Non-Trad Speaks

This week I started to look at the courses that would be offered in the fall of 2007. I always get stressed when it comes time to select courses. I worry that the courses I need will be filled, or they won’t fit into my master schedule. All the non-traditional students out there know what I mean.The classes we chose must be scheduled around our jobs, our families, and our community commitments. Add to all of that, I live 70 miles away and travel time must be part of my time equation. What I would not do for just two more hours in a day. But since that is not a possibility I guess I will just have to make do.

This semester I was lucky to put a master schedule together that worked. Monday I attend classes from 10-6:50. Tuesday I cut hair from 9-5:30. Wednesday my classes are scheduled 10-2. Thursday I work from noon-7. Friday I only have two classes, the first one is at 11, and the second one is at 1. I drive back to Saxtons River and work from 4-7.

Saturday I work 8-12:30. My husband and I then travel to whatever hockey rink of softball field my daughter and her team are playing at. Sundays are reserved for church, homework, and a nice family dinner.

Looking forward to the schedule for next fall, I am trying to find Chemistry 1, Physics 1, Physiology of Exercise, and a World Views class. Unfortunately, the Physiology for Exercise class is the problem. It is only offered on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I could take it in the summer but that would require me to take all of my vacation time and then some.

Scheduling classes is an especially troubling exercise for the non-trad student population. Most of us have limited time and limited funds. We do not have the luxury of taking a class that does not fulfill an educational frame. While many of us would like to take a class just for fun we cannot be that frivolous. We need to finish our degrees in the shortest amount of time possible.

Another limitation that arises around the issue of time is that most of us cannot take more than four classes per semester. We count on taking summer classes to make up for the credit shortfall. Castleton’s summer classes are intense four-week blocks that are totally out of the question for me. I must look outside of Castleton to accomplish my summer credit goals.

This creates another problem. I have been told if the numbers of the courses do not coincide with Castleton’s course catalog numbers they will not be accepted. I have had to search the web for courses offered through other Vermont institutions. Community College of Vermont has a number of choices online and on site. None of these are upper level courses, but they will fill the worldviews requirement.

Microbiology is offered but the question I have not had answered yet is if Castleton will accept the hybrid (online and lab time) class. If they do I could take a hybrid from CCV in White River Junction. A sociology class that is being offered in Rutland might fit into my program. The Springfield and Brattleboro CCV sites are also within my one-hour acceptable driving radius. Johnson State has posted some online classes that may be accepted also.

It is all so complicated. I will meet with my advisor and hopefully get all the answers to all of my questions, but I doubt it will be that easy.

My experience at Castleton up to this point has been that there does not seem to be anyone who can give me all of the answers. I always seem to be standing in the wrong line.

There appears to be different departments for individual questions. When I ask a question I am referred to another office or another person. I always wonder if it is because everyone is tiptoeing around, afraid to step on someone else’s job description even when he or she may very well know the answer, or do they really not knows the answer. Would it not be nice to have one department, or one place the non-trads could go to get all the answers that we seek? Have we not grown to be a large enough group to consider having our own non-trad coordinator, association, committee, or advocate that would take our issues to the powers that be?

Maybe I am the only one with these issues. I wonder, do you have any of these problems? Do you have any ideas on how to deal with them? If so, e-mail me at susan.hernandez@castleton.edu and share your thoughts with me. Maybe together we can find the answers.