Sunday, December 09, 2012

My All De Anza Review Blog

Blogger's note: I wanted to blog my all De Anza review when I found a job. Unfortunately, I haven't found a job. The timing is appropriate to post my review. I use a Q&A interview format pretending 60 Minutes' correspondent Steve Kroft is interviewing me. My favorite articles were the financial crisis and real estate bubble.

The blog entry is unedited for grammar and content. 60 Minutes is represented by "60M" and I'm represented by "RM".


60M: It's been 18 months since Raymond Mar attended De Anza College. Mr. Mar earned an AA degree in Accounting. His contract job at a telecommunications company was terminated in 2008. The financial crisis and real estate bubble bursted at that time. "I knew family and friends who lost their jobs," said Mar. He chose to go back to school rather than look for a job in a bleak job market.

We sit down and ask whether going back to De Anza was worth his time from Mar. 2009 to June 2011.


60M: What inspired you to go back to school?

RM: Actually, my first classes were ballroom dancing, strength training, and beginning Japanese. I dropped Japanese because the instructor, the sensei, taught too fast. I asked my friends who took Japanese at other colleges. All of them agreed I must drop Japanese. I saw a classmate in another class the next quarter. She said half of the class dropped before finals.

60M: What about ballroom dancing and strength training?

RM: My sister encouraged me to take ballroom dancing. She competed in amateur ballroom dancing competitions. She also went to school, and she didn't have time to teach me. As for strength training, I wanted to take a class to learn how to lift weights properly.

Ballroom dancing was fun. I met lots of people and made lots of friends. I met my girlfriend, too.

60M: In Fall '09, you choose to take an accounting class.

RM: Accounting was one of my majors I wanted to change after quitting majoring in Mathematics at San Jose State. I choose Economics. I thought I take the first accounting class and see what happens. If I liked it, I continue and work my way to earn an AA degree. After all, nobody was hiring during the financial meltdown. I had lots of free time.

As it turned out, I liked accounting and continued taking accounting classes, as well as taking ballroom dancing.

60M: You were a little careless taking your accounting classes.

RM: I admit I was a little careless. I took a couple of classes I didn't need to take. It turned out those couple of classes were taught by terrible instructors. One class was a complete waste of time. I should have dropped it when that class had too many students. That Spring '10 quarter I took that overcrowded class was the busiest quarter in terms of homework and studying.

Yeah, I should have planned out what classes to take. On the other hand, I wanted to take that overcrowded class when the first opportunity came to me because I never know when the next time the class was offered considering budget cuts.

60M: What were the biggest mistakes you made?

RM: I start with two mistakes I corrected. The first mistake was taking Japanese. Fortunately, I dropped the class. The second mistake was taking Advanced Accounting, a class I didn't need to take.

60M: It sounds like Advanced Accounting was required.

RM: It wasn't. I took the class out of self interest after I earned my AA degree. The professor was the worse professor ever, and that includes San Jose State. He couldn't lecture and couldn't explain the concepts just to save his life. We played games.

60M: Games?

RM: Yeah, games. Once a week, he brought these buzzers. All the students were divided in teams. The professor asked questions and the students answered them correctly to earn extra credit. You don't need extra credit because his grading was easier than high school exams.

Another game was the professor show an image he took in campus. Located and identify the image and you earned extra credit. Likewise for movies. The professor showed a clip from a movie related to accounting. Identify the movie and you earned extra credit.

Anyways, the third mistake that I failed to correct was taking a singing class. I took singing after playing Beatles Rock Band. I was inspired to learn how to sing better because I was the singer in the video game. There was nothing wrong with the instructor. It was just that the class didn't meet my expectations and I wasted gas and time driving to campus for just one evening.

The lesson was sometimes its okay to quit. There were more important priorities and better uses for my time.

60M: What were the lessons you learned? Of course you learned accounting.

RM: The lessons were everyone is human, go with the flow, timing is everything, and use it or lose it.

60M: Those four are life lessons.

RM: Yup, life lessons. Going back to De Anza was a second chance in my life. It was my mulligan card. I wanted to correct my mistakes or don't repeat my mistakes I did at San Jose State. I wanted to experience life as a college student again. I wanted to be a college student the right way.

60M: What was the right way?

RM: I wanted to meet new people and make new friends. (Thank you Facebook.) I wanted to experience new experiences and seek new adventures. For example, there was ballroom dancing I mentioned earlier. Others included hiking, visiting the Charles Schulz museum, playing Starcraft 2, visiting Monterey and Carmel, and much more. I didn't want to take college seriously like I did at San Jose State. Have fun, relax. Complete homework and projects last minute. Don't study too hard. Open myself up to something new from the simple try new foods to the first time moments riding a San Francisco cable car, and dating.

60M: Fall '10 was your best quarter. Why?

RM: That quarter I met the most people and made the most friends. One class everyone worked in teams for in-class work and for group presentation. I was lucky my group was the best in teamwork and presentation. The rest of the other groups experienced problems. The downside was the instructor was a bitch.

60M: Lol

RM: The downside of Fall '10 was I had to attend classes four days a week instead of two days for all of the other quarters.

Another best was the movie of the week checking out a DVD from the library. All of the DVDs I checked out must be from the American Film Institute Top 100 list in 1997, not 2007. *looking at the list* Some of the movies I watched were Midnight Cowboy, Citizen Kane, On The Waterfront, Singin' In The Rain, Some Like It Hot, Chinatown, One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest, A Streetcar Named Desire, The Philadelphia Story, Vertigo, The French Connection, and Yankee Doodle Dandy. I also watched Rosemary's Baby.

60M: Some people say you should not have gone back to school. Instead you either find another job despite the bad economy or take a class on a specialty skill such as a software program. Further, even though you have an AA degree in Accounting and a BS in Economics from San Jose State, you're having problems finding a job now since many jobs want relevant and/or recent job experience. How do you respond?

RM: If I went back in time to Mar 2009, I still go back to De Anza, or at least Sept 2009 when I took my first accounting class. The experiences, the people, the memories, the lessons on life, everything from Mar 2009 to June 2011 made me a better person who I am today. I mentioned earlier about the mulligan. Everyone deserves a mulligan. I used my mulligan on going back to school.

Going back to De Anza was like a time out in my life, a long time out. Going back to De Anza was a life refresher, to rediscover who I am, to find who I wasn't. Slow down, relax, don't repeat my past mistakes again. It was a time to be a grown up, a mature person. Everything, everything I experienced I apply for all my present and future relationships, my careers, and my daily living life.

I'm optimistic I find a job. I was interviewed seven times this year. I received calls from recruiters and hiring managers. It's a matter of when I find a job and start my life after college part 2. I need a little luck and timing in my favor.

60M: What was your worse quarter?

RM: I say Winter '11, technically my last quarter. I got sick and missed a week. The instructor for my Intro to Business was boring. Oh, BTW, I still remember the videos we watched and that opening theme song.

Spring '10 came in second. Listening to Beatles, classical music, classic jazz, and Vocaloid music helped me study well.

60M: You choose to continue taking an accounting class in Spring '11, the quarter after you graduated. Why?

RM: I enrolled in Auditing and Advanced Accounting. I dropped Advanced Accounting as mentioned earlier. Auditing was a hard class. I actually learned a few things I apply when I hear business news about disclaimers, security breaches, fraud, and embezzlement. It wasn't a waste of time. I was in survival mode for most of Spring '11, yet I didn't take the class too seriously such that I spent hours and hours studying. I had a life.

Auditing was a class to complete the full circle of all the accounting classes I took.

60M: In the Auditing class, you met a classmate who graduated at a CSU school with a business degree. Tell me what information she gave you.

RM: That recent graduate was smart and a quick learner. I remember one class meeting she arrived late. We had an in-class assignment. She opened the chapter, read a few pages, and then answered the questions correctly. She never took auditing as an undergraduate.

The information she told me was clarifying graduating with a BA in accounting. There was no such thing as an accounting degree, at least at the CSU schools. Business majors graduated with a business degree with an emphasis in accounting, or finance, or marketing. We went to the library, went online to compare an AA degree in Accounting and a BA in Business-Accounting. There was little difference. Most of the classes for an AA degree were the same classes for a BA. The major difference was two or three classes not taught at junior college. Further, if I were to transfer, I had to retake at least my two quarters of Intermediate Accounting because those credits were non-transferrable.

The bottom line was I could have a BA in Business-Accounting should I count my GE classes at San Jose State. It's those two or three classes that made the difference between an AA and a BA. How about that. Something to think about. I bet most BA or BS majors don't know just a couple of classes makes the difference between another BA or BS and an AA degree.

60M: How were the instructors overall?

RM: Overall, the instructors were good. Most of the part time instructors were good. Some of them really cared and some took time to share life experiences. The full time instructors were so-so. Having said that, students going to community colleges, I suggest you favor part timers.

60M: Timing was in your favor. You got all your classes at favorable times, with the exception of Fall '10 when you attended school four days a week. The friends who still attend De Anza said it's worse now.

RM: It's one of my life lessons I learned. Timing is everything. All my friends told me overcrowding is at the worse and classes are harder to get. They're seeing older age people unemployed going back to school.

60M: Share some little tid bits.

RM: I remember World Cup '10 was huge. The cafeteria had big screen projectors. I remember a group of card gamers moving all the tables together and playing card games. They're a perfect example of geek gamers. Do I want to meet them? No.

The cooks who worked the grill gave lots and lots of fries when people ordered the burger combos. Even their breakfast menu was decent. Prices were all reasonable. No refills on fountain drinks.

The only time I cut class was when I was sick. I never cut class just for the heck of it. To be honest, there was no reason to cut just for the heck of it.

There were three rooms I attended classes two or more times. Two of the three rooms I earned A grades all the time. Moreover, all my classes took place in two buildings and the computer lab, with the exception of the singing and ballroom dancing.

I ate lunch outside De Anza two times, and they were all on the first day of school for the two quarters.

60M: Compare the students at De Anza to when you were a student attending San Jose State.

RM: De Anza students had cell phones and smart phones. San Jose State students a few had cell phones, and you needed either a land line or pager to communicate. Email was spreading slowly. De Anza students could buy books on the web or at the bookstore, or buy a cheaper .pdf copy. San Jose State students bought at the bookstores only. The short answer was technology and communicating.

De Anza students could take tests and submit homework online. San Jose State students all work were done in class. And De Anza students had portable mp3 players for music. San Jose State students had walkmans.

De Anza students registered online. San Jose State students register by phone using a class scheduled printed hardcopy.

60M: Raymond Mar continues to think about De Anza occasionally, much more than San Jose State. He believes college students today have an easier time than when he attended San Jose State. Students today use technology to help with their assignments, keep in touch with friends and instructors, register for classes, and get their final grades. On the other hand, he fears that the technology today can make more people being alone and too independent.

The biggest mistake when he attended San Jose State was meeting very little people. That should be life lesson number #5: always meet new people.

Mar has experienced recruiters and hiring managers not considering him because of his lack of recent job experience and going back to school. What you do being unemployed can be just as important as what you did at your recent job. Right now is the best time to hire Mr. Mar because he's a better person who's more professional and more mature than ever.

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