Morning Coffee – New Semester Blues Edition

Today marks the beginning of my third “semester” in school. I’m not sure if it’s right to call the term that just passed a real live semester or if the summer counts as one semester or what.

I’m new at this people, gimmie a break.

That said, after spending half a year trying (not as hard as I should, but trying nonetheless) to navigate going to college again after 20 years, from registration to financial aid and everything in between, I’ve found myself lacking, so I’m seeking help…finally.

I can be a pretty stubborn SOB, so when I got my FAFSA back that said I didn’t qualify for anything but loans, I wasn’t surprised. Financially, I did alright last year, even though it was less than previous years. Also, I knew what the cutoff for yearly income was, and that I was likely above it. What I didn’t know was just how badly going to school would diminish my ability to make money to keep going to school.

And that’s where the system is broken folks. I’ve heard countless politician talk about ways to help people like me, who are about half way to a degree, go back to school and get it. But what I haven’t seen is just how that’s supposed to happen when your ability to earn a living is so severely diminished by the act of going to school.

Sure, I can get loans, but who the heck really wants to do that? I’ve seen my friends, who graduated way back when I would have, come out of school and struggle to pay back their loans for years. Why would I want to come out of school in two years that much further down than I’m already going to be?

Then there’s the job market. What will it be like in 2 years? Will I be able to put my degree to good use, or will I be stuck in an economy that’s had one jobless recovery after another for the past 10 years. Right, that track record doesn’t make me feel very confident about loaning my way through school.

So today I’m gonna make a stab at getting some kind of special consideration from the Financial Aid department. I have pursued other kinds of aid, some of which is outside the school arena, but I make just enough to not qualify. Life is hard for those who just barely live on the up side of the poverty level.

If we’re serious about educating our people, we have to do more than what we’re doing, and need to make the system less labyrinth like. If it’s hard for me, imagine what it’s like for 18 year olds who can barely balance a checkbook, much less navigate a ridiculous bureaucracy. Remember, I’m the one that navigates bureaucracies for fun and sport, but this one looks more Brazil like every day.

Sigh, on to the coffee…

Steffens is talking the August Elections over at LWC.

Smart City Memphis tries to answer some questions about consolidation.

The TEP is pushing for a non-discrimination ordinance in the City of Memphis.

Sidney’s talking sweep. It could happen, but see the above link by Steffens…

The Daily News is asking questions about the pension problems in Memphis and Shelby County.

Henri Brooks is looking to undo the deal with Harold Buehler’s development company just weeks after his death.

Ok, have a good day. Hopefully the rain will keep the temperatures down rather than turning the world into virtual equivalent of living inside a re-heated day old cheese danish.

4 comments for “Morning Coffee – New Semester Blues Edition

  1. Vvixen
    July 12, 2010 at 5:04 pm

    It is so true that they don’t make it easy for “non-traditional” students to go back to school. That is really unfortunate, since, as in your case, non-traditional students often have many credits or even years of college completed, so it is cheaper to get them from where they are to a degree than a new high school graduate. Older non-traditional students also bring maturity and valuable skills and perspective to the classroom and the campus.

    I don’t know why campuses don’t do more to recruit non-traditional students and help them through the difficult transition from full-time work to part- or full-time scholarship.

  2. M. Neal
    July 13, 2010 at 6:03 am

    I found attending college as a non-traditional student a much better experience than as a traditional student. Most teachers/professors appreciated the fact that there was someone in the class who was there to learn and did not ask “do you grade on a curve”.

    It took me about 20 years to finish my undergraduate degree. I gathered 27 hours at UT Knoxville, mostly 2nd/3rd year courses, all at night over about 5 years. About 10 years later, I completed the first 2 years at a community college (in FL), all courses were transferable to the FL 4-yr university. In addition, I was able to transfer all of my UT credits to the FL university. Thus, less than 2 yrs left to complete the degree at the more expensive 4-yr university.

    I don’t know how many hours you have left to complete your degree. A couple of tips that may or may not be relevant. If you have any courses that can be taken at a community college to fulfill the requirements, do so. That is, if you have a community college close by that has classes that can be easily transferred to a four-year degree program at the four-year university of your choice. Take as many night classes as possible to enable you to continue working. Sometimes night classes can be better because the instructors are actually working in the field of what they teach and have practical experience.

    Putting your degree “to use” is all in perspective. Once you finish, you will have a degree and include that as part of your resume. It can be important, but it is then up to you to make the difference and demonstrate why you will be a good hire.

    Networking, persistence, and being at the right place at the right time. It is best to have a job while searching for a job. We had a friend who sent out 400 resumes in less than 2 yrs while looking for a “good” job. This was about 20 years ago, therefore the volume of resumes had nothing to do with the current employment environment. He eventually found what he was looking for and has done well. In two different instances where I obtained decent jobs, I sent multiple resumes to the companies and contacted them frequently. In both instances, I got the jobs because of timing. I had the resume and the skill set as did many others, I just didn’t quit trying.

    Or, move to Georgia. I hear their lottery scholarships work for non-traditional students whereas they do not in TN. This may have changed.

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