Friday, May 13, 2011

Pau ke kula! (School is over!)

Well, finals are over. Finally. (Actually, they were over Wednesday, but Blogger was down for maintenance when I tried to post Wednesday and Thursday, so you get this today.) Four in-class finals plus a final paper and and a take-home final kinda takes it out of you. I'm going to say it right here, so you can quote me on this later: I'm never taking 21 credits a semester. Ever again. I can admit now that I was stupid to attempt it after the first time.

Of course, as long as I can learn from my mistakes it's not a wasted experience (as my English teacher would say), so I might as well put down the other stuff I learned. Let's see...just because the 21 credits you're taking aren't all math, physics, and astronomy, doesn't mean they can't be just as hard. Especially when one of them is a writing intensive English class. Language classes are much harder than they seem (at least to me). It might just be the point I'm at...we're at the point where we can reasonably be expected to say most simple stuff in Hawaiian, but I'm not so good at actually speaking it, so I try to avoid it, which means I don't get much practice and subsequently remain locked in a vicious cycle (give me time to think about what I'm saying, and write it down and I'll do pretty good, but sight has always been a dominant sense for me compared to hearing, so speaking [and especially understanding conversations] remains really difficult for me).

On the other hand, taking so many credits has some benefits. For instance, I only need to take two classes totaling 4 credits for my last semester in the fall. And lest you fear I take some more for fun, there are good economic reasons for me not to (plus, I've decided that I just cannot be the polymath I wanted to be as a child, and need to really focus on what I'm planning to get a degree in, rather than taking extra classes for fun). I may audit a Hawaiian class just because I'll most likely never get the chance again, but I'm quite ambivalent either way.

The economic reasons I mentioned are due to the pay structure Hilo has: for every credit up to full time (12 credits) you pay a fixed amount. Once you're full time, however, you can take up to 21 credits (24 for graduating seniors) and not pay any more than you do for 12.  Basically, 12 credits (just barely full time) is the absolute worst number you could be taking, economically. If you're trying to minimize absolute cost, you want to take as few as possible below 12; if you want to minimize the cost per credit, you want to take as many as possible above 12; either way, you want to be as far away from 12 as you can.

This little graph I made might explain it better than words:

Hilo cost structure explained.
Note that this graph is not to scale: I've scaled the blue line by 12 to normalize it so that it matches the height of the red line. The curved part of the blue line may be off a bit, as well, but is essentially correct. Anyway, I hope that this graph gets my point across better than the  description. You can see how either way you approach it, 12 is a maximum for either absolute or relative cost.

And now that the semester is over, I can finally turn again to my delightful work with Dr. Takamiya, hopefully getting together a paper for publication this summer. And maybe coming up with another proposal for future projects. Ah, Summer! What endless possibilities stretch before my vista!

Edit: I just realized that this may be the first time I've been over a week between posts. But it wasn't my fault, I couldn't post when I tried the last two days.

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