Saturday, September 2, 2017

My Higher Education, part 2

Continued from Yesterday.

No Longer a Cop
            After law enforcement, I went back to working at the bookstore part time while studying for the LSAT.  All that time hoping that my experience as a cop would translate well to law school (it didn’t) and ultimately, I did take the test.
            I say this with no hyperbole, the hardest part of the LSAT test was writing the honor code out by hand in cursive, which is required.  I had not written anything in cursive in my adult life.  In fact, my hand writing is all capital letters in block type so that it can be read with ease by anyone.  Cursive is one of my personal bugbears and I see it as a blight on education, a tremendous waste of time that has zero value.  My hand cramped, I couldn’t actually finish writing the damn thing with any legibility, and I was the last person to finish the task, holding up the room.
            I took the LSAT, and did fine, well enough to later be accepted to Law School.  This is a fun little turn of fate because it is another test I barely studied for.  I bought a test booklet with 400 questions, I did 40 in total, spending about 3 hours overall pondering the questions and looking over the answers.  The rest of the time I played Sudoku and read science fiction novels.
            I later dropped out of Law School after spending a year there.  It was an expensive way to figure out that I was not destined to spend my life filling out paperwork with really tight and precise use of commas and quoting other people’s arguments.  I am getting ahead of myself.

Grad School
            Rather than apply to Law School first I wanted to pursue a regular Master’s degree.  Ultimately, my goal was to go abroad with some kind of charity or NGO.  I looked into the International Affairs programs around the state, first at Florida International and then at Florida State.  What was the tipping point for the one I focused on and eventually attended?  The application process for FSU was easier.
            When I entered the program, I did a poor job of managing my time, I was still working part time at a bookstore, a decision I look back on as a waste of time, and I did not prioritize getting the most difficult aspect of the degree done (for me that is the foreign language portion, that might not be an issue for you, but it is for me).
            I got the opportunity to study abroad in Turkey (which used up all of my savings from being a cop), and was sold on doing Urban and Regional Planning as a joint program.  The Planning tie-in provided what I was really looking for with International Affairs via a Peace Corp program which would have taken me abroad to work on development projects.  Again, I did not manage my time and priorities well as I did not commit to the idea completely and just dipped my toe in.
            My second year of Graduate school, after returning from studying in Turkey I was miserable.  I felt like I was going in a dozen directions, I was anxious, and I was obnoxious.  I almost immediately wanted to bail out on Planning and again tried to go on a new more focused direction, I applied to Law School and jumped in.

Law School
            Law School was paradoxically one of the more rewarding parts of my life in that I met a lot of good friends, so much so that I feel their association with me elevates my reputation while they are taking a bit of a ding to theirs.  But, aside from those friends I was awful at Law School.  This might be my own personal philosophy getting in the way but I often disagreed with the logical founding of many Supreme Court cases, and I often became rankled by the focus on cases rather than focusing on the laws themselves.
            To me, logic is an absolute, case law seems to take to its core that you have to back up your own logic with the opinions of other more important and credible people otherwise your logical founding is not right.  I see this as a logical fallacy called, “argument from authority”.  This is more than likely a distortion of what Case Law is.  Obviously, I did not grasp the concept.  I left Law School after year one, once more taking on an entirely new direction.

            I entered the Political Science Department. Couple floors up from Planning, couple more from International Affairs and entered into the first program that I could get my head around completely and managed to commit to.  Master’s in Applied American Politics and Policy.  Research political opponents, research how to message to constituents, research people you want to ask for money, and then build a message.
            It is a cynical, practical, and functional use of political science.  It is one that I managed to get a hold one.  It is the first Master’s Degree I completed and I was done after 15 months of taking every class I could fit and going to an internship which showed me several levels of field work in a campaign.  The internship by itself could fill several blogs with interesting material and I would go so far as to say it would make an interesting TV show.
            Completing this degree was my first real accomplishment as an adult.  An adulthood that was previously rudderless and full of fail.  This kind of turned things.

Returning to Planning and International Affairs
            I was able to go back to Planning and International Affairs.  I did so initially to pad my schedule while finishing my MAAPP degree but then came to realize how little course work I needed to do to actually complete the degrees.  Fun fact, you have seven years to finish a program, at this point I was half way thru year 5 and was 90% done with one degree and 80% done with the other.
            I took aim at the Peace Corp program again but as luck would have it ISIS was in full swing and many programs in Morocco and the Philippines and anywhere that had a Muslim population became dicey.  I was aiming for Albania, but with the number of positions shrinking, there were more qualified applicants than there were open positions and I was not chosen.  I do see this as a missed opportunity in my life, I know that having multiple years of practical experience tied into my graduation would have been immensely useful, but things happen.
            I decided to keep hammering here at home.  I committed to foreign language courses; took the lab/studio/final project that would have been replaced by the Peace Corp but now was back on the table; took all the required classes that would have been replaced by the Peace Corp; and gained 40 pounds in 5 months, turning into a slug of a human being from stress.
            I actually did not pass a foreign language class and had that hanging over my head for too long as it became the LAST CLASS needed for me to get all my degrees.  But before that I needed an internship (another thing that would have been replaced by the Peace Corp) so I started to apply.

Continued again in a third part tomorrow.

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