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Back to School

21 Sep
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I’m back in school.

I have a bit of a public confession to make: I didn’t finish my graduate degree, the one I started in 1998. Back then, I was the next best thing to a fresh graduate, having burned out after a year of teaching (partly at UA&P, partly at good old AdMU). I started taking my master’s degree in Information Management, which naturally is totally unrelated to my bachelor’s degree (I’m the proud holder of an AB in English Literature from the Ateneo). At the time, it was envisioned as a degree for technical folks or IT managers to get their credentials in proper management tools. CIOs were the new big thing in multinational organizations and it was what we all aspired to be.

Since I was young and jobless, I had a lot of time to focus on school. I learned to program in Java, which led to quite a lot of work. This was when Java was still nascent in the country, and Java programmers and trainers were in short supply. I did a few corporate courses and taught a few classes for the Ateneo Center for Continuing Education. At around the same time, I got quite busy with a new age seminar group called PSI, which would grow to take up all of my time.

That’s pretty much how I wound up starting a master’s without finishing. I got busy with work, I got busy with other things, and the next thing you know, it’s fifteen years later and I’m still not done with either my thesis or my degree.

I came back to the Ateneo a few months ago to try to sort out what could be done about it. The short answer: nothing. The degree in question was no longer on offer. The unit that offered it, AITI, had long since been disbanded.

On the other hand, they did have an offer for students with my dilemma: I could be reinstated as an MBA student, with no need to take the entrance exams. And I could have classes credited, provided that their course descriptions matched. (I need to point out that this is incredibly generous of the AGSB as there is typically a five year time frame in which a student is allowed to complete his master’s.)

I agreed on the condition that I be allowed into Ateneo’s prestigious Regis program, which is positioned as the MBA for the C-suite. As something of a C-suite aspirant myself, I thought it the best fit.

I’m partway through my first term as a returnee and I have to say, it’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.

Balancing work and life was challenging enough, what with Iea’s work and my crazy commitments. I can’t explain why, but throwing school into that mix seemed a good idea at the time.

I suffered a few insomniac nights recently as I literally couldn’t stop thinking about schoolwork I had to get done before I fell asleep. I’d go to bed, wake up a couple of hours later, get on the computer to do some homework, and then fall asleep again.

I’m blogging again as a class requirement (which I’m finding quite fun, to be honest.)

Coming back as an older student is a mixed blessing. I have the virtue of a lot of experience to back up my opinion in class, but my discipline and habits of book learning have long since atrophied.

Because I was away so long, I’m aware of a lot of changes in the campus. (On the other hand, I was there in the first year of the Rockwell campus, since we were moved there temporarily while the de la Rosa campus was being renovated.) The tiny prayer room for Muslims, tucked away beside the stairs near the Chapel. A fairly well provisioned library. Public Internet, not restricted to offices or specific rooms.

I wonder if they still allow students onto the roof deck – it was the scene of a particularly memorable Christmas party in 2000, if I remember correctly. (I also remember a fairly wild frat party thrown by students of the Law School, to which my buddy Falx and I were invited as representatives of AITI. It took place in front of what is currently the registrar’s office, I think. But I could be wrong as my memory of that night is remarkably hazy.)

Anyway.

I’m finding going back to school quite challenging, but I think it’ll all work out. I don’t really want to leave anything hanging any more.

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general school

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