Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Rachel K. Classes

First day of non-matriculated classes at UW and my first day of math class at SCCC! I am psyched! I haven't gone to school in over four years now. Moreover, I never took a math or science class the whole time I was in college, so this is all very new and exciting.
Red Square on the first day of classes at UW

There were SO MANY PEOPLE AT UW. Red Square was completely packed with people and vendors and sororities or fraternities. It was a mad house and it was completely overwhelming. I always thought RIT, my Alma Mater, was a big school, but UW is about 7 times larger. My Introduction to Geology 101 course was held in Kane Hall, which holds about 600 people and was at maximum capacity. I have never been in a lecture with this many people before, and it is really distracting with the amount of students who are on their laptops or phones looking at facebook.  The professor, Terry Swanson, is a guy from Alberta who loves geology and is very used to teaching freshmen. He even went as far as to say he doesn't mind it when students sleep in class. I feel old.

My next class, which I was fifteen minutes late for because I got completely lost, ended up being cancelled due to the professor's illness. Dr. Joseph Hannah is the professor, which I know because I met him when he signed my form last month. This class seems very interesting, but I can't read the syllabus until I am completely accepted into the class, and I am still a second class citizen non-matriculated student, so who knows when that will even be! All I know is that this class is smaller, and I'm hoping it will be less distracting (facebook wise.)

The bus ride between UW and SCCC is really pretty and goes through the nicer parts of Capitol Hill. The math class is in the SAM building (the science and math building) where the bathrooms have tiles with illustrations of bugs on them! The math professor, Andrea Levy, is a total pro and I can tell that she is a veteran teacher. I'm looking forward to learning from her. This is the only class so far where I feel like I am going to make any friends since more of the people in class are my age and are going into teaching. It was also 1/3 the price of either of the UW classes (blargh!)

That's the update so far on school. Here is hoping I remember how to do homework.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Rachel K. Pass!

Wahoo! I passed the WEST-E with flying colors! I am done with standardized testing forever! Or at least for my current goal purposes...

Other than that, I am an official student at Seattle Central Community College, which will make taking classes there actually possible and thus a lot easier to do. Hooray!

I was able to sign up for the math class for elementary school teachers, but it cuts into my Kumon schedule, so I'll be working even less now. Yeugh. Oh well, at least I'll be knocking three prerequisite classes out of the way. Three more to go in the next few quarters, so hopefully I'll be able to find some kind of income by then and pay for it all. Damn you, financial pitfalls.

School things aside, this weekend I helped Kevin move two flights up, where he now has a view of Elliot Bay and a roommate who knows how to do dishes and vaccuum. This couldn't be a better situation. The kitties are confused, but they are having a good time bouncing around a new apartment.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Rachel K. Community College

It is the calm before the storm! It is the Sunday before fall quarters at the University of Washington and Seattle Central Community College (SCCC for short) commence! I had a few misadventures at SCCC on Friday, but in the end it turned out well enough (I think.)

Friday morning I leapt out of bed and, after a week of studying factorials and quadratic equations to review my high school math concepts, I was going back to SCCC to retake the Compass placement test for mathematics. I had performed abysmally on my first try at the test (If the thought, "who needs to study for this?" ever pops into my head again, I'll know better.) I had placed in Math 098, which is essentially algebra 2. While teaching at Kumon and studying for the GRE have given me a firm grasp of mathematics concepts ranging from K-8 to college algebra, I had forgotten to review high school math.  As I now know, the Compass test feeds the user harder questions for every question answered correctly, and easier questions for every incorrect answer. Due to this egregious, but totally reasonable manner of testing, I never got a chance to show off my skills with complex numbers. Instead, I placed in a level I accomplished when I was 16. Damnation.

But why worry? The placement test could be taken again for a small $17 fee, and I would certainly place at a higher level this time around. Placing even one course higher would earn me the prerequisite necessary to take the elementary school teacher math course offered this fall at SCCC, which I had only recently discovered.

I was nervous, but confident when I showed up at SCCC that afternoon. This soon vanished when I was told that I needed to wait 90 days before retaking the compass test. I asked the receptionist (pleadingly) if there was another way. She told me I could talk to Mr. Appleton, the head adviser, who could waive the waiting period. I dashed off to his office down the hall, but he was out for the day and the entire office was closed. This was a significant setback, but I had other things to accomplish at the community college that day, and I went about doing them. My next step in becoming a full-fledged student at SCCC was to show my transcript to the lady at admissions and prove that I had taken a course in English composition, which would opt me out of the English writing Compass test.  The admissions lady told me that my English & Literature course did not count for composition, and neither did my numerous scriptwriting courses. Furthermore, there was no proof of graduation on my official transcript. I am still not sure why I would need proof of graduation to apply for classes at a community college. In any case, I left the Capitol Hill campus completely enervated and bummed out.

When I arrived back at my apartment, I immediately set out to make things right. If I couldn't prove I had graduated from RIT on my transcript, well then damn it I WILL BRING IN MY DIPLOMA. If my transcript couldn't opt me out of the English composition course, then damn it, I will bring in my GRE writing scores and barring that, I will take the damn placement test. So, I made an appointment with Mr. Appleton for 9am Monday; the day that my math class would in theory begin. I then set about e-mailing the professor of the math class and explaining my situation. She, in her infinite benevolence, told me that she would waive the prerequisite and that she would send me a link to the syllabus.

So now, after all that, my Monday morning plan is to meet with the head adviser to sort out my English composition nonsense.  After that, I'm going to buy the math textbook and notebook that I need for class. Then after Kumon, which I will now have to skip out of 2.5 hours early to make this class that I can't afford to be late to, I will hop the bus back from Greenwood to Capitol Hill for my first math class. Really, my first college class in four years!

As for my UW classes, they are set to begin on Wednesday. I am still on standby for both the geology and geography classes, but I am hopeful that I will be accepted into them and that I will be taking 15 credits of prerequisite goodness this fall quarter.

Tomorrow morning I will behold my test scores for the WEST-E exams from earlier this month. Dear God I hope I passed. I can recover from almost anything else so long as I passed this exam.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Rachel K. Desperate

Seattle weather has taken a turn for the autumnal, which is a comfort and a reminder that I have been here longer than a year now. The leaves are starting to turn gold and red on a few kinds of trees and the air has turned crisper. It's the kind of weather that is conducive to reading, eating pie, and wearing over-sized sweaters. One of the blessings of having no real source of employment is that I have the time to enjoy these fall days at home and around downtown Seattle. The downside to having no real source of employment is that I have no real source of income, which is a constant reminder that I am fucked need graduate school to work out.

School-wise, I've been making slow progress. I've finally turned my applications in to the University of Washington and Seattle University. At this point I would gladly go to any school that would accept me, but I am currently hoping against hopes for UW to open up their lovin' arms and allow me the distinct pleasure of learning. I have also signed up as a second-class citizen non-matriculated student for two classes at UW. I'm on standby for Intro to Geology and Intro to Globalization. These classes, in theory, will fulfil my world geography and lab science course requirements as pre-requisites to either UW or SU graduate programs. In other words I've spent $3,000 in the hopes of taking classes to fulfil the needs of universities, in hopes that these universities will accept me.  I remain hopeful, since it's all I can really do.

On the community college front, I have applied for studentship at Seattle Central Community College, located on Capital Hill and right across the street from a Panera Bread that will OPEN SOON (according to its banner.) I took a math placement exam, but didn't place well enough to take the elementary school teacher math course that I need for one of my pre-requisites... SO I have spent the last weekend studying my polynomials and I plan to retake the placement test this week. This time I'll be ready! This is very much due to the kindly tutoring of Kevin, who has an exponential amount of patience with me and my inability to absorb mathematical concepts. <3

In the end of my application process, I took the WEST-E, which is the teacher's exam in Washington State for elementary endorsements. I have no idea if I passed, which is really scary. If I don't pass it, it could mean I don't get a graduate program this year, which would be an enormous set-back. I really hope I passed, and that's all I can do. On the bright side, it's the last exam I need to take, which is a tremendous relief. Or... a relief if I passed, anyway.

I am still tutoring part-time at the Kumon Center, which is my only source of income right now. My boss, Marty, has created a new position for me that she hopes will work out for me as well as for her. I'm somewhat of a glorified secretary starting in October. I'll be doing less tutoring, which is a bummer, but I'll have more responsibilities as a new title as, "classroom manager," which looks fancier than "tutor." I am thankful for the Kumon Center and all of the cash and sanity it has provided me with over the past year. Plus, my students are awesome and they're all getting SO TALL.

I am currently looking for part-time employment to supplement my meager income from Kumon and to give me more of a purpose in life. A year in Seattle and here I am applying to retail stores, the apple store, and coffee vendors that aren't Starbucks (I don't think they'll hire me back.) The apple store and multiple retail venues have thus far rejected me, but I am holding out for some kind of waitressing or barista position where I won't be expected to stay for the long haul. I just need something for the rest of the year or until I can finagle my way into a teacher certification program.

I feel more and more desperate all the time, I won't lie. All of my money from summer camp is going into classes and I feel like I am not making any progress with finding something to bring the money in. I hate that I have to focus on and worry about money and part-time jobs when I should really be focusing on salvaging a career out of this past year, which has been a glorious mess. Everything's always backwards. I'm stressed out and I hate that I'm 25 and I can't justify buying a hoodie for fall or yarn to make Christmas presents for my family. I've been filling a lot of the time with studying and baking bread. Somehow baking bread makes my day feel infinitely more successful, and I don't suppose I'll ever know why.

In a nutshell, my social and love lives are top notch, my professional life is non-existent, and I'm worried and anxious almost all of the time. I hope that my next blog post will be a lot more hopeful and that it will report a lot of GOOD THINGS. I will be hearing back from the Universities I applied to starting in October in any case.

I just want to teach.