When I was twenty, I returned to college.  I took a semester off when Tomcat was born and transferred my credits from Wartburg to a community college a little closer to home.  I was no longer working toward a bachelor’s degree in creative writing, but at least I was still working toward a degree.  As one of my floormates from Wartburg put it, a degree is a degree is a degree.  While it may not be the one I wanted, it’s better than no degree at all.

During my time at MCC, I was selected for their honors program, which left me speechless and flattered (okay, not truly speechless – that’s only happened once, but definitely shocked).  In order to obtain my degree with honors, I had to take several honors classes and attend a certain number of honors seminars, one of which was mentioned here.  I took honors art appreciation, honors music appreciation, and honors American Indian history.  It was either that or honors computer applications.  I thought history would be easier than computer, but I was wrong.

The professor I had for American Indian history should have been teaching in a prestigious university somewhere, not a community college in the middle of nowhere.  When my classmates found out I was taking the course for honors credit, they stared at me like they were trying to figure out where my straitjacket was.  By the end of the first week, I understood why – I was so buried in homework for this one class that I wondered how in the world I would ever accomplish everything I needed to do that semester.  Somehow, I did it.  The day of finals, I was working on homework right up until I went into the good doctor’s classroom, but I did it.

When asked by a friend at graduation what I learned in my time at MCC, I quipped, “Never take one of Dr. Colbert’s classes for honors!”  But I learned so much in his class that I don’t think I would have learned otherwise because I pushed myself harder than anyone else in that room.  While the rest of my classmates only had to read about half of the suggested readings he listed in the syllabus that were on reserve in the library, I had to read them all.  I had to do extra article write-ups and oral exams in addition to written ones.  I learned again that you can almost always do more than you think you are capable of, but you will never know it until you are forced to try.

Of all the lessons I learned in college, that is the one that I will remember the longest, for it is the one that has had the most impact on my life.  It is a lesson I have learned and needed to learn many times over the course of my life, and it is a lesson I suspect I will continue to learn as I grow and change.

I hate change, but without it, life stagnates.  As I continue trying to make my way through this world with my sanity intact, I have a feeling this post will come back to haunt me.  Somehow, I’m sure it will all be for the best as it will remind me of things I would rather not think about.

(c) 2012.  All rights reserved.


2 thoughts on “Twenty

  1. mezzsays says:

    I think that whole story is awesome. And I understand what you mean. The most challenging class isn’t always the one that causes you the most problems or makes you hate school the most. My most challenging class was Old English and Old English Beowulf (a language class) but it’s probably my most favorite class I took as an undergraduate. I was buried in homework but the whole experience was just amazing.


    • Kay Kauffman says:

      And American Indian history was one of my favorite classes that I took at MCC. I mean, it had some stiff competition from the art and music classes, but I think I learned much more than the rest of my class because I just had to. And it was really interesting stuff! I suppose it doesn’t hurt that I love history and I could see myself majoring in that, too, as well as English and music and languages, if only I had the money to be a professional student. 😀

      I read a while back in one of the newsletters the college sends out that Dr. Colbert was finally retiring and I was saddened by that news. I felt the same way when I heard that Mrs. Hild had retired. They’re two of those teachers you may not always like the most, but you learn so much from them and not always about the subject they’re being paid to teach you. Mrs. Hild gave me some of the best writing advice I’ve ever received, despite the fact that I’ve probably forgotten most of the math stuff she tried to pound into my head for three years. If I ever get a book published, I’ll be sending her an autographed copy as soon as I can get my hands on one.


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