The Next CLEP

You thought online classes over the summer were enough? That writing papers and going to a university center for multiple proctored tests was good enough for what is supposed to be a break? Funny joke.

So in not too terribly long, I will be trying my hand again at something I absolutely detest: standardized-type testing. And not just any standardized testing. A test that is for a foreign language that I haven’t had a formal class in since my sophomore year of high school.

Call me crazy all you want. Why would I want to study for an expensive test and endure the stress involved? Well, to graduate a year early like I’m planning, I need four more credits of a foreign language. I’ve taken two years of French in college (don’t ask how much I’ve actually retained), but to get the credits necessary to major in International Studies, I basically need one more semester of a new language.

This is obviously a problematic situation when you cannot fill a requirement through traditional means, or need to go above and beyond just to earn that degree. I couldn’t even just take another semester of French to meet this quota since every semester after the first year only counts for three credits. A broken system? Just a tad.

So it would be easy to just throw that idea out the window and not fall into this kind of trap. If you’re already completing a major and minor already, why add this to the plate? And still graduate in three years?

The fact is, I take my education very seriously. It truly is my current occupation. If I am investing in a college degree, I want to get the most out of it. I’m not sticking around to slack off when I know what I am capable of completing. Does it feel overwhelming in the moment when you trying to plan out how to get all of your credits in and take classes year-round? Heck yes. But in the end, I know it will be worth it. I know that my hard work will pay off and propel me toward wherever direction I go.

In the present moment, that means making sure I have my grades and credits together that I need to while balancing everything else that’s going on. Taking the CLEP test for a class that would royally screw up my schedule for any other class (since it would be the only one that is four days a week) just makes sense.

Luckily I still have a basic background in German. Even when I was taking French, I would catch myself mixing up the two languages into some new lingo. I still understand the grammar patterns and rules, so my studying will be primarily vocabulary words.

Not to mention, the major listening aspect of the test. You have to listen to German conversations and answer questions about them. I’m predominantly a visual person, and it shows when I gravitate toward reading and writing a language versus listening and speaking it. So having this large portion of the test dependent on auditory comprehension, I have plenty of studying to do.

Studying to listen to German seems backwards to me. I’m used to reading off a list of vocabulary or a book rather than trying to find samples of spoken German, but it is what it is. Now that my summer classes have wrapped up, I can devote most of my energy to buckling down on the German.

I don’t expect to become fluent, although it’s a language I would to say I can still use. I greatly admire bi-, tri-, or multi-lingual people. I think it’s so interesting to learn language and the culture behind it. But in this instance, I truly am just studying for a single test, a concept that really grinds my gears and feels so skewed from how we should view education.

Something I’ve learned over the years is that you have to jump through some hoops to get where you’re going. Education is especially abundant with hoops, whether that be completing every assignment down to the minute detail, reading every rubric front to back, and making sure your bases are covered credit-wise. I make it sound very frustrating, but let me tell you, the reward at the end knowing I did it, that I made a goal for myself and accomplished it, is well worth it.

And while the circumstances of taking a standardized CLEP test aren’t ideal, it’s still an opportunity to learn. We all lifelong learners, regardless of our educational background. We should all be curious, hungry to learn more, to expand our horizons to include new ideas, people, and places. I can use this time to learn how to study in a potentially new light, to manage my time more wisely during a more low-key period before actual classes start, and to take care of myself when the dreaded anxiety comes on.

Life isn’t always fun. College isn’t just parties and alcohol. There’s a level of seriousness required, a self-discipline implemented but still allowing room to breathe. Sure, any tests aren’t fun, but the end result will be something even more rewarding and satisfying.

Take care, and keep the faith. -Allie


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