Like most adults I know, I experience The College Anxiety Dream.
No, not the one where you're about to take a final in a class you forgot to attend all semester that happens to be a foreign language or a math course (a class you can't fake your way through). It's the one where I've been contacted by the university years after graduation and notified that I was actually short a credit. Therefore my degree is VOID and to officially be a college graduate, I need to go back to school and take the missing class.
I've had this dream for years. While I would have once panicked in my dream and headed (reluctantly) back to school, I'm now obstinate that I do not need my degree and, in fact, have done just fine in spite of my formal education. Not dropout Bill Gates or dropout Mark Zuckerberg sort of well by any means, but well enough that I don't look back to any of my school years (and my lack of serious ambition or Ivy League degree) and say "What if?"
Which makes my decision to take the SAT again even more bizarre.
Yes, you read that correctly. I'm a 34-year-old college graduate and I'm registered to take the SAT on January 28, 2012.
Part of me wants to see how I will fare after the 20 years since I last took the test. In 1994, I scored very averagely with a combined 1100 (I told myself at the time that I would have scored an extra 100 or 200 points if I hadn't gotten into a minor car accident the day before).
Another part of me wants to see if I'm, in fact, of less college material after college. I can only imagine (oh wait, I won't have to imagine) how poorly I will do after nearly 15 years without any formal math classes. Some sick part of me wants to experience the anxiety of having to take the test at -- wait for it -- the same high school I attended (and loathed) during my freshman and sophomore years!
And even though I know I won't do it, I want to tell some nervous high school kid in the testing room that grades and SAT scores aren't the only predictor of success. I almost failed out of high school and, to this day, am clueless about fractions. Guess what? I'm more than OK.
It's only fitting that I registered for the SAT on the eve of our first kindergarten tour for our four year-old daughter. As parents, we don't buy the hype (very prevalent in major cities) that our child's success depends on where we send her when she's five years old. As our peers were frantically trying to find the best preschool and pre-k programs for their children, we ended up sending our daughter to an "alternative" arts and crafts-based preschool that happened to be a five-minute walk from our house. She adores it and if I had my druthers, she would attend it until she was 18.
Despite our attitude about her education, I'm still programmed to worry about making the right choices for her.
So here I am, someone who has serious doubts about how we educate our children in the United States, registering for the test that is supposed to indicate how I'll perform in college. Spoiler: I already know how I did in college! I graduated with a 3.7 GPA with a major in English and minor in Studio Art.
How many times has someone asked to see my college degree? Zero.
At this point, I'm not sure if I want to score higher or lower than my initial 1100 (taking into account the differences in scoring since 1995). A lower score won't prove that I'm dumber than a 16-year-old Mena. It will just give me another opportunity to disappoint my dad. A higher score won't prove that I'm any more suited for college or "the real world."
And although I'm talking the big talk that I don't care about how I do on SAT: 2012, I'm already starting to get nervous about taking the test. Should I prep? Do I need to get a scientific calculator? Where am I going to get two #2 pencils? Should I get a new hoodie to blend in with the teenagers on Test Day? These are the questions that are now occupying my brain.
Stay tuned as I figure out the answers to these questions.