So since I received that email stating I wouldn’t be accepted into UofH, I’ve been doing a bit of soul searching. While the initial response was all doom and gloom, I think there may be some options for me at the end of the tunnel.
The first option I have is to still apply to UH but as an undeclared undergraduate. From this step, I am faced with another decision: do I beg the Dean of Engineering at UH to accept me despite my grade point deficiencies? With my recent string of high grades, as well as mass improvements in several classes, I might have a shot at being admitted as a probationary engineering student, but only if the dean is feeling particularly charitable that day. This strategy really doesn’t carry much risk. If I get accepted into engineering I win, if I am rejected again, other than a bad taste in my mouth, I’m no further down the ladder than I was. If anything, at least I’m in a university.
If, for some reason, I decide that it’s not worth it to plead to the dean or even if I’m rejected, I’m left with at least two backup majors that interest me. The first backup major probably makes the most sense, construction technology (CT). CT is a major that covers most of what I actually want to do with my Civil Engineering major, but it lacks the technical background that would open more doors for advancement and diversify me as an employee. Civil engineering obviously makes me more versatile, not only as a commercial construction manager, but also as a general contractor who deals with engineers and architects quite often. CT would teach me the business side, but it lacks several key parts of the actual structure. That is really the part I’m most interested in, and losing that would be regrettable.
My second backup major is a much more drastic change. Having covered the Michigan baseball team on the blog(s) over the last season, I’ve become slightly interested in sports information. For those of you not familiar with it, sports information is a department of the athletic departments of universities, or the marketing/media relations of professional teams. I’ve had several positive experiences with the associate sports information director for baseball this previous season, and I really find his job to be fascinating. Not only is he working with sports, but he’s also doing it with a flair of journalism. I’ve found myself entrenched in journalism and media news over the last year. After sports, journalism discussing journalism is often the next thing I read every day. Probably one of the more important aspects of it are the limited number of semester hours I’d have to put forward towards it. To get the degree, I’d have to take about the same number of credits as I need for my engineering degree.
So while this sports information (communication) backup major is a possibility that sounds enjoyable, I’m somewhat cautious about jumping at it. It’s a pretty drastic change from what I’ve been engaged in before, and I’m worried that it might just be a phase I’m going through. The pros sound good now, but I think it is definitely in the back seat for now.
My second initial option is something that I’ve begun to mull over more and more of late. There is a decent chance that Michigan could reinstate me as a student in the College of Engineering (COE). I’ve taken the initial steps already to find out what this would take, and the returns have been mixed. While I’ve run into little problem with the Scholastic Standing Committee (SSC) and my previous adviser, I’m not sure how the Civil Engineering Department will receive me.
The way the reinstatement process works is that my advisers, the department I’d be enrolled in, and the SSC all have to agree that I’m ready to attend, and they set up a list of rules and goals that I must achieve during my semester I return. If I consent to those rules, they will admit me back in under probation. I’d be limited to 12 hours, couldn’t score below a B-, and required to attend a certain number of hours of advising/mentoring every month. The good news is one semester of probation would be enough to raise my GPA out of the probationary status. So things could be good there.
Option B – Problems
One of the problems I see is that all the classes I’ve taken while away from Michigan won’t help my GPA, and many won’t transfer at all. Of the classes I took the last two semesters, none will count towards my degree at UM. They will count as electives only. Of the classes I plan on taking this semester, I doubt any will count either. I’m hoping that perhaps my taking differential equations might, but that’s only because I made a D in it the first time I took it at UM, therefore earning me credit in the class. If I take it this semester and get a better grade (one that would count for prerequisites), I’m not sure that it will count. I’m planning on calling tomorrow to make sure.
Another major con would be the cost. Michigan isn’t cheap. The out-of-state tuition rates are $37,389. That’s just TUITION. That doesn’t include room and board, books, or other costs of living. The estimated costs according to the financial aid department is $49,451. That’s steep. I’m sure I’d receive a little bit of financial aid, but I’m already behind the curve there. I need to adjust my FAFSA asap.
Also, when it comes to backups, I’ve got nothing at Michigan. If I don’t get this Civil Engineering degree, any more time I spend at Michigan is a waste of tens of thousands of dollars. Not having a backup frightens me pretty badly.
Option B – Am I Ready of It?
After getting past those initial pros and cons, I’ve also have to deal with a lot of “intangibles.” I’ve got the general thoughts in my head that UM >> UH. That goes without saying, but along those lines, I have to question on whether I can handle it in Ann Arbor. I’ve already near failed out. I’ve tried to rationalize with myself that I’m a different person now. My time away from campus has seen me grow up quite a bit. The 07-08 school year working on the road broke me of many 0f my undergraduate habits that were detrimental to my studies. I’ve spent a year working hard at my academics and even made the Dean’s List in the spring. I’ve rediscovered what it is to do homework in classes. I’m just too pessimistic based on my previous results.
The other thought that I’m wrestling around with has to do with quitting. I quit Michigan. That doesn’t sit well with me. I’m not a quitter. To complicate it, I was failing. I don’t take failure lightly. And here’s where things start to get confusing (if they aren’t already). I’ve begun to second guess myself. If by wanting to go to Michigan to prove I’m not a quitter/failure, am I just playing to the stubbornness that caused all my troubles the first time I was enrolled? During my last few semesters on campus, I refused help. I ignored mandates by the SSC to go to advising, see a mentor, get help. I wanted to prove to everyone that I could do it.
Is this the mindset that I’m succumbing to in my decision to go back? I’m not sure. I feel like this time around it’s about proving to myself I can not only do it, but that I can ask for help. I’ve read so many articles about engineers entering the workforce unable to work well in groups. While I don’t worry too much about my social behavior, I think I’ve been one of those loner engineers the last few years. The question then becomes, have I broken that habit? I’d like to think I have. Looking back at some of the work I did during my year off from school, I can recognize me working better with groups. But will that translate to my studies, that’s hard to tell. The last year didn’t see much of it. I did things on my own, but that wasn’t because I wanted to; I did things alone because my peers just weren’t up to my level. That’s the problem with JUCO’s I guess, the people who attend them aren’t generally future engineers.
So I’m left with scant examples of me working well with others. I think the few examples that I can look at as solid proof of me accepting collaboration has to be my trips to the writing lab for my English paper. My professor was more of my peer than the students in my class. We were able to discuss not just the endless grammar lessons she preached in class to the students who continually failed at it, but we also discussed things such as paper writing philosophies. How to go at it. It was interesting and taught me more about my own writing (which yes, if you’re still reading, you know how bad it can still be). So I find that to be at least a slightly positive sign. Hell, the fact I was even in a writing lab is far and beyond what I would have done while at UM.
This post has ended up quite a bit longer than I’ve wanted it to be. I’ve got a few more weeks to decided what I’m going to do. The deadline for the winter semester at UM is October 1st, but the deadline for UH is December 1st. I have an appointment to call the Civil Engineering Department at Michigan on Tuesday, so I’ll know more things then.
Meanwhile, I’m only 2 P.E credits and a public speaking class from getting an associate’s degree in General Studies, which, like, who cares? My other conundrum of the summer is do I pay $533 to get a degree I’m going to do nothing with? I mean, $318 for the two PE credits. WTF. I could pay that and get a gym membership for a year (maybe?). I find that to be a ridiculous scam. So yeah, I probably won’t get the associate’s degree, although it would be nice to at least get a degree with my name on it. I think I’ll just hold out for a bachelor’s. Bah.