Thursday, October 27, 2016

Sitting in a room all afternoon, just answering questions

So I get to take the GRE tomorrow and...I haven't studied.

Wait, wait, wait. This seems waaay too familiar somehow - like I've done this before somehow. Like on a regular basis, even. Huh....

Maybe I am mentally prepared for college already.

Like usual, I haven't had time, interest, or even inclination to try to study for this thing. I'm not too worried about the English part - I think that will be fine, so far as it goes. Although, I'm really not sure I'd've had a chance at the math part, even if I'd have studied for it, to be honest.

Most people have told me that it's not that bad of test, so hopefully they'll be right. I can take it again, if I have to, but I'm not sure I will right now. I'm still not entirely sure I'm going to apply to grad schools in the next couple of months, to be honest.

Which is just as well, since neither University at Buffalo nor Syracuse University seem to have a minimum GRE score. That's probably a good thing, since that might mean that they may just use it as a tiebreaker between likely candidates. Regardless, it makes the whole thing a little less stressful.

I did this exact same thing when taking the SATs, though, and I managed to pull out an 1100-ish score out of 1600. The state average was 980 at the time, I think. Or maybe that was my school's average, and the state's was 880? That sounds more likely. A guy in my class got a 1430, and he ended up going to Princeton.

The fact of the matter is that I've always had really poor study skills. I never had to work at getting good grades in school, and my parents weren't interested in instilling in me the discipline to study, either. So I just coasted through until it was over. I could've done a lot better in high school than I did, but I just didn't bother trying - I didn't do homework and aced the tests, for the most part.

It wasn't until I got to college years after high school that I made myself learn how to study. And even then, it was only halfway through my undergrad that I made myself do that. I dropped a number of classes, and had to take a couple of them over, before I learned my lesson. I almost gave myself an ulcer trying to pass biology, actually - and I'm not the ulcer getting type.

Papers were always a breeze, though, since I'd just type whatever and be done with it. In fact, I'd typically get a worse grade if I did it the way you're supposed to: a couple of drafts, serious edits, a final draft, some more edits, and then turn it in. I could do a 10-page paper in 5 hours or so, and still get a B+ or an A- on it. So of course I'd procrastinate and do it the night before it was due.

Part of the problem for me, of course, is how the American college system is set up. All undergraduates are required to take two years of general university requirements before you can start taking classes you care about, because they want students to get a well-rounded education. If you're smart about it, like I wasn't, you'll do those two years at a community college and get your associate degree before going to a four-year university to work on your bachelor's degree of choice. It's also a nice workaround for skipping the SAT, too.

Which means you're stuck taking classes like Biology 101, Chemistry 101, pre-calculus, an intro statistics course, or whatever - even if you were getting a bachelor's degree in English. Things you couldn't care less about, being taught in massive 500-seat classrooms (at a four-year university) with a bunch of other people who couldn't care less, that have absolutely nothing to do with your degree, while being taught things you never even heard of in high school. Oh, and you have to pass it in order to graduate from college with your bachelor's degree, too.

So, yeah, I totally tried slacking my way through those classes. And was totally burned by that. Which then caused me to take them more seriously, and finally figure out how to study, because I had to.

And hopefully I can remember how to do that again. Sure, I have an amazing work ethic and loads of self-discipline...when it comes to things I actually care about. Otherwise, I'm not so great about doing stuff that I need to do that I don't care about. It's amazing the amount of stuff that you'll let slide simply because you just couldn't care less.

Now maybe you can see how studying is really hard for me.

Although, I don't have to deal with general university requirements anymore. You only have to do that once, and then it's over with forever. My second bachelor's degree should take two years to complete, instead of the four or five years it would've taken like my first bachelor's. Master's degrees usually take about two years, as do doctoral degrees. But you have to get a bachelor's before a master's, and a master's before a doctorate.

The other nice part is that I'll be taking classes on topics that I'm interested in, and not necessarily things I have to learn. There may be some prerequisites I'll have to fulfill before I can move on to degree-pertinent classes, but that happens all the time. Which means that I should be doing okay in regards to getting coursework done. It also helps that I've been working in the field I got my degree for, so I'll have institutional knowledge of a lot of things that I hadn't had before.

Now, I just need to take the GRE and hope that it's not as difficult as people tell me it is. It'll be about a 2.5-hour drive to Sacramento and back, and I can start to take the test anywhere between 11 am to 12:30 pm. It's supposed to be almost a four-hour test, and I'm not sure if that's the average time it takes for most people to get through it, or if that's just the maximum time allowed. I want to get there early, if I can, so I can do the test and still hopefully miss the worst of the traffic coming back.

Song of the day

Quote of the day

"Problems are not stop signs, they are guidelines." -Robert H. Schuller

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Song of the day

There are still good people in the world

I've been complaining about wanting things to change, and now they are. All of the upheaval and chaos that surrounds such things has started, so that's a good sign. (Sooo much drama at work right now.) I just wish it was a little bit less stressful is all.

Thrown into the mix is that the City of Los Angeles has requested my presence for a skills test on 5 November - which is a Saturday, conveniently enough. I'm so glad that someone down there gets it. Beverly Hills had asked me to do one like three or four years ago, but it was during the week.

(Incidentally, the original Spanish name for the European-type settlers was "El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Ángeles de Porciúncula" or "The Town of Our Lady the Queen of the Angels of Porciúncula" - exciting, isn't it?)

The reason that I'm going to go through with this skills test is to hopefully put a backup in place in case financial aid at either Buffalo or Syracuse doesn't give me enough to live on. Gotta keep going through the motions of looking for a GIS job until I know for sure that I won't need one.

The skills test is pretty much to make sure those people who have applied for this position are able to actually do it. They'll rank the tests, and probably end up interviewing the top six to ten best scorers. I'm sure this will all come to a head after I've moved to New York State, and I won't be moving back to California if that's the case. But it's always good to keep in practice, if nothing else.

Anyways, I emailed my friend Aparna, who lives in Irvine, asking her if I could stay at her place. I figured I'd drive down - it's a 7-hour drive - the Friday night before, and then drive back the following Sunday. Done the drive before, so I know what to expect.

So she said I was welcome to stay, of course, but then she went a step further. She told me that she has a lot of airline miles stored up due to work trips, and that some were going to expire before she could use them. She offered to get my tickets on top of that.

When I'd told her that she'd be chauffeuring me around, she told me that she was fine with that. She'd take me to and from the airport, no problem. And then, since she has something scheduled to do that day, she told me I could take her car to go into LA and take this test while she was off doing other stuff. She'd figure out a ride to her event, in the meantime, and we could catch up after the fact.

Can you tell that she really wants me to move there?

While I was pleasantly surprised by her generosity, it also wasn't out of place for her. Well, for no one that I associate with, frankly. If any of my friends or family have time and the money, they'd all do that for me. And I, without question, would do the same back for them. That's how these things are supposed to work, after all.

  • When I was living in Tallahassee, my sister Pam bought plane tickets so I could have Thanksgiving with her and her family. 
  • Laurabelle and Jill both tell me I can stay as long as I want with them, if only I'll come up and visit. And Jill would totally pay for my flights, if she could afford to, on top of that. 
  • Heather offered me a spare room when I moved to the San Francisco Bay Area, until I could find a place - and then her husband gave me a spare futon they weren't using, since I didn't have anything to sleep on, at that point. 

I could go on, but you get the idea. And the reverse is true, although I'm not going to list out what I've done in return. No reason to toot my own horn here.

Heck, Alex has repeatedly offered me the extra bedroom in her apartment, just so I could go to school in Syracuse. And rent-free, I might add - not that I'd ever take her up on that, of course. But it's a genuine offer, and one she'd totally follow through with if I'd just agree. And that's how much she wants me to move there.

I love my friends. They're generous people who'd literally give me the shirt of their back, if I asked. As I would do for them. But we all pretty much live by the concept that you should treat others as you would like to be treated, after all.

Quote of the day

"If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more, you are a leader." -John Quincy Adams