This is such a strange time for me. Well, “surreal” would be a good word.
I am wrapping up my undergraduate education. I received my last shipment of textbooks from school this week, considering I tripled my classes again. You may recall that I tripled last session with the plan of doing it again this session, all to finish in time to start grad school. The idea of making me wait was to ensure the course load wasn’t too much for me. It wasn’t and I got straight A’s again. If I pull it off this session as well, I will honestly be able to say that I have not gotten a B at all. And I will have completed my BBA that way.
Hmm. Completing my BBA. Let me talk to you about my higher education. I was the first one to go to college straight from high school in my family. I was supposed to do great things. I had been in the gifted classes all through my education, and was contemplating pre-medicine as my major. The problem was that I played classical flute for years and years, and I was good. My second choice was a music major. My mother helped me make the decision, stating that medical school was for the wealthy. Full financial aid was not a likelihood back then as much as it is now. So I went with music. And where I was good, that was the biggest blow to my ego. Because they were all good. I was one of the worst of the really good ones, and even I knew that to create a career in music, you really have to be the best. That was immaterial, because I didn’t finish. Mom was at home, dying. I was treated for a horrible deep depression. The classes that were to be so easy ended up being the greatest challenge just to show up. When mom finally died, it was just too much and I dropped out.This gave my brothers and sisters in my dysfunctional family even more reason to gloat: Andi, the smart one, couldn’t cut it.
Years later, John talked me into respiratory school. I needed a job that would pay what we needed. Suddenly, I was in the medical environment that I was fascinated with as a teen. And when it came to the advanced chemistries and physics, I still had it. I took to it like peanut butter to jelly. Maybe I had made a mistake listening to my mom from the beginning. Maybe medicine is where I belonged all along. So I took as many courses as I could, finished the respiratory degree–it’s just an associate degree–with twice the number of credits I needed to graduate, all because I knew that I wanted to go further. But life and bills got in the way, and my plans to immediately finish a premed degree fell through with the obstacles I encountered. It took several years before I got to the point where I could enroll. And I did. I was chugging along as a premed/ molecular biology major, prepping for my MCAT and working on med school applications when I got pregnant with Zach and bedrest happened.
So after all of this education I have had, I still do not have a bachelor’s degree. I am one educated bitch, in everything from music to the sciences to business, but no baccalaureate degree. That is all changing in about 6 weeks. It seems so strange to be getting a business degree, though. I never dreamed that this is where my life would take me. I would have never thought I would have an aptitude for this field. Honestly, I never thought I would love it. And I honestly thought I would never finish anything higher than my respiratory degree. For some reason, everything I tried has fallen through, and I thought someone was trying to tell me something. Of course this disbelief is compounded by the fact that I will not be donning a cap and gown. Since I completed it in an online program, graduation is across the country at the actual school, and I will not be traveling just for that.
Where I should be excited about finishing the degree, I am anxious. Five days after the end of these next classes, I start B-School. And I am seriously questioning my ability. I do really well at the role of big fish in a small pond. The times I have played the role of small fish in a big pond, something has happened to make me choke on the damned pond water. And I suspect that, even though I am going to a smaller, more elite private university, I am going to be the small fish. I’m afraid that I am the admissions mistake. You know what I’m talking about. The one, every year, that they let in by some fluke or flaw in their system of evaluating applicants. The one that really shouldn’t be there. I have so many questions, so many doubts.
Yeah, I produced the resume they loved. I’m the diversity factor. A woman. Coming from healthcare, not a business field. My application was amongst those of investment bankers and area business leaders, or simply new twenty-something college students fresh from the dorms and delaying the inevitable of going to find work by starting grad school immediately. So I can picture them going through the stack and thinking, “Hmmm. Respiratory Therapist? With an undergrad business degree?” Bizarre, yes. Then my transcripts. My 4.0, immaculate transcripts, with perfect grades in anything from music performance to human genetics. Psychology and Cardiopulmonary Anatomy and Physiology. Organic Chemistry and Corporate Fucking Finance. A’s. All of that shit. Well, you can think that this is one area in which you cannot argue. That was my point in sweating my grades so much through all of this. My grades will never limit me. I ensured that. But I have developed my own doubts. What if those grades are from schools that are too shitty to count? I have mastered the art of being a student, but other than Corporate Fucking Finance, none of it has really been a challenge. Well, maybe O.chem was, just because I hated the class, and now it doesn’t even matter that I did it. My point is, what if my GPA isn’t an indicator of my abilities at all, but an indicator of how easy the classes were?
What if I don’t belong there? What if I choke? What if I manage to navigate successfully and then there is no place in this world for a respiratory therapist with an MBA from a nationally ranked program? Then I am left with the most expensive piece of paper in the history of paper-making.
I guess I could have saved you the time you have spent in reading this by saying two simple words: I’m scared.
I don’t want to be the admissions mistake.