Monday, May 01, 2006


Just to show what a geek I am, the first thoughts I had when I read "Register" were about computer registers. These are special memory locations that are used to store data or information in a computer that can be read or written very quickly. However, I decided to not go there. You can thank me later. Or perhaps not after reading the following.

At the end of 8th grade everyone was given a list of the high school classes that would be available the next year and then we had to register for our freshman classes. Each class day was divided into 7 periods so we could sign up for as many as 7 classes but we were advised that we should sign up for at least 1 period of study hall. High school, after all, was pretty hard so we didn't want to take too many classes. Given how easy school was for me, this seemed pretty lame, but I went along with the program and signed up for 6 classes and a study hall.

The first semester of high school was a cake walk. Even though I was playing football and taking six classes, I still had enough spare time to spend my study halls in the library reading car magazines and books about car racing. Ruth Simon saved me.

The school had a new advising program where students were assigned a teacher to help them map out their 4 year plan for completing and graduating high school. I was fortunate to have Mrs. Simon as my adviser. I added up the graduation requirements for high school and realized that it could easily be completed in three years if I took a full load of classes each semester. The only problem was that the math and science classes were designed to take 4 years and I needed them to be prepared for college.

It would have been easy for Mrs. Simon to tell me no, that it wasn't possible. But for some reason she became my champion and went to the faculty to see what could be done. I figured that I could basically skip the normal sophomore math and science classes which were biology and geometry and skip straight to the junior level chemistry and trigonometry classes. This was initially met with resistance, but eventually the math and science teachers approved my plan. My final 4 year plan called for me to take a full load of classes from my second semester of high school until my final semester where I would only need 4 classes to graduate. Looking back, I find it ironic that I finished high school as quickly as possible while at the same time doing the minimum necessary to graduate. I could have taken 7 classes in the last semester and had done some electives, but that just wasn't how I operated; I did enough to succeed and no more.

Looking back, high school registration set a pattern for my life; one that I'm not sure was a good one. I was always racing ahead trying to get to the next step in life as quickly as possible. I was already the youngest kid in my normal class because my birthday was the day before the cut off but I spent the last two years of high school with the class ahead of mine so I was as much as two years younger than most of the kids in my classes.

I completed high school at age 16 and went to college. In some ways I was quite mature and responsible for my age; socially, however, I was more comfortable with kids a year younger than me. Dates were few and far between and sometimes comically disastrous. I completed two years of my electrical engineering program before I left on my Mormon mission at age 19. I started my junior year of college one month after returning from my Bolivian mission and jumped right in with 17.5 credit hours of technical classes. That first semester back I took three lab classes despite a strong recommendation by the college to not take more than two in a semester due the the heavy work load involved in labs. I followed this up with 18 credit hours the next semester. A little more than a year after returning home I got married the week before Christmas after another grueling semester with 18.5 hours of classes. I took it easy the next semester so I could settle in with my wife and only took 21 credit hours. Fortunately this finished all of my major requirements with the exception of technical writing, American Heritage, and freshman chemistry (which wasn't a prerequisite for any other classes). I took those remaining classes during the short spring and summer terms. I graduated magna cum laude with a 3.85 major gpa and over 180 credit hours (130 required for a bachelors degree) in 9 semesters. If I'd taken any more classes the would have started charging me graduate school rates. The average electrical engineering student took 11.5 semesters to graduate and I beat the average by a year and a half.

Am I bragging? No. In fact, I look back and wonder why I was in such a hurry. While I'm proud of my accomplishments, I wish that I'd have learned to slow down and enjoy life more. I think I would have had a really fun time my last year of high school. I loved college life, but my academic work load severly limited my opportunities for a social life and extracurricular activities. I still managed to have some fun, but my choices contributed to an outrageously high level of stress in my life from the time I was 12 until I graduated. Honestly, it didn't even stop then. It has continued to a greater or lesser extent to the present. Even when I'm relaxing, I relax fast and I relax hard.

Weekly Anamnesis


Cynthia E. Bagley said...

I did not think of computer registers.. but I am geek enough to know what you mean. LOL

My hubby taught electronics in the Navy schools. I went to some computer technician schools in the Navy--we were taught PDP 11/40, 11-34.. and I can't remember what else. LOL

Joseph's Left One said...

I can see that in you, bull. I don't know that I have that kind of drive.

Bull said...

I'm not sure I'd wish that kind of drive on anyone.

Bull said...

The funny thing is, I think I'm lazy so maybe I overcompensate. I don't know.

Karen said...

Mrs. Simon sounds like a great person to have had on your side.