Technology + Education + New Media

Reflections and Gratitude

Reflection - Photo that I took in Tullahoma TN

Sitting here waiting for grades to post, and anxious to see how I did for the semester. I started to think about the semester and all of the wonderful opportunities that came my way. I feel so blessed to be the recipient of three amazing scholarships. The TN Lottery Hope Scholarship, Motlow Honor’s Scholarship, and the Ambassadorship to study abroad. I am amazed at all of the support and encouragement I have received in my quest for an education. I want to share my experience with everyone that I meet, and show them the possibilities. I am particularly interested in sharing my experiences with other women so that they can see that they can go to college if they really want to. It does require some sacrifice, but it is worth it.

When I talk about college with other women I often hear the same things. They tell me that they cannot go to college because they have small children at home, they have to work, they have been out of school for too long, or they cannot afford it. These are all legitimate concerns, the same ones that I faced when I started looking at the possibility of going to college.

I have five children ages 21, 17, 11, 5, and 3 years old. It is a challenge to attend college when you have little ones at home. You have to work out child care for the children.  It can be tricky with schedules and costs, but it can be done. It may require you to juggle schedules, ask for help from friends and family, or seek financial assistance to help cover child care costs. It won’t be easy, there will be sacrifices, but it can be done. You will also have to learn how to delegate responsibilities at home, and not be afraid to find a quiet space just for yourself that you can go to when you have to study or do homework.

I am currently unemployed after a recent move, but plan to go back to work full time. I was working full time during my first two semesters of college. I was doing College Express classes at the time, which is wonderful for working adults. If you take those classes you will go to class one or two days a week, in the evening, for around four hours. Most working adults opt for these types of classes, but the class choices may be limited. I am taking traditional classes now. It is a lot more difficult to take these types of classes while working; however I had no choice because the classes that I need for my major are not offered in the evening. It takes a bit of juggling to get the classes you need scheduled around your work, but it can be done. I have also discovered that my experiences are much richer in the traditional environment. I feel like I am really a part of the university rather than a visitor.

I am 40 years old. I got my GED when I was 38 and started college at 39. I had been out of school for 20 plus years. I scored higher on the GED than some of the recent high school drop outs. You may be required to take a few remedial classes in college to bring you up to college level, but that is nothing to be embarrassed about, and you can do it.

A big concern for most people is how to pay for college. There are so many opportunities out there for anyone interested in attending college. It does take some work to fill out applications and get everything you need to send in to apply for these things, but it is well worth the effort. If you are low income you will most likely qualify for Federal Assistance. The application process for FAFSA can be a bit daunting at first, but college recruiters and advisors are more than happy to help you with this process. It really just requires a bit of time, a copy of your tax return, and other identification pieces such as your social security card.  Even if you do not qualify for federal assistance there are a plethora of other options. There are scholarships available to fit almost any circumstance. If you are an adult student there are scholarships tailored specifically to you. If you are a minority, a woman, interested in a particular field, a spouse of a service member, or a new high school dropout there are scholarships available for you. I highly recommend you check into any that are available and take the time to apply. I know that you think you will never win one. I felt the same way, but they do choose winners. You have as good a chance as the next person if you apply. The first step is always the hardest. You have to apply to win. Do not let the application process, the writing of essays, or fear stop you from applying. Applying is half the battle. Apply and apply often.

I am a low income (under 20 grand a year) mother of five. I am a high school dropout, who works every day to eek out a meager living. It is all that I can do to keep a roof over our heads. I am constantly stressed about finances, schedules, work, and school. It is not easy to work, go to school, and take care of a family. I wouldn’t lie to you about that. It is hard, it is stressful, it is maddening at times, but it is worth it. I cannot begin to tell you how much getting an education has changed me. It has changed everything from how I handle challenges, to how I view the world. It has made me stronger, wiser, more determined, and given me a sense of self and a quiet confidence that I never had before. It is difficult, no way around that, but it will change your life for the better.

I am so grateful for the scholarships that I have received. If not for programs like FAFSA, the TN Lottery Hope Scholarship, Scholarships offered at my local institute and the ambassadorship from Motlow I would never be able to have all of the wonderful experiences that I have had to date, and the amazing opportunities to come. I really appreciate that there are people and organizations out there that are willing to take a chance on someone like me. I have been given a second chance, one that has changed me forever.

I don’t know that I will ever be able to repay the debt of gratitude that I feel, but if I can help others follow their dreams that would be a start. I will repay that debt through the skills and education that I obtain because of the generosity of those who support these scholarships. My ultimate goal is to get a law degree from Vanderbilt University. I would love to focus on International law and Human Rights in particular. My greatest desire is to touch the lives of as many as I can, and to make this world a better place.

If you are considering going to college and are questioning if it is worth it, or wondering how you are going to handle the stress, balance work,school,life, and pay for it. Please don’t hesitate to drop me a line. I will help you in any way that I can. I can help you figure out solutions to those things or just be a cheerleader in your corner. I cannot promise you that it will be easy, it probably won’t. But, I can promise you it is worth it.

Update: Grades finally posted. I got a 4.0 for the semester. So happy!


9 comments on “Reflections and Gratitude

  1. ShimonZ
    December 28, 2011

    Thanks for your explanations. I got most of my questions answered in this post. Wishing you good luck, enthusiast.

    • eduthusiast
      December 28, 2011

      I am happy some of your questioned were answered. I still really have no idea what I want to be when I grow up. It seems to me when I answer that question or any other, a new question is formed and I am off in a new direction. I have changed my major three times already. The problem is that I want to learn everything. I have so many varied interests and find so many things exciting it is very difficult to pick one or even two. I feel like I should have a better sense of direction at my age, but the truth is that I do not.

      • ShimonZ
        December 28, 2011

        I can understand your unbridled enthusiasm. But I would suggest that focus and self-discipline is even more important than goals when it comes to studies. One thing leads to another, and it is difficult to know at the beginning of this voyage, where exactly you will feel most at home, from an intellectual point of view. However, it is very important not to spread yourself too thin. Because all the while, you will be developing strength and depth that will enlarge your capacity for study. I would like to know what your major is now, and what your minor is. In most cases, if you go for depth in your major, you will be developing valuable skills that will aid you in your continued studies.

  2. eduthusiast
    December 28, 2011

    My major is Mass Communications. I have not decided on a minor yet. I keep thinking something will click for me. I had no idea going into to school what I wanted to do. I have a lot of interests but that does not necessarily mean anything. I thought that once I started taking classes I would begin to get a clearer picture. There would be classes that I really loved and classes that I hated. Truth is I have not hated any of them, not even the Algebra class and math is my weakest point. I have had a few classes that I have particularly enjoyed. Philosophy, Sociology, Psychology, Theatre, Speech, and Media Writing have been my favorites to date. Speech was a favorite not so much because of the class. I still do not really like public speaking, but because of the professor. Mr. Willis is amazing. He earned his Master’s degree from Indiana University in ’79, attended the Gestalt Institute of Cleveland during the 80’s and 90’s, and completed my Ph.D in Semiotics at Purdue University December ’08. He is now in Colorado following his bliss and re-inventing himself again. The people that I have met during my studies have had a huge impact on me as well.

    I am trying to narrow my focus so that I do not spread myself too thin, but at the same time I don’t want to have such a strict focus that I miss out on opportunities that do not fit into my plan. If that makes sense. I do appreciate any advice and insights that you have to share. Thank you for taking the time to read and connect.

  3. eduthusiast
    December 28, 2011

    I took a look back over all of the options available at MTSU to minor in and wrote down any that interested me. I narrowed it down quite a bit, but still have a pretty long list of options.

    Anthropology Minor
    Archaeology Minor
    Asian Studies Minor
    Global Studies Minor
    International Media Studies Minor
    International Relations Minor
    Leadership Studies Minor
    Media, History, and Culture Minor
    Medieval Studies Minor
    Organizational Communication Minor
    Philosophy Minor
    Political and Civic Engagement Minor
    Psychology Minor
    Religious Studies Minor
    Sociology Minor
    Women’s and Gender Studies Minor
    Writing Minor

    I need to do some soul searching I suppose to try and narrow this down a bit more. International Relations, Political Civic Engagement, Religious studies, Writing, and Women’s studies stand out more than the others at first glance, but reading about the courses Archaeology, Medieval Studies and some of the others sound really interesting too. I will have to think about it some more, but you are right I do need to come up with a plan of action and narrow my focus.

    • ShimonZ
      December 28, 2011

      Majoring in mass communications, you will be studying a number of social studies which are connected, influence, and are influenced by the media. It comes right together. And how much you learn in those fields is only limited by the amount of time and energy you have to devote to such studies. Subjects such as gender studies, and international media come hand in hand with what you will already be studying. I barely know you, so it is a little hard to make recommendations. But just on the basis of things you’ve already said, I would suggest that you choose either history or writing as a minor. Because both of these studies would help you develop as a serious student, and would contribute to your advance in your chosen major. And still be separate enough from your chosen major to provide interest and inspiration to you as you continue in your studies.

      • eduthusiast
        December 28, 2011

        I would be more inclined towards writing. I really enjoy writing. I like History as well, and would likely do well in that as well. I had a very hard time choosing a Major. I am hoping that choosing a minor will be a bit easier. It is really difficult to know what to study when you don’t even know what you want to do with your life. This entire process is a learning and growing experience. My ideas and perceptions have changed dramatically from the short time before I started school until now. I can only imagine what the experience in London will bring.

        I know that you do not know me well, but I really appreciate that you have taken the time to read my posts and to offer advice. I value your opinion and thank you for sharing your vast experience with me.

  4. maturestudenthanginginthere
    December 28, 2011

    Thank you for stopping by my blog, which is even better as it helped me to find yours. I think this is a wonderful post for folk to read who might be considering study. I can certainly identify with the juggle but your positivity really shines though here. I look forward to reading more.


    • eduthusiast
      December 28, 2011

      Thank you Jacqueline I am enjoying your blog. It is really interesting to see things from the perspective of someone who is an adult student like myself, but living/studying in a different country. After reading a couple of your posts I had to Google Open University to learn more about it. I am still going through your blog and look forward to more from you. Thank you for stopping by and commenting. ~Tina

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