The rock and hard place

Last week I started my final journey to finishing up my bachelors degree. My first class through WSU Global Online began. Friday I graduated with my AA degree, that’s one more step finished (though I still have one more class to take that starts Monday, thanks to a very long and complicated saga involving a less-than-proper professor). It’s the beginning of week two of my WSU class, and, I’m not enjoying it. It’s not the accelerated pace (summer classes cram a semester of work into six little weeks), though that’s not exactly fun either, it’s more that through the entire course there isn’t a single powerpoint, lecture note, or audio from the professor. Not. One.

This really bothers me.

I’ve taken 6 online classes before this one. Each and every class has had either powerpoint lectures or audio lectures. This is the best way to learn (for me). My current class the teacher (I won’t say professor as he’s a PhD student, which for $1560 a class, I wasn’t super happy about that) simply assigned us six books to read, discussion questions and essay assignments. There is no other interaction other than a whole lot of people asking why nothing links correctly or why there are multiple assignments in multiple areas and everything’s a bit confusing.

But zero lectures. This is not what I was expecting. I tried multiple ways to find out if this is how all the classes are, and the only two items I could find, both non-favorable reviews, said there are no lectures for the online classes. I sent my advisor an email and asked if this is the standard format for online classes through the university. She says it varies but the situation I described is typical.

So we arrive at the crossroads part of the story.

After researching UW Bothell (38 minute drive without traffic which would probably make it like 60 minutes depending on the time of day), there are some classes I can take there if I need an in-person format. UW also does an Bachelor of Arts in Integrated Social Sciences degree. All online. All with recorded video lectures. I attended an online webinar for the program today and while it’s not exactly the same degree as the WSU humanities, it’s similar, and across most of the platforms (which they call themes) and more socially related than straight history. Which I like but don’t necessarily completely love. It would certainly given me a more varied skill set though.

What to do? They are still accepting applications for autumn, which are due July 1 (including a 1000 word personal essay, which lets face it, would take me about an hour to write). Spaces are available, though it is a limited program. They currently only have 360 students.

Do I switch after investing in the WSU program, and put my one class at WSU towards the UW degree? Or stay at WSU and deal with the non-lecture classes (which honestly does not make me feel really excited to continue). I have six days to come to a decision about what to do.

Do I stay a Cougar or become a Dawg?

Could you say no?

Today on Facebook, that axis of a time-suck, a friend of mine posted the fantastic news that her daughter got into University of Notre Dame. She is a wonderful young woman, and it is truly an amazing accomplishment. Any parent would be off their head proud of a child like that.

Heck, I’ve only met her a few times and I feel proud of her! She’s an accomplished athlete, and an honor student, and a great person to boot.

I took a moment and thought about what that would be like, to have my own child reach such an amazing goal. It was a good moment…until I thought about how much that has to be costing. Even if she received scholarships (which I’m sure she did for athletics or academics, or likely both), I looked up the tuition.

Flabbergasted is one word that comes to mind.

Tuition, room & board, fees, books, etc. clocks in at $62,461 for one year at (non-ivy league) University of Notre Dame. I don’t even know how you go about paying for one year let alone paying for 4 (provided she doesn’t pick a 5 year program, or worse pre-med or law).

But how on earth could you tell your child no? Sure, you could tell them they can’t even apply to such a costly school, but that feels like you’d be a crusher of their soul. I know this family has a history with UND (I can’t remember if one of her parents went there but they are huge UND people). So I imagine they knew exactly what they were getting into.

My son doesn’t quite have UND dreams (at least not yet, he’s only in the 8th grade, but we did attend the high school college fair in October…that was eye-opening). I think, as he’s already said, he’d want to stay closer to home (which as of a few months from now will be in England for the next two years, and who knows beyond that?) He thinks he wants to go into engineering, probably mechanical or something. There are so many different types I can’t even name them all. But he is heavily interested in science and math, and thankfully, excels at both.

If he came to me and said he wanted to go to an aeronautical school for example (one of the brochures we picked up at the school fair), or MIT, that’s an exceptionally large chunk of change he would need for his education. And could I tell him no?

Probably not. I don’t know how we would pay for it (and I would say we are upper middle class), but even I balk at $50,000 a year for college. That’s like buying a BMW 5 series every year for 4 years, or a vacation home. It’s a hard task being a parent when you have a child who is definitely going to have dreams. But looking at the picture my friend posted of her daughter holding her acceptance packet from UND, how on earth could a parent deny a child that kind of excitement, accomplishment, and one-of-a-kind moment?

I know I’ll be smiling right along with my child when the moment comes, even if my mind is swimming with how on earth to pay for it.