High Academic Pressure

Finals season–an extremely stressful time for 99.99 percent of college students, including the autistic me.

The most excruciating final exam on my list is from Ethics. The majority of the questions on that exam is 50 percent True/False, 50 percent Matching, and the only one who is not happy with the way it’s written besides me–and probably the other students in the online class–is my Ethics professor himself. According to him, the final exam was written by professors within the Humanities department other than him, and he can’t do much of anything to tweak it to his liking. This leads me to conclude that the people who wrote the online Ethics course had a high disregard for the busy schedules and lives of otherwise full-time college students like myself.

Don’t believe me? I have to write three consecutive essays within less than a month–all while I have to study for my third Geology exam two days before Thanksgiving and while everybody starts their Christmas shopping! I already turned in one essay about Bioethics, and I got a 66.7 percent because I didn’t explain the Human Rights Theory involving the unethical treatment of a certain group of people I wrote about.

What kind of a college course would require its students to write three consecutive essays in one month? That’s not fair, especially when some students, like myself, have an anxiety problem.

Meanwhile, I’m struggling with trying to transfer to a university of my choice and figuring out what jobs are available with my Associate of Arts degree should anything arise.

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Tight Deadlines and Cosplay Blues

Tight Deadlines and Cosplay Blues

School has made me feel like I lost total control of everything in my life, including sleep. My professor for Intro to Ethics has made the deadlines for assignments, quizzes, and discussion posts extremely tight, giving me the impression that I have little time to get the work from my other classes done, especially Geology since it’s one of those Science credits (my last one) that I CANNOT afford to fail. I’ve taken three online classes in the past two years I’ve been at Broward College–Intro to Short Story, Total Wellness, and Creative Writing–and the professors sitting in front of the computer for those classes never gave me a hard time with tight deadlines for every assignment they wrote. Here’s what the assignment schedule for Intro to Ethics looks like.

Tight Deadlines for Ethics

If you pay close attention, the written assignments and quizzes are due every week. Since there is a discussion post to make every two modules (there are 6 discussions out of the 12 units), those are due every two weeks if not more.

Meanwhile, I have to do pretty much the same thing for my Intro to Mass Communications, only the professor doesn’t grade the discussion posts until everybody in the class has made a contribution to the discussion board. Also, I have to write an essay about what TV shows I watch–which you guys already know by now–and how I access them based on the chapter in the Mass Communications textbook on television. It’s not necessarily an academic essay because there’s no research involved, but rather an opinion/analytical paper. That’s due October 7th, if not sooner.

For Journalism, I have to write an article about a cultural arts event I went to by October 12th. It happened last Wednesday, and I managed to stick around long enough to interview the person in charge of the event, the artists showcasing their work, and the people attending the event because it was held around the same time as the Journalism class, which my professor had to cancel that day due to some obligation.

Geology… I just took the first exam on Thursday, and I found out via D2L that I got a 95%, which was very impressive because I never achieved that feat in my first exams for College Algebra, Statistics, and Biology. What’s stupid is that professor gave a 10-question assignment on plate tectonics two days before the exam that was to be due by midnight Tuesday. I spent a couple days grueling over finding the answers on the websites he provided in the assignment description, and I submitted it Sunday night, so I hope to God I did well on that.

To put this situation simply–and please excuse my French–I am fucking overloaded.

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Since Halloween is around the corner, I decided to cosplay the female version of Sora from Kingdom Hearts II this year. I Googled “female sora cosplay” for examples of people who attempted this cosplay, and half of the models were exemplary while the other half were just abysmal (I know cosplay is supposed to be fun and not competitive, but still). Then I came across this drawing.

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I thought it was perfect. The only problem now is finding the materials to match up to drawing. I already have the crown necklace, black faux-leather fingerless gloves, and black shorts, so that’s a start. Everything else is gonna be a mission.

Last week, Jack and I scavenged all over the mall for a black cropped hoodie only to find it in the one store we least expected: Justice, a tween girls’ store. I tried on one of the hoodies in a size 10/12, and it was a perfect fit. It was surprising to see that some of the clothes that are manufactured pre-teenage girls still fit me at age 21. Unfortunately, I have to wait for another time to buy the cropped hoodie. Hopefully they’re not sold out by the time Halloween comes around.

On Saturday, I went to Party City with my mom and bought yellow suspenders to modify them into straps for my upper thighs and hips. The real problem was finding the red fabric to sew onto my blue tank top, which comprised of 94 percent cotton and 6 percent spandex. I found that red fabric in the form of a catsuit, but my mom got beleaguered by the idea of me cutting even a sliver of the catsuit just for the sake of my cosplay, even though that was one of the many ways to go about it.

I want my female Sora cosplay to look adequate, but simultaneously I don’t want it to come out like crap. How am I supposed to use my imagination for this creative endeavor if there are people and things–my mother and the increasing demands of my college professors–restricting it? I’m just gonna have to do the best with what I have and the time I have left before Halloween–one month.

#CollegeProblems: Workload Anxiety

#CollegeProblems: Workload Anxiety

My first two years of college weren’t a very big deal, except for the part where I had to take two math courses–College Algebra and Statistics–the first year because I thought I had to take only ONE math class based on my Mass Communications major. I’m now in my third year of college, and although two weeks have passed since school started I’m already overwhelmed by Geology, Intro to Ethics, Intro to Mass Communications, and Journalism–especially the first two classes because they’re making my acne worse.

Geology is yet another Gen. Ed. Science requirement slapped onto me by the Gordon Rule, which dictates that I have to take two English courses (not a problem because I love writing anyways), two Math courses (didn’t like it, but I passed them with a B), and two Science courses (I took Biology last year, and I passed that and the lab with an A-minus). I don’t need the lab with Geology, but I’m still worried about the pressure the class itself is giving me. First, the professor talks through the PowerPoint slides a little too fast for me to write down the notes, so I had to print them from D2L–six slides per sheet. Not only that, but the test would be given on either the fourth week or the fifth week of class. The professor said it’s highly likely he will give the test on the fourth week. “[The test] is coming up fast,” he says. I know that the first three chapters are on the exam and that there is a study guide for it online, but I still feel it’s a lot to study for.

What can I say about Intro to Ethics? I like it so far because it’s a branch of philosophy revolving around the standards of every facet of society–the workforce, home life, education, even relationships. The only problem is that it’s a fully online course, and the professor teaching Intro to Ethics expects more from his online students than those taking his class on campus. His quizzes are comprised mostly of True/False questions, and you have to take really good notes from the online textbook in order to fully understand what those problems ask you. On the first two quizzes I got a 90% and a 75%. I got ten more quizzes to go and a proctored final exam that I may have to take at a campus that I don’t go to. As for the assignments–oh, my God. Each assignment has 15 questions pertaining to the chapters on which they’re based. The answers have to be written in our own words, citing where appropriate. I have no problem with writing stuff from my own thoughts once I have understood the material, but I saw no point in citing an answer that I wrote in my own words. I emailed the professor about this discrepancy, and he said that if the answer is written in my own words alone, then no citation is needed. If I have to quote something, then a citation is needed. Of course, for the first assignment I answered everything in my own words and turned it in two days ago. It’s due today, and the professor hasn’t even graded it yet because he only grades it within five working days after the due date. That further builds up the suspense, my anxiety. I hope to God I did fine on that assignment.

I’ve been off of the anti-anxiety medication Prozac for four months, and I hope this semester doesn’t force me to ask my doctor to take it again.

And the Plot Sickens: Lack of Novel-Reading, Writer’s Block, Minimal Driving Practice, and Other Back-to-School Problems

And the Plot Sickens: Lack of Novel-Reading, Writer’s Block, Minimal Driving Practice, and Other Back-to-School Problems

Part of a writer’s job is grabbing every opportunity to read novels written by their peers, whether they’re critically acclaimed, as in New York Times Bestseller, or underground, just getting started. I love reading, but I seem to be reading more of the news from CNN than novels. In my last post, I said I was still halfway through Misery Loves Cabernet by Kim Gruenenfelder, a 2009 romantic novel about a Hollywood personal assistant named Charlie, who has trouble deciding whether she should get back together with Jordan, a photographer who’s working on a movie in Paris, or start a new relationship with Liam, an Irish producer for Charlie’s client Drew’s new movie. I started reading the book at least a couple months before my grandfather died, and out of the 358 pages printed in there I’m on page 258. To be honest, I really should’ve been done with it a long time ago and moved on to another book. But instead, I’ve been over-thinking about a lot of things regarding my future.

I received my driving learner’s permit more than a month ago, and I practiced my driving only twice–with a driving instructor and my stepdad. I drove fine on both occasions, but my stepdad was a little impatient when I nearly hit a curb and approached a little too close to a car ahead of me even I didn’t mean to do any of those things. “Driving is a very serious matter,” my stepdad said. Well, of course I understand that driving is a very serious matter. Otherwise, why would I be such a nervous wreck? I thought to myself. I haven’t done much driving for 21 days, and I think I blame both myself and my stepdad. I blame myself for not getting up very early in the morning to practice driving around town with my stepdad, and I blame him for having minimal sense of time, or lack thereof. I would rather have someone with thrice as much patience and time-management skills as my stepdad to teach me to drive. That way, I’ll be able to pass my driving exam with flying colors and obtain a car of my own in order to drive myself to school and exercise the same social freedoms as everyone else my age. Failure to do so may result in me dropping out of college, remaining unemployed, never getting married, and living with my parents for the rest of my life–all the derogatory autism stereotypes in the book that I DON’T want to live out.

My classes start tomorrow, and my Intro to Ethics class is an online course. I upgraded my laptop to Windows 10 for free, and although the interface and new features are wonderfully sleek, there’s only one problem: Norton. The version of the Norton anti-virus software that I had in Windows 8 is not compatible with Windows 10, so I had to download a new version that’s provided by Comcast (or Xfinity, as the company that licenses Norton, Symantec, advertises). The reason is because, until very recently, my stepdad was a Comcast customer, and every time he buys a new computer he has to install and activate a Norton software provided by the cable company with an account and pin of his own. Now that my mom is the new sole Comcast customer, I’m left with two options: either I create a Norton account and pin under my mom’s name (anything she has to do online, I have to do it for her, anyhow), or create a Norton account myself. Once in a while, my stepdad would ask me if I have been keeping up with the system scans. I have, but if he asks me again and I tell him that I had to download a version of Norton compatible with Windows 10 as part of the upgrade, he might get upset. I have to talk to my mother about this issue before my stepdad does. Such is the curse of being one of those college students who still lives with her parents.

As far as my writing goes…
Like I said some umpteen times before, I’ve been working on my first novel for over a year now, and I feel that I’m suffering from writer’s block because no matter how good my writing skills are–at least to people I know very well–I’m scared that my novel will turn out to be inadequate when it’s published and available to the general public. On top of that, I’m not sure when I’ll ever get it done what with all the studying and other things I have to put up with. They say to write one page a day, but my genius brain thinks it should be more than that. If anyone has any tips on how I can overcome my writer’s block, I would greatly appreciate it.

In fact, I will wholeheartedly appreciate any advice you, my readers, would provide me on all the issues mentioned here.

#CollegeProblems: The Pain of Choosing Classes at the “Last Minute”

For the past two months, I’ve been dealing with the death of my grandfather, working on my first novel, studying for my driving learner’s permit exam, visiting New York with my stepdad, and trying to catch all 720 Pokémon–that’s basically nearly 20 years worth of those creatures, including their Evolved forms–in both Pokémon Alpha Sapphire and Pokémon X, the latter which I got most recently. Unfortunately, there was one thing I forgot to do before I did anything else–register for classes for the fall semester at Broward College.

Last night, I asked my brother what Science class is best for me. My academic adviser told me that I have 12 credits left before I earn my Associate of Arts degree–I need three electives and a Science–and transfer to Florida International University. “When did registration for the fall semester open, Cristina?” my brother asked.
“April 29th,” I replied hesitantly.
I wished I hadn’t opened my big mouth because my brother got really upset at me for picking my classes at the “last minute”, even though the semester doesn’t start until August 24th. He told me for future reference that as soon as class registration opens I have to get on the ball and pick the classes I need immediately because the classes with the best teachers fill up in a heartbeat, especially in vast universities such as FIU. It’s not the selection of classes that I have a problem with, but rather the campuses I should go to and when I could attend such classes.

Two classes I picked–Intro to Mass Communications and Journalism–are at South Campus, which is close to home, and the other two–Intro to Oceanography and Ethics, are online. The only problem with Intro to Oceanography is that everything will be online except for the tests, which will be proctored at a campus half an hour from my place. That is something I don’t want to do because, unless I earn my driver’s license by the time school starts, my brother or my stepdad will have to chauffeur me there or I will have to take the bus. However, they said alternate testing options will be available (at additional costs), so I will have to talk to an adviser and ask them if I could take the tests either at the campus of my choosing or online. Another issue is whether or not I should take a lab for Oceanography. Each class I chose is three credits, which adds up to 12 credits, but the Oceanography lab is only one credit, making it 13 credits overall. Because I already took a lab for General Biology, I don’t want to overload myself by taking yet another lab for another science class, so I’m gonna talk to my adviser about that as well.

In the two years that I’ve been in college, I’ve never heard anyone tell me that “last minute” means “a month before the start of the semester” when it comes to class registration. Last night’s experience made me feel like I’m the most irresponsible college student in my family when that was NEVER the case. I may have chosen classes a month prior to the start of a semester before, but I excelled in all my classes just the same. This is my last semester in a community college, so choosing classes in a big university, according to my brother, will be a whole different ball game due to the fierce competition of getting the most hotshot professors for the classes required for my major.

AUTHOR’S UPDATE: I decided not to risk taking my exams for Intro to Oceanography at a campus farthest from my home due to transportation issues, so I switched to Geology since that class is held on the same campus as my other classes.