So here it is, the last Thursday of classes for my undergrad career. What's significant about Thursday? Thursdays I have to be here at 8:00 AM to open the lab (I work in a Mac lab on campus), other than that it's nothing special, not a lot of people in this early so I can write this...
Anyway, next week is finals week. The final, finals week. Then, May 14, I will receive my BS in CS, with a minor in math. My plan has been, for a little while...well let me back up actually...
I have known basically since the 8th grade that I want to be a computer scientist (well, back then it was computer programmer, but I have learned much since then), and the plan was to go to college and go straight through and get my Master's degree. It has been a long ride, a long ugly ride. I could go into details but that would make a short story a medium story, and who wants to read that. The short version is this: I went to community college after high school for various reasons, then moved to a university, due to the way classes transfer, prerequisites work out, personal issues and so on, it has taken me 6 long years to get my degree. That's right, I admit it. I was never some child prodigy, some annoyingly outgoing preppy kid, or anything else that leads to getting through a four year school in four years, with a 4.0, and two full time jobs. I was just me, and always will be. I can live with that and so can those who matter.
Fortunately I've always been pretty good at CS stuff, usually finishing in the top of my classes (although thanks to non-CS classes my GPA doesn't really reflect this), and while I've never been very outgoing, a few of my teachers have recognized me and have been very encouraging.
But somewhere along the lines things went wrong, between my difficulties at school (less than some, I know), to losing my job (mostly my fault, which makes it that much worse, but that's another (albeit short) story), living in a fifth-wheel camper trailer with my Dad and brother to living in a house with my Dad, brother, sister and her two kids, to unfair (another, another story) financial trouble. I needed to get out. I didn't care about school anymore, I just wanted the degree so I could get a job and leave everything behind for a while (not my family, we've always gotten along great). So until recently the idea of getting my Master's was out of my mind. Talking to some friends, however, and a slight change in my personal life, I decided I might as well apply for grad school and see what happens.
So I started to get all my stuff in order, letters of recommendation (my teachers were awesome about this), GRE (which killed me, BTW, did great on the math part but apparently I can barely speak english), and the bane of my existance: the personal statement. This held me up for a long time, I just couldn't write the thing, it just wouldn't happen. Funny thing, the only reason I'm not doing an independant study on AI this semester is because I couldn't write the proposal, my teacher was all for it and had something for me to do an all, I just can't write stuff like this.
Anyway, the other day I did finally finish the statement, and applied for grad school. After the deadline. CRAP! Now I know I check the date, and I know I was on time. But when I actually applied the deadline said otherwise. I applied anyway, I didn't care. I was pretty bummed out about this that day, but I half expected not to get in for the fall anyway so had thought a bit about that. My contingency plan was to try to take a class or two this fall anyway, as a guest or something, and apply again for the spring semester, so I still need to talk to my advisor about that.
So I guess now my plan is to start applying for jobs and stuff for the summer and see what happens. I've been saying for a while now that there's only a few more weeks until I can no longer hide the fact that I'm a miserable failure, but that's really not the attitude I need right now. This really is a big turning point in my life, probably the biggest yet, and I really need to keep a clear head to make the most of it.
I'll try to keep updating my journal here on what it's like being a scared, but determined Computer Science graduate. Thanks if you've read this far, it helps to get some thoughts out (which actually has nothing to do with you actually reading it or not, but still). If you didn't read it, what, did you just skip to the end?
Anyway, in the immortal words of Homer Simpson: "And that's the end of that chapter."