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One More Test

By Amy Nielsen

I have exactly one exam left before I finish school. I have scored well, if not perfectly on each of the previous tests and quizzes. I am happy with those answers that I got wrong as many were a disagreement on philosophy rather than specifically a wrong answer. I know when I take the exam next week, I will pass it with a respectable, if not perfect, grade.

Our class message boards are alight with questions: What it will mean if you don’t take the last exam, which is expected but not required.  A passing grade is only required on two out of three exams to complete the graduation requirement. What if your case studies haven’t been accepted yet, even though they were posted within minutes of the midnight deadline? How are these case studies supposed to be entered anyway? I missed a conference call and now it shows that I didn’t complete the assignment, now what?

One of the perks of being an older student is perspective. The vast majority of students who are having these troubles fall into two categories: the certificate-gathering, young, self-starter who is determined to be the “it” of her niche market - and fast. The other, unfortunately, are those who are struggling with this online-based platform. They are struggling to complete the lectures, let alone the assignments.

The second group is comprised of two very different sub categories of individuals. This program is widely international and is well respected outside of the US. Approximately one-third of the class is international students from around the globe, representing both developing and developed countries. As internet service differs vastly around the world, some students had a hard time just getting connection for long enough to download a lesson. The second subgroup, within the tech challenged set, is not comfortable with a computer-based curriculum. The internet portion makes their struggle worse.

I really feel for the tech challenged group. They are behind the 8 ball by no fault of their own poor shooting. Some have been able to figure it out enough to at least finish. Others are just going to have to appeal to the school come graduation time when their certificates are not awarded.

I can say that it is not for lack of effort on the part of other students on the message boards. The majority of tech questions are quickly answered by more tech savvy classmates. The industry we are in is based on kindness, compassion, and helpfulness. We kind of can’t help ourselves but to find an answer when someone asks.

I know of several fantastic relationships that have started because of this program. There are a few burgeoning businesses starting up once all of the certificates clear. I also know of many peer to peer coaching and accountabilities partnerships that plan to continue after graduation day. Again, we are a compassionate and helpful group. It’s in our genes.

As for that group of go-getter, self-starters? Those are the folks who I really want to succeed. I know they can. I know they have it within them. But there were hard lessons learned, especially if they don’t graduate:

* Read all of the directions at the beginning.

*Make sure you understand exactly what is expected of you before you begin.

*Start completing assignments at the beginning of the remittance period not at the end.

*Don’t plan your wedding and honeymoon for the week of the last exam assuming that because you passed the others and skipping this exam would remain unremarked on your transcript.

*Missing the last exam entirely, even if you have passed the other two exams, means the last exam will be marked as an incomplete/fail rather than incomplete/zero since all grades are on a percentage/pass-fail basis.

These are all important lessons that some of my classmates, unfortunately, have learned the hard way.

I am pleased that I have come as far as I have with this program. I am pleased that I am tech savvy enough to be able to complete the course with only a few minor tech snafu. I am not a spring chicken who is counting eggs before they are even laid, nor am I someone who is on the verge of a new career in the third half of their busy lives. I am a somewhat, rusty, washed up, has been, career consolidating Mama who sort of remembers something about how voice over IP used to work.

What I am most pleased about is my ability to roll with this program and see what it can do for me. I am an advanced student, I have been around the block a time or two and I know what I am looking for most of the time. I like that this course delivered that. It was just enough out of my comfort zone to push my boundaries and make me see a bigger picture because of the make-up of the student body.

I expect to graduate somewhere around the middle of my class, not that rankings are important. There is a full tuition refund awarded to the top student in the class. I never had ambitions of that sort. When I do graduate and receive my certificate I will know that I did put in a solid effort. I am proud of what I have learned and accomplished by taking this chance.

Now I have to look forward to the next step, employment. Self-employment, contract work, project based events, and series classes are all in the works over the summer as I refine exactly what this new project looks like. As of this time next week, I will be done with curriculum work. There is no turning back.

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