Docsplainin' -- it's what I do

Docsplainin'--it's what I do.
After all, I'm a doc, aren't I?

Thursday, August 7, 2008

How I Chose My Major

I was telling this story the other day, and thought it might be worth a re-telling.

I had been to a hoity-toity, liberal-artsy girls' school in the Old South for two years. It was not a good fit for me, as any of you who know me can well imagine. I dropped out my second summer, got an apartment and a job. A year later, I felt ready to go back, but had acquired some expenses and therefore needed to keep the day job. Back in the day, college was for young persons in dorms, not adults with jobs and apartments: There were no night schools.

But as it happened, the civil rights movement had spawned a federal grant to educate police officers, who, back in the day, only had to have high-school diplomas. Police officers work shifts. Ergo, to get the grant money, a college would have to offer day and night courses. And as it happened, a little school in my hometown decided to open a night school, The Urban Center, and make it available to citizens as well as the police. So I applied.

I was working at the time as a pool typist, and later as a Data Entry Operator, for Dun & Bradstreet. I wanted a promotion to Business Reporter, but to do that I needed some business courses. The company would reimburse a portion of my tuition for every course in which I obtained a "B" or better. Sounded good to me. I got accepted, and in due course went over to register.

Yes, children, it is true: Back in the day, you had to register in person. No Internet. Plus, since it was a night school, and registration normally happened during the day, faculty and administrative staff rather than the secretarial/clerical types were handling it after hours in the main office complex. I drew the Dean for an interview, as I was transferring in from another school. We did our thing with the credits and he wrote down my proposed major and then he left me sitting there while he went across the hall to do his thing with the punch cards (I'm really dating myself here, aren't I?)

I love books. When I'm in someone's home or office for the first time, I go straight for the books. The Dean had great books, including Cleckley's Mask of Sanity. Fascinating!

So he comes back, having signed me up for business courses, and I ask, "What did you major in?" He looked at me warily, like "Oh my god this woman is going to be one of those students who changes her major every semester, isn't she?" and answered, "Psychology. I'm a psychologist." And I said, "That's what I want to do!" and we had to do all the paperwork and the punch cards all over again. But I loved it, and still do. It was the smart decision for me.

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