Greetings, Professor Falken: Returning To The Classroom Yet Again

“Oh, back to school, back to school, to prove to dad that I’m not a fool. I’ve got my lunch packed up, my boots tied tight, I hope I don’t get in a fight.” – Billy Madison


At this point, I am not even close to being able to remember all of the college courses I’ve taken much less the certificates, seminars, webinars, and whatever other made-up-terms people have for continuing education.

I have a bachelor’s degree in education, a master’s degree in education, a graduate certificate in Jewish education, a certificate in non-profit management, and I think I am three courses shy of a master’s degree in Jewish Studies. I have random credit hours in business and human resources, and I had my Series 7 and life insurance licenses as a stock broker. I’ve taken continuing education classes in a variety of topics, including watercolor painting, horticulture, and breastfeeding.

I consider myself a lifelong student, and I’d wish that for everyone.

I’m back in school again.

I think this is what I was supposed to do with my life, but the universe had other plans. The summer before 4th grade, I was enrolled in a computer programming course. We learned BASIC and Logo and lots of if-then statements. In 4th-6th grade we continued doing some easy programming in BASIC. My uncle, who is only two years older than me, did all sorts of neat stuff on his Commodore 64. He eventually got a Commodore 128, which was the shit.

And, then, we moved, and my junior high didn’t focus on computer programming. Neither did my high school. I wasn’t a math geek in high school or college, and the REAL computer scientists go to NC State and not Carolina. UNC is the home of the sociology/English/political science PhD grad who ends up with a job waiting tables. Let’s just say that I changed majors from biology to religion and history to physical geography, and thankfully, I finally ended up with a degree in education. At least an education major gets you a job.

What the fuck does a B.A. in sociology get you?

I am all for learning for the sake of learning, but dear lord, when it comes to a DEGREE that ends up costing most people tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars, I think we need to encourage practicality. Degrees often have nothing to do with jobs that pay the bills. I’ve been a teacher, a stockbroker, a recruiter, an AmeriCorps program director, an adjunct college instructor, a weightlifting coach, and a gym owner. Throw in part-time and second jobs, and I’ve been a hostess, a server, a cashier, a singing cocktail waitress at Rum Runners, an SAT prep instructor, a nanny, and a bookstore employee. I may be forgetting a few jobs, honestly.

Computers were one of the few things that I enjoyed as a child that I never pursued in a serious way as an adult. So, computer science it is. 30 years after my initial foray into the world of programming, I am back. I’m starting with C++, and I’m keeping the door wide open after that.

Nah, I am not doing it because it’s practical, but I’m also not plunking down fifty grand for another degree. I’m doing it because it’s fun and cool. Plus, I need to step up my game if I want to make a run for biggest nerd at the gym.

Joshua: “Shall we play a game?”

David: “How about Global Thermonuclear War?”

Hmmm. Maybe I should just learn how to write a simple game of chess.

Author: Tamara Reynolds

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  1. That’s awesome! I’ve been considering going back to school in some sense for programming or web development lately myself. Where are you taking classes?

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    • The class I just started is through the community ed department at Asheville Buncombe Technical Community College. They have a considerable number of computer science classes. UNC-Asheville has some as well, but unless I actually want another degree, I can’t see why I would pay more to take classes there at the moment.

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