Sunday, August 31, 2008

T-Shirts for NonTraditional Students!

Ta da! Tam's Tees (one of my online creative pursuits) is now featuring tee shirts for non-traditional students!
I have just posted the first design, but many more are on the way! Come on in, "mature learners"! Get a specialty t-shirt made just for you!
Tees for NonTrads (click on the words!) on Tam's Tees @ Zazzle.
The site usually features several new designs a week in other categories as well. (Halloween shirts also in stock).

The design shown is only one of about 20, when counting both new categories. Pleae come look at the other options!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Mini Panic Attack

Okay so now I have applied at a few schools and realize that I am actually planning to do this thing.
And then it really hit me:
I have no money. I can't even afford to move out on my own where I live now, let alone move back to PA with no back-up or support network. Am I CRAZY? What the heck was I thinking?
I am relying entirely on financial aid and student loan money to support me until I get back on campus and get settled and am able to work out a schedule where I can attend school in the morning and work 4-10pm or so.

panic time
anxiety attack alert

How on earth am I going to manage this?

edited to add:
current options- West Chester Univ of PA as a re-admit
York College of PA because my family lives there
Rollins College Holt School Evening degree program

Friday, August 29, 2008

Taking the Easy Route...?

Barring some kind of major change (such as winning the lottery) my current plan is to return to West Chester University of PA in fall 2009. So in some ways it will be like a circle finally closing. WCU is the school I attended just out of high school, when I was far too young and naive to be ready for college. It sound like the "re-admit" option I was told to choose by the Office of Admissions is going to be the "easiest" way to get accepted back into college.

I will go with the intention of studying 2 years there and then transferring to another university with a broader, more in depth course selection to finish my degree.
Not sure whether to enroll with the intention of getting an A.A. or just stopping after two years of the B.A. and trying to transfer those credits.

Obviously I have much to learn about how this process works.

Now the big question...When do I move back to PA? I think you have to be there 6 full months to claim residency (at least that's how FL's system works). But then again, the rest of my family has never left PA, so perhaps there is a way to claim that as a "domicile"?
And should I seek on-campus housing the first semester? I have to find out from my friend in India who went there in 1991 and again in 1999 how he handled that situation, and/or speak to someone to see if there is any special housing for adult students.

I need to clarify that I have not officially been accepted back at this time. I have downloaded the "Re-admit" application and reviewed it, and it does not appear that they are asking for anything beyond dates attended and whetehr or not any credits were earned.
I am debating sending along a cover letter which briefly explains my life experiences since leaving school and my reasons for wanting to return. Any suggestions regarding that?

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Some Small Progress!

I feel very proud of myself today. I took a small step forward by telephoning the admissions offices of two of the schools on my list to ask questions about the admissions process!
The first was admittedly the easiest, as expected and previously mentioned.
I called West Chester University and was told that even though I only carry 1 credit from them from 1986, that I would be considered a "re-admit" and that there was a special application for this on their website.
The second was a huge leap of courage, but I had to do it, both just to see if I could, and to see what kind of response I'd get on the phone. I contacted Georgetown University in DC, was referred to a second person when the first couldn't answer me, then kindly (well, she tried to sound kind, but I heard a hint of incredulousness in her voice) told me I should consider applying to the College of Continuing Education, even though that school does not offer the specific major I told her I was interested in. Well, I suppose it is worth looking into further.

Question for anyone reading this.
Would you take the safe, easy track and apply to your previous school as a re-admit when it is not your number one choice?
WCU has the major I want, it is in the same geographic area as most of my choice schools, is respected and considered "competitive". However it does not offer the depth and breadth of courses a university such as Georgetown, NYU or Penn offers. It is also much less expensive than the elite schools.
Or would you hold out for another, more expensive, more prestigious school until that option closed to you (denial of admission or inability to afford)?
Or start back at the old school in the hopes thatyour record and credits there could later be useful in transferring to another school?

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Community College?!?

Well call me an elitist snob, but Community College is not something I ever considered... until today. And now I am having seriously mixed feelings about it
Two of my top choice schools finally did reply, in a most impersonal and, IMO, impolite fashion. They kindly told me that they give no special concessions to adult learners and that I should consider getting an AA at a community college prior to even thinking about enrolling into a full time ugrad degree program.
This made me bristle. How dare they judge me without knowing the first thing about me besides my AGE?! How dare they tell me I am not smart or focused enough to study with a bunch of drunken 18 year olds?! (sorry kids I know you're not all drunks)

So, once my blood pressure went back to normal...I looked at our two local community college websites, Valencia and Seminole.
Valencia has nothing which would be of interest to me. As I mentioned in a previous post, I know that if I am not interested in a course/program, I won't bother with it. Why should I? Where is the emotional reward in that? Emotional reward/satisfaction is one of my main motivators for going back to college in the first place!
Seminole, on the other hand, does have a campus very close to where I live, and they offer a pre-major in Anthropology, my chosen field. The tuition is not out of line. But...will it be challenging enough? Will there be enough variety to stimulate me academically? They have a very limited selection of courses and are super focused on core requirements. I know that is for a good reason, but...


Tomorrow I am going to courageously call and ask questions of my previous college, West Chester University of PA (WCU). For some reason that does not feel nearly as threatening to me as aiming "higher" and risking "ridicule" by one of the leading schools in the field.

Fear of Making Calls to Colleges

I need to get over my fear of making phone calls to my desired schools if I am going to be serious about this journey.
In a way my fear is a form of protection; it means I have not yet made a commitment to actually DOING this.
I WANT to do it. My INTENTION is to do it.
But I still do not know how. How am I going to pay for it? Where am I going to live while studying if it means moving back to the northeast?

If I do not take steps towards contacting schools, I can stay in my comfort zone. I do not have to worry about making actual plans to relocate yet again or to being in a strange environment with no money or support system.
Truth: Thinking about these things TERRIFIES me. It is much safer to read about my subjects of interest on the web or in books.

Some of my other reasons for not calling:
*Do not know what questions to ask.
*Fear of sounding stupid or uninformed.
*Fear of being judged or shuffled aside.
*Fear that I won't be able to get into the courses I want ( "so why try?" syndrome)

I am now setting down some goals for myself to work on in the days ahead. My goal is to get the courage and confidence to start calling my top choice schools by Monday of next week (September 1,2008).

Some real, tangible ways I plan to work towards this goal include:
*Make a list of questions including asking "Can you direct me to the person I need to speak to about admissions for adult nontraditional students?" (etc.)
*Requesting printed catalogs (do colleges still send out printed catalogs in this online age?!?)

Your good wishes and positive thoughts mean a lot to me!

Monday, August 25, 2008

List of Schools I'm Considering

Thought I'd go ahead and put this out there... these are the schools I am most interested in attending. They seem to have good programs in my chosen field of study (anthropology, ancient history, Near and Middle Eastern studies) and they are located in area's with many cultural amenities.
I have only just requested information from most of them. Others I am still researching.
To be honest, I have not even looked at tuition and fees.
I am trusting that somehow the universe/God will make it possible for me to go to the RIGHT school for me!

Here is the list, in no particular order:

Georgetown University, Washington DC
American University, Washington DC
George Washington University, Washington DC
Temple University, Philadelphia PA
University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA
NYU, New York, NY
Columbia University, New York, NY
Rollins College, Winter Park, FL
and West Chester University of PA, West Chester, PA (for mainly sentimental reasons)

An interesting observation...
I filled out an online request form for some other schools not named here, and within 12 hours had received 5 phone calls from admissions personnel.
NONE of the schools on my list have responded to my inquiries as yet.
I hope this is not a "bad sign".
I am consoling myself by believing it is due to the fact that classes are resumnig this week and that admissions employees at larger, more popular schools are much busier.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

I'm Going Back to College!

That's right, folks. I will be going back to college in the near future, no later than fall 2009.
Now, that may not seem like a big deal, especially if you don't know me.
But to me, it is an enormous step.
You see, I just turned forty a few days ago.
I have not attended school since November 1986, when I left West Chester University of PA after a serious freshman struggle with nerves, unpreparedness for life, and homesickness.
Life has brought many changes for me since then, as it will for almost anyone after 22 years.
I have traveled and lived in five states and two foreign countries since then. I have dealt with domestic abuse, recovered from drug addiction, and started a continuing path of spiritual and emotional growth.
My areas of scholastic interest have shifted, as well.
When I enrolled in college out of high school, my major was French with a minor in Creative Writing. My career intention was to become an interpreter for a book publishing company or perhaps write a novel in French, which at the time my romantic idealist mind found the epitome of creative success!
Now, my intended major is Anthropology, with supplemental courses in ancient history, cultural studies, languages, and geography. I hope to use this knowledge to write about my travels, perhaps become a photo-journalist, work in a museum or explore opportunities with volunteer agencies who work in developing countries.
Nothing is clear.
This blog will chronicle my steps on this new triumphs, my I transition back into the world of higher education and out of the doldrums of "real life".
I am at the beginning.
I am still in the selection phase, although I have narrowed it down pretty well to a number of schools in the Mid-Atlantic region (where I was born and raised) or American universities abroad.
At this point, although I have begun completing online applications, I do not even have the money to actually submit them
Where does an unemployed (self-employed) adult find the resources to return to school full-time? BEFORE getting accepted into an accredited degree program?
Undoubtedly there are many things I still haven't figured out.
I just know that I have received a message, whether you want to say from God or the universe or whatever, that NOW is the time, and that this is a necessary step in my life.

I would love to hear from other adult students, regardless of what age or field of study you are in, to share the experience, to support and encourage one another.
Please feel free to comment on any aspect of your adult college experience!
Or just leave a message wishing me luck.