Friday, December 9, 2022

No more SPC for Me!


Registration Day

St Pete College

Today is the one day that seniors can register for free tuition for the upcoming semester. Classes start on Monday, December 12, and run through May 2023.

I'm not enrolling in anything for the spring 2023 semester. I've sent several hours looking through the available courses, and nothing really appeals to me.

Why College Over Age 65?

I re-enrolled in college several years ago for many reasons.

  • I was newly retired, and I was excited about starting a new chapter in my life! 
    • (I finally earned my Associate's degree in 2002.)
  • I wanted some structure - someplace to be at a certain time. 
    • SPC gave me that. I enrolled in two mid-morning classes a week. I attended classes at the Clearwater campus (2 miles away), and later drove to my classes at the Seminole and the Tarpon Springs campuses.
  • I did not have to matriculate or declare a major.
    • I've attended colleges for the last 50 years. Collecting transcripts would have been both time-consuming and expensive.
    • I don't need a college degree for my next job. I don't expect to have to compete in the job market again.
  • I wanted to be around people who looked at the world differently.
    • St. Pete College is a community college located in Pinellas County. It has a non-traditional student body. Of course, there were freshmen and sophomores pursuing their degrees. Sitting next to me in one class was a high school senior in advanced placement. In the next row sat a 28-year-old student who had his own production company. Sitting on the back row was a couple that was a decade older than me.
  • I wanted to learn new things. I had been focused on computers for the last 20 years.

Writing Classes

My first set of classes was focused on writing. I completed a journalism course, followed by a creative writing class and a world lit class. They were delightful! Because I was still maintaining the website for a local theatre, I enrolled in a "Stage Management" class.

Auditing vs Grades

The first classes I took, I took for grades. I was surprised at how easy it was to make good grades when grades weren't important. (I had a 3.5 average, BTW)

Then I discovered that I could audit the course. That meant that the work I submitted would be graded, but I didn't have to meet deadlines. To be fair, I did the work if there was a class project or if the other students were sharing their work in class. But I didn't have to worry about taking/passing tests! I could, but it wasn't required.

Technical Classes

Next, I discovered the joys of technical classes. I took a few of those, too.

Digital imaging

These were a disappointment to me. The photography class had us taking and developing our own B&W photographs. I lost interest when I discovered that the lab is only available to current students. I did not want to set up a lab at home. Any skills I gained would be unused and obsolete in a few years anyway.

The alternate course was digital photography. For me, this was disappointing because the instructor was more interested in teaching "buttonology" than why we would want, or need, to use a particular effect.


I took one introduction to videos course. I really enjoyed it, despite having to drive to Seminole twice a week. On the first day, the instructor said "pick a poem." Then we took our choice through all the steps necssary to create a video. This included writing a script, writing a storyboard, planning and budgeting the shoot, actually shooting footage, and finally post-production editing. The final exam consisted of each student showing their 4-minute video in class.

I was in a 2nd video course when COVID struck in 2020. about 5 weeks into the semester, all student work and gatherings just stopped.


This was a difficult time for everyone. I signed up for an online class in the fall of 2020 just to stay in college. The class was a bust, and I stopped paying attention after the 3rd week. (No refund, even though SPC charged a premium for online classes.) I took a freshman English course.

The Joy is Gone...

Here is a review of why I went back to college, and how it's different now.
  • I was newly retired
    • That was over a decade ago.
  • I wanted some structure
    • I have plenty of projects to keep me busy, from the Pinellas Genealogy Society and the VFW, For social activities I have Meetup.
  • I did not have to matriculate or declare a major.
    • I have been in the SPC space for years, and I still don't need a degree for my next job.
  • I wanted to learn new things. I had been focused on computers for the last 20 years.
    • I subscribe to many different email mailing lists, and that sparks a lot of reading. I have also discovered YouTube just-in-time tutorials.
  • I wanted to be around people who looked at the world differently
The last bullet is the most significant. The college space has changed because of COVID. Most of the classes are still online or maybe hybrid classes. The campus appears empty. It's not the bustling environment it was in 2019 and before.

So, my decision is to set out next spring and summer. I will update my calendar for the 2023-2024 Fall registration date, but I don't expect the "college experience" to change much by then.

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