Monday, August 25, 2014

Mid-2014 Mid-Year Update



Well, so what have I done this year in 2014, from January-on?

January to April - Enrolled in Lincoln University (Jefferson City, Missouri) in a Computer Information Systems Bachelor degree program, with a Minor in Geographical Information Systems.

Funding: Funded by a Grant from Missouri Vocational Rehabilitation (VR); one requirement being that I attend full-time.  Due to my Learning Disabilities, I found this to be problematic.  I suggested half-time, to which I was told that I could not receive the grant if I did so.

Decision:  Due to time-constraints--caused by the imminent starting of the Semester, I took the funding, along with a Stafford Loan for about $5K, for personal expenses and some computer items that were not covered by the VR Grant.  This took my student loan debt to $35K, where it will stay until paid; I am not getting anymore federal student loans, as I find, at least for me, they have been a waste of time.

I am Learning Disabled.  For VR to make me take full-time classes was an improper decision.  A request for reducing my load to half-time was denied.  I feel I have been discriminated against by this agency.  I will probably have to file a complaint, and take the agency to court, if an agency hearing cannot resolve this problem as I perceive it.

I bear no ill-will toward the agency, itself; it helps people most of the time.  It has helped me in the past, but personal circumstances and family issues intervened that I could not perceive, so I faltered when success should have been attainable.

I have called the agency and indicated that I am still interested in vocational training.  I have been informed by the head of the local office that it is felt that I have been helped as much as the agency can help me; I have suggested alternative training--stressing Registered Apprenticeships--but since there are none of interest in my area, this track has met with failure, at least for now.

I feel apprenticeships could be formed if enough people showed an interest, or at least, a few showed a great deal of interest.  They require a number of people who are qualified for the area of interest to be willing to participate and provide training.  The type of apprenticeship I am interested in is termed, according to the federal apprenticeship database, "Geographical Information Systems Technician. (GIS-Tech, for short.)

There are virtually none in the United States.  If they exist at all, they exist in Canada or Europe.  I am now beginning an exhaustive, individual state search for these types of Registered Apprenticeships.  I am hopeful, but exceedingly skeptical.  This is a fairly recent listing in the federal database.  I may have to start my own agency--to be able to receive grants-- that specialized in starting Registered Apprenticeships, especially in the GIS field.  This may not be as easy as I would like it or expect it to be.

I also view certain aspects of my attendance at Lincoln University to be fraught with difficulty.  Due to the necessity of full time attendance, I was forced to juggle classes when not one, but two classes were cancelled due to lack of participation.  These were GIS classes.

The only one left that was available was the senior-level class, which is usually taken as the last class in the series, outside of field-work projects.

I managed to convince the department head of the GIS block to allow me to attend, primarily due to my having had exposure to the software the class was going to be using, and a small amount of prior experience.  They took me at my word, and gave me a go.  I failed.

I will not ask to be placed in an advanced-level class again unless I am able to provide my own portfolio of the type of work required; I gave it my best shot, but was not able to keep up with the rest of the required classes with a full-time load.

To make up the differences required for full-time attendance, I added two music classes, Introduction to Music Theory, and Choir.  Choir was a performance class, of which two concerts were required attendance.

I did okay, as I'm musically-oriented, being able to play piano a little, some woodwinds (flute, clarinet, saxophone), and harmonica (I have my own set of performance-grade harps.)

Still, I can't really say much for the instruction.  Too many egos getting in the way of any really true success; and those egos were not completely my own, although I do account for throwing something in the mix.  The entire environment wasn't conducive to true success.

The choir director didn't have any humor in the classroom at all.  All seriousness and no humor; very much a disciplinarian.  Outside of the classroom, the professor was affable enough.  Still, I did not do well in this class because of the tightness of emotion and no humor.

I'm just not that serious a guy, and need a bit of levity to keep things from blowing up in my face.   I felt like I was imprisoned for that 40 minutes of choir class, when I should have felt like singing a musical or two.

Also, as a choir member, the only music we sang were Christian Spirituals; can you say, "boring?"  Absolutely no spirit in the place.

I attended the first of the required concerts, but was having so much trouble in classes toward the end of the semester, I did not attend the final concert as it would not have made any difference in my grades.  I was also quite sick of the entire experience, so I negated the performance in front of the graduating seniors.  I just couldn't face anyone with any more of my failures.

I wish I could say that this was different.  I get tired of academician egos, and I tire of my seeming inability to articulate--and get--what I deem appropriate to accommodate my personal Learning Disability needs, as well as provide for my own, inherent desired for academic fulfillment.

I am tired of state agencies not being able to help me.  I tire of my constant poverty that prevents me from getting better psychological assistance to help me overcome my learning and personal problems.

I am intelligent.  I am not stupid.  I am not necessarily "slow," but there are issues--primarily mathematics--which stifle me and compound my ability to do other things.  The math issues correspond to an equally difficult time with certain aspects  of critical thinking, which can only keep me back and not moving forward.

I see other people who don't have these difficulties, and want to emulate their experiences, at least as far as succeeding in college--and Life--are concerned; I do not wish to be a clone, however.

I am articulate.  I can express myself very well in words and language.  I do not do so well in Algebra or other higher mathematical disciplines, and although I have an intense interest in the Sciences, this lack of mathematical development will always keep me at arm's-reach of success in this area.

I have taught myself a modicum about computers, but I am limited to the hardware level--IE, putting things together, assembling things, etc.--when the money-making areas are primarily in software development; I understand programming concepts, but it has been a very long time--since the late 1980's--when I last did any real programming.

That, and the instructor I had at Lincoln University didn't really do a very good job of teaching; that's not just my sentiment, many others in the class expressed the same concerns.

University-level computer programming should have a lot of structure, and should follow the book that is provided, to-the-letter.  This leads to consistency and the development of good programming habits; the class I attended provided neither of these, as the professor utilized mere handouts taken from the $100.00 text book the class was forced to buy! (Thank goodness I got my money refunded via book-buy-back at the university bookstore!)

I'm sticking to local, "community" colleges where people respect adult students!

However, I don't believe I will receive this where I currently reside.


So what about jobs?  I'm working on obtaining one, and may have success, soon.  My goal is to keep my job for one year, something I have not succeeded at yet.  (My record is 7 months, done in my Senior year of high school back in 1984, at a small IGA grocery store in my hometown (long closed.)

This my update.  I will do another as I feel necessary.