The husband has finally graduated from the University of Florida so this weekend we drove up to Gainesville for the commencement ceremony. Officially, his degree is a Master of Science in the Geomatics program that’s part of the School of Forestry and Conservation in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at the University of Florida. More layers than an opera cake, that.
He’s a good blend of coder, environmental science geek, cartographer, and statistician. He’s absurdly smart. Yet goofy.
We have friends who’ve gotten master’s degrees through online schools, for-profit colleges or schools that have cohort programs. From what I can tell, a “cohort” is sort of like a team that you work on a degree with and you all kind of stick together and share assignments. At least, that’s how the one friend described it. Another said it was the best way to do school because it was like working where everyone does everything in teams. When I got my master’s degree, we didn’t have cohorts and most of our “online” content was via email. But, I got a degree in criminology so most of it was theory and writing papers and all that stuff comes pretty easily to me, so it didn’t feel like much of a challenge.
The husband’s program was partly online, but not in the “post a comment to three other student’s answers” way. More that students were scattered around the Gainesville, Davie, and Plant City campuses and the professors were divided between Gainesville and Davie so they taped lectures as they gave them. You could watch live and participate in discussions/ask questions via chat box or microphone, depending on setup, or you could watch them later and submit any questions via email.
Gotta say, the University of Florida is littered with overachievers. As such, some of the professors don’t really explain things; they just kind of assume “you should have had this in your high school physics class,” which is all fine and well if you did indeed study that in high school physics and high school wasn’t two decades in the past.
Which is to say, it wasn’t an easy degree to get. And he did really, really well (straight As on everything but an extra, experimental class the university was just kind of building out of random ideas they had and wasn’t part of the actual program). And I’m super proud of him.
The commencement speech seemed like it was meant more for me than the husband, though. The speaker — the university’s new president — talked about how it’s okay to not have the future mapped out, to not have a seventeen point plan from high school through college to the exact jobs necessary to get you to the spot you envision by the time you’re forty. He talked about majoring in one thing and changing, about going to seminary school and transferring out to something else, about being a teacher (professor) and never wanting to get into administration, and yet he enjoys his new role. Basically, it was about not getting upset if your path deviates, that the person you become will come from all those experiences and will give you the unique talents and skills that will make you valuable, that will serve you and those around you.
Pretty sure his plan was to alleviate the fears of the overachiever graduates who hadn’t gotten into the exact next program they wanted or who had the car packed full of their apartment or dorm “essentials” but had no idea where to drive except back home to the ‘rents or who were maybe non-traditional students surrounded by the kid with the the wall-sized poster detailed every moment of life until death.
Thing is, the husband (“Lumpy”) and I were never really the high school fuck up or the high school overachiever, but we sat in those classes. He took a lot of classes with the kids who were average or were retaking algebra for the third time. I took a lot of classes with the kids who memorized the anatomy of horses before calculus in the morning, the kids who fought over who was going to be valedictorian, and bet each other over which schools they could and couldn’t get into . Yet both Lumpy and I were the ones who saw homework as optional. At least he was awake for most of high school. I’m not sure which was better sleeping, calculus or AP history.
Yet, he’s now the man with the plan. Not so much the “I do this for three years and then do this for two years and then apply for this and then…” kind of plan so much as he has an identifiable career path that led from an environmental science degree to working for an environmental engineering company where he used his knowledge of GIS to do a few projects and move into a GIS job at a city where he picked up new skills like he was picking strawberries at a U-Pic farm and then parlayed that into a management position. You know, a path.
I’ve worked in communications, advertising, and education. When I put it like that, they sound related. When I say I edited news for pagers, set up SKUs for inserts and proofread them, and taught English and math to delinquents, it sounds a little less cohesive.
However, I have gathered a bucket of skills and one of these days I’m going to find the perfect use for them.
In the meantime, maybe we’ll start trying this thing people call “weekends” now.