Let the College Search Begin!

college-preparation

When you have children, amid the sleepless nights and multitude of diaper changes, it’s hard to imagine that your precious little baby will someday be college bound.  When your preschooler is busy exploring the world and learning their ABC’s, you still cannot picture the day you will be planning their flight out into the world.  While you watch your elementary school student sing in school performances and start venturing out to their first sleepovers, you still cannot picture the day when their “sleepover” will extend into months, or even years.  During the middle school period, when standardized testing is being pushed, you start to get an inkling that college will be coming, but it’s still barely a thought in your head.  Even when your “baby” enters high school, it still seems so far away that you may not give it very much thought.  Then one day it sneaks up on you. Maybe you are lucky and have this in mind at the beginning of your child’s junior year (or before).  Or just maybe you are like me, and out of curiosity you start looking into it mid-way through their junior year, only to discover you are now behind in planning.  That’s right, I said BEHIND.

Here it is, February, mid-way through my eldest’s junior year, and I thought I was making an early move by scheduling a local college visit for her.  Sure the timing for visiting colleges may be right on target, but there is so much more to consider than just the visit.  We scheduled our first visit for non other than Vanderbilt University.  Why Vanderbilt?  Because Vanderbilt is my family, my employer, my own school (albeit graduate school), and it is local.  We arrived at 7:30 on a dreary Monday morning.  Even though it is early February, the last few days were like spring, almost summer really.  I expected the same of this day.  We went to the grand ballroom where hundreds of other families assembled from all over the country to learn just what Vanderbilt has to offer (like I don’t already know), and what to expect from their admission process.  We were very fortunate that not only did they explain their process, but they also explained the overall admission process as it would pertain to the majority of colleges and universities across the US.  The session was very informative.  For my daughter…it was also very disheartening.  For as they explained their process and their order of importance for certain categories, they hit a few sensitive spots for her.  Here were the expectations that were outlined for us, in addition to points of importance for me that I will keep in mind for my youngest.

First, obviously they will place heavy ranking on ACT scores.  Now she is a very smart girl and has not even attempted to take the ACT as of yet; however, she feels that despite her awesome grades, she does not test very well.  I have tried to assure her that she doesn’t know until she gives it a shot.  The school even said that you can take it multiple times, and they will ONLY consider your highest score.  She doesn’t seem convinced.  Lesson #1:  invest in ACT practice literature – these usually come with software to take practice tests.  (Ours is now on order).  

As our lecturer continued on with their entrance requirements, their second emphasis was placed on letters of recommendation.  My girls just changed high schools because of our move, but I quickly noted for her that she should contact her former high school teachers, who know her very well, and ask them for letters of recommendation.  I am also pretty sure that some of the teachers at her new school will have a good idea of who she is by the time she submits her college applications.  Lesson #2:  think ahead and remember those important people in your child’s life that may be able to write a glowing recommendation for them when the time comes.

Next in line came the written essay.  Now, here I have no doubt that my daughter will excel. She loves to write and does very well with essays.  But this also tied in to the next requirement:  extra-curricular activities.  Here was our first major blow.  When my girls were younger, I exposed them to a variety of activities that ranged from girl scouts, music lessons and dance lessons, to ice skating, gymnastics and even bowling.  They were happy to have these experiences, but as they decided each one was not for them, I did not force them to stay in anything.  I was just happy to provide them with the opportunities.  By high school, I wanted my girls to be themselves and enjoy being kids for their final adolescent years.  As such, neither has pursued any “extracurricular” activities as a normal person would define them, and I was not one to push.  But now we were starting to panic.  There were no clubs to list on her application.  There were no outside music or physical activities to list.  After digging in and doing my research, I learned that there are many things that constitute “extracurricular”, not just organized school activities, these include:  Part-time jobs, volunteering, hobbies, any many other interests that your child may hold outside of school.  We feel better about this now, and can now breathe a sigh of relief.  Lesson #3:  Keep your children (or encourage them) to remain active in activities regardless of how old they are.  

So now we know the admission process for one of our school choices (probably the most difficult one), and we also know that many other colleges may have similar requirements, even if they are weighted differently.  Now comes the task of deciding which schools have a concentration in my daughter’s academic area of choice (she’s interested in neurosciences), and which of those we wish to visit.  Once we narrow that down, we can proceed with the fun part – VISITING!

We left our orientation information session and proceeded on our first campus tour just as it began to rain…without having umbrellas. There have been many points in my life where it seems rain brought good luck, and even though we were thoroughly drenched after our tour, I chose to believe this would be one of those lucky moments.  My belief was cemented when we proceeded to take a tour of one of the neuroscience labs here at Vanderbilt (thanks to my connections).  This little tour provided us with more information and insight into my daughter’s chosen career field than any ordinary college tour could ever provide.  Here her spirits were lifted, and she regained her enthusiasm for the future.  We now have two more campus visits already scheduled (within driving distance), and are looking to add a couple more that may even require travel by plane.  Even though it will be bittersweet in the end, after all it will mean that she will be moving on in life, I am looking forward to having this little adventure with her.  I am so proud of her, and I am truly blessed to be her mother.

 

college-roadmap

Advertisements

Welcome to Graduate School

So it has been a while since I last blogged, because I did actually start grad school and life has been very busy since!   However, I do wish I had been chronicling my experience so far.  Instead, I will recap what has taken place.  It all started on Saturday August 13th – orientation.

August 13, 2016 – Orientation.  This program is unlike any other traditional program in that I am with a group of people who will stay together for the entire program, taking the same courses and meeting in the same location all the way through.  Just like any other orientation, we were told what we could expect, and we got to learn more about each other.  I immediately felt that I was in a unique position, for I appeared to be one of only about 3 people who were not already in management positions.  This made me nervous.  Luckily, I would learn over the next few weeks, that there are a few more of us serving in different capacities that do not include managing people.

After an initial orientation, we were fed lunch and had a brief library orientation on research.  As part of our welcome package, we were all given laptop bags that were filled with “goodies”, which included an executive portfolio, a pen, a water bottle, a flash drive, and our first set of books – for which we had already received our first reading assignments to complete prior to our first Thursday night class and our first weekend class.

2016-08-13-15-21-01

After orientation concluded, we were invited over to the home of one of the instructors (whom I also believe is a board member for the program) for a catered “cookout” and to mingle with the class that was about to graduate.  It was nice to obtain their perspectives on how they felt the program was.  But no matter how many people I spoke with, the consensus was the same….it’s going to be challenging, and it’s going to be time-consuming.

August 20, 2016 – Module 1 Starts.  Our first Thursday night class was preceded by a full dinner that included alcohol, should we choose to partake.  It was very delicious.

14080002_10210821599404491_6661799015393261084_n

We then were introduced to our very energetic, and colorful Economics professor.  It turned out that while he was entertaining, many of us were not be able to learn a lot directly from his lectures.  In my opinion, this class seemed to be a rather difficult one to start with, as a good big of it incorporated knowing finance and statistics (which we won’t have until next Spring).  Luckily every Thursday night class was followed with a Monday night TA session that the entire class seemed to need to attend in order to truly understand the subject matter.  So my one-night-a-week program was going to be at least two nights a week.  We were also given our (here’s the dreaded part) first team assignment at that first class.   Knowing what a challenge team assignments were with my bachelor’s program, I had hoped working face to face with team members would provide a much better outcome.  At least I hoped being in a master’s program would mean a much better team experience.  I found over the coming weeks this could not be further from the truth.

I quickly attempted to get our team to meet to discuss our first assignment.  Out of four of us, only one team member, besides myself would agree to meet.  Teamwork was already becoming stressful.  The complications I proceeded to have with my team over the course of this module would only escalate.  Unfortunately I can be a little too outspoken, and it seemed to only made matters worse.  For now, I just have to deal with it and wait for the time when we will have new teams assigned…apparently in January.  God help me.

 

August 9, 2016 – The First Weekend Session. Once a month, we also have class on a Friday evening and all day Saturday.  On a good note, because of the length of time involved for the weekend course, one course is completed in just two weekend sessions.  On a bad note, one course is completed in just two weekend sessions.  That means you better understand the material rather quickly.  Just like the first course, this one would prove to be very difficult as well.  Being in a program where half your classmates are doctors is comparable to being in a program with half foreign students (and you’re the foreigner!).  Once the doctors started speaking on practices and procedures that I do not regularly deal with, I was completely lost.  But once again, I found I was not the only one, and we still had those Monday TA sessions that were a godsend.  I attended them faithfully.

Just like our Thursday classes, we are also fed dinner on Friday, and breakfast, lunch and a snack on Saturday.  This program is going to quickly affect my figure if I don’t watch it!

14517350_10211321400419204_7772313392150352146_n

The next few weeks seemed to go so quickly.  We had four team presentations, individual homework assignments and a few quizzes.  Then, before I knew it, I was taking final exams.  Module 1 had come to an end.  I have survived graduate school thus far.  More importantly, I have adapted well to the routine.  And the best part? – while I have not received my final grades for module 1, I have received enough information to know I did much better than I thought I had.

Module 2 began this past week, and this new course is much more “touchy feely” and right up my alley.  I think I’m going like it here.  🙂

One Step to Go!

I don’t even know how to begin….

My 2016 (Sagittarius) horoscope outlined two very important aspects taking place in my life this year.  “Even if you’ve been in the adult world for many years already, Saturn has something special in store for you. It’s time to create a solid foundation around your identity and life goals — even if you’re doing it all over again.” and “…you may take on a phenomenal career challenge that demands you to show the world what you’re really made of.”

A few years ago I wanted more out of life.  I wanted to change my position and status.  I wanted to open new doors.  So I took a leap of faith and returned to school in the hopes of doing just that.  The two years that followed were far from easy.  In fact, they were quite stressful.  So many times I found myself carrying the weight of my team projects and doing the bulk of the work on behalf of my school teammates in an effort to ensure I received the best grade I could.  A few times I was so frustrated that I wanted to quit.  But I stuck it through and finally obtained my bachelor’s degree last December.

When I finally graduated, it was rewarding, to say the least.  But a spark had been lit.  As anxious as I was to finally finish school, deep down I knew I wanted to continue on.  I wanted to pursue my master’s degree.  At first it was just a thought.  A wild and crazy thought considering the amount of stress I had already endured.  However, my dearest friend gently blew on that spark, making it ignite further.  Ok maybe he wasn’t so gentle (wink).  Still, the flame was small, and I was not sure what to do with it, but when you want something so strongly, and you believe in possibilities, sometimes the Universe will take over.  With uncanny timing, an opportunity presented itself, and I went to an open house that ultimately fanned the flames of my desire even higher.  So I applied for the program and waited.  After I passed step one, the application phase, an invitation was extended to me to interview to get into the program, which I did of course.  Step two was completed.  Then I was left to wait.  Today, step three is complete.  I got in!  But, I did not get into just any school – I was accepted into Vanderbilt University’s Owens Graduate School!  As I read the words “Congratulations….” I cried.  Excitement, achievement, exhilaration, and yes even a little bit of fear washed over me.  Why fear?  Because I still have one more step to complete – financial aid.  The biggest step of them all – well not as big as doing the work, but you get the point.  Being accepted into such a prestigious school is not cheap by any means.

So now once again I am sending my hopes and dreams out into the Universe and asking that I can overcome this final obstacle and enter the final phase of my educational pursuits.  A little blessing or prayer never hurt.  But no matter what happens, I definitely feel blessed that I made it this far.  I know I didn’t do it alone.  As my 2016 horoscope said, “Friends will benefit you in all sorts of ways!”  I am so very thankful to those who believed in me enough to push me.  And thank you to my bosses (current and past) that sent in letters of recommendation on my behalf. I just have one more small bump to cross, and I will be on my way!

Thank you Mother and Father God.

 

By Kris Heaton Posted in School

Finished!

On March 18, 2014, I started on a journey to finally receive my bachelor’s degree.  This was a familiar journey, as I had started more than once in my life, however, this time I was determined to see it through.  Now 20 months, 17 classes and a 3.88 grade point average later, I have reached the goal that once seemed so far away.  I have completed my program!

I chronicled my experience in a blog titled: “A 40-Something-Year-Old’s Trip Back to the Books” if you care to read about it.  All I can say is, it wasn’t easy. There were many times was wanted to give up.  Working with teams and team members who didn’t carry their weight was the most frustrating part of the entire experience; however, this taught me something about myself that I had long forgotten:  I AM a leader.  When I started this journey, I wanted to sit back and just be a team member, while letting someone else lead.  Every so often that worked, but there were more times than not that our “leader” was not clear on the objective and I had to step in to ensure we were doing what was necessary.  Of course I did this to maintain my own grade, but over time, I just found I was much better at leading than most.  Yes, I am proud to say that.  Eventually, I stepped in as the leader automatically with each assignment, no longer wanting to just be along for the ride.  In the end, my efforts earned me a 3.88 grade point average and my degree.

Since my final class ended, I have found myself slightly “bored” and not knowing what to do with myself.  I had become so used to reading assignments or writing papers in my spare time that now I don’t know quite what to do with my time.  I have decided, however, that I am going to move on and obtain my master’s degree.  I am looking at two very different programs, one online that would start in May and one in a traditional format that would start in August, the latter being preferred.  However, until then, I will have some free time to rediscover a few hobbies I once had, and maybe a new one.

Thank you for being on this journey with me, and I truly thank those who helped me through it when I needed it.  I love you.

 

thank-you-student-loans-for-getting-me-through-college-i-can-never-repay-you-im-forever-in-your-debt-i-owe-you-one--ffcf2

11988756_1345142682257328_4786025082185006550_n

 

By Kris Heaton Posted in School

Excuse Me If I Choose Unexcused

I recently read an article in which a man was told that his children’s trip to the Boston Marathon with him was deemed as unexcused by the school.  I highly encourage you to read the article here:  “Principal Shames Dad over Kids’ ‘Once-in-a-Lifetime Experience‘”.

I love that this man stood up for his children.  I wholeheartedly agree that living life to the fullest and experiencing what the world has to offer is the greatest education a person can ever have.  A parent should be able to take their children out of school at any time they find appropriate, and it SHOULD be EXCUSED.  No one has the right to determine what a parent deems to be a reasonable excuse for keeping their children home.

Last year I received a letter from our school’s truancy office indicating that my youngest had excessive absences.  What happened?  She was truly out sick several times, and I simply forgot to send notes in.  When I did, she did not always remember to give them to the office.  Yes that was poor planning on my part, but to say she is truant while I was aware of her absences and when she continued making straight A’s is a bit absurd.  I started attempting to email my notes, knowing I could rely on email more than my child.  Email worked for me, because I could also send my email in at any point the next day when I remembered, instead of having to remember the night before or early in the morning when we are all rushed.  As if the truancy letter was not silly enough, I was shocked when I was told by the principal that emails were not accepted, because my notes needed to be in “writing”.  Excuse me?  Was an email not “written”?  How did this man get to become a principal of a school if he does not know the definition of written?  I did take it upon myself to point this out and I have continued sending emails ever since.

I do understand there are rare circumstances where parents have no regard for their children’s education and would let them miss school excessively for what may be deemed as “no legitimate reason”.  However, I think we can all agree the majority of parents do take an interest in their children’s education and do not just arbitrarily let them stay home.  I think in most cases, a child’s grades may be able to reflect what should be constituted as being an excessive amount of absences. As for me?  Well, as long as my children continue to excel in school, I (their parent) will continue to be the one who determines if their being out is excused or unexcused.

holtquote

A 40-Something-Year-Old’s Trip Back to the Books

I have written a few blogs regarding my experiences with having returned to school.  I have taken those pieces and put them all together to chronicle my educational experience.  Perhaps I may be able to help someone out there by sharing.  This blog will be ongoing as I struggle with the pursuit of my degree.  As it turns out, it is a bumpy ride.  Is nothing ever easy?22860-The-Struggle-You-re-In-Today

After 20 years of working in an administrative assistant/secretarial capacity, much frustration in my job, and several signs that I received that seemed to be leaning towards the possibility of me returning to school to finish my bachelor’s degree, I dove in and explored my school options and then finally made the leap.  I started my first class in March of 2014.  This is not something I took lightly. In fact, I had been contemplating returning to school for several years.  The desire has always been there, I just never had a real drive or reason to do it.  When I started thinking about it this time, I came across a transcript evaluation I had completed with another college in 2012.  At that time, it would have taken me two years to finish what I was originally only one year away from getting – my bachelor’s degree.  I remember thinking, “why should it take me two years?  I was so close xx number of years ago.”  Not only that, but I didn’t want to spend so much money just to get a piece of paper that I really did not have any ambition to know what to do with.  Now here it is, two years later, at a time when I do have that ambition, and I would have been finished.  I had no idea then that today it would have fit perfectly into my life to have that “piece of paper”.   I should have jumped in then, but I didn’t.  Better late than never, right?!

I decided to give the University of Phoenix’s online program a try.  I know a couple of people who go/went there, and they really liked it.  One had even done all sorts of research on various online programs before ultimately deciding to go with their program.  Since he essentially did the research for me, and because their admissions counselor was the most helpful during my own researching, I decided to go with their program.  I started with a small free workshop they provided to acquaint myself to the online process.  I have to admit, at first I was so overwhelmed with the process that I was questioning what in the world I was doing and thought about backing out.  But my dear friends helped talk those fears out of me, and I signed up.  Here is what my first year at University of Phoenix has been like.

March, 2014

I found that the first week wasn’t so bad.  Actually, it was way easier than I thought it would be.  So why did I fear it so much?  It’s funny how the unknown can keep us from moving forward in our lives, whether the change we seek is moving to a new city, changing jobs or returning to school.  Over the years, I have gotten comfortable and in a routine.  Not the best routine, I can assure you, as there is some laziness to it, but it is still my routine.  So now I am disrupting the routine (interfering with my lazy evenings) and forcing my brain to comprehend something new again.  I am sure there will be times I want to give up and quit.  It’s sort of like starting a new exercise routine.  Every year I start, and by the end of the year, I am no longer doing it.  When those moments hit, I am going to rely heavily on my family and friends to cheer me on to keep going.

April 26, 2014

I finished my first course to my bachelor’s degree – with a 99.1% A!  I am happy to say that, for the most part, it was relatively easy.  The two most difficult obstacles I found to attending school online were:

 1) Finding time to read – After working 8 hours a day, spending at least an hour to two hours a day commuting, coming home to make dinner, and trying to find some time for myself, finding time to read three or four textbook chapters in a week can be quite challenging.  Some nights I would crawl in bed, open the book and fall asleep.  Yep….it’s that exciting!  While I hate reading online and prefer actual books, I found saving the online book in a PDF that I can take with me helps me to catch up on reading during slow times during work.  In all actuality, since I don’t have a photographic memory anyway, sometimes reading the entire chapter wasn’t necessary.  As long as you know the gist of the discussion and where to find the information during the final exam, you are good to go.  Yes, the final exam is open book.

 2) Working with teams – As part of the curriculum, I was assigned to a team that had to write one paper each week during the course. Simple, right?  Wrong.  I thought since I had never done this before, that I was going to be the weak link of the group.  Boy was I wrong about that!  Our first assignment was to come up with a topic for our 5th week paper.  This was in week one.  In week two, we had to write a paper on a different topic than the one we chose for week 5.  As I started making suggestions, I kept being met with statements like, “Are we changing topics?” or “I thought we were doing our paper on such and such.”  I had to explain over and over again that this was a different paper with a different topic and that the topic we had already chosen was for our final week!  This discussion took place in an online meeting.  As I kept re-explaining the assignment, I was so frustrated that I started yelling at my computer.   I thought talking to teens was difficult…apparently, not as difficult as this was.  And the room full of kids behind me got a good laugh watching me yell at my screen.  In the end, everything was cleared up, and my team did write a couple pretty decent papers.  Hopefully the teams in my future classes will work a little smoother!

So the final week came and I breezed through my final exam, missing only one question.  🙂  I couldn’t be happier.  Then, because my last college English course was over ten years old, I had to take an English proficiency exam to determine if I had to retake an English class.  I thought this was funny timing since I had just come out of a course that required writing papers, but so be it.  I took the exam, a timed multiple choice grammar quiz and timed written essay.  Once again, I aced the test, only missing one multiple choice problem.  The essay was a bit more challenging.  While being timed already, I had to come up with a common problem, a thesis for the solution to that problem, and then write an essay to support that thesis.  Time ticked away while I sat staring blankly at my screen trying to come up with a problem.   My daughter piped in and gave me a topic to write about. I wrote my essay and also got an A.  No need to retake English.  Yay!  🙂

So now on to class two!  One class down and 16 to go!

May 15, 2014

Another school team project.  I was so frustrated that no one knew what they were doing that I decided to be the “team lead”.  When a couple of people still couldn’t manage to do their parts correctly, I found out just how much of a leader (and perfectionist) I have in me. I pointed out flaws that were there and gave directions on what to do and HOW to do it.  I didn’t think I had that in me.  Then, silly me, I did the whole project myself.  I didn’t tell the team I did it all, but I’ve guided them into giving me appropriate information so it looks like they contributed and I can ultimately submit what I know is required (and correct!.)

August 1, 2014

The past few days, or perhaps I should say weeks, I have been immersed in a math class for school.  I used to absolutely love math, and algebra was once one of my favorite subjects in school when I was a kid.  But now I find I no longer hold this subject in such high regard.  It doesn’t help that the work load I have for this current class seems to be extremely large and time-consuming.  I spend most of my evenings and a good part of my weekends working on math equations.  As if that isn’t bad enough, I go to sleep at night and dream of math problems and equations.  So I have found myself questioning school once again.  Why am I doing this?  Why am I spending so much time and money?  What am I really going to do with it?  Is it worth the lack of sleep and feeling tired all the time?

I know that quitting is not an option this time.  But could it possibly get a little easier, and a little less time-consuming?  I don’t think that’s too much to ask for, do you?

September 29, 2014

I’m in my sixth class in school.  It seems with each class, the notion of going to school gets more and more aggravating, and I have found myself wanting to quit many times.  Luckily my current class is one I enjoy.  So far it’s not too bad, other than the same old complaints of working with team members that don’t pull their weight.  Still I keep plodding along with each course and know that it will all end before I know it – even if it’s not soon enough at the moment!  As they say, time keeps moving whether you choose to do something or not, so you may as well do something.

November 9, 2014

I had a breakdown.  I wanted to quit.  My introductory Business Finance class feels like an expert finance class.  After spending 10 hours yesterday doing homework that did not make any sense to me, my computer decided to quit working right in the middle of it all.  I had problems to complete in the “finance lab”, a program designed for the finance class.  With each problem you have three chances to get it right, then you are forced to move on.  The whole program keeps tally of what your grade is in the top corner as you progress.  Question after question I kept answering wrong.  My running total remained at a “F”.  I could not seem to comprehend the examples given to me.  I had not even eaten that day and only took a brief break to order a pizza to feed myself and the girls.  Then, after 10 hours, my computer also decided it had enough.  It quit working.  I broken down crying. My friend Tina just happened to call me for some other reason at that very moment.  She talked me out of my breakdown, but not before the pizza delivery guy showed up.  I felt bad for him as he tried to complete a transaction with this crying and crazed woman who was still in her pajamas and on the phone while trying to pay for the pizza.

Tina let me know it was ok to not be perfect it all the time.  She already had this class. I could drop it for now, and when I retook it (because I would be required to retake it for my degree), she would help me through it.  I was all for quitting school that night.  But today I thought about how far I had come and my determination crept back in.  I was not going to quit, but my original plan to have a concentration in finance was over.  I sat back down at my computer, and discovered that because I had not saved any of my work yesterday, I actually was able to redo it all.  I slowly made my way through it, and managed to finish it all with an A.

December 11, 2014

After the disaster of my finance class, I still managed to end the course with an A and had a 3.86 GPA.  Still, with each new class, I have struggled more and more with my school work and the content of my education from University of Phoenix.

I am currently in a business research class that has me watching physics videos.  I am not taking physics!  I just do not feel the content of my courses are at the appropriate level or provide the appropriate content for my degree.  Therefore, I started looking again at another school I checked out back at the start of this venture.  I thought that by changing schools now, I would only lose a little bit of the coursework I just completed, would add only a little extra time to my schooling, but I will save a lot of money, and hopefully a lot of stress.  Unfortunately, that is not the case.  If I were to change, because the other school has restrictions on how many credits they will take in, I would lose a good bit of the credits I just earned this year. Even though their classes are cheaper, by taking more I would not be saving any money.  So I continue on at the University of Phoenix.

January 22, 2015

My Business Research class went on a two-week break (along with the rest of the school) through the holidays.  That sort of sucked, because I would have been finished two weeks faster otherwise.  Over the break, I did receive notice that due to my GPA I had been invited to become a member of the University of Phoenix Chapter of the International Business Honor Society, Sigma Beta Delta.  How about that!  After the stress of that blasted business finance class and how I felt like I was going to fail it, I pulled through and now hello honor society!  CrAzEe!.  But I will say after all of that I will try to never doubt myself and my abilities again.

IMG_2856

Classes resumed and my up until this point the team I had in my Business Research class was the best I had to this point.  But of course it could not stay that way.  For our week 4 team paper, parts were chosen, but one part was left vacant.  After many confirmation posts as to who was doing what parts, I decided to take the vacant part.  I completed it and submitted it on Saturday morning.  A few hours later I get a group text message on my phone.  Another team member, who did not identify himself at first was “going off” that I took his part and now he was going to have to start all over again.  Other members spoke up and confirmed what I had thought, that he had already chosen a different part, and he never once said the confirmation posts were wrong, so how was it that I took his part?  Well after watching him basically throw a tantrum via text messages, he conceded and completed the part he originally said he would do.  By the time our week 5 paper was due (the last week of this class), he and another member barely participated at all, leaving just myself and another woman to take the bulk of the work.  Go figure.

With 8 classes down, 9 to go, this week I started my 9th class – Marketing.  This first week of this class is not start well.  With every class, there are reading assignments.  Along with the reading assignments, the facilitators/instructors post discussion questions.  Students are required to participate in discussions a minimal of 8 times a week to be counted as fully participating for the week, and the posts must be substantial (150 words or more).  This has been the case for every instructor, every class for the previous 8 classes I have had.  Day one of marketing, the instructor did not have any discussion questions posted.  Day two, still no discussion questions posted, so I asked when they would be posted.  Her reply was a very snotty reply that told me to refer to her “instructor policies” and basically did not answer my question.   All her policies indicated were where the many places were that would not count towards participation should you post there.  It was not clear by any means.  By today (day three), classmates just started posting their own comments below the reading where the discussion questions would be, none of us knowing if we would actually be getting credit for these posts.  The instructor finally replied, “’Discussion Questions’ are in the old classroom format. For the new classroom setup, you have multiple opportunities to post substantial postings and responses to the “learning activities” in each week of the course. Simply click on a learning activity title and post your response. See the Instructor Policies regarding the parameters for substantial postings and what learning activities and chapters count toward your participation points.  Reading the Instructor Policies document from beginning to end will greatly assist you in passing this course and reduce questions.”  Now I would like to point out her use of the word “response.”  What exactly were we supposed to be responding to?  Also, the “new classroom format” has been in place as long as I have been attending University of Phoenix.  It seems to me discussion questions were very much in use, as every class I had been in had them.  This instructor and I were not going to get along.  I asked to be taken out of her class and placed in another with a new instructor.  I anxiously await word from my academic advisor about changing classes.

January 23, 2015

I’m a little irritated.  I received a phone call from my financial advisor.  Apparently the way the government sets up their loans and the timing of the way my classes fall (a formula which I still cannot quite comprehend) my student loans will fall short in covering the remainder of my program.  So, today I started hitting the scholarship boards in the hopes of finding one or two that I may have a chance at obtaining to cover my tuition.  In the meantime, it looks like I need to start saving some dough for when the tuition will be billed directly to me.  I wish the school would have realized this sooner, perhaps instead of sending me a reimbursement for a overpayment back just before Christmas, they could have put that money towards any shortage.  Such poor management on their part.

I also heard back from my academic advisor and was told I could not change courses because I was “financially locked into this course” because I “made attendance” by posting my question to the instructor.  What crap!!  Once again I am questioning my choice of schools.  There may be a convenience factor in attending school online, but in a traditional school, one seems to have more control over their education.  Because I am in my final year, transferring schools is not a good choice.  I feel trapped.

January 30, 2015

I’m in the middle of week 2 of my marketing class.  The instructor continues to prove she is useless.  Every question asked is answered with something that does not remotely relate to the question or “refer to the syllabus”.  I am not an idiot.  I can read and I have read the syllabus over and over again.  I watch other students ask the same question and she gives the same answer of “refer to the syllabus.”  Then she made a post in which she basically talked down to all of us on how she has never experienced a class as confused as we were.  Perhaps she needs to rethink why we are confused.  I cannot deal with this woman.  I contacted my financial advisor and was told I could actually drop one class and retake it for free during the course of my program.  So now I have chosen to drop it.  With any luck both my academic advisor and financial advisor will get this coordinator quickly enough for me to begin a new class next week.  My only regret is that by dropping this course I will not be able to evaluate this instructor, and believe me it would not have been a favorable evaluation.

February 12, 2015

I am finally in my Marketing class retake.  Wouldn’t you know the assignments are exactly the same as the class I dropped, but at least the instructor is much better.  I am due to have surgery on my shoulder next week, so this week I completed all of my assignments very early on so I can start working on next week’s assignments. That way I can have a day or two after surgery to not even think about school in the event I am not up to it.  If I am up to it, then that will be all the better, as I can then also start working on the following week assignments.  Either way, I am trying to get ahead right now.  Unfortunately even as I get ahead, I cannot submit many items until the week they are actually due, but that is alright.  They will be completed and ready for easy submission.  🙂

March 19, 2015

I just finished my 9th class.  I have 8 to go and am on the downhill slope maintaining a 3.89 average (A).  I couldn’t be happier.  Teams continue to be a challenge, but I’ve managed to learn how to handle them.  I’ve also learned not to wait until the end of the week to do assignments.  Instead, I read what the assignments are, and I take notes pertaining to them as I am reading.  That way I don’t have to remember what I read or go back to research something after the fact.  This has become a great time saving trick for me.  By taking notes on papers I have to write as I am reading, I have been able to breeze through my papers and submit them early.

May 25, 2015

Class number 11 complete and with another A!  This was Business Law.  I took Business Law right out of high school and was so intimidated by it that I dropped the course.  When I saw this come up on my schedule, I asked my advisor to push it back as far as we could, because it made me so nervous.  Much to my surprise it was not a very difficult class at all.  However, I think this had to do in part with the assignments the instructor gave.  His assignments were very reasonable for a non-law major.  For this, I am very grateful.  I now have six classes to go.  Now that I am in a new job that I love so far, there are still some days I don’t know why I am doing this.  But I have come too far to stop now.  Ironically I have caught myself looking at Masters Degree programs.  No I haven’t decided to make that plunge yet, and I am really looking forward to not having to do so much reading and paper writing.  But there are some days….

June 13, 2015

My current class, Strategic Management, is basically my “cap stone class”.  That means it should be my last class.  A class that sums up everything I’ve learned.  A class that requires a great deal from me.  This was evident by the paper I had to write this week.  It was very in depth on a subject I couldn’t care less about and don’t fully understand or want to understand.  Once again, I sat staring at the requirements of this paper and a blank computer screen in tears not knowing where in the world to begin with this paper.  This should be my last class.  However, I have five electives to go, so it’s not my last class.  Why am I taking it now?  Needing someone to help me gain perspective and to talk me through my stress, I called my best friend.  He calmed me down, gave me some good information to work with, and instructed me to walk away from the paper until the next day.  This was the voice of reason I needed.  I let everything sit for a day, and then I was able to take his advice and whip out that paper in two hours the next morning.  Still two more weeks to go of this class, but I am feeling a little better about it now.

July 1, 2015

I completed the hardest class I have had to date and I am so very relieved!  The instructor was tough.  No matter how closely I followed his paper requirements, he would always mention something he didn’t require as being missing, which essentially kept my running grade just below an A average.  I’m talking about a quarter point just below every time!  He drove me crazy.  I would go over the word count on my papers to make sure I included everything he wanted, yet he would still say I could have said more and deducted points because I didn’t “say enough”.  It’s enough to drive a person crazy, so I took a week off between this and my next class to have a moment to breathe.  Even though I keep checking for my final grade, I am fairly certain with his grading style I will have my first B.  At this point I do not care.  I only have five business electives left to take and then I am finished!!  🙂

Update:  Happy July 4th – I found I managed to pull off another A with class!  I am seriously contemplating graduate school now.  Sure I have moments where I feel it is all a struggle; however, if I can feel that weak and still manage an A, then maybe I shouldn’t stop.  I will keep thinking about it.  I don’t have to rush to commit to the idea yet.

August 10, 2015

15th class complete!  Only four classes to go!  It is such a relief to finally feel like I can see the end of the tunnel.  I am now torn between being finished and having free time back and continuing on to grad school.  While this whole process has driven me completely batty, I must admit that the grades continue to come easy to me just as they always have in all my schooling.  I suppose I am blessed.

September 10, 2015

Final week of my current class and I am back to struggling with my team.  Only one more assignment and this one is complete!  I will have three classes left, and yesterday I started to get excited about the prospect of being finished.  Until today.  I am starting to deal with some sketchiness with my financial advisor so I googled information on the school and finances.  What I found instead was a great deal of negative information on the University of Phoenix.  I am sure the outcome of having a degree from the University of Phoenix is different for everyone.  The school couldn’t possibly stay in business so long if their degrees were useless.  Could they?  And why would they be useless?  I know I worked very hard for this education.  But now I worry.  I have contemplated continuing on to get a master’s degree (at another school of course), but it was still just a thought – a choice I did not have to commit to if I did not want to.  However, I am now feeling the only way I can be 100% certain that my education is worth all the hard work I put into it is if I go on to get a master’s degree that will trump my bachelors degree so that where I obtained my bachelors will not matter.  I’m still not sold on the idea of continuing on, but now I feel pressured to do so.  I’m so stressed.

September 18, 2015

Finished another class with a perfect grade.  Only three to go!  🙂

October 20, 2015

Another class down and I didn’t even write about it?!  LOL  It was the same scenario yet again; always one or two team members, who just don’t get the team idea.  I did have to step up and “be a leader” to one team member who took the reigns a little early and in a controlling fashion. He meant well, but he decided create his own ruling in that any team member that submitted their part late would not get credit on the assignment.  Well, I understand the need for a deadline and the importance of team members meeting that deadline, for I have been the leader on many assignments, where I was stuck gathering information and/or rewriting information at the last second; however, participation is participation.  If someone participates, you simply cannot exclude them from the assignment.  I pointed this out to him.  We are given team evaluations that should be completed and submitted privately to instructors, which can be used to state why you believe another team  member does not deserve full credit.  Then it is up to the instructor to determine if the person will receive credit or not. When I pointed this out to him with our very first team assignment, I thought I would be pegging myself as “trouble” and that he and I wouldn’t get along.  Well, believe it or not, he respected that I did that.  He amended our team charter, then even surprised me when he contacted me for advice when another team member submitted a very below par part of the assignment.  I learned that day, that if you diplomatically stand up against what you disagree with, the outcome may be very favorable.  The key – be logical and diplomatic about it, not bossy or demanding.

Now only two classes to go!

December 3, 2015

A busy few weeks with classes, illness and Thanksgiving, and yet I managed to wrap up my second to last class with another A.  I am now in my final class with two and a half weeks to go.  This is proving to be the most challenging team I have had this entire time.  With only four members, it is the smallest, and two of the members seem to be non-existent.  After they contribute, they disappear.  That would be fine if their contributions were thorough and logical.  They haven’t been.  Here I am in my final course and I am still cleaning everyone’s work up.  I’ve resigned myself to it so much that I just automatically assumed the permanent lead roll in the team.  I plan on graduating with an A so I will not let this last team bring me down!

December 16, 2015

My final week of class!  Still the worst team I have had this entire time.  I have had to take the lead every week and keep on top of them since they don’t communicate.  Regardless of my experience with this team, this has been the most interesting class I have had through this entire program.  Probably because it is more psychology driven than business driven.  Just another reminder I should have been a psychology major.  Oh well, too late now.  Either way, I am so anxious for this week to be over!!  What in the world will I do with my time?  The answer is WHATERVER I WANT!!!  I’m almost done! Yay!

 

32fa7__8882487567_89e130c37a_z

Happy 2015!

IMG_2741

Well it seems I slept through most of the holidays (at least my blog has) and here we are a week into the new year.

Since we “met” last, here are a couple of updates.

Klara’s concussion tests all came back fine and she is back at school after getting an additional week off because of this whole scenario prior to winter break.  Now she’s back to suffering with responsibilities like the rest of us….if only our responsibilities were that of a middle-schooler!!

Christmas was nice but I did not truly feel into the spirit this time around.  I didn’t feel like putting decorations up. What went up did so because of my kids (thanks girls!), and they came down the day after Christmas.

My own school was on a two-week break through the holidays.  That sort of sucked, because I would have been finished with another class if there wasn’t a break.  So now there are two weeks left of this course and then I only have 9 classes to go!  I also received notice today that due to my GPA I have been invited to become a member of the University of Phoenix Chapter of the International Business Honor Society, Sigma Beta Delta.  How about that!  After the stress of my last class and how close I felt like I was going to fail it, I pulled through and now hello honor society!  CrAzEe!.  But I will say after all of that I will try to never doubt myself and my abilities again.

Even though I felt in a slump over the holidays, I am starting this new year off with a new sense of self.  It really has nothing to do with the new year, and I cannot quite tell you where it has come from, but nevertheless it is there.  I do not make new year’s resolutions…never have.  But with my renewed self-confidence and the end of my degree program in sight (even if it is at the end of this year), I just have all these wonderful ideas and some new ambitions in my head.  I won’t share them just yet.  They are mine to toy with for now.  Forgive me for being secretive.  😉

I love you all and thank you all for being a part of my life and my blog.  I wish you all a Happy, Health and Prosperous New Year!

slide_331219_3272321_free

 

The Blink of an Eye

Virginia 3It was just yesterday when I drove this beautiful girl to pre-kindergarten for the first time.  Only four-years-old at the time, she was fiercely independent and eagerly ready to attend school and be on her own.  So much so that she begged me to let her ride the bus on the second day of school.  What was a mother to do?!  My baby, alone on a big school bus, no one to help her get to class once she arrived at the school?!!  Ok so that’s an exaggeration, there would be teachers to help her out.  So I let her go, of course, but then followed the bus in my car!  I have probably blogged this story before, but it is one of my absolute favorites of my daughter Virginia.

I drove to the school, parked my car then walked over to the bus drop off area to meet her and walk her to class.  Little Miss Feisty got off the bus, took one look at me, frowned, then held her little index finger up to me and sternly stated, “Don’t follow me!”  Then she marched herself to her classroom all by herself and left me there amused, dumbfounded, sad and proud all at the same time.

Now ten years have passed, and my independent little girl has become an independent young lady.  Still very strong-willed, but with a great head on her shoulders and reasoning and logic that can outwit many adults I know. I watched as she walked out the door to catch the bus to her first day of high school, only to get a text message a few minutes later, because she was nervous about riding the bus and asking me to drive her to school.  She is still finding ways to amuse and surprise me.  Unfortunately I had to decline as I had to get myself ready for work, forcing her to ride the bus on her first day.  However, I will be off on her second day of school.  So in reversal of 10 years ago, when I drove her on the first day and released her to be on her own the second, I am proud to say she still needs me.  Though she is strong enough to go it alone, I am more than happy (and eager) to drive her to her second day of school.  After all, she still is and always will be my baby girl.

 

No Quitting

School

No matter how many times something of a spiritual nature happens to me or the universe sends me messages, I still find myself amazed the next time something similar comes up.  The past few days, or perhaps I should say weeks, I have been immersed in a math class for school.  I used to absolutely love math, and algebra was once one of my favorite subjects in school when I was a kid.  But now I find I no longer hold this subject in such high regard.  It doesn’t help that the work load I have for this current class seems to be extremely large and time-consuming.  I spend most of my evenings and a good part of my weekends working on math equations.  As if that isn’t bad enough, I go to sleep at night and dream of math problems and equations.  So I have found myself questioning school once again.  Why am I doing this?  Why am I spending so much time and money?  What am I really going to do with it?  Is it worth the lack of sleep and feeling tired all the time?

Now as part of my daily ritual (if I have a ritual), I like to get my free daily angel card reading.  It is believed that when drawing any type of tarot or angel cards, you should first “ask” a question.  However, I usually draw my cards without thinking of anything specific or posing any questions.  I like to simply draw a card and see what the universe is trying to tell me.  Today, it just so happened that I was questioning school once again.  I decided to just put it out of my mind for now and went on to get my reading.  I didn’t put the question of school out there for this reading, as these two moments of thought for me weren’t exactly what I would have considered as being connected.  Therefore, I was surprised when I drew the School card once again.

Ok, I get the message.  Quitting is not an option this time.  But could it possibly get a little easier, and a little less time-consuming?  I don’t think that’s too much to ask for, do you?

1 Down – 16 to Go

20140426-100416.jpgWell last week I finished my first course to my bachelor’s degree – with a 99.1% A!  I am happy to say that, for the most part, it was relatively easy.  The two most difficult obstacles I found to attending school online were:

1) Finding time to read – After working 8 hours a day, spending at least an hour to two hours a day commuting, coming home to make dinner, and trying to find some time for myself, finding time to read three or four textbook chapters in a week can be quite challenging.  Some nights I would crawl in bed, open the book and fall asleep.  Yep….it’s that exciting!  While I hate reading online and prefer actual books, I found saving the online book in a PDF that I can take with me helps me to catch up on reading during slow times during work.  In all actuality, since I don’t have a photographic memory anyway, sometimes reading the entire chapter wasn’t necessary.  As long as you know the gist of the discussion and  where to find the information during the final exam, you are good to go.  Yes, the final exam is open book.

2) Working with teams – As part of the curriculum, I was assigned to a team that had to write one paper each week during the course. Simple, right?  Wrong.  I thought since I had never done this before, that I was going to be the weak link of the group.  Boy was I wrong about that!  Our first assignment was to come up with a topic for our 5th week paper.  This was in week one.  In week two, we had to write a paper on a different topic than the one we chose for week 5.  As I started making suggestions, I kept being met with statements like, “Are we changing topics?” or “I thought we were doing our paper on such and such.”  I had to explain over and over again that this was a different paper with a different topic and that the topic we had already chosen was for our final week!  This discussion took place in an online meeting.  As I kept re-explaining the assignment, I was so frustrated that I started yelling at my computer.   I thought talking to teens was difficult…apparently, not as difficult as this was.  And the room full of kids behind me got a good laugh watching me yell at my screen.  In the end, everything was cleared up, and my team did write a couple pretty decedent papers.  Hopefully the teams in my future classes will work a little smoother!

So the final week came and I breezed through my final exam, missing only one question.  🙂  I couldn’t be happier.  Then, because my last college English course was over ten years old, I had to take an English proficiency exam to determine if I had to retake an English class.  I thought this was funny timing since I had just come out of a course writing papers, but so be it.  I took the exam, a timed multiple choice grammar quiz and timed written essay.  Once again, I aced the test, only missing one multiple choice problem.  The essay was a bit more challenging.  While being timed already, I had to come up with a common problem, a thesis for the solution to that problem, then write an essay to support that thesis.  Time ticked away while I sat staring blankly at my screen trying to come up with a problem.   My daughter Virginia piped in and gave me a topic to write about. (Thanks Virginia!).  I wrote my essay and also got an A.  No need to retake English.  Yay!  🙂

So now on to class two!  One class down and 16 to go!

 

20140425-124755.jpg