A recap of the last few months, Part II: (School)

So my first semester back at school ended a week ago. I’m going to San Diego City College right now with the intention of transferring to San Diego State or UC San Diego for the last ~2 years. My intended major is Computer Engineering.

I took 21 units (12 is considered full time) so I was kept rather busy. While 21 units seems like a lot it doesn’t really give the whole picture. I had a German III class that was 5 units which didn’t really require effort. My other classes were Precalculus, Scientific Programming (Java) w/ Lab, C/C++ Programming and Honors Sociology: Social Problems From a Feminist Perspective. We don’t get our grades for a few days yet but I think I got an A in everything.

I really liked Precalc and Sci Programming. The instructors for those were really nice and helpful. I’m ready for Calculus now!

The Sociology class was LOTS of work. I probably wrote about 1000 pages for that class. The feminist aspect of the class was really interesting. Too bad the term makes so many people cringe.

The C/C++ class was absolutely horrid. It was done by the laziest professor of all time. The Sci. Programming class and the C/C++ class were both online but that’s were the similarities stop. While the Sci. Programming professor was always giving feed back and prompting participation, the C/C++ professor only showed up to post the assignments and quizzes. Once you submitted your assignment there was NEVER any feedback. Nothing is ever graded except the test which is all automated. The tests consistently had errors and when notified of the errors he wouldn’t take the effort to change the grade (at least for students to see). When another student and I went to confront him about these issues he made these excuses that it’s not realistic that he give feedback on everything. Fine, unfortunately it wasn’t realistic for him to give feedback on anything. Oh, and for the programmers out there, we didn’t even cover pointers, structs or classes!

Apart from that one bad class I’m really impressed with the level of education at City College. Many more students follow the 2-year-then-transfer path in California than in NC. The student are more serious and also a bit older than in NC. I’m meeting a lot of really cool people that are in a similar situation as myself; a mature student going back to school after experiencing a bit of life. There is also a tuition waiver program for po’ folk that I qualify for. That is saving my $400+ a semester.

Besides the classes, I also started a Computing Club on campus. We’ve got about 10 members and will probably increase that quite a bit when we participate in our first club rush in the Spring. I’m President of the club and have given a few presentations on Firefox, Linux, and Web Development. We’ve also had people give presentations on Maple/Mathematica, The GIMP and the Autonomous Underwater Vehicle Project, of which I’m also a part. It’s purpose is to be a place were we each can learn from the other.

The AUV Project is apart really interesting for me. Basically, the goal is to build a robot that can navigate an obstacle course. Last year the City College team got 17th out of 21 participating schools which is pretty good for a first year. We are the only 2-year school involved. There is also a High School participating. The other schools are 4-year engineering schools: MIT, Georgia Tech, Univ. of Florida, Cornell, Duke etc. Basically, we don’t satnd much of a chance to win but it’s all about learning. I’m currently building a GUI to display the readings of the bot. I’ll talk more about that in the 3rd part of this recap.

In November I finally got a job. I’m tutoring a blind student in German 10 hours a week. It’s quite a challenge. It’s made even more challenging by the fact that my student is newly blind and therefore doesn’t know braille or how to properly use a computer. I’ll be continuing tutoring him in the next semester. With that money I barely get by. I wasn’t exactly planning to get rich by being a student, though. :)

I’m looking forward to next semester.Actually, I also have an intersession class that starts in 2 days and is 4 weeks long. That’s just a Speech class requirement, however, so I ain’t really looking forward to that. Next semester I’ll be taking Calculus and Analytical Geometry I w/ Lab, Digital Systems, English 205 (ugh) and possibly Machine and Assembly Language w/ Lab.

In short, I’m lovin’ being back in school. Only 7 more semesters to go!

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