Tuesday, May 8, 2007

"Don't take the free T-Shirt"... and six other things I learned at Community College

Ti's the season of Graduations. I declare it so after this last Saturday. I attended a graduation party for two high school graduates (twin brothers), a Master's degree graduation party, following by another high school senior's birthday party, and I managed to get my own kids asleep before midnight. Should be a great commencement season.
Today as I was having lunch with a home schooling junior, talking about his future plans, I became reminiscent of my own collegiate experience. After eight plus years of college, I am proud of both my AA in General Education and my BA in Biblical Studies. Yeah I said eight years. Stop laughing. You would think the four years I spent at Bible College would be much more spiritual than my stint at the local California community college, and largely they were, but today I write about being a Tiger. GRRR!

1. Don't take Music Appreciation at 8:00 AM
In fact, if you're anything like me don't schedule any class for this hour. If you absolutely must take an 8 o-clock class... make it a night class. This was my Monday and Wednesday class during my first semester as a full time college student. Just six weeks into the gig I got hired by a big brown package delivery company working part time from 10PM -2PM. This largely didn't affect Mondays because I got weekends off, however, Wednesdays became like Hell on earth. I remember going to take the final on Wednesday, after I'd worked late into that same morning. Here is your exam... It should take all 90 minutes... Listen to the entirety of each piece... write down the title of the work, composer, time period and approximate date. I was asleep before we got to the Baroque period. What I learned in this class was grace, from an awesome professor who had compassion on my circumstance and who allowed me to pass after sleeping through his final.

2. EVERYBODY should take Intro to Education with Mike Barnes
I understand this course might not be offered at your campus. I also understand commuting to Riverside for what I remember being only a one unit class is a waste if you don't already live there. The Good news is Mike Barnes probably exists at your school, just with a different name. Find the teacher that doesn't really look like a teacher, the one that has a reputation for getting off topic yet everyone likes them, the one who intertwines their own life experience into their curriculum and lesson plan, and you've probably found the class you're looking for. If they only teach that class and spend the rest of their time just hang'n out with students you have found them. Mike Barnes taught us real life and I have great respect for teachers, preachers, and mentors who can connect real life to a classroom, sanctuary, or learning type environment. This class taught me to care for people and to measure success by the positive impact I have on those around me.

3. Exceed the recommended "Critical Thinking" requirements.
English 1B, Public Speaking, Philosophy 101, Ethics, Creative Writing, Sociology 101... So I met my "critical thinking requirement" six times. These were some of my favorite classes. Learning how to think critically, to establish an argument, and acknowledge truth have been valuable tools on my journey to find truth and share it with others. Never stop learning.

4. Some Things you can only learn from Inky, Pinky, Blinky, and Sue
One of the saddest days of my life was showing another pastor around RCC and discovering all video games had been removed from the Tiger's den. I can't tell you how many quarters I deposited into the Ms Pac Man machine or how many classes I missed trying to get past "Act - 3 Junior". Ms Pac Man taught me the importance of taking a Sabbath, the importance of taking a break and finding rest. She also taught me the meaning of Irony. Ms... Man? All video game heroines and so called story games are forever indebted to 1981's finest.

5. Biology is required so take dirty thirty
Sometimes you learn just as much by what you don't do. I took Biology ** Human Genetics. Which was a way interesting class, my first exposure to tourette's syndrome. Not just in the book but a student in the class. I don't want to in anyway make light of someone else's challenges but this student always did fine until the professor assigned homework and then she would cuss him out. As interesting as this was, all my friends took Biology 30 Human Sexuality, and I'm pretty sure they had more fun. Somethings just can't be avoided. They must be talked about. While I'm thinking about it... Check out God. Sex. by Rob Bell.

6. Don't take the free T-shirt
I'm not sure how much money it costs to set up shop in the quad of a community college, but I'm sure I've paid that much by now. When I wasn't playing Ms Pac Man or sleeping through Beethoven's 5th, I would often buy some $5 Oakey's or $20 NIKEY's from the swap meet tent in the middle of campus. I liked it when the Mt. Dew Hummer was there and when Old Spice was giving out "High Endurance" samples. My only regret is stopping at the Citi Bank Table for that free T-shirt. I don't know who thinks it's a good idea to give credit to teenagers, with no jobs, who live at home, and are already taking out college loans even though tuition was only $12 a unit ( I know, I'm old) but I fell for it. That T-shirt has long been history, even after a long life of Class wear, work shirt, sleep shirt, car wash rag, and garage oil spot coverer. But ten years later, I still owe them money. Use credit sparingly and wisely.

7. I should have walked.
Ok Ok, so I have more than one regret. I did not attend my graduation ceremony. Four years to finish what I should of done in two, is that really worth celebrating? I mean I didn't want anyone to think I was finishing with just an AA. If it was free, I might have, but $40! Do you know how many whoppers that would have bought!?! Celebrate the victories no matter how big or small.

I know most of you have learned these things already, but for all my youth ministry homies, feel free to share these thoughts with your students who are graduating. Maybe one day it'll be a book with chapters or maybe just a column with pictures, but today it's only a blog post. Anyone want a signed copy?

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