Category Archives: college life

2015: Year of the Crazy

Life is crazy.

I bet you’ve heard that one before. One moment you think that you have life all planned and then the next something happens to change all that. Time and again, things have happened. And each time, I am reminded that what is important is how you face these obstacles.

So what if your Big Life Plan goes astray? As long as you learn something from it and move on with your Big Life Plan, then everything will work out for the best. I may not believe in God or  Allah or any higher being for that matter, but I do believe in fate. I believe that life happens for a reason. And every moment happens to test us, to teach us, to guide us to another moment in another place in time.

How else can I explain when I’m 26 and I’m just now completing my Bachelor’s degree? I went to college the traditional way when I was 18. I lived in the dorms (I hated it). I studied abroad (I loved it).

If things had worked out as planned, I would have graduated from college in 2011. It took me four years longer to get my Bachelor’s degree because I took a break. Which I needed. If you were to ask me if I regret it, I would have to say that I don’t. Because sometimes it is not about the end result but the journey that gets you there. I feel like earning my Bachelor’s degree at 26 is even more rewarding now than it would have been when I was 22. You know why? Because it was harder. Because I had to really work for it. Because a college education is not just a growing up ritual. Instead, it is something that is earned and it can never be taken away. It is the time to truly get to know yourself, to change and to let yourself be changed. It is the time to let education let you become the person that you were meant to be.

Now, that probably sounded corny and sappy. But it’s true.

Life is indeed crazy. Especially when you find out that you are pregnant. 2015 is a big year for me… the year of graduation and now pregnancy and starting a family with my long-term boyfriend and finding my dream job. Oh my, it really is the year of the crazy, isn’t it?

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4 Organizational Tips for the Online Student

As an online student, it is important to be organized. Being organized can make your educational experience less painful and stressful. Your homework can seem less daunting. And when you are calm and not stressed, then your work will reflect that.

4 Organizational Tips for the Online Student

1. Use binders!

20150515_212301At the end of every term, I get two binders and fill them with loose leaf paper. I then log onto Blackboard and put out the syllabus, rubrics and any other required reading, such as an article. I punch holes in them with my handy pink hole puncher. The paperwork goes inside the binder.

It’s not very fancy. It is pretty simple. But it works for me. What is most important is that my two classes are kept separate and all resources are printed out for further perusal.

2. Use a filing system!

Filing SystemAt the completion of every term, I take everything out of the binders. I file all of my school papers into a filing system. This way, my school papers are easy to access. I’m the kind of person who does not like to throw away school stuff and textbooks. Just in case I need it if a fellow student had a question about a course that I already took.

3. Use a to-do list!

to-do listTo-do lists are amazing for keeping life organized. When I have a lot of things I’ve got to do (which is often) I grab a piece of paper and write down everything I need to get done. As I complete each task, I cross it off my list. This is also an effective time management tool.

4. Use color!

HighlightersBrighten up your life with some color! Use highlighters! I highlight my rubrics and textbooks. It’s a great way to make important words pop out.

Comment below and tell me what you use to organize your life.

Being Comfortable Being Uncomfortable

A very wise person once told me that I need to be comfortable being uncomfortable. I did not understand what he meant then.

But eventually, it hit me. It means that I need to take risks. I need to be comfortable doing things that I don’t like to do out of fear or some other reason. I need to put myself out there.

Doing the same things over and over again in a very repetitious manner can be boring. But it can also be comfortable. We like things that are safe. Being safe ensures survival. But when we constantly are engaging in safe things, then there is no opportunity for growth.

Recently, I hosted a Google Hangout with some of my friends at my school. As you may already know, I attend college online. One thing that I’ve been missing is the face-to-face interactions that are the norm at traditional colleges. Now, the Google Hangout was a very casual exchange. It was equivalent to a group of friends meeting in the dining hall for lunch on campus.

But I’m not going to lie. I was pretty terrified prior to the meeting. I have a fear of public speaking, and it seems to increase in an online environment.

But instead of letting this fear define me or hold me back, I confronted it head on. I hosted a Google Hangout meeting because I wanted to get comfortable with video conferencing.

I’m not going to say that I’m a pro at video conferencing now. I would need more exposure before I’m really truly comfortable. But it was a start. And I felt proud of myself for taking this risk and confronting my fear.

How I came to major in Communications

Since I started college in 2007 at age 18, I’ve been through at least five different majors.

I started college with the intent to become an English major. I love the written word. I love reading British lit (Jane Eyre, Oliver Twist). I wanted to become a published writer. But then college started, I took a couple of introductory German classes and I absolutely fell in love. I loved the words, the grammar, the nuances of the language. I loved writing in German, listening to my professor speak German, and I loved the culture of Germany. German happened, took me over, and I changed my major from English to German.

For the first two years of my college career, I took German major courses. I even studied abroad in Berlin and had the most amazing experience. I loved the operas, the museums, the Brandenburg Gate, the city, the people.

And yet, I felt that German was not my destiny. I loved it, but it wasn’t in my future. In other words, it wasn’t my calling. I’ve had near instances during those two vital years of college in which I questioned German. I took Art History, Psychology, and Mythology — all of which I loved equally. I considered majoring in those disciplines.

Four years later and I enrolled at SNHU. I did some research. By now, I wasn’t the same wide-eyed teenager in college. I was a semi-experienced professional who  viewed college differently. Previously, I viewed it was the logical next step after high school. It was the path to freedom from parents and discovering oneself. Now, I view college as a means for self-improvement and advancing one’s career.

I chose Communications.  I have so far loved all of my communications classes. I love to blog and I love the idea of social media. I am fascinated by how it has brought people together. I love how we can use social media to connect with celebrities and organizations. I really think that communications is my calling. It was what I was meant to major in all along.

4 Benefits of Online Education

For today’s post, I’d like to discuss the benefits of online education. As a disclaimer, I’d like to point out that I am not an expert on online education. I am, however, a student who has been attending online classes for one year, since January 2014.

When I first decided to go back to school — online, if you will — I was nervous, apprehensive, scared, intimidated. I was all of those adjectives rolled into one — and more! My academic advisor at the time went over the platform that the University uses, advised me to only take one class my first term, and made sure that I had dotted all my i’s and crossed all my t’s. In short, I really appreciated her taking the time to acclimate me to the online learning environment. It wasn’t my first time at college but it was my first time doing it online.

After the first few weeks, I adapted. I flourished. I enjoyed it. I had fun. I learned a lot. And continued to do so.

One thing that I loved was that I could work at my own pace. I could study at any time of the day — night or morning. I could work ahead, if I wanted to. Or I could stay with the class and take it week by week. It was my choice. But I relished that freedom.

Second, I loved that I could continue working while going to school. I could gain experience in and out of the virtual classroom. It also gave me an excuse to use what I learned outside of the classroom.

Third, I can work from home. I don’t have to worry about paying room & board. I can cut costs and reduce the amount in student loans that I take out.

And finally, I enjoy attending school with people of different ages, life experiences, and cultural backgrounds. In my classes, I am not only learning from my professors, but the students as well. We are all learning from each other. And collaborative learning is a skill that is used in the workplace.

To recap:

Benefits

  • Work at your own pace.
  • Real world experience while taking classes.
  • Save money on residency / meal plans.
  • Collaborative learning

So, what do you think? Comment below and tell me what you think about online education!

Working & Schooling — Together??!!

So, how do you do it? How do you work 35 – 40 hours a week and still go to school?

A few months ago, I was asked this question by an eighteen year old girl. The short answer: time management.

The long answer:

I attend college the untraditional way: online. I take classes at Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU). I also work full time, anywhere from 35 – 40 hours. In addition to school and work, I am involved in a number of extracurricular activities. I am a Peer Leader on the university’s social media site. I do some freelance writing on the side. And now I have this blog.

So, how do I do it?

At the beginning of each term (which is eight weeks long), I print out the syllabus for each class (I take two classes every term). The syllabus is a very useful piece of college documentation. It lists all of my assignments and their due dates. For example, let’s say that I have Monday and Friday off. Because discussion board posts are due by Thursday, I would work on the assigned readings on Monday and a discussion board posting. I would then work on the second class’ readings and discussion board postings on Tuesday and Wednesday (giving myself two days because I’m working both days).

Once the discussion board posts are done (usually by Wednesday at the latest), I devote the rest of my week to work on the more time consuming assignments, such as short papers, papers, quizzes, and projects. In my hypothetical example, I still have Friday as a day off to work on those assignments. I also have the nights on the other days.

I feel like that I’ve tried to cram too much information into one post, so let’s recap:

  • Plan your week (use planners to write out a schedule of everything that you have going on)
  • Stick to your schedule
  • Prioritize your life (what’s more important? That big paper you have to write or watching a movie on Netflix?)

And, finally, one thing I did not mention:

  • Reward yourself. Go for a walk, eat a snack, read a book. Something. Anything. Do something that you enjoy to reward yourself  for working hard, getting a good grade, or simply because you deserve it.

So, next time you have a lot of things going on, try this and let me know how it worked out by commenting below!

Life Lessons

I am 26 years old and I go to college online. Going for my Bachelor’s degree has been a long, emotional, often treacherous journey and I am excited that it is coming to an end soon. Right now, I have only five more courses to take until I graduate. Until I’m done. Until I can stand up, immensely proud, and tell myself that I have a college degree.

I started college the traditional route, when I was eighteen years old. I attended a small liberal arts university for two years. My goal was to major in English. But then, I took a few language courses…. in German. I fell in love with the German language. I fell in love with the ridiculous sentence structure and harsh sounding words.

But, as with all things, life happened. Seven years ago, my mother passed away.

The death of a parent is so unspeakable. It was a pain that I never before experienced. It was shocking, gut wrenching, painstakingly hard to think, to know, that the person who is the reason for my being alive no longer exists.

But time really does help to heal all wounds, however cliché that saying may be. I moved on. It no longer hurts as much to think about that small, but emotionally impacting, moment in time. Don’t get me wrong, the anniversary of her death, holidays, and her birthday are hard. Sometimes I still think of the what ifs: what if she was still alive? What would we be doing? What if things had turned out differently? What if?

But there’s no point, no good, in torturing myself with the what ifs. Nothing can change the past. The only thing that I can do is live in the moment and be the best person I can be. By doing that, I will make the future just a little bit better.

My future involves me getting a college degree. It took me seven years. But I don’t think of those years as a waste. Instead, it will mean that the end result will be that much sweeter. And that is something I can wait even a lifetime for.

I will receive a B.A. in Communications. But to me that is really a B.A. in life. College changes people. In my case, it’s changed me to become more driven, humble, kind, and appreciative of life.

So, those of you in college, or those taking a little break, take a moment and appreciate the little things. Enjoy the college experience. Enjoy life. Enjoy the people you love. And just know that the end result is something to work hard for.