Things are getting real

Back in college!

After years of playing at being a student through online courses, I’m now an actual student, taking a 3-unit college course online at San Diego City College. In fact, today I went to the campus to get a student ID card, which I’ll need to get student rates on some of the shows I’ll be required to attend, and, for that matter, to use the library and other facilities. Yes, I’m now a card-carrying college student!

There’s something about being on a college campus that feels like home. I love being in a place built for higher learning. It’s a magical thing, and I appreciate it more because it’s been so long since I’ve felt it.

Granted, City College is a far cry from some of the universities offering literature and history courses on FutureLearn and EdX. But, unlike those classes, this one is not self-paced. There are deadlines, and assignments and tests and grades. It’s intense, a 16-week course crammed into eight weeks. And, it cost real money up front to enroll.

It’s also not entirely online; there are two local plays we’re required to see. I was thrilled that Sweat is one of the options, because I’ve wanted to see it since receiving the mailer from San Diego Rep. The last play we saw at the Lyceum was Fun Home, which I’d meant to post about here but didn’t.

This was the first week of class, so the workload may have been designed to ease us in: just online introductions all around, watching some videos, reading three chapters of the textbook and all of The Glass Menagerie, followed by posting a short response to the play text. Still, it’s the first thing I’ve written for a letter grade in 30+ years.

There seem to be fewer than 30 students enrolled in the online version of this class, so activity on the discussion board seems pretty minimal. For someone used to interacting in a MOOC with thousands of learners worldwide, the level of back-and-forth conversation is pretty sparse. But, I’ve been very impressed with my fellow students’ thoughtfulness and insights, and – as with MOOCs – I think I’ll learn a lot from them as well as from the course content.

One funny on-campus interaction came when I walked over to the theatre. A woman asked if I was there for the Tudor fair! Wow! My heart leaped and I said no but I was sure interested, and asked for more details. It turned out to be a tutor fair, for on-campus tutoring services. Rats. We college students are so misunderstood.

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