(L-R: Theresa & Heathers Mills)
A view of Gosport Harbor from the porch of the Oceanic on Star Island:
Ugh… yard work. Well, I suppose I shouldn’t complain considering I haven’t given it much effort at all this summer. Heat waves or no heat waves… the lawn and weeds just seem to appear out of nowhere and grow exponentially. Perhaps some of you can relate. This past weekend I had a few too many thoughts going on in my head and very little frustrates me more than not being able to see clear solutions. What is a woman to do? I weed-whacked. Ahhhh, weed whacking… right up there with shredding paper in a shredding machine. Something about doing those two things seems to help me relax a bit. …but I digress. Anyhow… I actually got quite a bit done around the patio and walkways. It looks pretty good really. Once I had gotten the patio done, I had such great results, that I moved on to the walkway and then to another. The progress I made and the results that I saw motivated me to continue. I’ll probably finish up the other walkway today, because of the good feelings that I have had so far.
So what does this have to do with my education and Granite State College? How long did I put off continuing my education? Too long. Of course, the reasons were many… not enough time, how much out of my day will this take, how much studying will I need to do. It’s no wonder that I took so long to pursue my degree, but once I started, taking just one step at a time, rather than living too much into the future, I saw the progress unfolding. Originally, when I was pursuing an associate’s degree, I thought “two years?! It will take forever!” No, not forever… two years is two years and and the benefits that I got out of learning from others and pursuing an area that I enjoyed made those two years just fly by. Just a few classes at a time gave me such good feelings to continue. Two years (or four years) are going to pass by no matter what. The question that I had to ask myself was whether after two years, did I want to be talking about my completed degree or did I want to still be talking about how long it would take to do it? Either way, two years was going to pass by. How was I going to choose to spend it? I’m so glad I chose to pursue my degree!
My daughter and I are so much alike, yet so very different. We are both the kind of women that go all in on whatever we do. For twenty plus years I went all in when it came to raising my children, now my focus is on my adult education courses. Brittany gave her school work everything she had in high school and has since that time given all of her attention to her job. Throughout high school and after she was also heavily committed to refereeing soccer. She has traveled through the Northeast in her capacity as a professional soccer referee and has been honored as the young female referee for the state of NH. This past year she became eligible for tuition reimbursement from her employer. I was so happy for her and had hoped she would take advantage of this opportunity to get her adult college degree in her twenties instead of waiting until her forties as I did.
Brittany found a new passion this past year, Roller Derby. Needless to say I was horrified! My beautiful, classy young daughter is now a bruiser. She walks around with abrasions, black eyes and bruises all over her arms and legs. I have always supported my children in their extracurricular activities of softball, soccer, basketball, drama, etc. but this was beyond my apprehension. I love sports, I instilled the love of sports in my daughters but is roller derby actually a sport? My daughter had never been on roller skates in her life, I figured she would try it out and decide this was not for her. Boy did I ever underestimate my daughter. She started skating in October and has already become one of the better skaters in NH. She currently skates for “Skate Free or Die,” a NH roller derby organization that has just recently been accepted into the international derby association of the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA).
Although I did not want to attend the bouts (games) I have because I believe in supporting my family in whatever it is they are passionate about. I have become an actual fan. This is a sport and I actually understand the game and have even come to enjoy it. It is not as brutal as I imagined although I have witnessed teammates of my daughter breaking collar bones and teeth during bouts. The physical endurance these athletes have is nothing to take for granted. They train harder than you can imagine. My daughter practices 4 times a week for up to four hours at a time. Although she has always been active in playing sports she has never transformed her body like she has by her derby training.
My daughter is only 22 years old and is loving life and her accomplishments. I had hoped she would attend college directly after high school but she chose a different path. She has succeeded in this path so I am very happy for her. Her company offered her tuition reimbursement so I had hoped she would immediately take advantage of this, but once again she has chosen a different path. Her path will lead her to become the woman she will become, to date she has made wise decisions and has done well for herself. We are so very different and have taken very different paths in our lives but we are so very similar in the fact that we chose our individual paths which will fulfill us and lead us to become the women we aspire to be.
When the time is right and my daughter is ready I have no doubt she will attain her adult college degree and thrive in the academic environment.
If you are looking for a night out of doing something different then come to a Skate Free or Die event at the JFK Coliseum in Manchester for a night of laughs, bruises and fun!
PS My daughter's derby persona is "Slick Tracy"
You wouldn't think you could form friendships from fellow students in different states but you can. I completed my associates degree on line from Granite State College as an online learner when my job took me to South Carolina. I then went on to get my BS degree in Business Management with a minor in Finance. I started noticing that some of the same people in one class the semester before where in my new classes that next semester. It was nice to see a familiar name appear on the class roster. I, right away, sent the familiar fellow students a note through blackboard e-mail and started building a relationship with them. Before I knew it, I had a friend in Portland, Oregon, another in San Antonio, Texas, not counting all my friends I had met that lived up in New Hampshire. I soon had a great friendships formed and we would help each other on occasion if need be. Even though we all were miles and miles away, we were close in many ways. There was even a way to set up a chat session on Blackboard if we wanted to study together. The tools for learning and getting a degree from a distance were all attainable though Granite State College and the Online learning classes.
Online classes for adults are great, I can not say enough about them.
Every once in awhile, I get someone at work who will ask me where I got my degree from and when I tell them it was from a New Hampshire College, they are shocked. I soon explain to them about the online adult education degrees that can be obtained through Granite State College, whether they be regular term classes or accelerated five week classes, and that they are quite doable.
Are you thinking about taking classes? Are you a little frightened because you don't know if you can achieve success but you are passionate about learning and growing? It is not always easy to take that leap of faith. Sometimes education can leave you asking more questions than when you began.
That is how it has been for me but what I have realized most recently is that I have been digging my heels in and resisting some of the challenges because flexing my own mental muscle can be difficult sometimes.
Fortunately, when I discovered a disconnect between what I was learning and what I thought I already knew I had the added benefit of tapping in to the knowledge base of the Associate Dean at Granite State College who also teaches Expository Writing because she loves it.
Make no mistake. Learning curves exercise the brain but they also have an extraordinary purpose in the educational process. There is a certain excitement when I can finally reach that "aha" moment -- that moment when I finally get it!
Today I finally get the idea and purpose of Literary Criticism, a form of writing I have been resisting for a year. Because I need to do this writing in order to complete my Language Arts Degree, I have been working very hard to understand it in this current semester. But I have been taking the criticism of my own writing personally. Have you ever found yourself taking writing criticism personally? Well, I think it is because we are caught in the trap of believing that all writing is the same but it is not.
Some writing is done from a distance. It is done after you have taken a good look at another piece of writing with the idea of disassembling it, perhaps to discover how it was originally constructed in the first place. And now that I have a better understanding of the purpose of this kind of writing, I am certain I can be more successful at completing my assignments.
At Granite State College you will be able to tap into the knowledge of many people who understand the challenges of adult education. They are excited to see us achieve success and they care about the outcomes.
This spring term is a significant one for me for a couple reasons. I am on track to earn my Associates Degree in June, and I am continuing on with my plan of taking two classes per term (the significance of this can not be overlooked). An explanation will follow...
When I chose to leave Keene State in June 1997, I told myself I would return to school, that I was just leaving for a break. Of course I attempted to keep that pledge true. I took a class with the College Of Lifelong Learning in 2002, but did not continue. Again, I enrolled in the adult education program and took one more class in 2005 but the reality of having a new baby son again had me reconsidering my idea. In the summer of 2008, I returned to Granite State College, this time for good. What was different? I was in the middle of interviewing for a newly created position at my company, and two things were quite clear to me: 1-I was being seriously considered for this position of high visibility and responsibility and 2-my lack of degree completion was a major concern. At this point I decided there was no more room for excuses, and it was time to set my sights and accomplish this goal I had set for myself so long ago. In hindsight, I am thankful for this commitment I made, because my current position is being moved to a new region of the world at the end of the calendar year, and without a degree, I would most likely be moved into a position with a lower pay grade and fewer opportunities to advance up the ranks.
Why is the fact that I am taking two classes this term again a significant milestone? When I found out a year ago in the summer of 2009 that my current position would be leaving our US based office, my leader made it very clear that it would be a tough sell to get me a position with the same level of responsibility and pay without a degree. He encouraged me to double up on classes to ensure the attainment of my Associate's Degree by the end of 2010. Around this same time, a significant change in my life forced me to pick up a part time job. From late August to the end of the winter term in March, I cursed the decision. I had zero time to do things I really WANTED to do, but I recognized the important message I was sending to my leader, as well as the great friends I have made at my part time job. Alas, I seriously considered not taking two classes per term anymore, until I realized the myriad course delivery options available at Granite State College. This term I am taking (along with my normal 12 week class) a 5 week intensive class (delivered through online classes for college). This class will begin later this term so I look forward to blogging about my experience. Now I can finish school sooner and still have time in my life for friends and activities that make me happy and fulfilled.
It is important to begin school at the right time in your life, but consider that there is never a "perfect" time. It is a real commitment, and beginning sooner rather than later can only benefit you. Also, for people concerned about the intrusion in their life that this comittment will engender, realize that you can take 5 week classes or even weekend intensive classes that deliver accelerated studies, yet allow you to minimize the time requirement.
My Winter 2010 semester will soon blossom into the Spring 2010 semester, a time of the year we often look forward to, filled with the warmness of sunny optimism. It is also a time of reflection, when we look back to see where we have been in order to see more clearly, the direction in which we are headed.
Now, as I look back on this past semester, I can already see it as a time of illumination in many ways. What I know for sure is how humbled I was by the presence of the bright ,optimistic faces of our men in uniform, I had the privilege of getting to know, from my Expository Writing class with Laurie Quinn, Associate Dean of Granite State College and my Environmental Heritage class with Dan Gardoqui.
I never want to forget the humor each of these special men contributed to the synergy of each class and the ensuing gutteral laughter. I also don't want to forget their intelligent minds nor the significance of their knowledge base. There were many moments during the semester when something they interjected into a conversation reminded me of where each of them had been, why they were there, and how happy I felt in those moments, they were here, safely at home with us --
These five brave men are in pursuit of a college degree, attending adult evening classes and are striving to succeed at completing one degree program or another. I am so proud of their determination and their effort to advance through higher education; each in pursuit of his own full potential but I marvel at the comradery of brotherhood they share; a connection have also experienced first hand in my own military life, so many years ago. It is as if they not only acknowledge one another; they really know, where one has been, another may either have been also or is on his way-- and how can I, the onlooker, not be in awe of their raw patriotic courage and commitment to the safety and freedom our country has always known.
As I began to observe each of these students with the purpose of briefly introducing each of their personal military stories, I began to notice subtle differences that set each of these soldiers apart.
My next five (5) blogs will be dedicated to these five Granite State College Students, their college programs and life goals. I hope you will join me as I continue on my journey to learn more about some of the men here, in the home of the brave, who either keep us safe now or once did. We are so lucky to have them.
Leslie Bowreing, YN3, U.S.N.
I was fortunate enough to receive one of the ten $1,000 Alumni Learner Association (“ALA”) scholarships from Granite State College last spring. When asked this year to volunteer for the annual Alumni scholarship phone-a-thon I jumped at the opportunity. This is how I spent my Sunday afternoon/evening this week. Our calling lists consisted of former adult education diploma recipients, alumni of Granite State College. For those of you unfamiliar with our location we, in the State of New Hampshire, are currently under a State of Emergency due to the widespread damage sustained from a storm last Thursday. Many residents are still without power. I assume this is the reason why I received the same message over and over again during my call attempts, “the number you have dialed is not in service.”
Undeterred by the numerous phone service problems I ploughed through my list determined to reach as many alumni as I was able. I reached countless people on their cell phones huddled around the woodstove with their family members trying to stay safe and warm while they awaited the coming of their fourth night without power. All were grateful for their safety and happy to speak with me. Some had trees sitting on top of their roofs, campers, garages and driveways. Even in such immediate bleak circumstances most were happy to donate what they could. That may have been only $5.00 or $10.00 but they gladly pledged to their alma mater, to help those who are now in the position they found themselves in not long ago, that of an student pursuing their adult college degree.
I am very grateful to have had the opportunity to reach out and speak to so many of the students who came before me, who struggled, fought and ultimately earned their long awaited degrees by enrolling in Granite State College’s adult college program. I was amazed by the generosity, appreciation and tenacity of our alumni. I have a lot to live up to when I become an official alumnus this June. I look forward to joining this group and plan on carrying my weight in this regard.
It's no secret that the cost of education is on the rise, and it can sometimes be hard to swallow the expense you may incur if you decide you want to attend college. Here at Granite State College, we offer affordable college study that is flexible and convenient.
That being said, your education here at Granite State College is still an investment, so it is important to make sure you are ready to make the financial commitment associated with going to school.
Here are a few tips to help manage your expenses:
1. Think about the degree program you are interested in. How much does a career in that field usually pay? This is important to consider, because it will give you an idea of what you should realistically borrow if you need to use loans to pay for your education. By knowing roughly what you will make in your career field once you graduate, you can make sure to borrow responsibly so you do not end up having more loans than you are able to handle financially when the time comes to pay them back.
2. Always have an idea of how much you have already borrowed. Some students graduate and have no idea that they have been using loan money to pay for their education. By having a handle on how much you have borrowed, you will be able to prepare for making payments when the time comes. Want to get an idea of what you payments will look like? Use the FinAid Loan Calculator.
3. Try to avoid using your refund checks for living expenses, if possible. I know this is easier said than done with the economy the way it is, but this will make a huge difference when the time comes to start paying back your aid, since typically these checks are made up of Stafford Loan money. If you do not need the money, it is always wise to send it back to your school, or use it to pay your lender directly in order to keep your loan amounts down.
If you need to supplement your income while going to school, consider participating in the Federal Work Study Program. This program allows you to work part-time at the school, or participating companies, and earn a pay check while giving you the flexibility to set your schedule around your classes. The pay is typically pretty good too, which is always a bonus! For more information on the Federal Work Study program, visit our website.
There's not doubt that trying to pay for college can be stressful; however, with proper planning, it doesn't also have to be a burden. Let us help you budget your expenses today! Feel free to contact the Granite State College Office of Financial Aid with any questions or concerns.
Recently, one of my learning colleagues (aka student) I have had the pleasure of working with (aka teaching) for several years just finished his last course required for graduation. With his coursework completed, we have been busy congratulating each other on a job well done. In his last e-mail to me, he shared this story:
“A young associate here approached me the other day, asking where I went to school. He's being nudged by management and co-workers to get a degree, but worried about the workload and time commitment for school. I reminded him that yes, it's a commitment, but the rewards are worth every bit of it. However, it is most important to do it for yourself and not on somebody else's recommendation. Make it your own goal and the rewards are much greater. It may seem overwhelming in the beginning, but one step at a time and suddenly, you're looking back with a huge feeling of accomplishment thinking, "it wasn't that bad." Of course shortly after that you will wonder how you ever had the time. “
My learning colleague, like myself and undoubtedly scores of others, arrived in academia bewildered, anxious, a little frightened and certain the admissions department made a dreadful error. Despite the many technological advances and enhanced sensitivity to individual needs, the initial plunge into higher education hasn’t changed. MIT’s Professor Eric Grimson puts it well in his advice to new students,
“Relax! Yes, everyone around you may be smart and full of great ideas, but so are you. The key is to be willing to participate; if you engage yourself in the vibrant exchange of ideas that takes place in the labs, the classrooms, and the student lounges, you will find the experience exhilarating…the point is that you have to be willing to engage.”
If you are willing to engage, participate and be part of the learning community, you too will find yourself looking back on your college experience with a “huge feeling of accomplishment thinking, ‘it wasn't that bad’." Indeed, not only will you feel it wasn’t that bad, you will undoubtedly feel it is one of the essential components in defining your life.
"It’s a kind of magic...
One dream one soul, one prize
One golden glance of what should be...
One shaft of light that shows the way...
The bell that rings inside your mind, challenging the doors of time."
Queen - It's A Kind of Magic
What was the "bell" that went off in your mind that caused you to reflect on where you were in your life and where you wanted to be?
For me, it was the birth of my third child. I loved my role of wife and mother. I had always wanted and looked forward to raising a family. But one day, as I sat feeding the youngest baby, I thought "Is this all there is? Isn't there something more?"
In high school, the St. Joseph nuns offered me a golden glance of what could be, encouraging me to consider college, but they were ahead of their time. The thinking back then (the pre Ms Magazine era) ran something like this: sending a girl to college was a waste of money because she was only going to get married and have babies. And, in my family, there was also the issue of money or rather the lack of it. I'm sure there must have been financial aid back then, or at least something similar to it, but I knew nothing about such things. In any case, it wouldn't have mattered - my paycheck was needed at home.
So, graduating from high school, I worked on Wall Street for two years, eventually marrying and moving to New Hampshire. Three children and seven years passed before the "bell rang inside my mind" as the dream of a college education reawakened. And so, the door to my future was challenged, opening just a crack. Researching adult college courses in New Hampshire, I found the School for Lifelong Learning, as Granite State College was known back then (by the time I graduated, the name had morphed into the College for Lifelong Learning).
I met with an adviser at the Manchester NH college office who shed a shaft of light that pointed the way to achieving my goal. She mapped out a plan for my Associates Degree (because, at the time, working towards a bachelor's degree seemed such a huge, insurmountable challenge) and I got to work - one part time class at a time. Over the years, the magic continued.
Meeting kindred souls, people in my adult college courses who were dealing with the same day-to-day issues as I and aspired to goals similar to mine; befriending faculty who nurtured the flame of inquisitiveness burning inside of me and who helped me to discover the wonderful world of adult learning - all of this, and more, caused a seismic shift in my perception of what the future could hold for me.
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