2

One Week To Go, and I Need To Talk About It

Buckle up, buttercups, because this is gonna be a long one.  There’s only one week left until classes start, and I’m a big jittery fluffy ball of nerves, anxiety and excitement… Which for me translates to writing ALL the words.

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On Monday, I found myself back on campus, trying again to iron out the details that still hadn’t been wrapped up. I dipped out of work early, in the hopes that I would be able to knock everything out in one visit:

1. Find Out How This is All Getting Paid For
So of course, I started with the Financial Aid office and, as expected, there’s about a million people waiting ahead of me. (Guess I’m not the only student who is still fighting for their aid the week before classes.) Finally I get called back by my man, Fernando! Finally got to meet him in person, which was pretty cool.

So here’s what’s up:

The Good: I was awarded a Pell Grant, a South Carolina Needs-Based Grant, and a South Carolina Lottery Tuition Assistance Scholarship. All total, it’s enough to cover my entire Fall and Spring tuition, with a little leftover to cover a portion of my Summer tuition. Hooray! So my Fall classes are officially paid-in-full now, and there’s no risk of me missing the payment deadline or losing my seat in each section.

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The Bad: I’m on my own for books, supplies, and whatever the remaining balance for my Summer semester tuition ends up being. Of course, I’ve been telling them from Day 1, back in April, that I figured that would be the case and that I would be needing to do a small student loan to make up the difference.

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The Ugly: Despite all of my howling into the wind to let them know that I was going to need a loan, nobody in Financial Aid ever actually initiated the process or even had me fill out a loan application form. So there I was, sitting in Fernando’s office, a week before classes start and I have zero dollars for books (which this semester alone, for my three classes, are running me a cool $500 bucks) and no loan application even on file, much less processed. Neither of us were pleased.

He had me complete the form and told me he would get it processed that night. However, I saw the two very large stacks of loan paperwork he added my stuff to. And I’m fucking nervous as hell, ya’ll. I’ve been checking my WebAdvisor account online every other hour, but still nothing is posted about a loan award amount.

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2. Get My Student ID Corrected and Reprinted
This was probably the easiest part of my visit to the campus that day, thankfully. I had been trying to call the Student Records office all day Monday to see if their ID card printer was fixed yet, but I never could get anybody on the phone, which was giving me mad anxiety.

Since that office is just across the hall from Financial Aid, I decided to take my chances. They were pretty swamped too with kids doing last-minute registration for Fall, so I did have a short wait. Nothing too bad, though. The girl was super sweet and helpful, and got me in and out of there pretty quickly, with a newly corrected ID in-hand. The only kinda crappy part was that she had to retake my photo, which I was totally unprepared for, but whatever. (No, ya’ll don’t get to see the new one. #sorrynotsorry )

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3. Visit The Bookstore and Buy All My Books for the Semester
Yeeeeaaahhh. Well, as we already know from the Financial Aid visit, no books were acquired. But since the bookstore is located in the same building as my last stop of the day, and I was super early anyhow, I decided I would pop in and just to talk to somebody to verify that the printed materials that I had brought with me were indeed what I would need to get all my books once the money magically appears.

Well, quite unexpectedly for this awkward, shy, eye-contact-dodging, introverted lady, the next thing I know I’m chilling there in the bookstore with three other students (two were work study there and one was just hanging out), talking about Game of Thrones and random fantasy fiction novels, and letting them give me pointers on a couple of my classes and professors. So that was a pleasant surprise!

They also clarified for me that that out of three particular books on the list for my Western Civilizations class, I only need to choose and buy one of them. The professor makes you do a big report on which ever one you pick, and I guess it’s a huge part of your grade. And since I prefer to read on my Kindle anyhow, when I got home that night I went ahead and purchased my choice via Amazon so that I can get a headstart on reading.

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4. Meet with the Guy from Student Support Services
This is the meeting that I told ya’ll about last time, that I got stood up for. We finally rescheduled, and were to meet up at 4:30pm that afternoon. Well, even with all of my other business and socializing around the campus, I still found myself parked on a couch in the Student Lounge (where is his office is located) nearly an hour ahead of schedule. And he was nowhere to be found, so it’s not even like we could just go ahead and meet early.

So I spent that hour just messing around on my phone and lowkey eavesdropping on folks around me. A few people were playing pingpong and talking about school and their career goals, so that was interesting. But then. Ugh. But THEN. A couple of dudes came in and sat somewhere behind me, laughing and watching some bullshit on one of their phones with the volume all the way up.

(SIDE RANT TIME! Seriously, when the holy fuck did it become acceptable to be in public listening to/watching stuff on a personal device without headphones? Over the last year or so, it’s become pretty much my #1 pet peeve in life. It drives me absolutely insane, and I see that shit happening everywhere. People either listening to music or watching stuff on their phones, no headphones, just speakers on blast for everybody around them to just fucking deal with. It’s seriously like nails on a goddamn chalkboard to me, ya’ll.)

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The guy, Jamie, showed up right on time, 4:30pm on the dot. We had a really productive meeting! He explained the program to me, and basically because neither of my parents ever obtained a 4-year college degree, I automatically qualify. Apparently first-generation Bachelors students are considered “at risk” and have a much higher rate of failing to succeed in academia because they don’t have a support system at home that really understands what it’s all about and how hard it can be, or how to help their kids succeed. Which I totally understand now, honestly. I can’t help but wonder now if I had gotten hooked up with a program like this during my first college attempt nearly 20 years ago, would I have been more successful? Maybe so.

The Student Support Services (SSS) program basically creates a support system for those at-risk students. They stay on your ass and make sure you keep your GPA up, and require you to spend a minimum of 12 hours each semester in either the library or the tutoring centers. You’re also required to meet with the SSS counselor (Jamie) at least twice a semester, and attend at least 4 workshops per semester regarding study skills, time management, etc. The reward for meeting all of the requirements? Every other semester, you qualify for a government stipend grant that could range between $500 and $1,500 bucks (based on your financial need).

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Not gonna lie to ya’ll, that stipend is the entire reason I signed up. I mean, that’s free book money, yo. And, I mean, let’s be real… I’m actually pretty lazy and undisciplined most of the time. I’m totally getting better about it as I get older, but the struggle is still very real. So I figure the studying, counseling, and workshop requirements can only help me succeed, right?

Of my three classes this semester, two are online and one is on-campus: My English 101 meets every Wednesday at 5:30pm. I get off work at 4:00pm, and my original plan was to go home, have 30-45 minutes to change clothes and eat something, then head to class. But now what I’m thinking is that I’ll just head straight to campus and grab food on the way, so that I can get in 45 mins to an hour in either the library or the tutoring centers each week. Should knock that particular requirement out pretty easily!

Speaking of the tutoring centers, Jamie did walk me over to the building next door where the centers are located and introduced me to the lady who runs them, who actually gave me a lot of good information. Best Part: I found out that they can help me study for retaking my placement test for Algebra, and ensure that the things that I’m learning with them are the things that will actually be on the damn test! (Don’t get me wrong, I still love Khan Academy, but it’s so incredibly comprehensive that it’s taking forever to complete, and I have been finding myself wondering how much of it is more than I really need to know at this point.) And the hours that I spend working on that (which I plan to start doing ASAP) will count towards the requirement for SSS. So that is super exciting!

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So that was my afternoon at campus on Monday! And today, Wednesday, I found myself back over there again. Part of the paperwork I have to turn-in for the SSS program includes a page that has to be completed and signed by a Financial Aid counselor. And since it’s been 48 hours, and classes now start one week from today, I figured that I may as well check-in with my man Fernando about that loan application.

So after leaving work early, getting caught in a thunderstorm that was still raging when I got to the campus, wading through puddles and soaking my work shoes all the way to my feetsies, I finally made it there.  And.  Well.  If I had thought that the crowd waiting to see Financial Aid on Monday was bad…

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That’s just what I could downlow snap pics of from where I was sitting.  There was another area behind me with probably 7-8 more people.   (Including somebody who brought their toddler, which of course randomly started screaming it’s head off at one point, so to shut it up what does the mother do?  Pulls out her phone and turns on some super whiny high-pitched children’s show.  Without headphones.  On blast.  In this super crowded waiting area.  I seriously can’t escape this shit, ya’ll.)

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Finally an hour later, Fernando finally calls me back to his office.  Guess what?  Nope, no money.  My loan is still pending.  Sigh.  But alas, I was still able to get a couple of things accomplished.  He filled out the paperwork that I need to turn in for the SSS program, and he also showed me some stuff I can go ahead and complete at studentloans.gov tonight which keep the process from getting delayed an additional 24-48 hours once the loans get approved.  Basically it’s just required financial counseling that normally they have you do after the approval comes in, but he showed me what to do so I can go ahead and finish it up now and get it out of the way.  Of course, I’m totally going to work on that as soon as I’m finished writing this stupid long blog post.  You know, because #priorities .

So to wrap this up, I’ve basically come to the decision that if my money isn’t there by Tuesday @ 3:00pm, I’m just going to put my books on a credit card, and then once the loan money comes in I’ll use it to pay the bill.  I’m far too Type-A to mentally handle putting it off any longer, and I certainly don’t want to try and rush to do it between work and the start of my first class on Wednesday.  And I absolutely refuse to be that person who shows up the first day unprepared and without her books, regardless if the reason is completely valid.  Not.  Fucking.  Happening.

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3

Minor Problems and Frustrations

So I know it’s been a couple of weeks since my last post.  Sorry about that!  But really, with classes starting in two weeks, you probably should just get used to it.

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It’s not that nothing’s been happening.  It has.  Just small-ish things that really don’t deserve their own post at this point.  But I thought I’d check in all the same, and write a bit of a hodge-podge post to summarize those things:

First Generation Student Program / Student ID Problems
Something I forgot to mention in my last post about the orientation I attended was that I briefly met the gentleman who is in charge of Career and Transfer Services.  In the very brief handful of minutes he was given to talk to our group, he mentioned that one of the things he administers is a program for First-Generation college students, to encourage and support them in successfully obtaining a 4-year college degree.  What got my attention is that if you sign up for the program and continue to meet all of the requirements (which basically means keeping your GPA up and utilizing the Tutoring Centers), you actually get a cash stipend every other semester to apply towards books or whatever.  And ya’ll know I’m all about dat free money, yo.

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Neither of my parents have degrees, so later that weekend I emailed him to see if I would qualify, even at my advanced age.  He said there’s no age limit on the program, and we arranged to meet at 4:30pm on last Wednesday to discuss it further and get me signed up.

Well, to make a long story short:  He stood me up.  His office door was wide open when I arrived, so I thought surely he’d be back soon.  But I waited until 5:05pm before I gave up, choosing to head across campus to try and accomplish another errand so that it wasn’t a completely wasted afternoon…

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Shortly after I got my Student ID Card a month or so ago, I noticed that there’s an extra digit just chillin’ in the middle of my student identification number.  It’s very obviously a typo and an easy one to make, so I wasn’t too fussed over it.  Just figured I’d get it fixed before the semester started at some point.  So since Old Boy never showed, I decided I’d save the day myself by heading over to Student Records to get that corrected.

Yeah, no.  Wrong.  I arrived at the Student Records office only to be told that their printer was down, and to check back net week (I haven’t).  So that was a bummer, and my trip to the campus really was a complete waste of time that day.

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When I got home I emailed the guy and politely called him out for blowing me off.  He was very apologetic, and we’ve been going back and forth regarding rescheduling, trying to nail down a day & time that works for both of us.  Still nothing confirmed, though.  I’ll let ya’ll know how it all works out!

Major Concerns
I kinda let the whole decision about my major slide away for the time-being, figuring it wouldn’t kill me to actually complete a semester or three or core curriculum classes before really stressing about it.

Yeah.  That didn’t last.

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Aaaaaand so I’m right back in that place again.  (Thanks, Anxiety!)  Today my thoughts were along the lines of:

Fuck it!  Why don’t I just major in something I’ll actually enjoy learning about, even if the career prospects for it are absolute garbage?!  Like Anthropology!  (Yes, I’m still stuck on the Anthropology thing… That shit looks absolutely fascinating to me, even if it is utterly useless!)  Or Creative Writing!  Or Psychology!  Or whatever!

And in addition to that, why don’t I just minor in Hospitality and Tourism Management, and treat that as my fall back!  (Because really, the more and more I look at the Major program requirements, the more I just want to curl up and sob like a little bitch.)  But on the other hand, do employers really give any flavors of fucks about your minor, or just your major?  Plus aren’t the two supposed to be somewhat related, or at least complimentary?  Does any of this shit even matter at all?

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Financial Aid
So while we’re talking about the fucking awesome choices I’m not making regarding this extremely important investment in my future, let’s talk about the money I’m gonna spend on it!  Or not spend, at least for now.  I think.  Things finally happened with my Financial Aid.  Sorta.  Confusing things that need clarification, so I’m not prepared to go into detail quite yet.  But for now I’ll just say there’s money on the way, I just need to have a chat with my boy Fernando to clarify the amounts, disbursement intervals, etc.  Hopefully I’ll have more details the next time.  So at least that’s exciting stuff though, right?!

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2

TCL’s Accepted Students Day

Okay, so before I get into addressing the subject of this post, I just want to celebrate that this blog has officially become it’s own thingy thing.  (Yes, a thingy thing!)

The Late for Class blog now officially lives at lateforclass.net!

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Much easier to remember, right?  As somebody who’s never had a custom domain name for anything ever, this is pretty exciting stuff!  Now if only I could figure out how to grow my readership here, I’ll be on my way!  That will come in time though, I know.  I’ve downloaded some great guides on blog publishing, and as soon as I have time to really study them I’ll start integrating some of the concepts here.

Okay, so!  On Friday, I took the day off from work to attend Accepted Student’s Day at the Technical College of the Lowcountry.  It’s basically a mass orientation where they feed you breakfast, welcome you, and send you through three breakout sessions:  Technology Matters, Student Survival Guide, and a Campus Tour.

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Spoiler Alert:  I basically only showed up for the free Dunkin’ Donuts and Chik-fil-A because everything that they had to tell us were all the things I’ve spent the last 3 months figuring out on my own.  No, seriously.  And I’m not even mad about it.  I honestly kinda figured that might be the case, but I wanted to do it anyhow just in case somebody along the way dropped some new nugget of information.  They didn’t.

After breakfast in the Student Center, we moved to the auditorium for an official welcome.

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As you can see, I sat too close to the front to be able to get the whole stage in the photo.  Because I’m a nerd, and nerds is sit in the front.  #nerdlife

After a welcome from the college’s president and an explanation of how the day’s activities would work, we were sent off into our groups for the breakout sessions.  Up first for my group was the “Technology Matters” session.  The point of this session was to take folks into a library computer lab and get them set up with their WebAdvisor account, Blackboard account, and school email account… All of which are things I’ve been checking & using for a couple of months now.  So basically I spent the session getting logged into everything super fast, then sitting there feeling smug as shit for the rest of time.

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The most interesting parts of this session for me were:  (1) Finally seeing the library.  If you recall back in April, during my self-guided tour, that was the one thing I forgot to check out.  Turns out that I wasn’t missing much.  (2) Finding out the password for the student wi-fi.   Because priorities.

Next our group was moved to the “Student Survival Guide” session.  This started out okay, still no new info though.  Then it got turned over to some lady from the health sciences department, who started out by saying “Good morning” and making us say it back no less than 8 times.  Instantly I was taken back to the very worst of my high school classes.  But then it got infinitely more terrible:  She seriously fucking made us stand up and do P.E.-style calisthenics to “wake us up.”

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Now, usually I’m a happy little know-it-all joiner (seriously, don’t ever take a class with me), but I think this might be the least participation I’ve ever done in anything ever.  I literally just stood there giving this lady the stink-eye and moving my enormous body as little as I could possibly get away with.  I’m not entirely sure why it rubbed me the wrong way, but I suspect that it might have to do with being treated like an idiot high school kid.  I found myself painfully suppressing the urge to blurt out “BITCH, I AM THIRTY-SIX GODDAMN YEARS OLD.”  But I didn’t.  I just kept phoning it in and she just kept yelling out exercises.

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Eventually she did get around to delivering some actual information, but by then I was 110% done with her ass.

Then the Financial Aid lady came up and did her speech.  The same one I wrote about here who kinda blew me off when I was in her office months ago, and then did nothing with my paperwork, causing me reach out to one of the other F.A. counselors, Fernando (who is AMAZING).  So that was fun.  Again, more stuff I already knew, no timeline on when I’ll actually see my money.  Greaaaat.

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Then a few other people came up and talked about some stuff, blah blah blah whatever.  I was basically checked out at that point, none of it was new information and I seriously had to pee.

Finally we were released and I bee-lined it to the ladies room, and made it back to the lobby just as my group’s Campus Tour was starting.  It was lead by the same Work Study student who helped me in Student Records when I got my parking decal and my ID card, Imelda, and she was lovely.

Unfortunately though the tour only really consisted of the Bookstore, the Student Lounge, the Arts & Sciences building, the Tutoring Labs, the Admissions office, and the Testing Center… All places I was already familiar with.  So again, nothing new here, folks.

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And that was the end of Accepted Students Day.  Pretty anticlimactic, huh?  In fact, it probably didn’t need an entire post this long dedicated to it, but you got one anyhow.  Seriously though, the event really was well put-together and I’m sure it was very informative for most of the attendees.  I know that I’m a pretty special headcase with all of my obsessive preemptive planning and research.

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Observations:

** I fucking hate teenagers.  Don’t get me wrong, some of them were super good kids and conducted themselves really well.  But the majority of them (at least in my group) were just insufferably obnoxious.  Talking to each other during the speakers, laughing and cutting up instead of listening to the campus tour guide, fucking around on their phones, etc.  I so badly wanted to get loud and go off like, “LISTEN HERE, YOU LITTLE SHITS…”  Why?  Because I’m 36 fucking years old, and ain’t nobody grown got time for that nonsense.  Get off my lawn.

Oh, and did I mention that I recently changed my online English 101 to an actual traditional on-campus English 101?  Yeah, kinda worried about that now.  At least it’s a night class that only meets once a week, so my only hope is that it’s populated with more working adults than freshly-graduated high schoolers.  Fingers crossed.

** If I can manage to stay as far ahead of the curve in my classes as I was in these orientation sessions, I’m going to be a damn superhero student.

** This campus is really REALLY tiny.  Like, I knew it was, I mean it’s a community college.  But turns out it’s even smaller than I thought.  I’m not worried about it at all, though.  In fact, it’s probably a good thing.   I just wish the library hadn’t been so underwhelming as that was the part I was most excited to see.  But they swear that they have access to a lot more than what’s in their stacks, and also to tons of online materials.  We shall see!

** I really am just a nerdy grumpy old lady.

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0

A Dedicated Study Space

So I’ve been keeping mum here on a little project that I’ve been researching and planning, and it’s actually been incredibly difficult not to mention it.

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I started working on this project way back in April, and so I’m super excited to finally get to write about it and share with all of you today!

See, I have this spare bedroom in my apartment that has been woefully underutilized ever since 2012 or so, when my last (and final) roommate moved out.  Once she left, I set it up as a guest bedroom.  But the thing is that I don’t really get visitors or entertain much overnight company, and for the last 5 years it’s never once been used for that intended purpose.  As such, it progressively became more of a catch-all storage room than anything else.

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God damn Gordon, the room wasn’t that bad.  Just cluttered with junk and full of disorganized nonsense!

Now you all know that I’ve been working on doing an independent study to get myself up to speed in Algebra, which I’ve mostly been doing from my recliner in the living room.  Which, sure, is super comfy and all that, but definitely has it’s drawbacks.  Between trying to balance my laptop on one knee and my notebook on the other, gently fighting off three cats who don’t understand why Mama isn’t letting them come snuggle up in our favorite chair like they’re used to, and getting a little too comfortable and dozing off while I’m trying to work done, it’s often a less-than ideal situation.  Not to mention that it’s so easy to get distracted in the living room and slip into my leisurely habits.

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However, I’ve often read that studying, like sleep, can be benefited by having a space dedicated only to that one activity and nothing else.  So that when you enter that space, in time your brain learns to respond accordingly and enters into a mode of “Woo!  Time to study!  Let’s get our learn on, motherfucker!”  Which honestly sounded like a pretty great idea to me.

So.  That’s what I did.  I turned that bedroom into an actual usable space which I think will really serve me well when the semester begins next month, and all the years following while I work towards my degree.  Over the last couple months I’ve been organizing and selling off stuff that was in the guest room, as well as slowly purchasing and accumulating Phase 1 of the basic furniture for a home office.  Yesterday my dad and grandpa spend the day here assembling it all for me, and ya’ll, I seriously could not be more pleased with the results.  Time to “move that bus!”

BEFORE:

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AFTER:

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The above photos were taken in the afternoon, just as we finished getting everything into place.  Here’s one more, which I took  late last night after I had settled in a bit more:

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As I mentioned earlier, this is all just Phase 1.  I already have Phases 2 & 3 planned out, and will be adding things like more shelving, end tables on either side of the sofa, wall decor, and some fun lighting (fairy lights, etc).  But all of that costs money, so I am tackling it all in phases, and most important was to get the basics moved in and set up first, and then I’ll slowly add in the other things to finish the office up.

But even in it’s current state, I am just tickled pink by my new study space!

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4

The Most Adulty Choice Yet

I’ve been putting off writing about this degree option for a while now, but I figure it’s probably time to put it out there.  I think I was kinda hoping that it would just kind of fade away and I would forget about it completely.  Unfortunately, that super pragmatic part of me keeps coming back to it, and so it deserves discussion.

The majority of my adult work history has been in the hospitality and tourism industry.  15 years of it, in fact.  I was hired by my first hotel back in 2002, at just 21 years old, working the front desk in Guest Services.  After that, I went to work for AirTran Airways for a few years as a Customer Service Specialist in one of their call centers.  Before too long, I found myself back in another hotel, doing the same role as before, for a couple of more years.  After that, I became a Travel Agent for a little over six years, and I was pretty damn good at it, too.

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I only very recently left that job (in February of this year, so just 4 months ago) for my current administrative position… which is in a completely different field.  Why did I abandon my beloved travel industry?  Actually, it really came down to just two reasons, but both were pretty major factors:

  • Money. See, most travel agents work solely on commission, which is something I could never do.  It’s too unpredictable, especially living paycheck-to-paycheck.  But the agency I worked for was different.  They didn’t pay commission, but instead paid an hourly wage, so I knew what my income would be every two weeks and could budget accordingly.  Unfortunately, that wage was extremely low given the amount of work and level of knowledge and skill required.  I was barely clearing $23,000 annually, ya’ll.  But I made it work for all those years even though it was definitely tough.  The hardest part, though, was that I knew I was worth more.  So when an opportunity presented itself, even though it meant leaving the tourism industry, I jumped on it.
  • While I loved the industry itself, I was completely, truly, 110% burnt out on customer service and sales.  Every time the door would open or the phone would ring, my chest would get tight and my anxiety and irritability levels would skyrocket.  I still very much enjoyed the research and planning part, learning about destinations and assembling dream vacations for clients.  I just hated dealing with them.  Pasting on the fake plastic smile every day became more and more of hardship.

So I left, and never looked back.  Until now.

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The University of South Carolina offers a completely online Bachelor of Science in Hospitality Management degree completion program, and it’s even administered out of the Beaufort campus.  So.  Let’s weigh the cons and pros of this one, shall we?

CONS

1. I fucking hate customer service and sales.  Maybe in 5 years by the time I graduate, I’ll have been away from it for long enough that I’ll get over that some.  Plus, in management, yes I’ll have a good deal of front-facing guest/client interactions, but a lot more back-of-house work, too.  And I’m really good at both, I just don’t love the first part.

2. In the curriculum are a required 9 hours of food/restaurant classes, as well as some sort of departmental partnership with hospitality and concessions during the annual RBC Heritage golf tournament out on Hilton Head… all of which sounds absolutely fucking miserable to me.  I mean, it’s just 3 classes and one week a year for a couple years, so I suppose I could suck it up.  But UGH.

PROS

1. I wouldn’t be throwing away 15 years of industry experience.  This is honestly the top reason I’m considering this degree.  In fact, I might even be able to get out of some classes and practicums with my work history being as tourism-rich as it is.

2. While the classes are administered online like all of the programs I’m considering, I do love that the campus is right here in my town.  I know I’ve talked several times on this blog about how my preference is to go to schools within a reasonable driving distance, so that when I need to go to the school and fight with Financial Aid or whatever, I can easily do so.  Well, I really can’t get any closer than USCB.  Plus I know they have a relationship with Technical College of the Lowcountry, so all of my credits are more likely to transfer.

3. Something I have only touched on briefly in this blog is my long-held dream of relocating to the central Florida area.  Not just because of Walt Disney World either (though that is a huge part of it), but I genuinely enjoy the area and all that it has to offer.  I’ve actually been kind of in love with Florida in general ever since I would spend summers there as a child with my bio-dad’s family.  As such, all of the degree paths I’ve looked into so far have been low-key in the context of “Could this take me to Orlando?”  Well, this is the one degree that the answer is a resounding YES.  With all the other degrees I’ve considered, my lack of work experience in those fields is going to be a major hurdle to overcome.  However, with a bachelor’s degree in hospitality and tourism, combined with my work experience, I could potentially land a great job in Orlando straight out of school.  Not to mention that the salaries are pretty nice in that area for tourism management positions.

4. Once I’m in Orlando, I would be perfectly positioned to pursue my Masters degree should I decide that I want to do so.  The University of Central Florida (which I’ve talked about here many times) has the Rosen College of Hospitality Management, which is a huge school for hospitality and tourism.  They don’t offer a bachelor’s degree program online, but they DO offer an online Master of Science in Hospitality and Tourism Management.  And really, having that could only enable me to get even better employment and salary offers, so I most likely would do it.

5. Though I’ve put vacationing on hold for the most part while I focus on school, I do still love to travel and likely always will.  There’s still so much of the world on my bucket list.  By staying in the tourism industry, I’ll have access to so many benefits and discounts and opportunities that I wouldn’t otherwise.

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So.  That’s two pretty lame Cons versus five really practical Pros.  The choice is kind of obvious, right?  As much as I would love to pursue a different path, this one just makes the most practical sense and will likely benefit me the most both immediately and in the long term.

It’s just going to require a lot of adulting and patience on my part.

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2

I’m Official, Ya’ll!

So back on this post here, I shared what I believed to be the end of an email exchange with my Financial Aid counselor, Fernando.  Much to my surprise, I heard back from him again on Tuesday:

Billie, sorry for the late reply. I was out on vacation and just came back today. Billie, call me Fernando. 🙂

Ok, you can still pick up your ID and parking decal, as far as we are concerned you are an admitted student. Registering for courses is proof of that. You should be able to get your stuff from student records.

Fernando

Hmm.  Well, that’s fascinating!

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I’ve been following TCL’s online step-by-step guide to enrolling, and it lead me to believe that I couldn’t be officially admitted or obtain my student ID or campus parking decal until after my classes were paid for.  So yesterday after work, I swung by the Admissions office and chatted a bit with the woman at the front desk.

She agreed with me that it’s ridiculous that I applied back in April for Financial Aid to begin in the Fall and still haven’t gotten my package.  I did ask her what students who haven’t received their package by the first day of class typically do, and she said sometimes they will sign up for TCL’s Student Payment Plan just to give themselves more time for their Aid to come in.

The plan costs an initial $35 to enroll in, and then you have until October 4th to pay for your Fall semester tuition (instead of having to be paid-in-full prior to the first day of the semester, August 16th).  Which I hadn’t even considered, so I’m glad to know that’s an option for me.

On the other hand, should it come down to that then I will probably have to put my books and supplies on a credit card and just pay it off as soon as my aid comes in.  But that will have to be a last resort, as it’s something I’m truly hoping to avoid. I only recently began working on repairing and rebuilding my awful credit history (look at me, adulting all over the place these days!), so the interest rate on my card is pretty fucking heinous.

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I also shared with the Admissions lady what Fernando’s email said.  She confirmed that because I’ve already registered for classes (like two months ago), I am considered enrolled and could go ahead and get my stuff.  Wait, what?!  So across the hall I went to Student Records, and handled some business.

Check it out… I’m officially a college student again, ya’ll!

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I am very excited about this!  And for real, though… I can’t wait to start using that ID card for sweet discounts around town.  (Example: There was a concert recently I thought about going to, but it was $30 full price… and only $12 for students with ID.)

As for Financial Aid, I figure I’ll give it until a couple weeks before the semester starts before I get loud again.  If I still haven’t heard anything more from my dawg Fernando by August 1st, I just might hafta to pop up in his office and introduce myself.

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2

I Just Wanna Make Pretty Shit

So I’ve been rolling yet another potential degree/career path around in my head for a while now. I figured that since I have yet to completely rule it out, maybe it’s time to give it a little bit of examination here at Late for Class.  Sound good?

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Sweet, let’s do this.

So waaaaay back during my first attempt at college all those many years ago, sometime between the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods while dinosaurs still roamed the Earth, I began dabbling in Graphic Design. I primarily did so in the capacity of creating simple posters and playbills for the Theatre department’s stage productions. Turned out I was relatively decent at it, and really enjoyed the process. I even won a little departmental award for one of my posters, and that was super exciting.

Around this time I also began teaching myself basic HTML and goofing around with building basic late 1990s era Geocities-style websites (with an intense focus on making them look as little like basic Geocities style websites as possible). While I wouldn’t say that I ever excelled at it, I did pretty okay for a 17-year-old kid with zero experience or education in this area, particularly during a time when the internet was still a relatively new phenomenon to the average person. Most importantly, I had a lot of fun with it.

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Afterwards, while I more or less dropped the web design ambitions, I did continue to play around with Graphic Design as a hobby. I created lots of things for various online communities that I participated in over the years and always received loads of praise for my creations. But now it’s been several years now since I’ve done it just for fun, as I haven’t had home access to any design programs more advanced than MS Paint.

Occasionally I’ve been able to put my under-developed talent in this area to work at some of my jobs, which has always resulted in comments from managers and colleagues such as, “You should be doing this for a living, why didn’t you go to school for this?” To which my default answer was usually, “If I ever get the chance to go back, I most likely will.”

And now here we are.

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The Pennsylvania State University offers a completely online Bachelor’s of Design in Digital Multimedia Design. If I were to go the Graphic Design route, I pretty strongly suspect that this would be the degree for me. It’s marketed as “Three colleges, one program.” Unlike a traditional Graphic Design program curriculum, this one interdisciplinary. Meaning in addition to Visuals Arts and Design, it also incorporates coursework from the Communications and Information Technology schools.

To quote the website:

“What You Can Do with a Penn State Education in Digital Multimedia Design? As a graduate of the program, you can use your skills to create, execute, and evaluate communication strategies — making you a valuable asset for businesses, corporations, government, and nonprofit organizations. Career options may include working as a digital designer in brand, motion, and user experience, or as a web developer, art director, public relations specialist, advertising manager, or media relations professional.”

So basically it’s Graphic Design, Public Relations/Advertising, and Web Design all rolled into one degree.

Which sounds fucking PERFECT for me.

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…At least in theory. As usual: Concerns! I has them!

  1. WTF is a “Bachelor of Design?” Yes, I know there are more types of bachelor’s degrees out there other than just BA or BS. But for real, though… Is it just me, or does this one just sound like make-believe bullshit? And will a prospective employer feel the same, and not take it seriously? (Though I would hope the fact that it’s from a great school like Penn State would counter some of that.)
  2. Is an interdisciplinary degree really such a good choice? I mean, on the surface it’s like “Sweet, I can be educated in lots of things that I enjoy and am good at, which will hopefully open more professional doors for me!” But in reality, will I just end up-with half-assed educations in three topics, but be a master of none of them?
  3. I fear that the degree name itself, Digital Multimedia Design, on my resume will lend itself to “Oh, she’s a graphic/web designer? Why the fuck is she applying for this public relations/copywriting/etc job?” types of situations.giphy18
  4. From what I understand, the world basically now has more graphic designers than it has good jobs to offer them. Obviously, that’s a big concern. Billie gotsa get PAID. Graphic and/or Web Design is the closest I could ever get to having a STEM career, and they say that’s where the money is. But if there’s so many candidates and not enough jobs for them all, then I might as well just major in Liberal Arts or Alligator Wrestling or Underwater Basketweaving.
  5. Speaking of paid: Penn State is significantly more expensive than Southern New Hampshire University, which is currently my top choice for their online Communications/Professional Writing degree program. Over an estimated 3-ish years (hopefully less), we’re talking $19,800 versus $33,600. However, with that pricetag I get a school with a much higher level of recognition and respect. But is it worth that additional $14,000 or so, particularly given my advanced age? Do I really want to still be paying on student loan debts from my bed at the nursing home?
  6. I can’t help but notice that the curriculum involves a lot of group projects and collaborative assignments. And there’s that whole problem with… Well. You know. I kinda don’t much like people, especially working with them, especially where my grades are concerned. Sooooo.

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