Archive for the ‘College Online’ category

An Average Scholar

August 23, 2014

Do you ever feel like you’re just an average scholar? Like no subject seems stronger than another? Maybe you get good grades, maybe you don’t, or maybe you don’t care because you already know what you’re good at, and it’s not academics. Or maybe you’re like me.

I got good grades in most subjects, certainly by the time high school crept up on me. At the same time, I didn’t have a particular affinity for any of the subjects. I liked music and art, but I couldn’t imagine doing either professionally (wasn’t that good, just enjoyed them).  I wasn’t interested in pursuing science, math, or history.  English either, although I was getting pretty good at writing by the time I graduated high school.

So when I looked for something to major in for college, I felt as if I’d struck out.  It’s not like anyone offers a degree in Homeschooling!  And I already had most of the credits I thought necessary for that one after helping homeschool myself and four younger siblings . . . But anyway, I couldn’t figure out what I was suited for that I wanted to study.

Do you feel like your dream job is elusive?  Like you’re not sure where to fit in?  That was me for a year or more in high school.

I had settled on a General Studies degree, and yes, it was settling.  My favorite thing was books, but they only offer Library Science as a Master’s degree, which I didn’t figure I’d want to go for once finished with a Bachelor’s degree.  So I had something at least, even if it was settling for second best.

That’s when I started to write my scholarship essay.

My father’s company offered a scholarship which would cover most of the cost of the online school to which I was applying.  It required an essay, in which I needed to convince the readers of why they should help pay for my education.  In writing that essay, I realized that I liked helping people.  I made the assertion that they would be benefiting more than just me by helping me pay for college.  That I was interested in helping people around me, and they would really be benefiting the whole community.

As I was planning and writing, someone finally suggested, “why not study helping people?!”  That’s when I started looking into degrees in Human Services.

I ended up building a degree that incorporated human services, human development, and communication courses, all of which were meant to support each other in helping me prepare for a job in the field, as well as preparing me for the rest of my life where I would continue to help people, watch them grow, and communicate with them.

Four years later I walked across the stage with a huge smile on my face, happy with my choice and my direction.  I like to feel as if I’ve helped someone, whether it be simply holding the door for a mother with little ones, or showing someone how to use Excell’s many features.  I’m not a wizard at any one thing, but I have experience in a variety of things, and am very willing to pitch in.

To go back to my question, my dream job was never all that elusive.  I knew I wanted to be a homeschool mom, but I also knew that there needed to be something between college and that!  My dilemma was in what God wanted me to do with the between years.  I’m glad He directed my steps so that I wrote that essay.  I found something that I enjoyed doing, and through writing about it, I figured out how to turn it into something I could study and then practice.  My subsequent work in a couple of non-profits was very rewarding.

Having now left the workforce, hopefully for good, I’m not inclined to say any of it was wasted.  I grew through the requirements of the jobs I’ve held, and through the friends I made among my coworkers.  I’m happy to be home now, but the journey here makes me appreciate it more.

Your journey will look different.  Have you considered what you like to do in your choice of  a career path, rather than just what you’re good at?

Three Years Later…

February 6, 2013

Three years.  Yep, I’ve been blogging just that long.  As of today, in fact.

What started out as a college assignment has grown into a continuing pastime.  I enjoy sharing my thoughts here, and getting the occasional feedback from readers.  Just blogging about things can help me think through them, which is good, and it’s also fun to share some stories from my childhood.

When I began this blog, I would not have guessed that I’d like it so well that I would keep it up.  But here I am, three years, 200-odd posts, and several thousand visits later, still blogging.  The journey has been good.  If I went back and read all my early posts, I would probably find plenty of things that I would say differently now, or that I would not say at all.  But that’s part of growing up, and yes, you’ve been privileged to see some of that here.

What’s to come?  Well, I’m still blogging, and I have reason to think I’ll keep on blogging for some time to come.  Someday I might create a new blog, one on which I share the tales of a second generation homeschool mom.  But for now, I’m still just a graduate from the best kind of school I know – a homeschool.

For those of my readers who are new, welcome, and have a look around.  For those who’ve been with me for a long time, thanks for the support and the feedback!  I look forward to sharing with you all in the days to come.

~Homeschool Graduate

Toward a New Frontier

June 26, 2011

So, I promised a post summarizing my thoughts on graduating.  Neither of my graduations involved a major change for me, so in some sense I am not going to be able to speak to the larger experience of most graduates.  At the same time, I have also faced changes to my lifestyle that would be comparable to much of what is encountered in a move to a college campus.  Still, my thoughts at this time do not focus on what is changing, but what has been and will be the same.

My graduation from college has not really changed anything so far as my immediate circumstances are concerned.  I’m still living at home with no intentions of deserting the parental domain any time soon (it’ll take some prince charming to carry me off from this happy home, let me tell you!).  I already had a part-time job as of this past January, so I haven’t even been in a huge hurry to find a full-time one (which reminds me, my resume still needs work . . .).  So my life is much the same as it has been for the last four years.  The biggest difference that I have noticed is that I am not planning ahead for the next semester’s courses.

Am I feeling any different?  I have two answers to this question.  The first is, different from what?  If you mean different from what I felt before graduating from college, then my second answer is yes and no.  No because although the ceremony helped give me the sense of completion, I don’t have my actual diploma in hand yet.  No because I am still the same girl I have always been.  No because this summer has been progressing very much like any of the last few, with plenty of things to do, relatives to entertain, and fun to be had with family and friends.  Yes because I now have a sense (not urgent yet but growing) that I need to find a full-time job soon.  Yes because I do not have the familiar routine of studies to look forward to.

If the question means different from when I graduated from highschool, then the answer is a definite yes.  While I have not noticed any major changes in myself, I do know that I have gained a lot of assurance over four years of online schooling.  People sometimes worry about my socialization when they find out I was homeschooled and then did college online, but I laugh to myself because it was through online discussions that I gained the confidence to step outside of my normal shy, wallflower pose and approach people in various social contexts.  Most people now would hardly credit me with being shy, although I still have some tendencies to avoid new contacts and choose to talk to people with whom I am already comfortable.  I am now almost as likely to go over and start a conversation with someone I don’t know, and I’m less uncomfortable in situations where I know no one, although I may tend to avoid those situations sometimes.

Of course, I have to be different from the highschool graduate who wasn’t paying enough attention to avoid getting a sunburn — no such trouble this time around since the graduation was all indoors in the Saratoga Springs City Center.  I have been walking with Jesus for four more years now that I had not when I graduated last time.  When you walk with Jesus, He changes you, even when you aren’t noticing it.  My father has written a song based on several scriptures, and the refrain of it comes from I John 3:2, “For when we see him, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.”  Equally true, I think, is that the more we see of him (in scripture), the more we become transformed into his image.

So, why am I not feeling more of a difference as I face a new frontier?  Perhaps because I have not had time yet to notice that difference.  Perhaps because I am so confident in my guide and comforter that I am not daunted by the thought of entering a new stage in my life as I was (a little) four years ago.  And perhaps because this new frontier is not so new.

For the real frontier I am facing is one of walking with Jesus.  I have been walking with Jesus through college, and now I will be walking with Jesus while he prepares me.  Yes, I meant to leave that sentence where I did.  I realize that there is a stage between college and marriage.  Some people seem very intent on making that transition as quickly as possible.  Others at least need the comfort of having a boy/girlfriend to make that transition look nearer.  I recognize that God has things to teach me in this waiting time.  And my intent is to walk with him throughout this new stage (for stage it is, just as surely as college and marriage are stages) as well as throughout my life.

So in a sense I am not actually facing a new frontier.  I am merely closer to the frontier which I have been striving toward all the time.  My walk has had many twists and turns, but not remarkably many.  My walk has had plenty of stops along the way, and has involved plenty of friends to walk beside me.  So have many other people’s.  The most remarkable thing about my life has been its goal, and even that is a common one with all my Christian brothers and sisters.  It is only remarkable in that God is remarkable, for I am always looking toward the finish line when I shall stand in glory and see God face to face.  Strangely enough, I am excited about being in the presence of Elohim, God Almighty, YHWH.  For he is my father, and, weak and sinful child that I am, I still desire above all else to be near my Father, who loves me in spite of all.

May you also catch a glimpse of this calling, the calling of your heavenly Father to you, his child: “Come.”  We cannot fathom what may await us in heaven, for it is truly a new frontier of which none of us now has the capacity to comprehend the whole, but we can rest assured that it will be good, or rather, that it will be God.  To all those who are graduating or who are facing other new stages of their lives, let me encourage you to keep your focus on Christ, where it belongs, and let the path go where it will.  For everything becomes clearer when you look to Jesus to write your story.

Graduation 2011

June 13, 2011

Graduation 2011

The sky was gray, and the gowns were black
but the faces were full of smiles.
Distance Learners from Empire State
parading across the stage.
Associate’s, Bachelor’s, Master’s degrees
to graduates young and old.
Sharing the platform with history
and some giants in distance education.
One of two hundred and ten I was
shaking our president’s hand.
A medal, a picture, a pin and you’re done
but the symbols stand for much more.
The journey’s not over ’cause learning’s for life
but this was a milestone large.
Cheers, Congrats, Blessings to all
the Class of 2011!

~Homeschoolgraduate

April Blog Update

April 29, 2011

Okay, so I wrote back in February that I wasn’t positive how long my blog was going to be around, based on changing schedules and a few other things.  Two months later, my perspective has shifted somewhat.

Because while February was a record month (278 visits), March saw even more traffic just halfway into the month (total visits was over 300).  April brought another increase, passing the 400 mark about a week ago.  While I’m not writing for the visits (if I was, I’d be writing on much different topics and would be disappointed with those stats), it’s encouraging to see that people are actually reading what I write.

[note: April’s visits total actually passed the 500 mark after I wrote the post.]
 

March and April have been crazy months for my family.  With some of us out of town, out of town relatives here, birthday celebrations, braces for the twins, college visits for my sister, and various times of fellowship with friends, we have had a busy time of it.  And it’s not going to slow down now, either.

I’m done with school this week (one last paper to submit tomorrow), and then I’m going to be volunteering more hours at the senior club I’ve been at for a year come June.  And doing some more work around the house, such as spring cleaning and things like that!  3G won’t be home till mid-May, and our younger siblings won’t finish till the last full week of May, but then we get two graduations in June, back to back weekends.  I’ll have finished school four weeks before Sister, but she’ll still graduate a week before me!  Figure that one out.

I hope you’ve been enjoying the poetry I’ve been posting lately.  Several weeks ago I realized that I wasn’t getting enough time to write new posts very often, so I dug through some of my old and new poems to find things you might enjoy when I didn’t have the time to write.  I think I’ve about run out of them now, so we’ll see what kinds of things I find to write about next.

Yep, that means the blog is sticking around!

If you have suggestions, feel free to air them, though I won’t promise to write about them all!  I’m thinking of doing some more reviews of curriculum I’ve used (and fiction books I loved — I have  a review of one of those waiting in my drafts for me to have the time to finish it).  Or perhaps hunting up some more memories of my homeschooling days.  I might even finally get my sister to write a guest post or two!

Graduating (again)

March 6, 2011

It seems like just last year, but my highschool graduation is now four years ago, and I’m getting ready to graduate again.  I have a feeling my college graduation will be much, much different.  The last time I graduated, I was looking ahead to college, scholarship in hand and course of study known.  Four years later, I have found my niche in eldercare administrative work, but now I’ll be looking for a full-time job.

From all I hear, finding a job is not very easy right now.  Okay, so that’s an understatement, but I’m also hearing that the job market is looking better.  Better.  That’s a very relative term.  Actually, I’ve seen plenty of job listings in the health and human service arena in my area.  Mostly for HHAs, CNAs, or RNs, however, which doesn’t help me in the least.  I chose not to go into nursing for a very good reason!

So needless to say I’m a smidge anxious about getting a job.  I know other people who’ve been out of college a year without finding a job.  Of course, I do have a part-time job already, but that’s not likely to turn into a full-time position due to financial issues.  The hope is that my contacts at the senior club will help me find another place where I can do similar work.

Rereading that last paragraph, I realize that I already have the answer to my worries.  While I haven’t been stressing out over the job search (which I’ve only been working at sporadically anyway), I have certainly been concerned about what I’ll do if I can’t find something quickly.  But that’s not necessary at all.

As I’m sure you’ve already been saying to yourself, our God knows all about it, and He has a job all ready for me when I graduate.  Even if it’s not what I’m looking for, I know whatever job God gives me will be perfect because He chose it.  And because I know that He is in control, I don’t have to worry about where that job will be.

Does that mean I won’t be searching too hard, just waiting for God to land the job in my lap?  Of course not.  He’s probably going to teach me something through the search process.  I’ve not had to do much “shopping around” of this sort before.  We sent inquiries to a couple of colleges, but I only seriously investigated Empire State College.  My current job came as a result of volunteering for six months.  I had a recommendation from a woman at my previous job that I might try volunteering there.  Pretty much, my path has been led by recommendations and suggestions of people I knew.  My first volunteering position was at a nursing home where a friend worked.  My first job was at a local farm run by a family my parents had known from a previous church (when I was knee-high to a grasshopper).  So God probably has something to show me through a job hunt, and I’m not going to sit around and wait for it to knock on my door.

At the same time, I can rest safely in the knowledge that God is working everything out.  And in the meantime, I have plenty of college papers to keep me busy!  I’d like to share a poem I wrote four years ago that still rings true in its essentials.  I shared it around graduation time last year, but it’s very pertinent to this post.

Not Alone

Adulthood breathing down her neck
her relatives look on
a hundred choices must she make
they rest with her alone

The pressure is so very great
so many watching eyes
advice pours in and inundates
she takes a walk – alone

The fields around her lend their peace
she doesn’t travel far
her spirit gently reminds her that
she need not go alone

In the world of adult scares
Jesus will care for her
He will be with her through all cares
she will not be alone

~Homeschoolgraduate

When I grow up, I want to be…

January 31, 2011

I often wondered as a child just what I would be when I grew up.  I had plenty of grandiose ideas, plans, and air castles, but I knew that none of them would come true unless that’s what God wanted for me.  During the last years of homeschooling, I became a little more insistent on knowing what God wanted me to do, because I was trying to plan what to do about college and a job.  By highschool I knew that I eventually wanted to be a stay-at-home homeschooling mom, but of course, that dream wasn’t going to materialize the minute I finished school.  So I needed something to do while I was single and before I began raising my share of arrows for the Lord (Psalm 127).

The closer I got to the end of highschool, the more important it became for me to know what God had for me, and I was beginning to get impatient.  It was time to plan, but I did not have a direction.  While I was a decent student, I did not excel in any particular subject enough to feel like I wanted to pursue it as a career, but I wasn’t even certain that God had a husband and family in my future.

In the end, I decided that I would pursue a bachelor’s degree because if I got a job, that would help, and because as a homeschooling mom, it might be helpful (for instance, my mom can administer our standardized tests because she has her bachelor’s degree, whereas other homeschoolers have to make other arrangements; I couldn’t know for sure what the regulations would be by the time I began homeschooling, nor could I be sure of what state(s) I might be homeschooling in).  During the last part of my senior year, I finally understood that my dream of homeschooling would someday come true.  But I still did not want to be idle until that day arrived.

I chose to pursue college online.  This was because I knew I wanted to stay at home with my family.  I’m very family oriented, which I count as a good thing, so the idea of living on a campus away from everything and everyone I’d ever known scared the 18-year-old I was then.  Although I’ve since reached the point where I would feel more comfortable with that situation, I am very thankful that I made the decision to stay home and learn more from my mother during my college years.  I love being at home and involved in all the family’s activities.

Mom and I did some research into online colleges, but at the time they were few and far between.  I got course catalogs from a couple, but the listings didn’t interest me.  When Mom wrote to one college, mentioning that I was homeschooled, they responded that their program was not what I was looking for.  We agreed with them — if they weren’t going to be accepting, we weren’t going to waste our time on them.  Eventually we found Empire State College, which seemed like a good fit.

Empire State College allows students, I could almost say requires students, to formulate their own degree programs, so I knew going in that I could tailor my college education very much like we had tailored my homeschool education.  My mother had finally suggested that I study small business publications because I had enjoyed the graphic design elements in my computer science course during my junior year.  I decided that appealed to me, so I gave it as my tentative plan.  It was better than a simple Liberal Arts degree, which was the other choice!

Then I began writing my applications.  My father’s employers offer a scholarship to children of employees, which was large enough to cover nearly all my expenses.  They wanted an essay which told why I deserved their money (okay, that’s not their words, but it’s the meaning anyway).  As I wrote and Mom helped edit, we finally realized that I was writing the essay about helping people.  I enjoyed going with my mother to help out the elderly ladies in our church, and anyone else who needed something done.

That scholarship essay helped define my entire degree.   I was able to plan my whole degree to prepare for a job in human services administration.  I included several courses on communications and on human development as well, which have complemented my major very well.  In the meantime,  through volunteering at a nursing home, homeless shelter, and senior day care facility, I have been able to find my niche in eldercare.  I really enjoy working with the elderly, so I was very excited when, just two weeks ago, the senior club decided to hire me.  It’s only a few hours a week, but it’s real experience and I welcomed the opportunity.

Now, I’m graduating this spring, and hopefully going to land a full-time job somewhere.  Does that mean I’ve lost my vision of being a homeschooling mom?  Not at all.  But I know full well that I am not ready to be a homeschooling mom.  I have to take a couple of other steps first!  In the mean time, I hope to glorify God through my work in eldercare (or a related branch of human services) as I wait for His timing.  My work in the human services field will ultimately prepare me to be very useful to my brothers and sisters in Christ, because I am learning the services that are available.  I won’t stop helping others when I get married any more than I’ve forgotten my dream of homeschooling just because I’ve gone ahead and gotten a college degree.

Helping others and homeschooling are two pieces of the puzzle that is my life, and I trust that God knows exactly where to put each piece, and when to put it in.  So long as He’s doing the driving, I’m just thankful to be along for the ride!  And ultimately, the goal is not to help others, or to homeschool.  My purpose here on earth and someday in heaven is to glorify God and fellowship with him.

When I grow up, I want to be more like Christ.


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