat and the fairly long distance (by my standards, anyway) I was done.

And that’s that. The only preparation I have left to do will be next weekend, when I pick up a couple of three-ring binders, some loose leaf paper, and a scientific calculator.

I can’t believe that so much has happened just in the past few days. I look back at everything I’ve done since last Thursday – the meeting with the departmental advising specialist, the appointment with my psychiatrist, the area of study information session, registering for my college algebra class and picking up that textbook, then finding out that biology fundamentals would be authorized by Texas Workforce Commission and registering for that class and picking up its textbook, the meeting with student accessibility services, the appointment with my psychiatrist, picking up a parking permit and a student ID – this is the busiest week that I can remember having in a long time.

And because of that, and because there’s not really that much to do, tomorrow I’m taking it easy. I think I’ve earned that.

But Wait, There’s More!

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Yesterday I registered for my first college class. Last night, before I went to bed, I checked my account with the school. I had a zero balance. It was a great feeling to fall asleep with.

This morning I had a meeting with the college’s Student Accessibility Services office. My counselor was very pleased that I’d gotten the application done before the meeting, and after we got the introductory details out of the way, we started going over the accommodations that she recommended for me. Despite a letter from my psychologist explaining that I’ve been improving recently, my counselor approached my situation from a standpoint of what the stress of school could cause in someone with my diagnoses rather than what I’ve been exhibiting. We decided on a list of seven accommodations designed to help me learn – six of her own recommendation, and one that I requested. We then went on to examine the class that I had registered for, to see if I was taking a class taught by an instructor who’s not as accommodating of students in my situation. The verdict is that the instructor is not the best choice, but tolerable. There are two other instructors that she would recommend for that class, and I’m waitlisted for a class with one of them. (I signed up for a class that I knew would have seats in it, but then put myself on the waitlist for a class with more desirable hours. If a spot comes open when they get to me, then I get to attend that class instead.) We chatted for a while longer and then she went to scan all my forms, and that’s when I got an email.

Last Thursday, I wrote about my meeting with an advisory specialist in the Health Sciences department, and how much it had added to my list of things to do before I’m accepted into the sonography program. There’s one part in particular that I want to bring to your attention:

Back to Anatomy & Physiology I for a minute. There have been so many students that have taken and failed this course since it was instituted that they now give an assessment test that you need to score a 70% or higher on in order to place into A&P I. There is a list of test objectives, so you’ll have an idea what to expect on this test. That list is six pages long. I can either study for it on my own, or I can take Biology Fundamentals, a course that exists only to be preparation for this exam. Because it’s not part of this or any other degree program, it’s almost certainly going to have to come out of my pocket and not be covered by my agreement with Texas Workforce Commission.

In my Thursday afternoon letter to my counselor at Texas Workforce Commission, who’s underwriting my education as part of the Return to Work program, I explained that I understood that this course wasn’t going to be covered, but would she allow me to take it anyway? I hadn’t heard back from her until today, and she had unexpected news. She was going to authorize payment for the Biology Fundamentals class!

When my counselor with SAS returned to the room after scanning my documents, I told her about the email, and she sat right down and helped me find a suitable class for me to take. Or rather, she tried to. Her computer was locking up on her and preventing her from registering me for the class that we’d agreed on, so she told me that she’d get to it later in the day. I asked her if it would be helpful for me to try and register when I got home, and she said it would.

On my way out, I noticed that parking permits were sold online and at the cashier’s office, for cash only. I was going to put it on my debit card, so I signed into the system on my phone and quickly had a receipt in hand. I went to the cashier’s office, told them I’d just sent the transaction in, and they looked me up in their system and handed me my parking permit.

I went home and signed onto the course offerings and registered for an evening class on Mondays and Wednesdays, and then waitlisted myself for one in the morning on the same days. (That made it impossible for me to get both classes that I’d waitlisted myself for, as one ends right before another begins, and they’re on different campuses.)

In the afternoon I saw my therapist, and told her that her letter to SAS was perfectly sufficient and explained what accommodations I’d been given. We discussed that, and all that’s transpired in two weeks, and it was at that moment that I realized just how much stuff is happening to me in a very short period of time. She asked me if I was proud of my accomplishments, and I told her I was. We talked more about school and life in general before the end of what was a very good appointment.

I left there and went straight back to campus to try and pick up my books. I was able to get one, for college algebra, but I’m going to have to go to another campus to pick up my textbook for Biology Fundamentals. That’s a trip that’s going to have to happen tomorrow, as I’d run out of time to do anything else before picking my wife up from work.

So that’s my day. It seems I’m going to be taking six credit hours of classes this semester, although only three will count toward my degree program. It’s going to be a very quick turnaround next semester, as I’m going to have to take the entrance exam for Anatomy & Physiology I around the time I’m doing finals in order for it to allow me to register for that class in the spring. My plan for the spring is to bump the courseload up to a full 12 hours and attend A&P I, Introduction to Physics, and a couple of my co-requisite courses to get them out of the way.

Spring is going to be a busy time, but I’ll prove to myself this fall that I can handle it.

One last thing. I checked my account with the school this afternoon after I’d registered for Biology Fundamentals. I had a balance of something over a thousand dollars. I checked it again just before writing this blog post. It was back to zero again. Both classes have been paid for, and both books have been credited to my account. So far this semester I’ve paid fifteen bucks out of pocket, and that was for my parking permit.

I’d be lying if I didn’t say that was the best feeling of all.

 

Done Deal

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This morning I attended my Area of Study information session, which is a requirement to be able to register for classes at Austin Community College. The meeting was at the Hays campus, which is in Kyle, a town south of Austin. I live on the north side of Austin, and so I had to drive down Interstate 35 through downtown in rush hour traffic.

Until recently, I’ve avoided driving unless it was absolutely necessary thanks to my anxiety. I’ve been able to wrangle short trips to my therapist and doctors appointments, as well as the jaunt down surface roads to drop my wife off at work and pick her up again on the days I need the car, but I’ve only driven if I was literally the only person in the car – whenever I’d pick up my wife, she’d take the wheel. Over the past two or three months, I’ve started driving her more frequently, but I’ve still avoided bad traffic at any cost, and my trips have been mostly just a few miles at a time.

Today represented the worst traffic that I’ve driven through in years, as well as the longest distance that I’ve driven during that time. I got through it with surprisingly little stress and made it to my appointment with enough time to stop and have a sit-down breakfast as opposed to drive-through fast food.

The meeting itself was two hours long, and split evenly into general school information and specific information on the health sciences programs. Of the latter part, the adviser spent perhaps four minutes on sonography, but it was good information to have. I took a good amount of notes and got an ACC-branded hacky sack for attending.

The adviser for the more generalized portion asked for my TSI assessment scores so that he could note them and get them into my student record, something that had apparently not transpired as of that point in time. (He also didn’t have my name in his records, because he did all his research on his attendees on Friday and I signed up for the session yesterday, but that was a very minor detail.) At one point while he reviewed my scores, he commented “Somebody likes to write!” I had to smile at that. It turns out my writing and essay scores blew away the minimum requirement to be considered TSI complete, something I didn’t know until this session.

He told us that we should give him 24 hours to get our attendance noted in our records so that we could register. So when I got home, I had lunch and then, out of curiosity, went to go check to see if I could register yet.

And I could. So I did.

I registered for one class that meets Tuesday and Thursday afternoons, but waitlisted myself for a section that meets on Monday and Wednesday mornings, to avoid interfering with my wife’s work schedule. Hopefully I’ll get notification that I made that latter class, but if I don’t I’m guaranteed a seat in the former.

Once I’d done that, I sent an email over to the Texas Workforce Commission liaison at ACC to get the ball rolling on tuition. (For those who are new, I’m on disability and working with TWC to re-educate myself for a return back to the workforce. TWC is sponsoring my education.) I also sent over a request for book expenses as well, hoping to hear back within a few days.

I got my confirmation emails about 45 minutes ago. Tuition will be paid for tomorrow and my book will be ready for me to pick up at the bookstore tomorrow as well.

I’m about as officially a college student as I can be.

There are some details left to work out. I still need to stop by campus and get my physical student ID card done, as well as my parking permit. I need to change my major to pre-health sciences. And I need to wait on the decision about which section I’ll be attending, Monday/Wednesday or Tuesday/Thursday. But everything else is pretty much done at this point.

Next semester I’m going to try to start working on some of my co-requisites so I can knock them out. Besides, having them done prior to being accepted in the cardiovascular sonography program will give my application to the program extra weight.

Part of me want to celebrate tonight. Part of me wants to just go to bed.

So for all intents and purposes, everything’s over but the waiting.

Classes start August 28th.

I can’t wait.

Starting to Click in Place

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I met with my psychiatrist today.

I told him everything that’s been going on over the last two months, and he was very pleasantly surprised by all that’s transpired. He wanted to stress to me what a big deal it is to go from a career in medical billing and coding, which has no patient interaction, to sonography, which has constant patient interaction. I told him that my social anxiety tends to only flare up in truly social situations – if I have a purpose or goal when talking to someone, like on the job or when I’m a customer someplace, I’m usually just fine. He said I should be very proud of myself for all that I’ve accomplished and wished me luck with school going forward. For obvious reasons, he kept me on the same medication regimen and told me to come back in three months.

I also rescheduled an appointment that I had with Austin Community College’s Student Accessibility Services tomorrow morning for Wednesday morning. I had to reschedule because an availability came up for a Health Sciences Area of Study information session tomorrow morning, and that’s a far, far harder appointment to get than the one with SAS. So I cancelled my appointment for an AoS session on the 26th – two days before classes start – and grabbed the one and only slot available for the entire department system-wide for the rest of the semester. This is going to let me register for classes much earlier than I would otherwise be able to – hopefully as soon as tomorrow afternoon or evening. (The AoS session is a requirement for all new students before registering for their first semester of classes, hence why I wanted to expedite the session if possible.)

I’ve got a busy week, appointment-wise. Today I met with my psychiatrist, tomorrow it’s my AoS session,  and Wednesday it’s the meeting with SAS and also my appointment with my therapist. I’m still taking all these changes to the status quo in stride, without getting uptight about them. I’m actually looking forward to starting the semester.

Hopefully tomorrow I’ll hear back from my counselor at Texas Workforce Commission about a few questions that I had. She’s been out of the office for the last few days, so hopefully she’ll get to my email early.

Cue the Inspirational Music

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It’s been yet another day of doing as little as I possibly can. I’ve spent a lot of time in Secret World Legends today doing PvP on my main character, trying to build resources up for a huge crafting project I’m working on. I’ve done some chores around the apartment, nothing too momentous but not quite nothing.

Tomorrow I start in earnest trying to prep for registering for school. There are some hoops that I have to jump through, as the payment arrangements must be on file at the time of registration and those payment arrangements are coming through Texas Workforce Commission. That’ll be two, maybe three phone calls I’ll need to make. I have an appointment with my psychiatrist tomorrow afternoon, so all my productive time is going to have to be relegated to the morning. I’d like to start in on the program handbook – that’s a 65 page read and I hold no illusions that I’ll get it done in a day – but I don’t know if I’ll get to it.

Until I’m actually in classes, I’m trying to reserve my evenings for time with my wife. We enjoy spending time with one another and I want to maximize that while I still can. One class won’t take up the majority of my time, but a full class load will, and I need to start prepping for that.

So much to do. So little time to get it done in. So many hoops to jump through. I sometimes question if it’s worth it, if I’m ready for something this big. But I tend to respond in the affirmative. I’ve been working toward this goal for years, even though the goal was some vague declaration and not a clear plan until very recently. I’ve still been trying to prepare myself mentally and emotionally for being in school, especially full-time, and I think I’ve done a pretty good job of it.

I sometimes catch myself telling myself that I can’t do this, that I’m building this up to be an insurmountable challenge. I find myself saying that I don’t know what I’m doing. But I also almost immediately counter that with the fact that I may not know what I’m doing now, but that’s the point of going to school, to learn how to do this new career. The expectation is that I don’t have a clue. And true, I didn’t have a clue what’s expected of me for school up until last Thursday, but now I do, and now that I see it’s a fairly extensive list of prerequisites to get into the program, I’m telling myself that I’m up for the challenge. It will be a challenge, make no mistake of that. Health Sciences courses are intense for a reason. But I can do it. And I will do it.

Blah

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Today was a repeat of yesterday. Lots of goofing off, not much adulting to be done. These days are going to be few and far between over the next few years because of school, but it’ll be worth it.

My mood has been kinda low today, though. Not down, per se, just a little low. It’s been a hard feeling to shake. I’ve also been tired most of the day as well.

Days like this I really don’t know what to write about. Nothing much happened. I played games on the computer all day, and my wife and I did our radio show in the evening. I feel like I’m somehow shortchanging you, my readers, by not having more to talk about. But I suppose lazy days like today are important from time to time.