Hamline TEFL or CELTA

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Hamline TEFL or CELTA

Unread postby MNProspect » 11 Oct 2010, 16:11

I am wondering if anybody knows of the Hamline TEFL certificate program. Here is their website:

[commercial link removed - Admin]

I live in this area and I want to be prepared to teach when I get to my destination country. However, I am trying to decide how best to prepare. From the forums here and elsewhere, the advice seems to be to try and take a face-to-face TEFL program if possible.

Therefore, I am considering this Hamline program and the CELTA.

To be honest, I am not sure if I want to pay $4,000 including all expenses to do a CELTA with the possibility of failing. I have no prior experience teaching and the CELTA sounds quite intense; I think I would rather be in a program that doesn't have that failure option. If anything, it might put my mind at ease. Plus, this Hamline program means I do not have to pay for an expensive flight.

But if the Hamline program is not recognized in Asia (particularly in Korea and Japan), then I wonder if it is worth taking. According to the Hamline website and from my conversations with them, this is a 120-hour course with practical teaching experience as part of the program. I would be teaching students as part of the program. But again, if I go the ESL route and enjoy it and want to advance someday, I am wondering what you experts think about my prospects if I take this Hamline program versus the CELTA. I know the CELTA has worldwide credibility, backed by Cambridge. I am just wondering if enough reputable employers will consider the Hamline program as a sufficient substitute for the CELTA.

Thank you for your help!
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Re: Hamline TEFL or CELTA

Unread postby cucullin » 14 Oct 2010, 22:08

CELTA is bloody hard! In week 3 now and I wouldn't recommend it to a rookie. If I hadn't of done my 120 hours of TEFL prior to this or wasn't very good at english or hadn't any teaching experience then I wouldn't do it. CELTA is hell on earth. I work all day until 4am sometimes just planning lessons and then up again at 7am to get the bus in for the class and then teach something hard to class full of people(including your fellow trainees and tutor). You do this every second day. Then you have assignments as well which are marked crazy hard. Essentially if you make any mistakes you need to resubmit it. 1 person left my course 2 days ago and 5 people of the total 12 are on lesson failures. This means if they fail another they fail the course. Its a lot of money and its dam hard to pass! Get a basic TEFL if you're not confident and get some basic teaching practice from that first. Best of luck
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Re: Hamline TEFL or CELTA

Unread postby Jo » 15 Oct 2010, 06:00

MNProspect wrote:To be honest, I am not sure if I want to pay $4,000 including all expenses to do a CELTA

That does sound at the high end. Are you sure it's $4,000? What does "expenses" mean? It might be fairer to quote the cost without expenses, or at least to specify.

MNProspect wrote:To be honest, I am not sure if I want to pay $4,000 including all expenses to do a CELTA with the possibility of failing.

The possibility of failing is partly what gives good courses their validity. For courses where there is no possibility of failing, even at much lower cost, you might just as well go down the Khao San Road in Bangkok and buy a certificate for 500 baht ;)
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Re: Hamline TEFL or CELTA

Unread postby MNProspect » 15 Oct 2010, 13:15

Josef wrote:That does sound at the high end. Are you sure it's $4,000? What does "expenses" mean? It might be fairer to quote the cost without expenses, or at least to specify.

The possibility of failing is partly what gives good courses their validity. For courses where there is no possibility of failing, even at much lower cost, you might just as well go down the Khao San Road in Bangkok and buy a certificate for 500 baht ;)


Thanks to the above poster for his feedback on CELTA training.

Josef:

The CELTA at Budapest costs $1450. Airline ticket over there approximately $1,000. Lodging approximately $500-600. Food? Don't know; in Budapest probably not bad, but they told me no meals are covered. So I figured $500-$750 for meals (three meals a day). Plus I imagine there are expenses I don't know about/that will come up out of necessity. So yes, $4,000 is a conservative estimate, with a bit of room to spend some money above absolutely necessary costs.

And I guess I don't understand your second quote. I understand the part about taking a course without the option of failing and having validity. But I asked Hamline and they said I could actually fail the course; it was just highly unlikely if I put in the time and effort (and attendance). Hamline's course is not a sham course. I put in the link so people could look at the program and judge its merits from the official website (it is a nationally accredited institution with a law school and graduate school; it is not "commercial!"), but it was removed. The Hamline program is hands-on, with physical attendance 120 hours. Actual practice teaching. Many of the same program guidelines as the CELTA. Google them and check them out and then let me know if you think it's worth taking. Sorry to have to ask you to do this, but I guess they won't put the link up. I appreciate your advice! I need the truth. I just don't think you're taking Hamline seriously.
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Re: Hamline TEFL or CELTA

Unread postby pokedmund » 15 Oct 2010, 15:58

MNProspect - I would strongly suggest that you don't take the above user's feedback as the entire feedback for CELTA.

I myself did a part time CELTA, and although it was less time consuming than the full time course, on reflection, I think passing the full time course gets you better prepared into teaching.

The CELTA is hell on earth? No, it's probably what real teaching out there in the real world is like (unless you're working part time hours). Everyday I've had to think of lesson plans for my class and make fun, interesting, involving and educating lessons in a matter of minutes, if not seconds when I've been given a class to teach on the spot!

However, I have no idea how other courses are. A search of the forums should give a better idea.
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Re: Hamline TEFL or CELTA

Unread postby Alex Case » 16 Oct 2010, 13:35

I agree with the last poster. If you can't cut it in the CELTA, you won't be able to cut it as a teacher
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Re: Hamline TEFL or CELTA

Unread postby MNProspect » 16 Oct 2010, 15:08

Alex Case wrote:I agree with the last poster. If you can't cut it in the CELTA, you won't be able to cut it as a teacher


Wow. That's quite a statement.

I know people who are in South Korea and Vietnam right now without any prior teaching experience and without any TEFL certification or training.

I continue to read reports on the Web about how intensive the CELTA is and apparently why it is that way--as I understand it. It is intensive mostly because it is crammed into four weeks.

But now I have two people here saying that if I cannot function in an environment essentially requiring me to have no life for four weeks, then I am unfit to teach ESL. Really? Is that what you are saying?

Yeah, the reports I am reading about the CELTA vary, but the consistent theme is that I would not have time to do anything except attend the course, prepare for it, and sleep. If that's what you are doing teaching ESL (wherever), then please do let me know if that's the case, because I wouldn't want any part of that.

Sure, many positive reports are out there about the CELTA. Many reports suggest it is well worth the time and effort. I believe those people. I'm just not sure it is the course for me. But on the other hand, I am reading many reports from people who suggest the CELTA is very intensive and I've heard the description "hell" several times.

I guess it boils down to this: how can you reconcile the fact that many people are going over to Asia right now without any prior teaching experience and no training and having a good time of it, working no more than 40 hours per week (including prep and classes)? These are people who have only B.A.s. Probably your average American--not a lot of global cultural awareness, used to enjoying relatively high standards of living. I have three contacts in South Korea right now and two in Vietnam. They seem to enjoy it and they do not describe circumstances currently attributed to CELTA training.

Please reconcile this for me.
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Re: Hamline TEFL or CELTA

Unread postby Jo » 16 Oct 2010, 16:39

MNProspect wrote:I just don't think you're taking Hamline seriously.

I wouldn't say that. But you gave less than full information for others to give advice on. You left readers to deduce that you are in the USA. And it's puzzling why you offer a blunt choice between on the one hand Hamline and on the other hand leaving one continent (North America) to do a CELTA course in another continent (Europe) so that you can teach in another continent (Asia). It's not as though CELTA courses don't exist in the USA. Or indeed SIT TESOL courses which were born in the USA and are (almost) equally well recognized.

I'd recommend that you read our TEFL Training FAQ. I also note that Hamline is apparently a university. I don't suggest that any of 6 Ways TEFL Certificate Course Providers Try to Rip You Off - part 4 (The University Language Institute) applies to Hamline but you might want to read it anyway. And you can check, if you wish, for CELTA courses in the USA on the official Cambridge ESOL website. (Select USA and then CELTA and then click Search.)

After that you could fairly weigh the pros and cons of doing a CELTA course versus a Hamline course. Or you could also consider a SIT TESOL course and you can find about 8 locations in the USA on the SIT TESOL website. You may well choose Hamline in the end. I just hope this will help you make an informed decision.
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Re: Hamline TEFL or CELTA

Unread postby Jo » 16 Oct 2010, 16:45

MNProspect wrote:Hamline's course is not a sham course. I put in the link so people could look at the program and judge its merits from the official website (it is a nationally accredited institution with a law school and graduate school; it is not "commercial!"), but it was removed. The Hamline program is hands-on, with physical attendance 120 hours. Actual practice teaching. Many of the same program guidelines as the CELTA. Google them and check them out and then let me know if you think it's worth taking.

I agree that Hamline appear to offer a valid course. But I do not offer advice regarding individual course providers. You must do your own due diligence ;-)
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Re: Hamline TEFL or CELTA

Unread postby Jo » 16 Oct 2010, 17:14

MNProspect wrote:I guess it boils down to this: how can you reconcile the fact that many people are going over to Asia right now without any prior teaching experience and no training and having a good time of it, working no more than 40 hours per week (including prep and classes)? These are people who have only B.A.s. Probably your average American--not a lot of global cultural awareness, used to enjoying relatively high standards of living. I have three contacts in South Korea right now and two in Vietnam. They seem to enjoy it and they do not describe circumstances currently attributed to CELTA training.

Please reconcile this for me.

TEFL is a broad spectrum. Different countries. Different learning situations within each country - state schools for every age up to about 18, private language schools, in-company lessons, private one-to-one freelance, university etc. Full-time. Part-time. In a frozen metropolis. Close to a tropical beach. Employers are of all kinds, from charitable to criminal. Teachers are of all kinds. First and foremost there are local teachers who by far outnumber native English speaking teachers. Then there are native English speakers of all ages, all qualifications, all dispositions, all backgrounds, and all motivations and ambitions. Some young people simply want to "travel the world" for a year, using TEFL as an opportunity to do that. CELTA might not be worth the time and trouble for them. Others see TEFL as a career. For them, CELTA, and indeed higher qualifications, might very well be worth it.

It's not possible to make blanket statements about teaching conditions and requirements. Your choice of course is very much a personal one.

Regarding the "hell on earth", that's a bit strong, but it IS an intensive course and you do need to put your life on hold for a good 4 weeks. And it does prepare you well for some of the situations you can find yourself in when teaching in a foreign land.
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Re: Hamline TEFL or CELTA

Unread postby Alex Case » 16 Oct 2010, 22:56

As Josef says, there are plenty of CELTA providers in the US.

The reason why CELTA is so intensive is precisely because of people like you thinking that 2000 dollars plus living expenses is too much to become a teacher. The Trinity CertTESOL always used to be five or six weeks, but people went for 4 week ones so they had to change. Some CELTA providers used to do a 2 week Young Learner extension straight after the course, but people didn't go for it and now that is very uncommon. You seem to be complaining both about the cost and the fact that it only takes four weeks. Well, I'm sorry but there is no magic way of becoming a better teacher in a shorter time or for less money.

You are right, however, that there are schools where none of the teachers have any TEFL qualifications, and yet they charge people substantial amounts of money to spend some time with someone with a white face. In some of those schools most of the teachers have so little interest in doing a good job that they do indeed spend little time on lesson preparation. Because I took the CELTA and then applied for jobs only in schools that demanded that or one of a few really equivalent qualifications, I don't have any personal experience of that.
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Re: Hamline TEFL or CELTA

Unread postby MNProspect » 17 Oct 2010, 00:52

Thank you to Josef for taking the time to so carefully and thoughtfully trying to address my concerns. I really appreciate it!

I have been reading the forums here and it's taken me a long time to narrow down the choices. It's between the CELTA and Hamline. Yes, I realize CELTA is available in the USA, but it is not cheaper. In fact, it comes out to about $500 more according to my rough calculations. Budapest is the cheapest place for me to do the CELTA. If I'm going to pay this much, I may as well fly to Europe and see Budapest than fly to Denver, Colorado (would you rather see Budapest or Denver?). I was thinking of maybe staying an extra week in Budapest after the CELTA and taking the train around neighboring countries.

There are really two fundamental ends for doing the TEFL certification. 1) I want to be prepared to TEACH ESL wherever I go, although I would prefer to do it in Asia. And 2) I want a certification that is reputable and will be recognized where I want to teach. For what it's worth, I asked Hamline if their cert would hold up to scrutiny and they tell me they've been doing this for 15 years; they have graduates teaching around the world, and their program is well-known. I don't know if this is true; hence the post here (see original post).

But thanks for your help, Josef, and your insight about the profession in general. I want to try teaching for a year somewhere and see if I like it and then if I enjoy it and feel I am good at it, then I will consider making it a career. So I am serious here. That's why I want my cert to be legit (CELTA or Hamline).
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Re: Hamline TEFL or CELTA

Unread postby Alex Case » 17 Oct 2010, 01:06

I've been in TEFL for 15 years and I've never heard of Hamline. Anyone else? In fact, I don't see how a qualification that is only offered by one centre could possibly become well known. However, as there are schools that will take teachers with nothing, there are other schools who will take teachers with anything.

None of this is any reflection on the quality of their course, which I don't see how we can judge one way or the other
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Re: Hamline TEFL or CELTA

Unread postby MNProspect » 17 Oct 2010, 01:08

To respond to Alex:

First, thank you for your reply.

I detect some cynicism on your part regarding my intentions, which is disappointing. I'm here on this board because I'm serious about this endeavor and I'm looking to people like you with experience to offer some insight. Note that I said I know people who are in Asia now without training who are doing fine, but that I am planning to do a training program. A LEGITIMATE program. I'm not somebody who wants to be lousy at anything. I don't see how anybody can be happy doing a lousy job. It's just stupid.

So that is why I was/am very concerned about your comment that if I cannot hold up under the stress of a CELTA, then I may as well forget this idea. Well, I'm sorry, but that does not make much sense to me. We can all agree here that the CELTA is stressful, is intensive, and does not leave much room for "life" outside of hours. Basically you study and sleep, according to most accounts (of those who take it seriously).

So then, if I cannot hold up under those circumstances, I should not take a job that will occupy 40-50 hours per week of my time, at worst? Some accounts I've read suggest the hours are much less than that!

How, Alex, is that logic flawed?

I fully understand that there is a learning curve here and I will need to work hard to become a good teacher. But South Korea is offering 2-2.5 million Won per month for people without experience or training and not much more, if anything, to those who have a legit cert.

The other problem I have with your most recent comment is that you seem to have a problem with my expectations related to cost. Here in the USA where the most prestigious schools are, if you put in the effort and are smart enough, you graduate. I am just finishing a graduate degree at one of the best schools in the country. So for you to suggest to me that I drop $4000 for a month-long course and put in all the time, effort, and application of my ability and be concerned that I might fail the course--and that is somehow a bad attitude, then we come from quite different places. I'm not stupid; I'm willing to put in the work, but I am not going to drop that kind of money to subjective evaluation of my exercises because of a judgment over a four-week sample. It's that simple. So if that's how the CELTA truly is, then it's probably not for me. Because I EXPECT that if I do the work and put in the time and pay the money to the school, I graduate. In this case, get a cert.

That said, I appreciate your feedback.
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Re: Hamline TEFL or CELTA

Unread postby Alex Case » 17 Oct 2010, 01:24

A new teacher in Korea will have 25 to 30 contact hours. I really don't know how it is possible to only spend 40 hours a week and do all your planning and paperwork, any more than it is possible for school teachers in our countries. The general guide for a new teacher is that you need one hour of planning for one hour of classes, but many people spend much more time. The only way you can really cut down on that is by lowering your standards. Sorry, but that is teaching. In fact, TEFL is a lot more like teaching back when I was at school, the dossers can get away with doing nothing but the truly hard working have even more to do because there is not much support.

Most teachers say the first week of teaching is much more stressful than the CELTA. After all, you might have to plan 30 hours of classes in a week, whereas in the CELTA you had to teach 8 hours in 4 weeks.

I understand your concerns about failing a course that has cost you that much money, but teaching is not like those other things you could study. Some people can put in as much work as they like and still be totally unsuitable for the classroom. Most of those people realise that themselves and drop out, making the percentage pass rate for people who get to the end of the course and do all the required work somewhere in the high nineties. Many people agree with me that a lot of people who really shouldn't be teachers still slip through, so you can see why I get annoyed when lots of people online suggest that a bit of stress over four weeks with a few percentage chance of failing is too much to go through to become a teacher.
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Re: Hamline TEFL or CELTA

Unread postby MNProspect » 17 Oct 2010, 01:31

Oh, and again for what it's worth, Hamline wants $3,300 for its course, and that does not include living expenses. But since I live in the metro area, I can save a lot of money in that respect. So it's not as if this is about money. I'm willing to spend the money. But I want a legitimate program, both one that prepares me to successfully teach and one that will hold up under scrutiny.

Hamline also warned me that their class is very intensive, but again they told me that there is really no chance that I fail as long as I put in the time, effort, attendance, and work with them. They have basically the same peer/instructor feedback system as the CELTA from what I understand. So as best I can tell, it is the CELTA except I don't have to worry about failing. That and I haven't yet heard anybody suggest it is "hell on earth."

The school isn't really known nationally, but it's in the same basic classification as other schools of its type. It plays in the same athletic conference as two schools that are rated among the top in the country of their type---Carleton College and Macalester College. It has a law school and graduate school. This TEFL cert is taught under their school of education, which has national accreditation, and they also offer an M.A. TEFL (or master's in TEFL--whatever).

One of my contacts in Korea right now decided to do the CELTA over Hamline because the CELTA was cheaper for him at the time--like six years ago. He's from the same area as me.
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Re: Hamline TEFL or CELTA

Unread postby Alex Case » 17 Oct 2010, 01:38

The more I hear, the more I think you should do the CELTA. Is it not worth 700 dollars more of your money to spend a month abroad, get the most well recognised Cert and teach the kinds of monolingual classes that you will have for the rest of your career?? Or you could stay in your hometown and study somewhere that isn't even well known in America...
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Re: Hamline TEFL or CELTA

Unread postby MNProspect » 17 Oct 2010, 03:31

Thanks, Alex. You make excellent points. I have a spot held for me in Budapest. I have a spot held for me at Hamline. So I need to decide. I worry because this is absolutely new to me; I have not done public speaking in my prior work; have not taught, do not have classroom experience, and admittedly, struggled during the CELTA interview. Basically what I am saying is that I don't know if I'm ready for the CELTA. The CELTA interview really let me know what I was in for in terms of how English is taught and situations are understood as students (who don't know the language). This really opened my eyes because I did not think of things this way (the way the instructor grilled me on them).

So the short of it is that while I want to do this, I want to be set up to succeed. And if that means I need to take a class that is a rung lower, maybe that is best for me. Maybe if I need to go back and do the CELTA later to advance, then so be it. I hate to drop $3300 on Hamline, but the way they explained it, it was not as intensive as the CELTA. I talked to two people at Hamline--the administrator for the program and the instructor for the course. And I really felt good about what they had to say and my prospects. These are good people; Hamline is a very reputable school--certainly in Midwestern America--and I know some of their graduates. My sister got her MBA there and a friend of mine got his JD there (lawyer). So I trust them. I don't know the people in Budapest; don't know how I will be treated; might be taking courses with people that have experience teaching/better prepared than me.

That's where I'm at. With Hamline there is a comfort level and a fairly certain launching point after I finish. They use their network of graduates to help connect the new grads with reputable schools in other countries. With Budapest and the CELTA, I don't know anybody and really don't know what I'm truly in for. I'm not flying home with my tail between my legs.

Finally, I wonder how many academic accolades I really will need to advance even if I just get the Hamline cert. I mean, I have a B.A. from a great school, have a master's from one of the top public unis in the USA, and would have this Hamline cert (worse case). If I get some experience teaching--a couple/three years--shouldn't that be enough?
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Re: Hamline TEFL or CELTA

Unread postby Alex Case » 17 Oct 2010, 05:40

Hmmm, if you're not ready to study abroad, do you really think you are ready to work abroad, and as a teacher, one of the most stressful jobs going?

Btw, is Eastern Europe really a cheaper option than Bangkok, for example?
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Re: Hamline TEFL or CELTA

Unread postby MNProspect » 17 Oct 2010, 06:45

Hi Alex.

In short, to answer your question, it is a concern.

That said, what job is not challenging? By "challenging" I am using another word for "stressful."

Further, prior to embarking on my graduate studies the past two years, I spent the previous seven years as an accountant. Was that job challenging and stressful? Yes. Was it especially so my first job out of college? Particularly.

The whole point of doing my master's in disciplines different than accounting/finance (I opted not to pursue an M.B.A.) was to give me more options, to give me advanced training in other disciplines--to hopefully change careers.

Which brings me to this: no matter what new career I choose to try, it is going to be completely new to me. I am going to have to start at the bottom. I very much want to try a new career. What I found with accounting is that it was isolating for me. My personality is outgoing; I feel miserable unless I am around people regularly and interacting with people. Having conversations with people. Entertaining people.

So why not try teaching English as a foreign language? I don't currently have teaching skills, but my English is well above excellent; I have a much better than average vocabulary; my writing skills are also excellent. And I believe I would greatly benefit by putting myself out there in another culture and learning to adapt to a completely different environment. Learning another level of independence by having to find resources to resolve problems without the supporting cast I have here the USA (everything being handy and in English).

Will you tell me why teaching is one of the most stressful jobs going?

Is it more stressful than crunching numbers 10 hours per day in a cubicle under deadlines? Dealing with corporate office politics? Dealing with cutthroat competition from co-workers and up-and-comers?

It seems to me there is quite a demand for ESL teachers in Asia. And it seems that they are willing to take people who want to try the job at the entry level. There aren't many entry-level jobs available here in the States. If somebody wants me, if there is this much demand for these skills (even the simple ability to fluently/natively speak English), then how cutthroat can the environment really be? Am I going to get fired if I try my best? What is the likelihood of that happening? Seriously? Please offer any insight you have. I may not be successful. If not, I'd like to know how I will be treated in Korea or Vietnam.

Alex, you insist this is a very stressful job. And I believe you. However, three of the five people I know who are teaching in Korea/Vietnam right now went there without any prior teaching experience whatsoever and NO formal teaching training. Yet, they are successful and claim to be having wonderful experiences there. How do you reconcile that?

And these people I know do not describe the work demands you suggested above. You suggest above that a "general guide" for workload is in the range of 50-60 hours per week doing this job (including classes and prep). That's not the feedback I am getting. So either your standards are high or the standards required of the people I personally know are incredibly low. Yet, they are successful. They have not received feedback that they are not sufficiently fulfilling their duties.

Two of them are teaching private lessons on the side because they have too much time on their hands! I believe in one's words, the hours border on "ridiculous" in terms of the actual amount of time he has to spend on the job (i.e. ridiculously low). And he's been there for a few years now.

The bottom line here is that I fully acknowledge that this will be a totally different experience than anything I've done before. It will be challenging and I imagine it will be quite stressful at times. It sure is stressful preparing for essay exams in graduate school, I can tell you that! And I've managed to do quite well--grade-wise. With a full-time load.

So you tell me, in your opinion, given all I've said in this post, do you think I should give this a shot? Should I fold, forget it, and try something else? Or should I take the plunge, give it all I have, and see what happens? What's that saying...you'll never know unless you try?
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