by: Daniel Mongeon
Twenty-three years. That’s the length of time that has eclipsed since I last enrolled in a “for credit” course. I earned my undergrad at that time and never looked back, until recently. I had been contemplating taking a course for both professional development and as a possible gateway to applying to a Masters program, but I didn’t really want to do it.
My two sons are 5 and 3. Seeing them when I arrive home from work is the best part of my day, but it’s still stepping from one job to another. The second best part of my day is when they’re tucked into bed and I can indulge in some “me” time. I guard that “me” time jealously and I didn’t want to have my vigorous schedule of TV and reading interrupted by coursework. Thankfully, my wife and my mother, an educator, wouldn’t allow me to rest on my laurels and I enrolled in RCOM 102 Professional Communications for the Spring 2014 term.
As the opening day for GPS courses approached, my dread increased but I tamped those feelings down with hollow sounding (to me) platitudes about “stepping outside of one’s comfort zone” and prepared for the 10 weeks to follow. After reading through my syllabus and posting my initial introduction, I mapped out a schedule that seemed doable. Wednesday would be my day for required readings. Thursday would be for researching and posting my response to my instructor’s discussion post. Friday would be for working on assignments and responding to posts by my classmates. Saturday would be a day off, a break from schoolwork. Sunday, Monday and Tuesday would be for completion of any tasks that needed to be wrapped up by the end of the course week.
It was a good plan, but what is it they say about the best laid plans of mice and men? Right. Life happens. Sometimes a buddy I hadn’t seen in a while would only have Wednesday night free to hang out. Perhaps I had a commitment on Friday. There was that wedding to attend in Brooklyn on the weekend of Week 8. There were times that I just couldn’t wrap my head around getting my work done and would stare at my computer screen, trying to will an idea to pop into my head.
I got through it, however. Mores to the point, I enjoyed it. I enjoyed reading posts from other students and constructing a decent response. Through the research I had to do for my discussion posts and assignments, I learned things that could assist me in not only my job but my day to day life. Our instructor was excellent at keeping our discussions moving if they bogged down. I found satisfaction in logging in to the class and seeing if there were any responses to what I had posted. Getting my grades back and reading my instructor’s feedback pushed me to shore up the areas that needed strengthening.
Mostly, I found that stepping outside of my comfort zone wasn’t just an empty platitude; it was a way of “exercising” unused mental faculties and coming out the other side having discovered that I have the capacity to fit more education into my hectic life. I found that you can come to like something you initially dreaded.
I got an ‘A’ in the course and plan to continue my studies. Although for now, I have some Red Sox games to enjoy, an instructional baseball team to coach and waves to catch. See you in class.
About the Author:
Daniel Mongeon is a Brandeis Graduate Professional Studies Student Advisor. He has been with GPS for over 3 years and knows all there is to know about your student experience. He is a graduate from Emerson College and loves to surf, watch the sox and spend time with his family.