Saturday, March 11, 2006

Holy what?

The first thing anyone would say to me when I told them where I was going to coolege was "Holy What? Oh you mean Nazareth Academy."

Yes, the school was so new that the older more established all girls high school, Nazareth Academy, which occupied space on the other side of the campus, was the place most people were more familiar with. Consequently, people assumed you were going to a "glorified high school."

Not only was Nazareth Academy better known, but the class enrollment was bigger, so when we were on the bus (trackless trolly) in the morning the Nazareth girls far outnumbered the HFC girls. Somehow it never bothered me. I knew the work in college classes was not high school level and that if I succeeded I would get a B.A. from an accredited institution when I graduated and that was all that mattered.

Classes. That was strange. Being so small and "exclusive" we had no place to hide. We had to declare a major from day one. You could change it, naturally, but there was no such thing as "undecided". HFC had no journalism department, so my major was English, because I figured that if you knew how to write well there would be no job in any new organization I couldn't do.

So English it was. Eight of total declared English, and from that day forward we shared most classes until Graduation.

Unlike Catholic high school where the choice was never yours at HFC you did have a few options. However, not as Freshmen. In Pennsylvania the required number of credits needed to graduate with a BA in anything was 128. But this was a catholic college, so we had manditory classes for graduation from HFC. We had to complete 16 theology and 12 philosophy credits. That was a literal minor in Philosophy according to some schools,(where a few graduates went for a Masters in Philosophy after receiving their BA). We also had to declare a minor in another subject. I picked Economics. To make all requirements for graduation in my major, and to satisfy HFC and the Pennsylvania rules I needed 142 credits - and I had to do it within 4 years by virtue of the scholarship. So there was never a semester when I took less than 17 credits. Most times I carried 18 and occasionally 19. Hey, what do you think it's going to be FREE and easy?

The "Chinese menu" classes in Music, Art, History, Science,language (I had Spanish for 4 semesters, as required)Theology, Philosophy and Psychology always had more students. Theology was the only class taught in the "Lecture Hall" because we had about 40-50 in the class. Most other classes were populated by less than 20 and of course my "English" class was only about 10 people tops at any one time. Always me and the same 7 others. Rosemarie, MarieElaine, Mary, Dotty, Barbara, Inez and Susan. The occasional other person took classes with us if they hadn't fulfilled the requirement for English and couldn't fit the "regular" class into their schedule. And even upon occasion a nun who was trying to finish her teaching requirements, would take classes, especially the ones held in the late afternoon or the early evening. Sr. Sullivan and some nuns from the Trinitarian order would occasionally in habit our little group, but only for a class or two.

Where there is only one class and 10 people you learn very quickly that you can't BS your way around a reading assignment. You try avoiding a professor for 45 minutes 3 times a week, or for 1 hrs. 25 minutes twice a week and see how far it gets you. So I learned to do assignments as they were given. I learned to pay attention and I learned the seminar method of study long before we had classes that were actually called seminars. We had a phys ed requirement, but it was fun. Ballet, bowling, swimming nothing so difficult as gymnastics or running a "mile". So in Freshman year we didn't get to pick much except the time we would like to take something, and most of the time there was a conflict with one course or another so you pretty much took what you could when you could. Some days you lucked out and were home by 2 p.m. Other days, like the Biology and lab days, lasted forever, from 8 a.m until 8 p.m.

The academics were challanging, but they were nothing compared to my home life.

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