Saturday, July 27, 2013

Risking it All

I made a really big decision recently.

Really, really, REALLY BIG.

Life-changing, schedule-altering.

Scary, very scary.

Exciting.  Hopefully a new lease of life to compensate for the scariness. 

Many ramifications I knew of, and some I have since realised.

But sometimes you have to take the risk.  Sometimes, you’ve done all the research you can do, mitigated your losses as much as you can, and prepared as best you know how.  But it’s not quite enough to be one hundred percent sure.  How often can I expect to be one hundred percent sure?  I’m guessing that with the really big decisions of life, not a lot.  Maybe 90% sure?

What did I do?

I pulled out of my studies at Massey.

Yup.  Pulled out.  Well, okay, I’m pulling out.  I withdrew from two papers, and will probably withdraw from the third.  I’m transferring my studies to a local provider.


If you know anything about my study path so far, you will realise immediately that this is a very complicated process to try and attempt.  I am nearing the end of year 2 (of 3) of my degree.  I’m a scholarship student, which means I MUST complete my degree by the end of 2015, and I MUST continue studying (can’t just take a semester off and start again next year – already took my only year off allowed)…if I want to retain my scholarship.  As it pays my fees, I am considerably motivated to keep it! 

I added to the complications by leaving it until the second to last day for withdrawing without financial penalty.  Without checking with my local provider first as to how easily they could cross credit me into their programme (which is significantly different to the one I have been studying).  Their semester doesn’t start till next week, which is helpful.  But their staff are away.  Not so helpful!

The thing is, I wasn’t going to do it.  I’d thought about it, and decided it was all just way too complicated.  I’d just have to stick it out with Massey, I thought.  At least until the end of this year, then maybe transfer to Waikato early next year for my final year.  But then I thought about the changes that would create for my Munchkin: different hours, potentially longer days, and so on as I would be a face-to-face student.  I concluded there are benefits to me staying extramural (distance).  He can go to kindy the same days every week, and I just study on those days.  Plus we can pretty much live anywhere (opps, one of those “ramifications I have since realised” is that I am now committed to staying here till the end of 2015, yet my husband finishes his diploma and needs work end of 2014.  Ugh.

I started semester two.  I was pretty well burnt out starting it.  I’d survived placement (just), done my essay and exam (barely) and then spent the 2 weeks of holidays trying to throw off a cold.  I managed two weeks before I canned it.  But I figure two weeks was enough.  It was enough to realise that this is insane.  A 30-40hour study week for a 50% load student is just WRONG.  Getting up at 5am is so NOT working (I was falling asleep over my study books) and then my kid was sick and it all went out the window…as an extramural student there is a certain pressure (at least for me there is) to ‘catch up’ if you ever miss a week.  In face-to-face classes, I’d just call in sick.  If there were notes, someone would pass them to me.  Anyhow, it was insane.  The whole degree has been, really.  But I needed to study, and extramural allowed that.  Plus, I’ve made some decisions along the way.

I don’t want to teach Primary.  I thought I might when I started, so this Massey Early Years Degree was a good fit.  It gave me the option of lower primary if I wanted.  But the reality is that there are an abundance of primary trained teachers out there, and my degree is not widely recognised as covering primary, despite the intense workload the primary component produces.  What I really want to do is own and manage my own early childhood centre.  I don’t need the Early Years Degree for that.  I need an Early Childhood Degree.

I have very little doubt that if I’d continued on with the semester, I would have had either a mental breakdown or a physical breakdown.  Or possibly both.  Before we got to week ten.  Definitely before placement in September.  The workload was just too much, and more and more of it is primary focused which is becoming less and less my focus.  Plus, the Early Years Degree is being phased out.  Massey is no longer offering it.  This means many of our lecturing staff have had to go find other work.  Very disruptive, having your lecturer leaving and there being no replacement announced a week out from their departure.

I am still doubting myself.  Still wondering if I’ve made the right choice. Still worrying.  But trying to trust, trying to believe that if this is what I need to do, then God will help me sort out how to do it.

Bethlehem Tertiary Institute (BTI) have been amazing!  I studied with them before having Munchkin and studying at Massey, so they know who I am.  They are cross crediting me into their ECE Degree!  Waikato, who I originally thought of going through, will only do a max. of 1.5yrs, which I have already done more than.  Plus were not very helpful. 

So on Thursday I deposited two large boxes of folders on a poor lady’s desk at BTI.  She is the beleaguered soul who has to work out what specifically they can give me Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) for and what they can’t.  She’s hopeful.  It looks like I will get first year credited without any issues.  Second year is problematic.  There’s some big holes between what I’ve done and what BTI covers.  BUT, they are looking at creating a customised plan for me!  One in which I might go to a module or two of one paper, a module of another, combine that with some personal tasks (i.e. assignments they tailor to me) to fill in the gaps – combine that with some partial cross-credits from my previous papers, and hopefully I will still be fairly well on track.  Hopefully.  But I decided when I made the decision that if it means I have to pick up extra papers (at my own cost), then it would be worth it just to get out of the Massey degree.

I’m finding that being a Mummy makes decision making so much harder.  I not only have to think about my own needs, my husband’s needs, but also my son’s needs.  And he’s little.  He needs my protection and care.  He needs my time.  He needs SO MUCH.  I’m hoping this will work out so that he doesn’t have more kindy than he already has.  I’m hoping that it won’t be too disruptive for him, that most of my class hours will be within his current hours anyway.   But I know that the thing he needs most in the world, beyond good kindy hours, way beyond that, is a Mummy who is okay.  He doesn’t need a Mummy with depression, or a Mummy who is constantly stressed and sick.  He needs me to be okay, so this is it.  This is how I can be okay.  Not to say that things are going to be all perfect now.  Things are probably going to be messy.  But I feel confident that they will be manageable.

There’s no going back.  I have pulled out.  I can’t just decide to do it next year instead.  I’m committed to this.  It’s this, or no degree.  This, or the past 3.5yrs have been a waste.  So this is it!

I’m really looking forward to being in a class again.  I’ve been missing having peers to discuss ideas with.  While I love writing, it is just not the same as a real conversation.

Not sure at this point whether I will continue my remaining Massey paper.  It’s got my placement attached, which is a yr3 primary class…not really helpful for transferring to an Early Childhood Degree.  And pretty high-stress when I know my primary planning is so not up there.  If BTI can, they will probably get me into classes this semester, a whole mish-mash of bits and bobs to get my credits sorted out, plus put me into an ECE placement.  In that case, I’ll probably drop the Massey paper…I will lose the ability to get an allowance bonus on my scholarship if I later study full-time.  But I can live with that.  Then next year, it looks like I’ll be doing a mix of 2nd and 3rd year papers.  Again a bit of a mish-mash but as long as I’m not trying to be in two classrooms at the same time, never mind!

I’m trying not to think too hard about having to change Munchkin’s hours and whether they’d have a space for him when I need it.  I’m trying not to think about how to get to BTI, or if I’ll have time for assignments.  I’m trying to just remember that this is what I need to do.  That I spent the past few weeks begging God to show me what to do, how to survive this semester (and the rest of my degree – if it was only this semester I might’ve made it, but I had another 2years after that!).  This is the solution that presented.  Because I studied at BTI before, crediting is easier (I have 3.5papers through them if I don’t have enough other yr1 papers that match up!).  It’s a small team, and it will challenge my faith as well as my professional practice, and I do like that.  After talking through my piles of folders with me, the lovely woman helping sort all this mess out then took the time to pray for me, for my study, for wisdom and grace as we go ahead.  Wow.  I felt myself sigh inside.  One of those deep, bottom of your lungs sigh.  The kind of sigh that says “I’m home, it’s time to rest.”

Interestingly, having made the decision, my son has been sick.  Not just “got a headcold or a runny nose” sick.  He has had a virus (that was the week I made the decision), a lingering chest infection, and a double ear infection.  Needless to say I’ve not studied.  I’ve not slept much either!  But the grace of knowing that I don’t have to get up at 5am when I’ve been up two or three times in the night with him, wow, what a difference that has made.  Knowing that he could stay home from kindy for a whole week without me having to study while looking after him (even though he drove me nearly spare!).  Relief.  That’s what this strange feeling is called.  Relief.  It’s still a long haul.  We’re not there yet.  The next few months will still be busy and crazy, but not insanely so.  And for now, for now I’m in a little oasis.  A moment of rest before journeying on.

Is the risk worth it?  I guess I will find out.  But I think so.  That's the thing with risk.  We might never know for SURE.  We just guess, or feel, or think.  Then we have to step out.  You will never know whether the bridge will hold you if you don't step onto it.  You'll never know if you're capable of reaching your dreams if you do not try.  And you won't know whether a decision was worth it until later.  I'll let you know later, okay?!



MaxineD said...

Ah - decision made and that sigh of relief is the telling part - you have local support and local teaching and I am sure God will be with you as you continue to study.
Blessings and love

Aynsley said...

Having been in the same situation myself I know exactly how hard it is. I left Uni Canty after my first year and transferred to Lincoln which incidentally turned out to be the best decision ever! How else was I ever going to meet Matt!? I had issues with cross crediting as well but I worked through it with a situation similar to yours and in other cases I entered classes with no prerequisite classes but a number of one on one sessions with the lecturer. Hang in there - you will make it!

Elizabeth said...

So, So, So proud of you...

I think this is the best decision you could have made for you and your family at this time!