In Part 1 of this series on my educational misadventures, I listed the following educational accomplishments:
What is missing from this list is the three failed attempts at higher education that occurred between 1992 and 2012.
Attempt #1: Master of Music Education, Wright State University
You might recall that I had no intention of ever teaching children in a classroom after my undergraduate experiences. In fact, my dream after graduation was to obtain a master's and doctorate in music theory and composition and become a college professor. However, there were two primary factors that competed with my dream: Poverty and Religion.
Like many young couples, my husband and I were poor. After college we ended up moving in with his parents for a few months until we could afford our own apartment. The small town where we lived was nowhere near a university that offered a master's degree in composition. Even if it had been, I could not have afforded the tuition without incurring massive student loan debt.
During my time as an undergraduate, my love for "awful Christian pop music" had evolved into a gift for leading church congregations in contemporary worship music. There was a church in my husband's hometown in which we felt "called" to serve, and a friend told us that the position of worship leader might open up soon, which was one of the reasons we decided to move to Tim's hometown.
Choosing the Path of Least Resistance
The church position did not open up right away. However, a graduate assistant position opened up in the Music Education department at Wright State University. Having no clear direction for my career at this point, the offer of a part-time job and a full scholarship seemed much better than my current job at the time, which was working for McDonald's. So I accepted the assistantship. A few months into the first semester at WSU, the church position opened up.
I found it extremely difficult to balance a part-time undergraduate course load (to make up the classes I had missed by changing my major to music performance at MSU), a full-time graduate course load, playing in multiple music ensembles, and working part-time as a worship leader on weekends. I had a 45-minute commute to WSU each weekday, with classes scheduled from 8am - 7pm most days, church music rehearsals on Saturday mornings, and worship services on Sundays. There were times when I ended up finding a place to sleep on the floor at the university, just to buy some extra time to do homework. Even so, my grades were not up to par, my work and ensemble participation were unreliable, and the faculty were generally unhappy with my performance.
I managed to negotiate some changes in my course load and assistantship requirements for the second half of the year, which made things somewhat more manageable. However, I did not return as a graduate assistant the following year. Quite honestly, I can't recall whether I was invited back for a second year or not. If I was, it was a merciful act. Regardless, I knew I could not continue burning the candle at both ends.
My intention was to at least continue taking classes so that the efforts of the previous year would not be wasted. However, the Evangelical church where I worked scheduled revival services during the first week of classes with a guest evangelist. The pastor never asked me if I was available to lead worship for three nights of services that week, nor did he offer extra compensation for my time. He simply told me I was required to be there. In fact, as I recall, I heard about the upcoming revival services when it was publicly announced to the congregation -- a pattern that would repeat itself in my future church experiences.
Choosing what seemed to be the path of least resistance at the time, I dropped out of school, and spent that week watching a random evangelist attempt to heal people and cast out demons that probably didn't exist. Fun times.
Stay tuned for The Very Worst Student: Part 3!