I took a final exam today - just like my oldest daughter. Feels kinda strange to say - but we're both on winter break! And it feels pretty good!
I've been chipping away at a master's degree in integrated resource management via an online program from Colorado State University for almost two years. Lara, on the other hand, is completing her first semester at Montana State University in Bozeman. She's flying home tonight for the Christmas holidays; I drove home from my my office. For the next three-and-a-half weeks, I'll only have to work and take care of sheep; maybe I can get Lara to help me with the latter!
Earlier this week, I learned that my major professor will accept a research paper I did for one of my classes this term as satisfying the requirement for completing a professional paper. Upon completing this morning's final, I'm just two classes and 6 units away from having my master's degree. Wahoo!
As I reflect on going back to school in my extremely mid-forties, I've realized that in some ways, I'm still the same kind of student I was in my early twenties. In other ways, however, I've changed immensely. When I was first in school (at UC Davis in the late 1980s) I was driven to get good grades. Exams, for me, were like an athletic contest - I wanted to win (actually, I wanted to kick ass)! Today, my competitive drive is tempered by the knowledge that exam results do not necessarily equate to knowledge. In other words, I put slightly less pressure on myself.
I've also found that I have a much more sensitive bullshit meter than I had as a younger person. When I was 20, I figured that my professors probably knew more than I did. Now that I'm almost 50, I'm not so certain about this. Most of my classes at Colorado State have been outstanding; one or two have been dreadful. Perhaps the biggest change in my perspective, however, has been the fact that the dreadful classes don't bother me as much as they would have when I was 20!
Finally, tonight I'm celebrating the end of the semester much like I would have during my first round of college - I'm having a beer! Cheers!