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Chemistry, Round Two

By Amy Nielsen

My spring term starts on Sunday - back to the grind, churning onward on the educational treadmill of my Master’s program.

As we are stuck inside today with the giant snowstorm roaring outside I decided to take the time to prepare my folders and brain for the coming onslaught of knowledge.

I failed chemistry by exactly 1.68 points last term, so I have to take it again. I had three options to retake it this time around. I could take exactly the same class I just took; same professor, same lectures, same everything, and be done with it. Bonus to this plan is that I know exactly what to expect. I felt like if I had had three more weeks I could have made up the missing points and passed.

The second option is to take the class online from a different professor. Some classmates say the other professor is clearer, others say she is more difficult. Her class is structured differently with her own quiz and assignment calendar. At this point I am not sure whether it is more important to make the passing grade in the class or actually understand something as dastardly as organic chemistry.

I could also opt to take the class on campus. My classmates who are closer to campus like the professor who teaches the seated section. She is funny, engaging, and makes the impossible material comprehensible. It also only meets five weekends of a 15-week term. The downside is that campus is a five hour commute. The added expense of hotels for the weekends makes it tough to justify skipping the online option.

I ended up choosing to take the exact same class again. I feel that since I know what to expect, the structure of the class and this specific professor’s style, I can pass and maybe even understand an eensie weensie little bit more of a topic that brings some of my most learned friends to tears.

As is required, I get to take another cooking class. This time I scheduled it at the very beginning of the term to get it out of the way, as we have to go to campus for it. That might have been a mistake as it is January and we are talking about travel between New York City and Baltimore. We’ll see if the weather genies play nicely with the snow balls at the end of the month.

I did after all, opt to take one, three-credit class on campus this term, human macronutrients. Everyone in my cohort, without fail, said to avoid the online version of this class - at all costs.

So while I won’t save the travel expense in the long run, I will get a much better experience for that extra expense by taking this class on campus. The class meeting weekends also happen to line up neatly with a few events local on campus that I want to attend.

I hope I have the brain power for opera after six hours of human macronutrients. Mercifully, this class starts later in the term than the others so I have a chance to wrap my head and wallet around the travel plans.

I could take chemistry on the same weekends as human macronutrients, if I want my head to explode.

Rounding out my program I have two more online classes. One is a short, one-credit elective and the other is a core requirement for my area of concentration within my Master’s program. I was excited to get the elective out of the way as later terms will be jammed with my Capstone Project.

Then I went to print off the materials for the little elective and realized that if it looks too good to be true – it probably is. This little, fun, one-credit elective is going to be the biggest pain in my butt this term. We have to go on field trips. We have to post pre-trip exploratory essays. We have to post pictures from our field trips. Oh and it gets better, as if we are not already feeling like grade schoolers, we have to write commentary on each-other’s posts. So much work for a fun, little, minimal work elective.

The silver lining is that with all of the travel to a different city, I will for sure be able to complete the field trips to places I have never been before. But really, busy work makes me nuts.

The last class on my roster is the first of my core requirements for my area of concentration, Community Health Education. The class is Foundations in Health Behavior. This professor may be able to get a person to eat broccoli in 17 new ways but she sure as heck can’t get her class documents loaded to the classroom in the right order or in an accessible format.

I have stepped through the first 8 segments in the opening section of materials for the class and have had to email her for access to or to inform her of missing documents three times already. This does not bode well for this class. I am going to have to keep on top of this one for sure.

So my term seems to be shaping up nicely. I have a lot of travel planned for school. Added to newly planned travel for my daughter’s medical treatment, prepaid events, and well, life – I think I might just take this last gasp of Christmas, Epiphany weekend, and listen to the snowy wind howl, visit some far flung friends, eat up the remainder of the lebkuchen and vanocka, and take a deep breath before this whirlwind tromp to March begins.


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