In which I learn, again, why math is bad for me.

So I’ve been doing the college thing the last while. Well, sort of. It’s more like I’ve been doing the prerequisit education before I can do the college thing. And that’s meant several months of pretty much all math, all the time. Because until I’ve nearly melted my brain with numbers, letters, and letters that try and become numbers, I won’t be getting through the door into something slightly more useful. And what I’ve discovered when trying to avoid completely frying my last brain cell–at least until I’ve managed to put this hot mess behind me, at which point it can do all the frying it likes–is, quite simply, I was not built to tolerate highschool math.

Well, okay, that may or may not be entirely fair. Probably more accurate is I was not built to tolerate all highschool math and nothing but highschool math. But either way. The way this course is laid out, one of two things is pretty much guaranteed to happen. Either I’m going to find myself exceedingly bored, and still come away with decent to high marks on a huge pile of junk I’ve done before even if I don’t straight up remember it right away–this is how I spent most of my time with this course, or it’ll sit there waiting until I’ve turned my head for 3 seconds and suckerpunch me in the face with something obvious that sends me around the twist for an hour or so while I attempt to figure out how it is, exactly, a thing that made sense 5 minutes ago became a tangled mess of what in creation was I thinking–this has been a more recent development.

Needless to say I’m discovering, sometimes the hard way, my own limitations in translating all manner of equasions that are supposed to represent actual, visual shapes into something moderately useable in an honest to goodness math problem. And, at the same time, discovering–probably not for the first time–exactly why it is my first instinct when I was actually, you know, in highschool was to get me the hell out of dodge and find a way up that didn’t mean staring at a graph and trying to figure out which of the 80 million points the thing represents is actually supposed to stand in for x.

On the positive side, at least, the people are awesome. Not quite so enthused about the new instructor (*), but you’ll have that. And the material, for the most part, at least tries to be vaguely useful. If math was something I had an interest in in the first place, like for instance if I were actually planning on doing something I knew would heavily depend on it, I’d probably be a little quicker with actually catching it. But since math and I were never on speaking terms, and the program I intend to get into doesn’t actually look like it has a whole lot to do with math beyond the first semester, I look away from the thing for 3 seconds and suckerpunch. So that’s been just distracting enough to keep me out of trouble, and is probably partially contributing to my continued descent into chaos and madness. It may or may not also be partly to blame for a virtual lack in, well, pretty much anything else that requires any kind of creative energy. maybe not, but it gets the blame anyway.

I do like how they’ve set the program up, though. You’re escentially supervised, but can largely go at your own pace (**). There are expectations, naturally, and fairly loose deadlines. You’re not really handing in assignments or anything–the only things you’re actually graded on in this program are your tests. It’s sort of like a correspondence course meets an adult learning center, or something along those lines. Which works for me, for a couple reasons. It gets me out of the house for a few hours a day, which isn’t a bad thing. Plus, because it’s largely a DIY deal, you’re not spending your entire class time listening to the instructor drone on about the finer points of graphing a polynomial function–which, just for the record, is only slightly higher on the snore scale than actually attempting to graph the offending polynomial function. Which has the added benefit of you can use said class time to, well, actually do the work. Highschools could probably learn a thing or three from this program overall, I’d imagine.

Barring a natural–or mental–disaster of one variety or another, I figure I’ll be well on my way to finished by late July or hopefully early August. That’ll give me a few months to recover and focus on getting me ready to start the actual program–I applied a couple weeks ago now, but I probably won’t actually be accepted until August anyway. If all goes well, that whole process should end up being a formality. Then, I can start getting right back to handling things I didn’t think need handling when I was mucking about with junk the first time. And even if this program ends up giving me a headache, actually being able to say that for real, and mean it, sure as hell won’t suck. I just may be required to singlehandedly keep the caffeine industry afloat until then. I don’t mind if they don’t.

(*): It’s a do it yourself deal, so there’s not really a whole lot of actual instructing going on. She’s more like a supervisor. Babysitter, really. Making sure everyone who’s supposed to be there actually, you know, shows up there, that kind of thing. You can usually bounce things off her if you’re stuck, so I guess to that end the instructor label fits. But pretty sure it’s a stretch.

(**): The government usually has an idea of how long it should, under ideal circumstances, take you to finish a course or section of a course. So the program uses that as kind of a benchmark to figure out if you might need a little nudge or two to get yourself back in gear. But for the most part, if you’re not seen to be falling behind that benchmark, they tend to leave you alone about deadlines and junk. Or, at least, they do if you’re me.

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