Monday, March 17, 2014

Financial Aid and Scholarship Time

It's the time of year to start planning for fall by applying for financial aid. Your first stop should be applying for a Pell Grant through FAFSA. Pell Grants are given on a first come first served basis, plus early applicants are often given an additional $800 supplemental grant. After that, go to the Access and Diversity scholarship application. This application is open until March 31, 2014, and non-traditional students are eligible as long as you meet all of the requirements. Additional information about other scholarships through other departments is available through the USU Financial Aid website.

For help with the scholarship application process, there is a really good book on the subject titled "How To Go To College Almost For Free," by Ben Kaplan. It is available at the Hyrum Library, and probably the Logan Library (which I do not have access to).

You never know where scholarships are likely to turn up. I found a scholarship through a foundation established by some distant relatives while searching for information about my paternal grandfather, whom I never met. My daughters and I qualified for this scholarship by being descendants of David Ruckman. We also had fun meeting new relatives at the reunion where the scholarships were awarded.

Local high schools are a great resource for lists of available scholarships. Some are for high school students only, but not all of them.

There are also a lot of useful tips, searches, and links at the "FinAid, The Smart Student Guide to Financial Aid" website.

Apply for anything and everything that you can find and qualify for. Taking away the financial burden of college will take away some of the stress.

Good Luck!

(written by Pam June, Editor-In-Chief)

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Divorce and Schooling

It’s not the happiest topic, what with Valentine’s Day around the corner and all.
Divorce. If deadlines and dead end jobs weren’t enough, many of the Non-Trads I’ve met have been through divorce recently. I’ve been in the situation myself and I’ve decided it’s not the worst boat to sail in, just an uncomfortable one.

Last year at this time, I  was a leisurely attacking college from my four bedroom house, tucked away in a little cul-de-sac, cooking and sewing and hot glueing Big Hunk’s to a monstrosity of Valentines madness that my neighbor and I had cooked up for giggles. Think Madonna’s cone bra from the eighties and you’ll get the idea...

Unexpectedly, my world tipped on it’s side and I spent the Fall semester fighting to keep my head above water, adjusting to my new life. My new “normal” isn’t cooking and sewing. I don’t even know where that machine is hiding in storage actually. I throw dinner together in 30 minutes, if that, and (gasp) have actually served my four kids cereal while I ran off to my bedroom with a granola bar where I’ve managed to stuff my office into the corner.  My four bedroom house is a three bedroom apartment, but I’m betting if you’re divorced then you probably know how much went out the door with your old spouse, and you don’t need me to remind you.

There are particular challenges that I have that my younger contemporaries aren’t facing like:
  • Late nights that can’t start till after bedtime
  • Missing class over sick kids
  • Assignments that take up more time than I have between work and kids
  • The leftover depression that makes it hard to leave the house some days
  • The dishes, laundry, grocery shopping and other errands that I simply never have an extra hand with etc.,etc., etc.

It's enough to make me want to chuck a Big Hunk into a crowd of fresh faced 18 yr. olds. But, I don’t. Instead, I’ve learned to be grateful. Beyond grateful actually. I made a little room for hope and self discovery too.
There are a few reasons I’m doing well despite my particular recent challenges. First, I’ve chosen a mentor on campus that I speak to when I find I’m really starting to struggle. I admit to myself that the sleepless nights will pass, and I embrace them like I do the coffee I gulp down to contend with them. I plan for the big things, and I let the little ones fall to the wayside. I stop worrying about missing an occasional class just to stay in the good graces of a professor whose face I will never see again come May.

Yep, I said that. Despite what ‘they’ tell you, attendance is actually optional. Ask my 3.89 G.P.A. from last semester. It will tell you that I only attended about 70% of my classes. It doesn’t mean you can afford to skip assignments or forego studying. So choose to be where you need to be and let the guilt go. Sometimes,someone notices that my 4-year-old is missing shoes, and points it out to me while I run into the store searching for the poster board my son barely told me he needed the night before. I shout “Love and Logic” and walk on by. Fun, by all means, don’t forget the fun! Every other weekend, when my past picks up my kids, I leave the books on the counter and let down my hair. Be it a long bath, a night out, or catching up on shows I used to watch.

Finally, I seek out any and all resources. I found help with daycare costs and a flexible daycare provider. I go to tutors if I need it. I have friends who will lend an ear to a vent about a ten page paper due on Friday and assigned on Monday. And on Valentines Day, I’m dating my kids. My friend and I are sporting pearls and red lipstick and actually breaking out the cookie sheets in bonified “normal” mom style.

Contributed by Staff Writer:  Gina Davidson

Gina studies Professional and Technical Writing/Computer Science at Utah State University. She is a working mom of four, mother to a child with autism, divorced, over 30, and fabulous.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Rapid Learning Drop-In Sessions for Spring 2014

Rapid Leaning Dropin LogoYes, we're all busy, but who can't spare a mere 15 minutes to learn something new, meet other non-traditional students, socialize, and get some free food? We started out the semester on Jan 22nd with "Resilience and Becoming a Learner" taught by Dennis Kohler from the ARC. Here is some of his advice:
1. Know where you're going.
2. Make plans.
3. Don't get discouraged. Failing a class is just practice for passing.
4. Be willing to take risks/chances.
5.  Be intentional.
Here are links to the articles that were referenced:
1."10 Ways to Build Resilience"
2. "Academic Resilience and the Four Cs: Confidence, Control, Composure, and Commitment," by A.J. Martin and H.W. Marsh (you should be able to find this in the library's database)

On February 5th we learned about the "study power hour," aka the "concentration cycle." Here's how it works:
1.  Start out with 5 min. of light concentration.
2. Go into moderate concentration, turn cell phone off, minimize other distractions, organize materials, and list study goals.
3. Do 20 min. of deep concentration.
4. Switch tasks and do another 20 min. of deep concentration.
5. Take a 10 min. study break to re-energize: move, breathe, drink water, have a high protein snack.
*Personal note* I'm used to a certain amount of family background noise, so places like the library are just too quiet for me. If I study on campus, one of my favorite places is the International Lounge in the TSC on the 2nd floor. There are windows, couches, electrical outlets, and a good supply of background noise. Do what works best for you.

Upcoming Rapid Learning Drop-Ins:
February 19 2014, 11:00 to 1:00,
  • Building lasting Relationships, presented by Counseling and Psychological Services
  • March 5 2014, 11:00 to 1:00,
  • Nutrition, Eating for good grades, presented by Student Health and Wellness

  • March 26 2014, 11:00 to 1:00,
  • The Joy of Depression, presented by Counseling and Psychological Services
  • April 9 2014, 11:00 to 1:00,
  • Preparing for Finals, presented by the Academic Resource Center
  • For more information visit:

    Saturday, September 14, 2013

    Driven and Single, but Most Important a Mom

    Sometimes I think a mixture of songs could explain my life more than I could ever put down on paper. Trying to put emotion into words is sometimes not possible.  I will try, even if it’s a huge fail; at least I can say I did it.  

    Some might say I am an inspiration; some might say strong, others might say weak or even other choice words. I like to think I am beautiful and independent. Life has given me many challenges, but it has also given me many joys and much happiness. 

    I have been abused, broken, threatened, dumped, used and mistreated. I also have been enlightened, inspired, picked up and dusted off, healed, loved, forgiven, and glued back together. Sometimes all you need is a good brownie and a good read about what’s going on in a 3rd world country to bring you back to reality, helping you realize that even though your living in a 30 x 30 room with your son who is only 3 months old, on a military base, life isn’t so bad after all. It also makes you realize that you have so many options and so many people who care about you and are willing to help. People who believe in you and believe in the strength and goodness you have in you. 

    I know sometimes it’s so hard to see when you’ve been hurt by people who are the closest to you; how hard it is when a person who tells you that they’ll be there, isn’t.  I know some days it’s hard to look in the mirror in the morning and see beauty, because sometimes you only see all the derogatory words people have called you or the heart wrenching pain you have felt. Well take a second look, make those words and feeling go away, and now what do you see? I see beauty, love, patience, kindness, and goodness. I see a person who is strong because they are still standing here today. I see a person who, despite it all, has accomplished so much more then what they thought they were capable of. I see a person in their own small way changing the world. Proving that even though you’re a single mom, you CAN get an associate’s degree, you CAN get into a great school that is highly accredited, you CAN prove to everyone who ever has doubted you what you’re really capable of, and you CAN rise above the noise and feel peace. 

    I am not saying it is easy by any means. It is very hard work, but how bad do you want it? How bad do you want peace, and happiness? How bad do you want to prove to everyone who ever doubted you that you’re worth so much more than what they say? For me it is a battle, I struggle some days with feeling worthless and ugly, but after I have taken those nasty thoughts and thrown them out, I know I am worth it. I know this because I look at my son and to him I am perfect, and to a higher power I am perfect. Amidst the struggle, I have kept positive and I have raised a beautiful, intelligent, and amazing little boy. I think I had to find a higher ground and find my true strength, so I could be the type of mom I needed to be for my son and myself. I do have to say he is my inspiration. In the end I am thankful for what I have been through, because otherwise I would not know how strong and driven I am. 

    So I say to you, the person who is reading this, thinking there is no possible way for you to overcome what you’re dealing with or feeling, how bad do you want to overcome that trial? How bad do you want to overcome that feeling? It is possible, if you can only start believing in yourself. 

    Jennae Simmons -- Contributor

    Monday, July 22, 2013

    A Nontraditional Insight

    The best thing about nontraditional (nontrad) students is that they are not attending school because of pressures from home, to party, or because all of their friends are attending the same institution. They are going for the main purpose of improving themselves. The nontrad is engaged in accomplishing what once may have seemed impossible to achieve in the course of their lives, but through struggles and self-sacrifice they have made this a part of their reality.

              For many nontrads, this major step they have taken in life has led to many feelings of excitement, fear, doubt, and scores of questions. Life has brought on many new responsibilities for the nontrad student since they first left high school. Many have added the stress of a family and the responsibilities that come with that commitment. Family responsibilities bring a dilemma for nontrads: being a student while trying not to neglect important relationships.  At the same time, nontrads know education can bring some major life improvements for those under their care.  Finances may have also been a key player for some of us in delaying school. For some family assistance may have not been an option making it necessary to work and save before school was a possibility.

    This blog hopes to bring some direction to those nontrad students. It is a place where we can free talk, give advice, and even rant if the need arises. By being involved and participating in our school we can gain ownership and pride in this wonderful university.

              It has been said that the definition of insanity is to do the same thing over and over expecting different results. Let us strive to be more vocal and involved as nontrad students and not just do what we have always done for the sake of comfort. College is not only about expanding our minds, but expanding every last part of ourselves. We must become greater and better than even we can perceive. It would indeed be a tragedy it we leave school with a bunch of “what ifs” and “if I had onlys”. Let us ponder our impossibles so that they may become our possibles. Let us be like the great inventors and philosophers that society often scorned and mocked and make our dreams our realities.

    Frank P. Sweet - Editor