No, sadly, not the England version; the Ontario one, but still, I'm happy! Let me fill you in on the details:
As you know I have been finished school since December of '07 and to date have had zero luck when it comes to the lovely thing called employment. Back in November I decided that I'd had enough, and figured it was pretty clear my generalized Biological Science degree was getting me nowhere fast, so I decided it was time to specialize my degree and not have it be so broad in terms of the education. Well, since I have my minor in Nutritional Science already, I decided to look into the Food and Nutrition programs at Guelph and Brescia University College in London. Having the minor allows me to complete what would be another 4 year program in 2 years. Brescia is affiliated with the University of Western Ontario and that would be the diploma I'd receive upon completion of the degree. Both programs are accredited by the Dietitians of Canada, meaning that once you complete the undergrad program as well as the internship, you are qualified as a Registered Dietitian anywhere in Canada. The internships are highly competitive, and you have to apply to get in, but still, it's worth a shot.
I had to have all the forms filled out for OUAC and sent in by December for both schools in order to qualify for Fall 2009, so I did. I later found out that as a readmitted student to Guelph I needed a 75% average to get into the program. Problem? Mine was only 73.2. Yep, a big 1.8 percent difference. Brescia however only requires 72% for transfer students (which I guess is the term for students who already have degrees as well as those who are switching schools). Since I'm more familiar with Guelph, however, that was where I really wanted to go. I discussed things with Mum and we thought that based on my current financial status, and given that I apparently would have to boost my average to get into the program, we thought it would be best to hold off until 2010. I got a notice from Brescia in January saying they received my transcripts and were going to look things over and get back to me, which I figured wasn't a big deal yet, as there was no guarantee I was even going to get accepted anyway. Then a few months go by; it's now March, and I had gotten so wrapped up in what I needed to go to get into Guelph with what summer courses I was going to take; developing a 2 year program plan of exactly what courses I was going to take when; and finding out what other requirements there were for the internship; that I had completely forgotten I had even applied to Brescia to begin with. Well, sort of; I did eventually remember and send them an email saying that I wanted to withdraw my application until 2010, except that apparently Gmail e-mail accounts are blacklisted at UWO so it got bounced right back to me. I guess in the end that ended up being a good thing, however, because not 2 days after that email was bounced back did I come home from the gym to find an offer of acceptance on from Brescia on my coffee table! Talk about out of the blue. Totally unexpected!
I talked things over with Mum again, and we both concluded that, while it would be nice for me to go back to Guelph, I'd be stupid to not at least consider this option. After all, even if I did take summer courses to boost my average for Guelph, there's still no written-in-stone guarantee that they'd accept me after all that work. I then thought about defering the acceptance until 2010 to try and make some extra money, but Mum pointed out again that for the year and a half I thought I'd have a job, and look where that's gotten me. I could defer it only to find out that I still was unable to get a job and then I'd be right back to where I am now; only this time not only would I be without any extra money, but also missing out on potentially getting a year of the two year program behind me and completing it sooner. We agreed it would be a good idea to go and have a look at the campus.
We went twice actually; the first time 3 weeks ago to get a general feel of the place, taking my wheelchair, and the second two weeks ago with my scooter as that would be my actual mode of transportation around campus and we had to make sure it would fit in all necessary doorways, hallways, and elevators. The latter was the biggest concern as the residence building where I would be staying was originally built in the 1920's, and as a result has a rather small, narrow elevator which we weren't entirely sure the scooter would fit into. For our second trip I also had the woman from UWO's Centre for Student's with Disabilities come with us to see the campus, as she had never been over there; we figured she may be able to point out other areas that needed to be fixed/accommodated that we may have missed. We were all very pleased to discover that the scooter did indeed fit, and as well that Brescia's maintenance staff were more than willing to help retrofit certain areas to make things easier and overall more accessible for me. I was very pleased to say the least. Everyone seems very friendly. As nice as the residence building is however, I have to say I'm not super keen about doing residence life again. I had enough of that by the time I was finished at Guelph. It's not even so much the fact that it's an all girls, Roman Catholic residence, that doesn't really bug me as long as they don't try to convert me, it's fine. it's more-so that I'm going to be going in there as a 25 year old third year transfer student and I'll be surrounded by girls ranging in age from 16-19. By October I'll officially 10 years older than a lot of these students and that doesn't exactly thrill me. I'm over-looking this fact in favour of the convenience however, since it's a 5 second walk to the one and only building where I'll be having most of my classes. On ODSP I can't afford a place in London on my own, not to mention the fact that I don't know anyone there I could share a place with anyway, nor am I at all familiar with the area. No, I'll stick with residence for at least the first year until I meet some other people.
So, the tour went well, but there was one more thing I wanted to check on before officially accepting the offer: my employment supports. Even though the agency I work with hasn't actually FOUND me a job, I wanted to make sure that by going back to school I wasn't violating any sort of "contract" with them, as I did remember them saying once that you could work or go to school, but not both. As it turns out, assuming the grant goes through for this one volunteer position I have and I eventually get PAID, I can do both. As long as I am willing to work part time and do so at least once a month. I asked them what the hourly requirement was and they said a minimum of 3 hours. HAPPY DAY! This would work out perfectly since the clinic is only open for 3 hours on Saturdays. YAY! If I can't manage to come home at least once a month and work for 3 hours there's something wrong. Not only would this mean that my file wouldn't be closed with the agency, but also this allows me to have a little extra pocket change every month. It's a win-win situation. I spoke with my "boss" and he's okay with it as well. I thought he'd be mad that I'd be leaving in 4 months, but he's actually being very supportive telling me to go for it. He said this way they could move me from doing front desk office support to one of the back offices as a Dietitian. OKAY!
Needless to say, after my talk with my employment support worker and my "boss" I came home that night and officially accepted the offer! I am still a little sad that I won't be returning to Guelph, but after all: "change is good" right. I actually think this will work out better for me in the long run because class sizes are MUCH smaller - maximum size of 90 - meaning that I should get more one-on-one time with the profs if I'm having any difficulties. Hopefully, as a result, this should also help with my problems with exam anxiety. I hope anyway. One of the drawbacks to being a transfer student is you've got a shorter time-frame to get the same amount of marks as everyone else. While it's great that I essentially have a "clean slate" I need to get a 75% average to get into the regular internship stream, or a 78% average for the Master's Internship stream. I think I'm actually going to shoot for the Masters internship stream believe it or not. An extra level of education on my resume plus my internship completed in the same amount of time. Sounds good to me!
Now it's just a matter of how to come up with the money by September. Oi vey! Hello OSAP (+ me+Mum +Dad + Bank of Grandma)!?!
FINALLY! Something GOOD is happening in my life :)