Friday, July 12, 2013

Back to School

I announced a couple of months ago that I was going back to school. It was actually pretty hard to say. I've been thinking about it ever since I was kicked out 13 years ago. Honestly I don't blame them I was pretty worthless and not making much of my time there. Some semesters I hardly attended classes, much less did the assignments.

The incredible thing though. The thing that separates this time from every other time in the past 13 years is that I actually went ahead and did something about it. I talked to the Philosophy Department secretary and got the ball rolling. At first it looked like it was going to be an easy ride, now, after getting some bad news from the LAS College, it looks like I'm actually going to have to work for it. I suppose that's only fair. So ISU won't let me back yet. They don't trust me and who could blame them? I have to take some classes elsewhere first. Here again, I actually did something. I applied, and have been accepted at DMACC.

Now it may not seem like a big deal to be accepted to DMACC. You might say, “it's a community college, they accept anybody,” but that's not true. They only accept people who apply. I did that. The first time around I didn't. I don't know if I even filled out any forms to get into ISU in 1996. I know I had a chance to be in the honors program and I let it slip because I had to write a 300 word essay. Yeah, I had a pretty acute case of Entitlitis. Of course I also felt like I was going to college because I had to, because what else would I do?

Several times in the past few years I've said something like “College is harder than running a 100 mile race.” I believed that. It certainly looked like it on the surface. A race like that seemed like a sprint. Less than 48 hours. College will be maybe two years of work. But if I look more deeply I see that I run (or bike or ski) at least an hour every day to prepare for a race. If I put even that much work into school I expect it will be easier than I am worried it will be. I see that my old views on this are something like thinking that finals are all there is to college. Finals are certainly a big deal, but if you didn't prepare all semester how could you expect to do well? Or even finish?

Actually, I was a little surprised how few people commented on my goal of going back to school.  But if I think about it I think I've let enough people down in this arena that they didn't want to get their hopes up.  Thank you to those people who did encourage me though.  Who told me that I could do it. 

This time I'll be working for it. I don't know if I have a better idea of why I'm going to school, at least career wise, but I do have a better idea of what I want from it. I want to prove that I can do it. I want to put it behind me. 

 I'm actually quite anxious (and by that I mean eager) to begin.


Anonymous said...

Actually I hadn't even heard you were going back. Congratulations! I went back after a pretty crummy first go, starting back at community college while I was in the Navy, and I think it was the best decision. The teachers tend to be dedicated, classes tend to be smaller, and the students tend to be more serious. I think you've shown you have determination for the long slog, so it'll be a challenge, it will be on you're more than equal to. If I can be of help with letters of recommendation or anything never hesitate to ask!

Unknown said...

I'm sorry I didn't comment earlier, Matt. I think it's way cool and I believe you'll do great!

Unknown said...

Unknown at 11:10 was Christy Varnum

Anonymous said...

Matt, I hadn't heard of your plan to return to school but am glad you are following your heart.

Like you I partied my way out of ISU and then drifted along for a while. Despite racing RAGBRAI three times the sponsorship dollars did not add up and I knew racing RAGBRAI professionally was not going to happen.

All joking aside, you have a strong voice and a good soul. I believe in you and wish you the best.

C. P. said...

DMACC, ISU, Harvard, Oxford... there are people at each who take it for granted and others who don't. College is what you make it - the name of the school doesn't matter.

You won't take it for granted.

THEironmaiden said...

Good for you, Matt! You write well and from the heart. From the other side of the podium I can see you will be a great "non-trad" student who will get what you are looking for out of the college experience.

Anonymous said...

Great writing Matt. I think you will be fine this time around.


mark scotch said...

not that I know what I'm talking about, but what is the goal? going to school or what you hope to get out of it? I haven't read which it is. to me, that would make the difference on your level of success. if it's to finish/get a degree that's ok, but if one has a very defined reason to finish, that to me would make the journey worthwhile and would improve the odds of success.

Matt Maxwell said...

Mark, both are goals of mine, but I think the process will be more important than the product for me. I do not have a defined reason to finish as you might think of it. I don't have a dream job, need to make more money, or anything like that. What I do know is that if I wait for "the spirit to move me" I'll be waiting a long time.

I agree that having some overarching goal would be nice, but I have been waiting all my life for that. It hasn't happened. I need to take responsibility for myself.

I think of it much like I think about my racing. I don't race in order to do more races. I do races for themselves. I do now have a goal to do ITI, but I certainly didn't have that in 2006 when I first biked the Arrowhead.

A lot of people talk about how running a marathon or what-have-you changed their lives, but I think where the change happens is in the everyday. In the training. The goal doesn't really matter in the end.

It is the same with school. Yes, a degree is the goal, but the minutia of navigating a bureaucracy, going to class, and doing the assignments are the important parts. That is what will make the difference.

How's that for philosophical dodging and weaving?

MrDaveyGie said...

Good for you Matt. Seems when you set a goal, you set your sights on the target, and stick to it and execute.

mark scotch said...

"How's that for philosophical dodging and weaving?"

I don't see your answer that way. Everyone has the walk their own path.

Matt Maxwell said...

My insecurities got the better of me there. I'm glad you don't see my answer that way. Thank you.