Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Missing School

Often at work, or when people ask me a chemistry question, I realize how much I've forgotten and how much I never knew in the first place. That's the problem with getting a degree; the more you learn the dumber you feel as you find out about more and more that you don't have a clue about. Awesome.

I often get the urge to review my chemistry just to keep it fresh in my mind, and I've never really acted on that urge because I didn't have many of my books from college. It's one of the only things I regret from my college years: selling back my chemistry books. Now, I realize that this was necessary in order to afford the books for the next semester, but I wish I would have found another way, because now I don't have them and I miss them terribly.

But the other day, I was itching to review some chemistry, and I remembered that I am The Queen Of Internet Shopping, and I decided to see if I could find my old books online. I made myself a list of the chemistry courses I had taken (I still remember each course and its course number, yes that's sad) and went down the list, searching online for the book I had for each course. This wasn't easy as I had forgotten which books I had in the first place, so I spent a few hours doing this. But I did it!

The next step was finding the books for sale online. This is why I am in love with Amazon.com. I found all of my books. All of them. The best part? Three of them were under $10 (including shipping) in very good condition from sellers of used books. I went home and checked to see what books I still had, and I had several still, and a few that I didn't have I had some good replacements for (due to inheriting all the books in an old professor's office one time), so I only needed to actually buy five books. So I'm keeping a close eye on Amazon to see if the other two books come down in price. Even if they don't, I will be able to get them for about $20 each, which isn't bad considering they were originally hundreds of dollars. Let me tell you, upper level chemistry books are some of the most expensive textbooks out there.

So I started with my general chemistry book, which I still had. When I was in college I was so busy that I pretty much learned what was going to be on the exams, and there were bits and pieces that I missed because I was strapped for time. This time around, I have all the time in the world, so I am reading each chapter slowly, highlighting and practicing the chapter exercises. I'm in nerd heaven. I remember now why I chose this as my major: it's very interesting, and there are numbers involved, and I love math and I love knowing how things work and interesting applications of different chemical processes.

So the plan is to go through and review, class by class, until I feel I have fully refreshed my memory, and even learned more than I did in the first place.

Now. This has brought all sorts of good memories to the front of my mind, and I am remembering how much I loved school. I've always loved school, since the very first day of kindergarten. Yes, there were times when I was stressed, but I love learning. I love the smell of books, I love buying new school supplies, I love sitting in class and listening and debating and asking questions, I love sitting and doing homework (believe it or not), and I love taking tests, because they are challenges and it's very gratifying to get good scores, which I almost always did (because of loving school so much).

All of this made me want so very badly to go back to grad school.

But one of the things I've realized about myself is that I can't be in school full time and be healthy at the same time. It's too much. I don't handle stress well, and if I don't sleep enough it throws my brain chemicals (and my whole body) into utter chaos. I thought about doing a master's with night classes, just part time, but chemistry is one of the few disciplines that can't really be done at night. There just isn't enough demand for chemistry classes to extend them to night school.

I wouldn't want to quit my job, either. I love my job. It's amazing. It's such a perfect match to me and my needs. Getting a master's would involve time-consuming research, and I would probably have to quit to be able to devote enough time to it.

The other thing to consider is that I wouldn't know where to go. BYU's chemistry department was AMAZING in resources, classes offered, and staff. I loved it there. I didn't like BYU in general, but the chemistry department was always wonderful to me. So, naturally I would want to go there for grad school. However, not only is it an hour and a half drive from my house if there's no traffic, but I couldn't get back in to save my life, since I've become a heathen.

So, my other options would be to go to the U of U or Weber State, which are closer to my house, but not close enough to be convenient, and I don't honestly know much about either chemistry department, except that the U of U was the place where that cold fusion thing took place years and years ago, which didn't make them look too good.

So, basically, it won't happen. It can't happen. And I need to be ok with that.

So I think what I will do is to keep reviewing my books, and then branch out. I learn extremely well from books, and if there's anything I don't understand I can always internet. The internet knows everything; you just have to know how to sort through the garbage to get to the real stuff.


magnolia said...

education is life, i'm starting to realize. i will be done with formal schooling after next year's LL.M. (that'll be 22 total academic years), but i chose a profession where i will be required to learn and study all the time to stay current.

and i totally agree with you on amazon. it's nice that you can use it to find an outlet to study your passion...

by the way, i should tell you sometime about my high-school chemistry teacher, and why, even though i had three years of chemistry in high school, i know absolutely nothing about the subject.

Anna W said...

I would love to hear that story!

magnolia said...

ok. this woman was miss society queen of the universe in my hometown. my tenth-grade year, she was queen of her mardi gras club, which is the END-ALL BE-ALL in her rarefied circle.

so why would someone this posh deign to teach public-school chemistry? well, she actually let it slip to us in the course of chem I that she only taught so that she could afford her maid. she pretty much lost our respect on the spot there. she actually taught us about double replacement reactions (i think that's what they're called, right?) by telling us that the molecules went to the prom and changed dates in the bathroom. GAAH.

we had a guy who was the son of the guidance counselor come in and substitute-teach for us a few times over 10th-12th grade. he was in med school, and i learned more from him in those few days than i ever learned from that crazy woman. sigh...

Anna W said...

Um, wow.

And that's all I have to say about that.

Kim said...

Maybe you'll get what you want out of the books. hopefully that'll quench your thirst.