Sometime during the 20-or-so years that I have been in Relief Society, I have heard several times the anecdote about Camilla Kimball being such a believer in continuing education that “she continued to take college courses up into her 80’s.”
Have you heard that one?
It sticks in my head because I have always been a lover of school, and when I heard this anecdote, what I was really hearing was not an admonition but permission. I mean, it felt the same to me when I heard that as it would if someone were to say that she also ate chocolate right up into her 80’s.
What I’ve been thinking about lately is how dang lucky she was. Because she had something going for her that I don’t: much more money, special privileges, or both. I am having a dang hard time trying to figure out how to keep taking college classes. Because here’s what I’ve found: to take a class from the school of my choice, BYU, is nearly impossible. Not unfairly, seats in classes are reserved for legitimate students, not continuing ed-ers like myself. I require special permission to be allowed to even take a class. (So far, my one request has been denied because, they said, it didn’t appear that I NEEDED the class.) Oh, and assuming I could get the permission? I get to pay post-baccalaureate tuition to the tune of around $1000 per class.
Thank goodness there is the independent study program, which requires no special permission and is about half as much money. Still, $500 a pop is a killer. And I really, really prefer live instruction (and the deadlines that come with it).
I’ve priced other schools around here, including community colleges, and in every case I am looking at at least $500 for independent study and closer to $1000 for a live class.
How in the world could I justify such a thing, just for my own amusement? I find myself looking for excuses (“I need credit in order to renew my teacher’s license”—which is true, or “This will help me in my future career”—which limits me to writing and teaching classes but what if I want to take logic or physical science or American Heritage again?).
The answer, of course, is to craft my own instruction using books from the library, etc. I have even been known to go down to BYU and buy syllabi from classes I wish I could take and follow them. But it’s JUST NOT THE SAME.
So, anyway, I’m happy for Sister Camilla and her special permission to take classes at BYU, but don’t hold her up as an example to me because that’s candy I can’t have!