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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2

Fight for Your Right to Studyyyyy: Part 2

Many of you replied, either here on the blog or on Facebook, with an expressed interest in seeing the reply to yesterday’s email to my Financial Aid counselor.  Well, I love my readers, so of course I am here to deliver!

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He did, in fact, respond quite expeditiously.  I had a reply email from him within 2 hours, which was quite a nice surprise given all of the trouble I’ve had otherwise thus far.

Below is his reply, followed by my own:

Billie, first let me apologize. Don’t ever feel like we are ignoring or avoiding you. I double checked to see if we received your verification paperwork and I saw them. I marked them in as received and now you should probably see on your WebAdvisor as needs review. Let me assure you the deadlines you are talking about do NOT impact you. You submitted your documents early and we will begin processing fall verification paperwork shortly. So you are all set to go with aid.

So regarding registering for classes, the verification process should NOT impact you in that process. If you’ve met all the requirements with Admissions, you should go ahead and register for classes, soon.

I hope this relieves any fears you have. Never hesitate to ask me anything. I will guide you best I can.

Fernando Islas
Financial Aid Specialist
TCL – Beaufort/New River/Hampton Campus

Hi, Mr. Islas!

Thank you so much for your quick action and response.  I’m very happy that I reached out to you, and I appreciate you handling the status of that paperwork so efficiently.

You are absolutely correct that this process has not affected my ability to register.  In fact, I actually registered for my classes two months ago, and am very eager to start in the Fall!  However, what this delay does effect, to the best of my understanding, is my ability to be officially admitted to the school, or to obtain my student ID card or parking decal.  Not to mention it’s a bit nerve-racking not knowing exactly how these classes are going to get paid for, how much I’ll need to take out in loans, when the money will arrive, etc.  That being said, I’m quite glad that at least my documents are showing a correct status now, and hopefully the ball will be rolling my way soon.

Once again, thank you so much for taking care of this for me.  I will certainly contact you if/when I have additional concerns, and I look forward to meeting you at TCL in the near future.  😊

Respectfully,
Billie Shoemaker
Student ID #xxxxxxx

So!  That’s where things stand as of now.  Still no idea when I’ll have money or be admitted, but at least now it’s quite clear in my file that I did turn in my paperwork not only on-time but quite early.  This eliminates one of my fears of it getting down to the last minute and then being told something along the lines of, “Oh, well according to our records, you never brought back blah blah blah paperwork so it’s your own fault your award package has been delayed.”

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As I mentioned in my reply, it still concerns me that award packages seem to be handed out so late, often times after the semester has already begun.  But at this point, it really is out of my hands and I just need to accept that and hope for the best, I suppose.  (And for an obsessive planner like me, that’s a pretty tall order!)

One last thing… Thanks to everybody who complimented the new cleaner, simpler layout for the blog!  Those of you who know me well in real life know that it really just made no sense what-so-ever for Billie to have a blog that wasn’t super fucking pink.

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2

Fight for Your Right to Studyyyyy: Part 1

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Yeah, I totally just nerded up the Beastie Boys with that post title, which I understand is borderline blasphemy.  #sorrynotsorry

Okay, I’m just going to say it.  Everything about enrolling at the Technical College of the Lowcountry has been great so far, but for one very important thing: It’s like pulling teeth to deal with their Financial Aid department.  I finally broke down and emailed the Financial Aid counselor who, according to the website, is supposed to be assigned to me (and also who I’ve never met or spoken with).

I know that I’ve been rather mum here about what’s been going on with all of this, but I’ve realized I’m doing myself a disservice as the entire point of this blog is to chronicle the highs and lows of going back to college.  So I figure the easiest thing to do is to just post the letter I sent tonight with names omitted (because I’m not an asshole), that way you, the reader, can get up-to-speed on what’s been going on.  Feel free to let me know your thoughts, or if you have any advice for what else I can do if this doesn’t work!

Good afternoon, xxxxxxxx!

Thank you for taking the time to read what has turned into a rather long email.  I am in need of help and I feel like I’m running out of options, so I am turning to you because (according to the TCL website) you’re to be my assigned Financial Aid counselor (due to my last name).  I sincerely hope that you can help me, since nobody else I have spoken with has had any interest in doing so.

I have big exciting plans to begin attending TCL in the Fall!  However, like most people, I will be unable to do so without Financial Aid and student loans (if only to cover books and supplies).  In mid-April of this year, I began the application and registration process, following all the steps as detailed by TCL’s Admissions office.  On April 27th, I came to TCL to take my placement tests and complete my registration for the Fall semester.  While there, I visited the Financial Aid office.  At that time I was informed that while my FAFSA had been received the day before, I still needed to complete an 17-18 Independent Verification Worksheet, as well as obtain a 2015 Tax Transcript from the IRS.

I did both of those things and brought them to the Financial Aid office on May 8th, which has been nearly 6 weeks ago now.  However, when I log into WebAdvisor and look at “My Documents,” both are still marked as Not Received.  Needless to say, this is quite concerning, as it appears as if I haven’t done my part in this process, when indeed I most certainly have.  I turned them in that day to xxxxx xxxxxxx.

About 3 weeks ago, I began calling the Financial Aid office to try to speak to somebody about this issue.  I called on 3 separate occasions, several days apart from each other.  During each of these calls there was no Financial Aid counselor available to speak to me, but I was assured that one would call or email me about this status of those documents within 24-48 hours.  Never once did I receive any return calls or emails.

On my 4th call, the young lady who was answering the phones that day placed me on hold to look into the matter (as happened on all my previous calls).  However, this time instead of being told that all of the counselors were busy, she informed me “The Financial Aid counselor told me to tell you…”  I thought it was interesting that a counselor was available this time but yet refused to speak to me.  But I digress, what was relayed to me was that “they do have your (my) documents, but they haven’t been processed yet because they are still working on packages for the Summer semester.”

Not only did this make me feel like my concerns were being completely disregarded, but this conversation occurred on May 26th… a week after the first day of summer classes.  To think that financial aid packages were still not awarded by the first day of class, when a student becomes officially financially liable  for the cost of those classes, is rather distressing should the same hold true for the Fall semester.

More importantly still, I have been keeping up with TCL’s “Important Dates” calendar for Fall 2017, and I see that June 30th is the deadline for Priority Financial Aid Processing for File Completion as well as the Student Loan Application Deadline.  With today being June 15th, and those deadlines being a mere 2 weeks from now and my documents still showing as “Not Received” in your system, I am quite worried that I may not be able to attend TCL this Fall.  Because of this hold-up, while I have been Accepted, I remain unable to be officially Admitted.

Can you please advise and/or assist me in this matter?  I would be most grateful for any assistance you can provide in resolving this issue in a timely manner.  If you prefer to speak over the phone, I can be reached during normal business hours at my office, xxx-xxx-xxxx.  Any other time, feel free to call my cell phone, xxx-xxx-xxxx.

Thank you ever so much for your time and consideration.

Billie Shoemaker
Student ID #xxxxxxx

0

All The Turkey Legs

Remember how I predicted that I would be back this week with another potential change to my degree plans? Well, here we are.  Who’s surprised? Show of hands? Anybody?

No? Okay, then let’s continue.

This time it’s not a terribly drastic change, I promise…

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So I took another look at the University of Central Florida‘s online bachelor’s degree programs, specifically that Creative Writing degree.  Despite last week’s assertions of “I don’t like writing silly fufu fiction!,” I have to admit that I do still feel drawn to this school and this program. When I look over the degree requirements, I just feel like I would enjoy this course of study more… Even if it means that the potential career options aren’t quite as numerous or adulty.

As it’s an English degree, it requires more Literature courses, and most of you already know what a bookworm I am. (Or at least I was until recently. The hours that previously were dedicated to recreational reading have been seasonally usurped by my Algebra studies.) So that’s right on up my nerdy alley.

Plus, this program offers more courses focusing specifically on Writing, which is the skill I’m most looking to hone. I’d have to take a few classes and workshops in Fiction and Poetry, etc, but is that really so bad? Yes, it would certainly be challenging for me, and it would force me out of my writing comfort zone. However, maybe that’s a good thing? I’m sure that would likely make me a better writer in the long run, and isn’t that the entire point?

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However, all of this doesn’t necessarily mean I would have to completely abandon the idea of also developing a skill set that would help me to qualify for jobs in advertising and marketing. Today I discovered UCF’s online minor in Mass Communications, which would add the following courses to my curriculum:

  • MMC 2004: Mass Media
  • MMC 3630: Social Media as Mass Communication
  • ADV 3008: Principles of Advertising
  • RTV 3007: Development and Structure of Electronic Media and New Technology
  • VIC 3001: Visual Communication
  • COM 3330: Computer Mediated Communication

So basically, I would walk away from school with a Bachelor of Arts in English, with a Concentration in Creative Writing and a Minor in Mass Communications. By adding that minor (instead of something neat like Anthropology, as previously suggested), I’m creating a program for myself that is kinda-sorta similar to the track I would have been on an SNHU, but lighter on the marketing & communications classes and heavier on the literature & writing classes.

Plus, I’m not gonna lie, the fact that the school is located in Orlando is a huge selling point for me. The reasons are primarily because the location satisfies my preference of a main campus within a 5-hour range, and it’s nice that it’s a drive that I’m already super familiar with.

And. Also. Like. I mean. You know. DISNEY WORLD, OKAY?!?! Which yes, I do fully realize should NOT be factoring into my choice of a school at all. But I am who I am. Don’t judge me.

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Eat ALL the turkey legs.  All of them.

Seriously, though. I still haven’t given up on my long-held dreams of relocating to the central Florida area within the next few years, and I likely never will. (Not that I currently have an actual plan for how to make that happen yet or anything.) So if I do manage to accomplish that goal, then gaining frequent access to the campus and it’s resources would be incredibly helpful during my studies.

Sigh. Why must making this decision be so ridiculously difficult for me, ya’ll?

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0

So the Plan This Week Is…

Bachelor of Arts in Communications, with a Concentration in Professional Writing and a Minor in Social Media Marketing.

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No, really. I’m serious. Let me explain.

So of course, in typical Billie fashion, I’ve continued to turn the idea of the Creative Writing degree over and over in my head until it’s tumbled to death. And here’s the thing: I’m an okay writer with a decent-ish grasp of language mechanics and grammar, etc. I immensely enjoy words and crafting things with them in an engaging way.

When possible, I particularly love to make people laugh with my writing.  Turns out that not every platform is the appropriate place for dick jokes, though.

What I’m not great at is making up stories. I don’t really ever write them, and I’m not into poetry at all, to be quite honest. I was thinking that maybe once I was in a structured Creative Writing program, I would learn to be excellent at it. But then I look at sample writing prompts, and they do absolutely nothing for me…

  • Smoke, Fog, and Haze: Write about not being able to see ahead of you.
  • Sugar: Write something so sweet, it makes your teeth hurt.
  • Numbers: Write a poem or journal entry about numbers that have special meaning to you.
  • Dread: Write about doing something you don’t want to do.

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All that being said, I do enjoy the creative process of stringing words together, but in a different sort of way. Ways that directly observe the world around me, that inspire action or reaction, that convey thoughts and ideas, that bring real life to the page (or screen). Words used to persuade, to help, to inform. That’s the style of writing I’ve always enjoyed best. Travel recollections. Book reviews. Editorials. Opinion columns. So on and so forth.

Basically what I really want is a degree in blogging, frankly.

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“Okay, but Billie, you know there’s a division of Creative Writing for Non-Fiction, right? Some programs even let you do a concentration in it within your major!”

Yes yes, I know. And believe me, I have very much considered it, and haven’t entirely ruled it out, honestly.  University of Central Florida‘s Creative Writing program offers classes and workshops in Non-Fiction.  So if I do go with a Creative Writing degree, that is more-likely-than-not the direction I will go with it.

Another type of Writing major option is Technical Writing, but it’s just way too dry for me.  Technical Writers are the people who write instruction manuals and such.  Which I don’t want to do.  Because I would rather not spend all of this money on a degree only to wind up sitting in an office like…

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So all of these wandering thought-bunnies eventually brought me to another place…

When I was a travel agent, one of my favorite tasks was having to write up the copy for and work with our company’s Marketing department to produce a poster/flyer to advertise upcoming special events we were offering. Another favorite job of mine there was managing our office Facebook account, combining images with copy I would write to try to get people interested in our services, attractions, and destinations. And as much as I didn’t love direct sales (aka customer service), I did always enjoy the part of crafting an exciting and persuasive presentation via email to pitch a pricey vacation to an interested potential client.

Which got me to thinking about a friend of mine who works as a copywriter with the Universal Orlando Resort, in the in-house marketing department.  He loves it, and I’ve always been kind of envious of what he does, as it seems like an absolutely fantastic gig and something I would truly enjoy.  So.  Why not go for it, riiiiiiight?  Or at least put myself on an academic path that has more of a chance of leading me in that direction.

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The other reason I’m considering moving away from the Creative Writing degree and more towards this Professional Writing degree is simply Adulting.  As I conveyed previously, if I’m going to do this… you know, spend all this time and money, especially this late in my life… then it would be vastly preferable to get a degree that will actually have at least some potential to for improving my career prospects and financial position.

And frankly, this degree is just far more practical, with courses like:

  • ADV 263: Advertising Copy and Design
  • ENG 220: Business Communications
  • COM 230: Graphics and Layout in Print Media
  • COM 235: Intro to Journalism
  • COM 310: Social Media
  • COM 325: Editing for Media and Publication
  • COM 340: Writing for Public Relations
  • COM 445: Writing for New Media
  • COM 232: Desktop Publishing
  • COM 315: Communication in the Digital Age
  • COM 329: Editing for New Media Technologies

See?  Definitely less artsy-fartsy and more worky-jobby.  But still things I feel that I would enjoy learning about and honing my craft in.

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I initially wanted to do a minor in Graphic Design, something else I’ve always enjoyed and have often been told that I have a talent for, but I ran into a snag.  One of the courses required for the minor has a pre-requisite course, which is fine, I don’t mind taking additional Graphic Design classes.  However, that pre-req course is described as being “Mac-based.”  And I’m a PC user.  And I’m not about to run out and spend an enormous wad of cash on a Mac just for one class.  Sooooo… Sadly, I had to scrap that whole idea.

So after exploring my options some more, I came across the Social Media Marketing minor.  By adding this skill set to my degree, I’m effectively exploring my love of digital platforms and learning how to use them to make money, as well as expanding my career options that much further.  Plus, given my vast ineptitude with math, something dealing with the online world is the closest I’m ever going to get to a STEM career.

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Now all of this being said, I do have a couple of reservations about this degree path (of course I do… thanks, Anxiety!):

  1. It’s a Communications degree.  I haven’t been out of school long enough to forget all of the shit that gets talked about Comm majors.  No, seriously.  If you don’t know, then google “Communications Majors Stereotypes” sometime, and you’ll see what I mean.  And while I don’t much care what the average schmoe thinks of my Communications degree, I do have to consider how it will look to employers.
  2. I recognize that I’m probably overselling it, not just to ya’ll but also to myself, as while some of the course work looks really interesting, other bits of it seem super boring, especially the Marketing classes.  But I’m sure there’s no such thing as a program where you’re going to 110% love all of your classes, right?

After spending waaaaaaay too much time comparing schools and programs, the only one I’ve found that offers the blend of professional writing, advertising, and digital media that I’m looking for is Southern New Hampshire University.

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The good news is that they have a fantastic online degree program, and the classes are administered through Blackboard, which is the same software that TCL uses for their online courses so the transition would be pretty seamless.  However, choosing SNHU also means giving up on my goal of staying within my region so that I could take road trips to the school as needed. I would only ever see the SNHU campus twice: When I fly up in a couple years to check it out before I officially enroll (which most online students don’t ever do, but I feel very strongly that I need to see with my own eyes what I’m getting into and where I’m going to be accumulating a massive amount of debt before I make a commitment), and then again 2-3 years after that for graduation.

So that’s where things stand this week.  I’m sure I’ll be back in a week or two with a totally different agenda.  Stay tuned!

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