Degrees of Glory

So, this may be a longer post.

For the last two and a half weeks I’ve had my head in the clouds because I’ve finally finished a major life project and feel this total weight lifted off my shoulders.

Let me explain:

I started college in 1993. I went on a mission for the LDS church from 1994 to 1996 in Germany and jumped right back into school when I got home.

I took my last classes in the spring of 2001, right before I got married.

If you haven’t done the math yet, that’s six years of college.

I was enrolled for both the fall and winter semesters for all six years and took at least 12 credits every semester.

I had a blast during college, so that may be why I took a little longer than some, but over the course of those I also changed my major from theater to manufacturing engineering to theater education and finally back to theater.

I have more math credits than probably any other theater student and I took a bunch of secondary education classes that were fun, but did me no good.

Here’s the kicker; I never finished!  Six years, almost 170 college credits, and no degree.

When I stopped going to school I had 4 classes left to take before I qualified for a theater degree.

I got married in November of 2001 and all of the sudden providing for my little family seemed more important than finishing my degree. That might be a little short sighted, as a degree would potentially increase my earning potential, but that’s how I felt at the time.

I was able to finish 3 of the classes over the next 4 years thanks to the awesome independent study program at BYU, but that last class has been a thorn in my side for 11 years.

Ideally, I would have taken that class much earlier in my college career as it was a 100 level beginning theater class.

Five or six years ago got on an ambitious streak and called the theater department chair (one of my former professors) and asked him what it would take to finish the class.

We agreed that Boise State had a class that sounded close enough to the BYU class that it would be an acceptable substitute.

I started attending classes at Boise State a week or two after their fall semester officially started. I’d missed a few classes, but I figured I could do extra work and catch up pretty quickly.

The syllabus confirmed that if I wanted a passing grade in the class I couldn’t miss anymore days.

Unfortunately, Nichole and I had a trip planned to Portland and Spokane to visit the Comedy Sportz clubs in preparation of opening our own later in the year.

I spoke to the professor about my dilemma and couldn’t convince him to allow me to miss a few more days later in the year, so I dropped the class.

So close!

Fast forward to last week. I’ve been contemplating getting another degree or an advanced degree in management or information systems or something. One of the main things holding me back has been the fact that I don’t have an undergraduate degree.

So, I finally called my BYU theater and media arts adviser and asked her where we were with everything, if the requirements had changed, and how I could get this last class done.

I was thinking of trying the BSU course again or doing an independent study play writing course I found on the BYU website.

My adviser agreed to talk with the new department chair at their weekly meeting and let me know what needed to happen.

A few days later I got an email from my adviser. She said the wonderful Amy Jensen, the department chair, had agreed to waive that last class for me, CLEARING THE WAY FOR ME TO GRADUATE!

That’s right, all the requirements have been met, fees paid, and ecclesiastical endorsements submitted.

I’m graduating with a BA in Theater from BYU next month. I won’t be attending commencement or convocation because I’ll be in the middle of getting the house boat docked and unloaded from our Lake Powell trip. I’m not super upset about that, though, because I actually walked with my brother, Ben, a few years ago when he graduated.

So, in about a month I’ll be the proud owner of a sheet of paper that says I completed a bachelors degree in theater and media arts from Brigham Young University.

What’s the next step? I can’t believe I’m actually considering going back for an advanced degree, but my short-sighted-ness has been replaced with an understanding of how much an education is worth.

A master’s degree in cyber security or IT architecture would be worth its weight in gold, even though it seems like it’s going to cost an arm and a leg.


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