Old Dogs, New Tricks

A blog for non-traditional students

Michelle Malkin, ‘View’ Hosts Fight

This is just ridiculous – a group of intelligent women are gathered to share a feminine perspective on topics that effect us all, but instead sit around waving fingers “You didn’t read the book!” and in general behaving like a group of gossips arguing over the juicy details of some unfortunate’s situation.

What no one mentions is the it’s too late to bash Obama – time to learn to deal with the fact he is the President and he’s not going to be able to make everyone anymore than any other presidents have. Support the process, which requires free speech to make your voice heard, just don’t get upset when articulate argument is built on the opposing sides.

*** Danielle

Michelle Malkin, ‘View’ Hosts Fight

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August 3, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Moving On :(

Well, since I’m no longer officially a non-traditional student, I am looking forward to new things but that means I will be leaving the old behind. Among the many things I will not miss like homework, exams and obnoxious traditional classmates, I am sort of sad to wrap up this blog. Given the complete lack of attention I gave it in my final quarter, I already felt guilty for letting down my readers – now that I’m officially pulling the plug, I really feel like a heel. However, I will be leaving this up for future use, and if someone comes up with a question for me, I’ll do my best to respond promptly and privately. I will be starting a new blog that will be much less targeted but much more post-graduate in theme and content.

Just to cheer up anyone who will really miss me – I’m on Facebook and Twitter and try to update them a couple of times a week. I can usually squeeze a sentence or two out every couple of days ūüôā

Once I have new digs (a new blog that is) set up, I will return to edit this post and add the link. For all the people contemplating returning to college as an “old fart,” I wish you lots of luck, patience and perserverance!!

*** Danielle

Check out the link – I’m up and running!!!

July 3, 2009 Posted by | Maturity, Student Life | 1 Comment

Smarty Pants

I know, I know.¬† I said I’d have an interview thingy up here with my bud Melissa Kramer, another non-traditional student in the journalism program at UC whose first book has just been published.¬† But she and I are so busy, it’s¬†almost impossible to find time to meet.¬† So for now, I’ve got to toot my own horn, because I’m so excited I’m about to explode.¬†

This morning I received an email that fulfilled a lifelong dream of mine: I’ve been invited to join Phi Beta Kappa¬†Society!!¬† For anyone who doesn’t know what I’m talking about,¬†Phi Beta Kappa¬†is probably the most prestigious collegiate honor society, and also the oldest such organization.¬† Because I’m so giddy, I’ll probably not explain it very well, so I’ll just give you the Wikipedia link for the fraternity.

Okay, back to the grind – I swear I’ll have something more substantial up before the month is out!

*** Danielle

April 21, 2009 Posted by | Student Life | 3 Comments

Congrats to the News Record!

I wanted to acknowledge the great job the News Record (the student paper at the University of Cincinnati for which this blog was originally created) has done this year.¬† The Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) “selected The News Record as second-best overall among all non-daily collegiate student newspapers in its multi-state region as part of the organization’s annual Mark of Excellence Awards,” said Leonard Penix, director of student media, in an email sent to our program list-serv.¬† The paper also took first place in the sport photography category.¬† So I just want to say way to go to my colleagues and classmates for all their hard work, and in particular congratulate our editor-in-chief Kristy Conlin, a fellow non-traditional (check out her blog).

And for those who have been waiting impatiently for my return, just a word of warning: I’m fairly overloaded for my last quarter, so posts will be coming, but may be a bit slow.¬† I’m planning on getting together with the non-trad author/mom/full-time student/intern for lunch soon, so I’ll have that up ASAP.

*** Danielle

April 4, 2009 Posted by | Student Life | Leave a comment

Break Time

Just a quick note to let everyone know that I’ll be taking a short break for finals week and possibly into Spring Break.¬† I have a handful of interesting topics to discuss, including a profile of a fabulous non-traditional student who juggles school, family life and publishing her own book.¬† So stay tuned and cross your fingers that I don’t meltdown before I finish all my finals and papers.

*** Danielle

A quick addendum: I am putting a PowerPoint Presentation¬†up here for my business writing class, because our wiki won’t hold it, lol.

March 13, 2009 Posted by | Student Life | 2 Comments

Making It Work

Recently on the non-traditional student email list I belong to, some of my fellow non-trads were discussing how best to financially support themselves while attending college full time.  The conversation was started when Loren joined the list and asked for advice on how to support herself and balance a work/school schedule successfully.  While there were only a couple of answers on the list, I did a little poking around on the net and found some additional suggestions.

Another list member, Rane, is currently in a similar situation to myself – living with her parents, which is a valid option for very few of us non-trads.¬† Not everyone has parents who are happy to support them as they return to college.¬† Even Rane is facing the end of such support when she transfers schools shortly.¬†¬† To help make living on her own easier, she takes at least one of her classes online each semester and works on-campus part-time to make ends meet.¬† She does caution that it can affect the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) on the FAFSA, which can lessen the amount of financial aid available.¬† In response to Loren’s underlying concern, the amount of debt she’d have to incur to complete a degree, Rane explained:

“College is an investment. You are young enough that by the time you finish school you will still have 20 – 30 years of career left in you. Just make sure you do something you will love. The only time I think people should worry about the cost is when they are going into saturated markets like early childhood education.”

Edward, another non-trad list member, suggested scheduling classes on the same days – like all on Tuesdays and Thursdays – so that you have a more set schedule and can offer your employer a better idea of your availability.¬† While you’re talking to your employer about adjusting your work schedule to accomodate your classes, it wouldn’t hurt to check on whether or not the company offers any sort of tuition reimbursement.¬† The last suggestion Edward offered may seem obvious, but it bears repeating:

¬†“Every little bit helps as far as saving money. I cut my grocery budget by 1/3, 90% of my eating out, and started brewing my own coffee in the morning.”

As far as balancing work and school, a number of websites offer good advice.  Over at The Digerati Life (check out the link for more tips), guest blogger Studenomist had a lot of good suggestions, including prioritizing your activities Рmeaning that you should concentrate on your school work, making it the first priority, particularly during exam weeks and when you have big projects that require a lot of time.  Over at E-How.com Рa site I am beginning to love Рmost of their balancing tips seem more geared towards traditional students but one excellent piece of advice is that you should take your homework to your job and work on it during breaks and lunches. 

Steve Thompson, in a piece on Associated Content, had lots of good advice to offer.  He pointed out that class choice can make a huge difference in balancing your schedule Рtry not to take all of the more difficult courses at once.  For those non-trads who are returning to school after a long break, he suggests that transferring credits may make the degree process quicker and easier by eliminating extra classes that could burden your already stretched-to-the-limit schedule.

One of the things that everyone overlooked is that it’s vital to develop friendships with your classmates, both traditional and your fellow “old farts.”¬† The logical benefit of such relationships is that you can get notes when you miss class or have someone to study with.¬† But it’s more than just class help that a little camaraderie offers – just having someone to vent to about the insanity of college professors, the cruel twists of fate that give you three major projects and two exams all in one week or simply the trouble finding a decent parking spot can make surviving the college experience a real possibility.

Hope this helps anyone thinking about returning to school and those of us who are already back in the mix.

*** Danielle

March 11, 2009 Posted by | Maturity, Student Life | 1 Comment

Preparing a Non-traditional Resume

Alright, the end of the quarter is coming and that means I’m down to a measly three months to put together a kick-ass resume and find a job.¬† Of course I’m in a total state of panic.¬† So I’ve been surfing around looking for tips on resume building – I found this video and I’ll be adding to this post as I find more useful tidbits.¬† I already applied this tip to my own resume – it certainly helped shorten the resume.

*** Danielle

March 11, 2009 Posted by | Generation Gap, Job Search, Maturity | 3 Comments

Motherhood Strikes Again

I’m just going to say this upfront – I am so frustrated right now that I’ve contemplated just dropping out for the quarter.¬† With that being said, let me set the stage for what’s set me off tonight.

Thursday, as I was leaving a conference about this very blog, my phone rang.¬† I thought it was my mother calling again to let me know that the bus she had said was late (fifteen minutes earlier) had¬†finally¬†delivered my rambunctious little boy.¬† If only things had gone so smoothly.¬†¬†The call was about my son but it wasn’t my mother – it was the principal at my son’s school.¬†¬†He sort of beat around the bush, sending my blood pressure skyrocketing, as he explained that the school had called the bus back – because three kids had¬†seen my son holding a little tiny screwdriver right before he was called to his bus.¬† When the teacher asked him about it,¬†my boy – in his¬†anxiety to get to the bus before the¬†other kids did and kept him from getting a seat – lied and said he didn’t have it, then ran out the door.¬†¬†She overreacted, or just explained the situation poorly to the¬†teacher monitoring the exit to the busses, because he called the principal and said that my son needed to be pulled off the bus because he¬†had a – wait for it – weapon.¬†

At this point I’m on the verge of screaming, “Where is my son?!¬† What did you knuckleheads do to him?!”¬† I understand that people tend to freak out when kids bring potentially dangerous stuff to school these days, but what was really going on here was a little bit of profiling – my son is smart-off-the-charts and¬†not the most socially successful little guy.¬† I admit it, he’s a little bit of a nerd, and definitely bully-bait.¬† But the administration took that, combined with his furtive behavior, and assumed that there was loose cannon on their bus.¬† The end result of all this, that the principal finally got to after¬†ten minutes of blithering, is that my son is suspended for three days.¬† By the way, for those keeping score, this happened the day after I found out about my apparent-ex having gotten married.

So cut to Friday evening – I’m submitting a paper for one of my Monday evening classes, and added a note asking for permission to bring my son with me, since I don’t have childcare available in time for me to get to school.¬† In the three years I’ve been at UC, every quarter I have had to bring my son with me at least once.¬† I always check with my professors before I bring him, even if it’s a quick email dropped that morning when he turns up sick and unable to go to his own school.¬† In the three years I have been here, I have never had a professor say no –¬†on one occasion, I had to bring him along when we had an¬†exam scheduled; the professor, who was also a parent, said that as long as my son could sit with the¬†TA at the back of the lecture hall, it was fine.¬† Contrary to what my son’s school thinks, he’s a remarkably well-behaved little boy, as my classmates who know him will attest to.¬†¬†

Imagine my surprise – or¬†boiling irritation – when¬†my professor responded and said that since it’s¬†not the department’s responsibility to provide childcare and that the lounges are for student use only, I have to¬†make other arrangements for childcare.¬† He¬†oh-so-kindly suggested that if I couldn’t find a friend or family member to watch him, then I should check with the UC Women’s Services to see if they could help.¬† If I weren’t a responsible student, I would happily skip class Monday and badmouth the professor by name all over campus – but I’m scrambling to figure out¬†what to do with my son and kindly leaving the entire episode anonymous.¬†

The irritation here is two-fold.¬† The obvious part is the completely senseless response of the professor – I¬†mentioned that my son is 11 years old, so it’s¬†not likely that he’ll run around like a toddler and disrupt other classes.¬† But fine, it’s his right to refuse – this is why I always ask ahead of time.¬† What really chaps my hide (I just love that turn of phrase) is that UC offers nothing to help¬†student parents in these types of situations.¬† There is no emergency child care, and the child care that is¬†directly associated with the university a) is expensive, b)¬†has a waiting list¬†and c) is only for preschoolers and younger.¬† Forget about the fact that it’s located closer to University and Children’s Hospitals than west campus.

So, here’s a lovely example of being a non-traditional student biting me in the … well, you know.¬† I’ve got to go corral my little pseudo-felon into bed.

*** Danielle

February 28, 2009 Posted by | Generation Gap, Maturity, Student Life, University Policies | 1 Comment

To Facebook Or Not To Facebook

I’m in a quandary.¬† It seems like I’m being left behind by the waves of people flocking to Facebook as the new way to interact with each other.¬† Not that this is tremendously surprising – I never got around to making a MySpace page either.¬†¬† One of the reasons I’m reluctant to join the masses is that some employers now check Facebook and MySpace for potential employees and can use what they find there as a reason to not hire you.¬† Of course, at the age of 33 and being a Christian single mother, the odds of my having anything objectionable on my page would be minimal.¬† It’s not like I’m a party animal or an exhibitionist so I’m not likely to have a lot of pictures of myself stumbling drunk or, um…, stark naked.

I also worry that maybe it seems like I’m too old for this sort of thing.¬† I mean, Facebook originally started out as a social networking site for college students.¬† Okay, so I am a college student, but as a non-traditional, I often feel like I’m not really a part of college life.¬† It sort of feels like I can label myself as college student, but it’s just¬†some sort of subtle fib based on a technicality.¬† But I guess the whole issue is moot now that Facebook is open to and used by all kinds of people.

Then there’s the whole issue of who I might find – or who might find me – if I put myself out there.¬† My best friend of nearly 20 years just created a Facebook page and while she’s enjoying connecting with her friends, she’s gotten scoped out by people she isn’t even sure if she knows, and certainly doesn’t remember – like people we went to high school with.¬† She sent me a text message the other night asking me if we knew this woman who had requested to be added to her friends (or however that works) – while the name was vaguely familiar, I couldn’t place her so it makes me wonder who would search me out there.¬† On the other end of the spectrum is the possibility of finding people who have disappeared from my life over the years, only to discover something totally shocking about them.¬† For instance, again relying on my friend’s new adventures, she looked up my (nominal) boyfriend who moved to Missouri last March to take care of his ailing father.¬† I haven’t heard from the guy in months, and since we were together for seven years, my family and friends (both his and mine) frequently ask me how he’s doing.¬† Well, thanks to my friend, I finally have an answer to that question:¬† He’s freaking married!!!¬† Without so much as a note saying “Let’s see other people” or even “I’ve found someone else and I’m getting married.”¬† I feel vaguely like I’ve been kicked in the stomach and a little bit betrayed – saying nothing for how my family, particularly my parents, feel.

So, while I feel like it’s nearly expected of me to follow the lemming-like stream of people to Facebook, I’m left wondering if it’s a great idea for me personally.¬† I admit that on those few occasions when I’ve looked up someone on Facebook, I was annoyed that I couldn’t view more of their pages.¬† So maybe I’ll go ahead and jump off the proverbial cliff and create a page/site/whatever – I just hope the leap works out better for me than it does for the lemmings.

*** Danielle

February 28, 2009 Posted by | Technology | 4 Comments

Sound Off!!

I’m going to try a simpler way to do this – I hope.¬† Take part in this poll – and if you think I missed an answer, feel free to let me know in the comments area.¬† I’ll post some results after the poll closes on March 8th.

*** Danielle

And here are the results: 

  • 33% Said that group work was their biggest pet peeve
  • 33% Said that younger classmates who don’t have respect for the professor and the rest of the class was their biggest pet peeve
  • 33% Said that an administration that ignores the needs of non-traditional students was their biggest pet peeve

Yeah, I know – that’s only 99% but that’s what PollDaddy boiled them down to.¬†

I’m going to link back to a couple of earlier posts that focus on these issues so everyone who’s new to the blog can see what I’ve already had to say on these fun subjects – except for any particular observations on traditional students, which I guess¬†I will post about this week.¬† Can’t believe I forgot to cover that topic in more than just passing.

Group Work

Administration woes: here and here

*** Danielle

February 27, 2009 Posted by | Student Life | 1 Comment