01 May, 2013

Summer and Fall Switch-Up

Six Classes.

I have six classes to go until I finally have my Bachelor of Arts degree.

I'm feeling particularly good about school right now.  After nailing my final papers in both classes (which means a 90% in the hard-grader-from-Hell Business Writing class and a 100% in the easier-than-it-should-have-been Staffing & Training in Organizations class), I finished this semester with an A- and an A.  These grades, averaged with the B and A- from last semester, qualify me for Dean's List.

Dean's List Again?  Again.  Who IS this academic wonder?

Unfortunately, my plans for "suicide summer" have fallen through.  It turns out student loans have an annual cap, and I already hit it. 

And so, I took my half of the tax return and registered for one (debt-free) class.  And then I realized I would be getting my tuition reimbursed for both classes this semester, so I registered for another summer class.  I'll be paying for that one once I get my money.

Strangely enough, neither of the two classes I'm now registered for in the summer were on my original summer class list.  I decided to take one of the classes I was dreading during the summer when I would be able to devote all of my attention to it.  It's my writing-intensive class, LER 458Y: History of Work in America, and the sample syllabus indicates it is also research-heavy.  Oh, and compressed into a semester that's 1/4 shorter.  (it seemed a good idea when I was only taking one class. now it seems like a good brain stretcher!)

On top of that, I added LER 401: The Law of Labor-Management Relations.   I chose this class for two reasons: I've always loved law classes, and if I decide to go for my Master's through Penn State this class also counts toward that program (as did the Training class this semester, and as does LER 444 below).

Two classes scheduled, four to go!

I have flip-flopped my Summer and Fall schedules at least three times now, but I'm fairly confident that my Fall schedule is going to stick.  I decided to take a whopping three classes, mostly because I know I can:

LER 136: Race, Gender and Employment - This is a degree requirement with three required textbooks (WHY can't they just pick one?).  Also, almost half of the grade is tied up in group work.  Since this is 100-level, I'm assuming it's going to be a weed-out class and needlessly difficult.

LER 444: Occupational Health: Policy and Practice - A lot of my current job revolves around OSHA regulations, so this felt like a natural fit for me.  This one should also qualify for tuition reimbursement. 

ASIA 100: What is Asia? - Yep, totally serious on this one.  Compared to my other options to meet the "other cultures" BA requirement, this looks like the most interesting class.

So, between Summer and Fall, I have five of my six graduation requirements scheduled.  The only other graduation requirement I'll have in Spring will be LER 312: Research Methods in Labor Studies and Employment Relations.  I don't really know why I'm putting this one off, but I know I am dreading it.  It's four credits (most classes are three), and the sample syllabus actually contains the following text: "This may end up being one of the toughest courses you take, but you will end up with a finished product that you can give to employers and graduate admissions committees as a writing sample. Good luck."

So if Summer and Fall kick my ass, I'll take it easy in the Spring and just take that one class.  However, my plan right now is to find another interesting course to round out my schedule.  Whether that ends up being a fluff class in or out of my major (shame they don't offer underwater basket weaving online...) or another class that doubles for a future Master's program is very much up in the air.

So what's with the Master's talk?  Well, I started looking at the money to be made in HR.  Sure, the purpose of the degree was so that I could move up in my current organization and stay focused on training, but I've seen what my organization pays its front-line managers.  I also learned an awful lot about recruiting and staffing in the class this semester and I realized that HR has a lot of interesting components.  Combined with my HR-ish years of experience in my current position, a Master's makes it much more likely that I move up quickly.  Part of me wonders whether an extra $25,000 investment will pay itself off, and part of me even wonders whether I could be accepted into this program, but I know I've been banging my head against the "no degree" ceiling for the past 13 years and I don't want to bang into the "no Master's" ceiling in another 3-5.

As soon as I graduate, I'm also going to get signed up to take the PHR certification.  In addition to finally being one of those people with letters behind their name, I've noticed that a lot of employers prefer that you be certified even for HR Generalist positions.  It would be best to take the test before all of my undergrad learning bleeds out, since only a small portion revolves around training.

...and so, now we are all caught up on the minutiae of Jamie's Academic Progress.  Any questions?

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