Saturday, May 31, 2008

Scholarships Rock!

I just checked my student e-mail account tonight and, low and behold, I found out that I am receiving a scholarship for fall and spring!! Yay, me! It will cover six hours of tuition which only equates to about $750, but $750 will buy a lot of gasoline or groceries, my friends (well, not a lot but it beats nothing!).

Actually, after two seconds of silent celebration I busted out the calculator. As I've already mentioned, I plan on going to summer school so I can graduate in December. Since my summer school classes start next week (and it's not too late to withdraw for a full refund at this point), I decided I'd better do some quick calculations. The calculator still says it is a better financial move for me to graduate at mid-term, so the plans roll on....

Applying for scholarships has been hard for me since I went back to school as an adult. I generally feel like a) they are intended for teenagers or b) I don't stand a chance or c) I just can't write a bunch of bull glorifying myself like I was able to as a high school senior.

Earlier this spring, I picked up an application for my department's scholarship because one of my professors kept harping on it. I thought, "What the's worth a shot." But after I got past all the formalities (name, address, blah...blah...blah...), they started in with questions like "Why are you valuable to our department?" Well....I'm not. I guess I could be considered valuable because I make good grades, give good reviews for my professors and pay my tuition bill, but other than that... I ended up wadding it up and throwing it away. I just couldn't make myself write some phony baloney, even if it was for free money.

Later, my professor mentioned how they have, in years past, had money laying around because there weren't enough applicants and how, many times, all the applicants end up getting a scholarship. A girl in my class confirmed it by telling me she had gotten $500 per semester. Hello??? This is information I would have liked to have known before I threw my application away! When I asked the girl how she was valuable to the department, she said she made up something about how she always sings the praises of the department to other people. Niiiice. Why couldn't I have thought of that?

Lesson learned: it never hurts to apply for scholarships. If it does make you sick at your stomach to write sugar-coated nuggets of praise about yourself, just keep a trash can or toilet nearby as you write. It's free money!! F-R-E-E M-O-N-E-Y!!

Monday, May 26, 2008

Good News For My Degree

Yahoo just featured this article about lucrative work-from-home jobs. The good news is that two of the five are areas covered by my degree and one is closely related. Public Relations was listed as #1 which is a big part of Mass Communication. In fact, I will be taking a PR class this fall and I'm looking forward to it. The other is freelance writing. Both of these jobs can be done from home thanks to the internet and cell phone techonology.

A similar field is graphic design--some of which I already do as a photographer and in desktop publishing at school. I actually planned on minoring in graphic design, but took the easy way out instead, relying on credits I had previously earned in English studies to graduate more quickly.

This is a very encouraging article for me because I have been desperately racking my brain, wondering how I can incorporate my soon-to-be-earned degree and my interests with a job when I live in the middle of nowhere.

It's good to know that there are viable options out there. However, I know for a fact that it takes a lot of work to be a freelancer. Jobs don't come to you--you have to bust your behind to find them and then win them (just b/c you have a great article idea doesn't mean the magazine wants it). This is one of the reasons that I'm not sure freelancing is for me. When I was younger, I loved jobs that were different everyday, but the older I get, I like stability and knowing what to expect so I can plan the rest of my life accordingly. I will continue to look into these areas and see if they are right for me.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

High School Flashback

I decided to swing by the university's website so that I could see my name in black and white on the President's Honor Roll list (you know, just in case I was delusional or something). At first I panicked because my name wasn't listed with the other students from our town (maybe I was delusional!), but as I scrolled through the list, I finally located it (whew! I'm not delusional after all). It was listed under the town where I graduated from high school....the town that I have only visited once in the past 10 years! That's so random. I guess it's the only way to keep up with people since addresses change so frequently.

I wonder if they sent a press release to my high school hometown newspaper. I'm sure the readers of the weekly newspaper would be wondering, "Who in the world is that?"

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Drum-roll, please.....

Grades are in and it's official: I'm a straight-A student this semester!! Wahoo!!!

Is that a valid excuse for an ice cream celebration?

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Bizarro World

Have you ever seen the Seinfeld where Elaine makes new friends who are complete opposites but look-alikes of George , Kramer & Jerry? She even hangs out with them at a different coffee shop; one Jerry terms "Bizarro Monk's." It's like she's living in Bizarro World.

I feel like I'm in Bizarro World these days. I don't know what happened, but suddenly life is a thousand times busier than when I was in school! Maybe it's my kids end-of-the-school-year activities or the start of softball season. Maybe it's the increase in business due to the (finally) nice weather. Maybe it's the realization of all that I've left undone over the past few months. Either way, I'm stressed. Big time.

When is that long-awaited sit-around-and-do-nothing day going to arrive? Hurry up, already! I'm on a tight schedule!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Done And Done.

Complete 12 hours on-campus for spring semester. Check!

Complete 3 hours online through another college during the spring. Check!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Almost...But Not Quite

I woke up this morning with fresh determination to be a bum and enjoy my first day of summer vacation....and then I remembered that my online class is not finished! So, I'm compromising: I'm still in my pj's, bumming in my bed, but my laptop is on and I'm writing my final paper for the online class. Hopefully, I'll be able to get on with the business of doing absolutely nothing very soon!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Colleges Are More Flexible Than You Think

When I first decided to go back to college, I did some major debating about whether I should finish a degree online or go the traditional route. As you can tell, traditional university won out for several reasons, but the allure of the flexible online class really intrigued me.

I was surprised to find that traditional schools are way more flexible and accommodating than you think! I first discovered this when I asked my advisor about a "features writing" class that I saw in the undergraduate catalog but not on the class schedule. He told me that it was no longer offered but suggested that I take it as an independent study course instead. Okie-dokie. I did it!

Then, when I realized that I wanted to take summer school but I already had two weeks blocked out on my calendar for travels--things that are very important to me and that I will not compromise for class--my advisor suggested a "hybrid class:" part traditional classroom, part independent study. Basically, I will go in for some lectures and I will work on projects at home. I ended up enrolling in two hybrid courses this summer because the second class was scheduled while I would be traveling. Add those to the one online class I will be taking and that means I won't have to miss my travels at all!

I enrolled in a geography class at another university (it is an online class; my school doesn't offer these), but I was afraid that it wouldn't meet my general ed requirements because it wasn't listed on the transfer list of classes for our state. A quick e-mail to the registrar's office and they said it would be just fine.

Also, I found out that one specific classes listed as requirement for my major could be substituted for another class. I thought that was really weird--aren't requirements "requirements?"--but I was really glad to be able to work it all out. It was the one class preventing me from graduating in December.

So the moral of the story is: if you think traditional university is not for you because it's not as flexible, you might be wrong. Make friends with your advisor because they know all the short-cuts and substitutions that aren't going to be spelled out in any undergraduate catalog. When in doubt, call the registrar's office, and lastly, always eat your Wheaties. Oh wait...maybe you can strike out the last one.

Students Rejoice! The Semester Hath Ended!

My tests are done, my projects have been turned in, the bookstore refused to buy back a huge stack of books...that can only mean one thing:Yay! Time for a breather...a short one, but a breather nonetheless.

The end of the spring semester at college totally makes me flash back to elementary school: kids sad because they might not see their buddies during the summer and already missing their favorite teachers but excited about moving up to the next grade. It's the same here: lots of hugs, "miss you's," and even a little sadness if you've had a really great professor who taught you a lot but that you will never have in class again. All the grads are excited to put on the cap & gown but many of them will admit that they are nervous about "the real world."

Personally, I'm just excited to have a couple of weeks at home. I think I'll make a great effort to "veg out" and "waste time" just for the heck of it. "Because I can, that's why!" :)

Monday, May 5, 2008

Down to the Wire

So, I somehow managed to end up working right up until my deadline this week. I have to turn in my projects tomorrow and I have my final test. It's 9 p.m. and I have barely gotten around to studying because I am still working on my project (which I thought would be completed by now).

I think I work best under pressure, but I wish I'd quit doing it to myself! I have a feeling it's going to be a long night... *sigh*

Sunday, May 4, 2008

The Great Summer School Debate

My spring semester will be officially be wrapped up in two more days. You know what that means? I'll say "good-bye" to homework, writing papers and research and say "hello" to lazy summer afternoons by the pool, sleeping late with my kids and relaxing in a lawn chair.


I've actually decided to consider summer school. At the beginning of the spring semester, I planned to take several classes this summer so that I could graduate in December. But I talked myself out of it, saying that I didn't want to miss all the summer activities that I'm usually involved in (youth camps, mission trips) and I wanted to be able to hang out with my kids instead of my computer. Plus, it wasn't like I had a job waiting on me when I graduated. As the semester wore on, I found myself looking forward to a break.

However, I started recalculating the hours I had left plus the monetary savings that I could gain by skipping the spring 2009 semester. I discovered that I might be able to complete a full 11 hours this summer through a combination of testing out of a class (it only costs $10!), taking two internet classes and one "hybrid" class (a hybrid class is a combo of independent study & classroom teaching). Taking these classes would not interfere with the summer activities I already have planned (as long as I have internet access when I travel). I also discovered that I could save $1000 or more by skipping the spring semester in favor of the summer/fall combo The savings would come from tuition that will increase for fall/spring (but not summer), gas savings and food savings (I usually eat out when I'm at school). That makes summer school a pretty good investment overall.

I still have to visit with my advisor and make sure this is going to work the way I think it should. I'll be honest: this is not going to be easy. It requires me to work throughout the summer, take a short break (I'm headed to the beach in August, thankfully), then hit the books again...this time, with 18 hours in my schedule. So, if I do go forward with this plan, I'm going to have to keep my eye on the prize. I think I should put sticky-notes on my bathroom mirror, computer monitor, fridge and any other frequently-used flat surface that says "Just Do It" know, Michael Jordan style. :)