Sunday, December 16, 2007

"What's a Search Engine?"

My baby sister is going back to college! Woo Hoo!

Okay, baby sister is over 40, but she is always going to be my baby sister. She went to the community college and then university in our home town for about a semester each. Then she joined the army. Fast forward to today and she is married with three kids and she cleans houses for a living. Her husband who is about 10 years older than she is is trying to get back into the army (yeah, I know).

She has been having more more physical problems and has been concerned about what will happen when she just can't clean houses anymore. A woman she knows from church told her about how she went back to college. It was like a commercial on TV. The woman explained about how the college helped her to get student loans and a job and how she is so much happier with her office job. Yes the loans seemed really high, but she just makes the payment every month and she still has more money than she did before she went to school.

So Sis just drove herself over to the local college that advertises programs for people who want to go back. She was surprised at how easy they made everything. She can go to school Monday nights and Tuesdays and Thursdays. She looked over the programs and decided on paralegal. They told her she would plan on spending one hour a week studying for every hour she spends in class. She sat down, drew up a schedule, and figured out how many houses she could keep cleaning. She then sat down her family and showed them the schedule. "Notice that laundry isn't on here. I don't have time for that. For the next two years everyone is going to have to do some extra chores."

In order not to have to take the remedial courses she had to pass tests in English, Reading Comprehension, and Mathematics. She figured she would pass English and Reading, but was worried about Math. Her daughters though gave her a crash course in Algebra and she passed!
She told me that they had recommended to her that she take a course in computers since so much has to be done on-line, but she really wanted to get to the regular courses, and she can always go in and they will help her. I told her that I would help her too.

"But what do you need to know?"
"How to use a computer."
"Well, Sis, I mean, what do you already know how to do with a computer?"
"I think I can turn it on."

Oh. So we chatted. Conversation got around to my father and we compared our recent phone conversations and agreed he was drinking again. She said, "I hope he is sober enough to have the university send me my transcript."

"You don't need him to do that."
"I don't?"
"No. Just go to their web page and request it yourself."
"A web page is on the Internet, right?"
"How do I find it?"
"Just type the school name into the search engine window."
"What's a search engine?"

It took a while, but I talked her through it. Her son got her onto the Internet and took her to the Google page. She typed the name, got the list of links and then told me that she was clicking on it but nothing happened. "Are you clicking on the thing that is underlined?" "Oh...that works!"

She was so pleased when she finally found the form to request her transcripts. She asked her son to help her print it, "J. I clicked where it said print, but this other thing popped up. Do I click 'okay' on it?" After he told her, she said to me, "I don't know how he knows all this."

And she is pleased at everything she learned just today. She knows what a search engine is and how to find things on the Internet! It was fun, maybe she will see what else she can find.

I am so proud of her.


  1. Yay for your sister! Tell her she will do great, non traditional students have better grades in general and the teachers like them better too!

  2. That is really wonderful.
    I'd be interested in if it has been as issue for you and if so, how you navigate the differences between your education levels in the family. I think a lot of us in academia navigate these issues in one way or another and I find it tricky, myself.


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