Summary of Last Semester and Updates

Hey everyone!

I know I up and disappeared last semester, but I promise that I had good reason.

My reading load and assignment needs became slightly more demanding. My reading per week jumped from 70-100 pages to occasionally over 200 pages in some cases. This had me spending more time reading and analyzing, and provided less time to reflect and write my weekly updates. I was also volunteering in 2 places weekly, which also takes up time and which I got a lot out of doing. Lots of good personal and professional development occurred as a result of that. Eventually, finals week came upon me, group projects were coming due, and 10-15 page papers were due. I did continue to keep a page tally in OneNote (a Microsoft software I actually might discuss a little later), even though I wasn't posting here. I ended up taking an accidental 3 and a half month hiatus, but that was a reflection of pushing myself more than just dropping things for lack of interest. I still wanted to be here updating, but I had to make a tough call and did so, knowing I would come back.

So here is the breakdown and final page count for my Fall 2017 semester:

                        At week 7 (my last post) I was at 1,076 pages.
                        Week 8 I added 266 pages, Week 9 was 205, Week 10 was 207, Week 11 was 98.
                        My reading for finals came to 145 pages.

[This number to me and maybe to others, may seem kind of low in relation, since finals should    have more intensive reading. The numbers, however, are only the most crucial pieces I used. I had already done all my preliminary research in the weeks leading UP to finals, which is why I had already hit the 200 pages a week mark. I did not want to be scrambling during the last two weeks, so I got a jump on spreading the research early on. The actual week of finals was mainly reorganizing and writing my thoughts and analysis on  everything I'd already gathered. Finals weeks were final analysis and production of my thoughts onto paper. ]

                        Tallied up, my total page count for Fall 2017 was: 1,997.

During the break, I took a lot of time to spend with my family, and had to find stopping points in my volunteering. Some personal things in my life escalated, and things are kind of settling back down as the new semester rolls around. Grades came out and I earned all As in my courses, acing one perfectly with 100 points out of a possible 100, all of which culminates into a 4.0 GPA. So the time I took off from writing here to hard core focus on everything I had really paid off.

This past week I was in Denton, attending my last in-person institute session for my third and final core course. This is my second semester of the program and I'm still full-time (9 credit hours, 3 courses). This means that my reading load is back up.

I'm going to attempt once more to record my experiences in this program to the best of my abilities, even if its just through simple synopsis that no one but me and a select few family members may read. I think it will be worthwhile to have this to look back on at the completion of the program.

I am aiming to also keep track of this semester's page count and to see where a full year of the program gets me page wise. It seems like a minor detail out of everything going on, but it gives me a weighted measurement of the amount of things I've covered in a 15 week or so span. In some ways it feels more tangible that way, since knowledge and learning itself is not really quantifiable outside of the ability to take a test and pass it with a graded score and points. A grade to me is not a full measure of what you know in a subject or topic, but a way of saying that you know some key components in a way that is expressible. It doesn't mean you can comfortably talk about the subject with people in the same career field or specialization of study. It doesn't show that you can actually function with the right skillsets at the right time in the field itself. It just means you know some key components that you may be able to apply. The practice and use of the skills are really what say how much you learned. True learning is comfort with a topic, the ability to discuss it with others, to teach it to others, and to be able to apply it.

One way I measure my year and personal development is how much I read. I do this on Goodreads usually, measuring books, comics, manga, picture books, plays, etc. that I cover in a year, regardless of the length of the item read. It doesn't say WHAT I've read, or if anything from the books stuck, but it shows me the pace at which I can absorb some kind of information at its base and the amount of pages I can get through. Since I don't rush purposely or skim, I'm pretty confident in these numbers as a generic marker. I feel like the more I read on a topic, the more comfortable I am with it. So if I've read a lot, I've taken the time to focus on something, and I like to review my patterns of reading. So while page counts and grades aren't markers of every element of learning and personal ability, I like to have them handy as a block to review my personal progress over a certain amount of time. I'm not sure if any of that makes sense to anyone except myself.

To anyone else embarking on a new part of their personal journeys, starting a new program or continuing in one, starting a new job, beginning a new major life chapter (marriage, parenthood, retirement) I wish you the best and hope you make the most of your experiences and cherish all the little things that have shaped you over time, and that continue to shape you each day.

Here's to new beginnings and continued learning/experience!