Thursday, October 07, 2004
A Day In Which I Do Something I Didn't Expect To Ever Do

My main goal for today is to work together a proper proposal for my once-and-future institution of higher learning. I left college roughly seven years ago under difficult circumstances, and at the time carried a bitterness and resentment towards the place that kept me from even considering the possibility of return. Now, however, through a combination of a need for new growth and a need to escape Memphis, I find myself a prospective-returning student to that same school.

It has to be the same school, of course; because I chose to go to a progressive, academically-minded liberal arts college with a program based on a design-your-own-curriculum-type concept (aka "The Plan of Concentration," or simply the Plan), none of my credits after my sophomore year (nor a few before, as well) are transferrable to nearly any other institution. If I go somewhere else, I start over as a 2nd-year student. If I want to finish this thing up in a reasonable amount to time, it's back to my old alma mater with me.

Thus, this proposal. The school has no set process for returning students, and I'm not getting a great deal of advice on the subject (maybe it's a test? to see if I'm as independently-motivated as I'll probably need to be?), so I'm left guessing what they want from me. I assume I'll need to convince at least one faculty member to formally accept me as a final-year Plan student, and that's what this proposal is about. It's the only useful thing I can think of to do, and I figure I'll have to do it at some point anyway, so I might as well get it done.

I am fortunate in one respect: since I left, the film department has changed completely and utterly. The new professor seems to be very amenable and sympathetic to my interests and ideas, which is a departure from the professors I left, one of whom was thoroughly burnt-out and apathetic, and the other arrogant and overly full of himself. Given that that was what I began my fledgling film career under, it's frankly impressive, I think, that I continued on with it. This current professor is arguably exactly what I need right now; he's the right teacher, and this is the right time. So it seems like something that can and should happen.

But I still have my old professor to deal with... she was my primary (non-film) Plan Sponsor the first time, and I have very mixed feelings about taking up under her again. It's not that I dislike her; I don't at all, I like her and respect her very much. It's just that, having left under a dark shadow the first time, I'm very worried about how things will go this time. I can't help but wonder if, from her perspective, the floundering 22-year-old I was then will ever be entirely absent. The fact is, she said some things at the time that stung me deeply, and I haven't forgotten them. I don't blame her, or hold a grudge against her -- she didn't have any realistic understanding of where I was or what I was going through at the time, so how was she to know the impact of what she said? -- but neither can I quite get over what was said at the time and how very unhelpful it all was. She, of course, has probably forgotten entirely... just a few passing words to one student of hundreds passing through.

The fact remains, though, that I will have to go back under her guidance, at least to some extent... the Plan I do from this point forward must still be (and on some level very much is) connected to the Plan I left off from. Even if my emphasis and primary focus shifts completely, and I end up working with my old Sponsor on the side more than in the main, I must still draw that old thread into whatever work I do now.

I find myself in an awkward situation academically. Although I haven't been doing this particular kind of academic work for nearly seven years now, it's not as if I've remained idle; on the practical side of things, I've gone elsewhere and made enormous progress. The upshot being, I know a great deal more on one side of the subject than a typical undergraduate would, so there's a lot of material I don't need to cover; I will be considerably more advanced than my fellow students. From a production standpoint, I would naturally be working on a doctoral level now, but I'm going into an environment of mostly basic instruction. I don't mean to do much production as part of my Plan, so it's not a major issue, but I doubt I'll be entirely disconnected from it, either. It all means I'm a bit lop-sided -- in a good way, obviously, but it still makes the intellectual fit a bit strange.

But it also means that I have the foundation under me to do a really solid piece of work... not just the fundamental stuff that a typical undergrad would be doing, but something on an entirely different level: primary research on an emerging movement. Which is pretty exciting. I feel much more equal to the task than I did seven years ago -- the great irony of sending kids to college or the university when they're 18 is that they're never really ready to make the most of it at that age -- and I feel like I can get some strong, impressive work done over the next year.

Provided, of course, I can convince the school of that.
2:06 PM ::
Amy :: permalink