Monday Dare: Harvard, Hoodrat style

(Working the late night grind.)


Every week, I challenge myself to a Monday Dare. Click on the link to see the complete list of Monday Dares or learn more about its origin.

This week: Work the Ivy League (not really) grind

Wait just a goddamn minute. How is it the middle of November already? No, you’re right, I guess it’s not exactly the middle of November. CLOSE ENOUGH. FIGHT ME.

It’s been a struggle keeping track of the exact date this year. My insurance agent didn’t send me a calendar AGAIN (That’s three years in a row, William. Don’t think it’s gone unnoticed.), and I’m too cheap to buy one. I try to hit up the bookstores around January 15 to see if they’re unloading any calendars for extremely discounted prices, but I usually miss the sale because, well, I don’t have a calendar to tell me it’s January 15. Do you see the Vicious Cycle action going on right there?

A few months ago, I registered for an online computer science class offered by Harvard’s Open Learning Initiative. It appealed to me because it was free, and upon completion, I would receive a paper certificate from HarvardX recognizing my achievement. I had plans to frame that bitch (double matte, gilt trimming) with a small brass plaque underneath:


Sure, it’s probably not going to be as satisfying as a legit undergraduate degree that involves actual live class time and tuition, but let’s be real…I can’t commit to working the Ivy League grind for four soul-sucking years.

I only know this because the online course is already starting to wear me down. It’s stated clearly in the course description before sign-up, so it’s not like I got tricked or anything, but the self-paced course involves: 8 Problems Sets (15-20 hours each), 2 Quizzes, and 1 Final Project. Not only do I not have a calendar, but I also don’t own a calculator. I didn’t realize that 8 multiplied by 15 or 20 is way more than 3…which is the maximum number of hours I was willing to devote to my pursuit of higher education.

GUYS, 120-160 hours is NOWHERE near 3. And that time range is probably an estimate for someone with a functioning brain. My course requirements should read: 8 problem sets (FUCKING FOREVER), 2 Quizzes (FUCK YOU, YOU’RE FUCKED), 1 Final Project (FUCK YOU SOME MORE, HAHAHA).

Class started October 15. I have until April 15. I have yet to finish Problem Set #1. It’s not that the set is too difficult, it’s just really hard to see the computer screen through all the tears. If this is what it’s like to become smarter, than I’m a-ok remaining as dumb as a sack of rocks.

Have you ever been in over your head? Committed to something out of your league? Did you quit or see it through?

P.S. Instagram just launched a web interface, so you no longer need a smartphone to peek accounts. Since joining Instagram a few weeks ago, I’ve been outta control taking pictures of shit that probably shouldn’t be documented. Username: flourishinprogress

P.P.S. Dumb people still like to have friends. Let’s connect on the Flourish in Progress Facebook page.

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  • Jennifer June Clark

    Algebra. I couldn’t make through a not even 100 level class in college. The first time, I dropped it and slunk away with my tail ‘twixt my legs. The 2nd time, they threw me out, and told me I was clueless. It’s like being color-blind. I *cannot* see the pattern. I’ve never been so frustrated in my entire life. Yet, I used algebra daily in a later job. Go figure.

  • FearlessFibro

    FYI—the Dollar store sells calendars, and they hardly miss anything—but just so’s ya know, Thursday comes between Wednesday and Friday (in case you pick up the one I got).

  • Mrs. Pitt

    I think you’re gonna do it, I do.

  • Jen Reinmuth

    When I went back to school after my divorce I knew I was screwed like a prom night virgin. But I plugged on for no other reason but that I wanted my short people to have at least one parent who wasn’t a total deadbeat. I still don’t know what the hell I’m doing half the time, and I’ll probably be paying off my student loans for the next three presidential administrations, but I’m halfway to my PhD, I’m buying my first house, and I’m finally supporting my short people by myself and that feels pretty damned amazing.

  • Katherina

    I’m very determined to finish what I started… even if it takes longer than expected. For instance, in February I signed up to study my way to become a day skipper. This should have been 6 months of hard work… and I’ve spread it out for a bit longer. Maybe even a year… As long as you find something you really want to learn, you’ll find the way to finish it :)

  • unitedstatesofbecky

    Well, congrats on have the badassery to take something like that on. I’m pretty much in over my head every single fucking day. The only time I truly know I’m capable of doing something is when I see some dumb shit who I KNOW is stupid as hell doing it. And then I think, “Well, if that fucktard can do it, so can I!” It’s empowering if other people are stupid. That’s mean. But true.

  • Alison

    I can’t even keep up with the photo a day thing, never mind a gazillion hours on a course. The only way I made it through 3 years of university was because I was young and less lazy.

    Good luck, yo.

  • Brittany Rae

    First, this Disqus thing isn’t working unless you have a specialty browser. LAME!
    Second, holy shit, chick! I have 3 degrees and I went on to that online edX thing and I wouldn’t be able to take any of those classes because they are way over my head. WAY. I love taking classes & such but wow. I think you should earn a diploma for that crap not just a certificate.

  • newfoundjoye

    I think everyone gets in over their head doing something at least once in their lives. I always end up doing these types of projects because someone asks me “if” I can do something, and I know I probably could if I put myself to it. Then, I say yes because I feel like I’d be lying if I said no. And then I HAVE to finish because I get so serious about it.

  • leanne koh

    i think I’m in over my head everyday at work. People ask me when I’m going to get my RN degree, it will take me forever to do that. I’m happy i got through 2 degrees already, this last one will be the hardest to even start. Don’t give up, I’m sure Cal can help you out.

  • Candice Franklin

    For a second I got all excited and was like “Hell yeah! Free Harvard!” Than I was all like, “oh… Fuck that. I’m already borrowing 2 hours a day” I STAY in over my head. Full time mommy. Full time employee. Full time student. (Which unfortunately I had to pay for, so I have no choice but to finish. Fucking Bullshit if you ask me)

    So Yes, homey-G-Funk-McGee, I feel ya. I just keep telling myself, “Dude-self, you only have to stick-it out until May…Then you will have your very own degree to get dusty on a shelf!” meh.. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Good luck with that Ivy League, Yo!

    Get Gangsta wit’ it.

  • Karyn Gorman

    yeah, I’m currently piling shit on my plate and can’t stop. Over my head is an understatement. Good thing I still find time to procrastinate and read your post.

  • Richelle PIpski

    Amazing that you had the energy to even read the instructions. It sounds horrible :) My big commitment right now besides trying to write daily, is to learn to take the fucking bus. I’ve lived in the city 3 years now and only cab or drive. Vagrants and hookers can seem to manage the bus but I am totally perplexed by the confusing numbers and letters. Is there an online course for this? Good luck!!

  • mommyonthespot

    Yes, I’ve been in totally over my head before! One might way right now I’m in over my head. Between blogging and this new thing I’m prepping for and raising my kids and making dinner and cleaning and the holiday (don’t even get me started on the holiday!), I am feeling overwhelmed.

    Caffeine has helped me power through, and I’m afraid that I might bleed coffee right now.

    But for me, the sign of being truly overwhelmed involves some emotional component that is dragging me down. If I can just talk myself off the ledge, the actual work behind it doesn’t seem as hard.

    For this new thing, I had to get together my resume and fill out a 72 point application. I hadn’t thought my resume since 2007 (but if we are being honest, not really since 2001). There was a lot of emotional shit and something that should have taken 1 day took 2 weeks.

    Liz, you can do this. You are smart. Look at this blog you created. You. Can. Do. This.


  • Roller Scrapper

    You can do it! I knew nothing about computers when I went to college and I went on to get a Masters in Comp Sci…in fact I wanted to laugh when my advisor told me to go for a Masters because I still felt like I didn’t know anything. I’ll give you a secret, you can absolutely do it but you just need to start it :)
    Sometimes the hardest part of a challenge is getting to it, but I believe it was Wayne Gretzky that said you miss 100% of the shots you never take, so go for it!

  • Terrye Toombs

    I think you might be missing a golden opportunity here. Get your hordes of blogfans to help out! Each week, post one of the problem sets and open it up for discussion. It’s not like they’re doing the work for you, merely assisting you with a little research and feedback.

    This would work for the Final Project as well. But yer on your own for the quizzes. I always sucked ass at those. Good luck on your Ivy League ed-you-mu-cation.

  • Delfin Joaquin Paris III

    If you don’t have a wall calendar, where do you go to circle your period days?