Never giving up all my life~

When life doesn’t go the way you want it to, it really sucks.  And it can be really hard to recover from it.  I’ve had many things in my life now that have caused me great stress and/or disappointment.  Each time, at first I get upset and wonder why, even with all my hard work and responsible nature, I have to go through it.  However, at the same time, now I appreciate the fact I have gone through such difficult times and struggles.  I think as a result I am better equipped to deal with the hard times than people who haven’t gone through the experience.  I also think I am a better person as a result and can better help others when they go through similar situations.

Now when I get stuck with a difficult situation, I give myself a day or so to feel upset.  Then, I start figuring out what I need to do to move past it.  I start looking for new options or figure out a solution to whatever problem it is instead of sitting around and feeling sorry for myself.  I also don’t get quite as upset as I did in the past and come back from the disappointment faster.  I think overall my attitude toward life’s problems tends to be more positive, and that’s a good thing.

I’m actually writing through this as I’m going through another one of life’s struggles (I may write about it in a later post once I get to post-graduate life and my personal experience with the job search), and although I’ve had a pretty terrible day I feel a lot more calm than I have in past tough situations.  This post ends the series of “Keep Your Head Down” posts and provides my viewpoint of what I’ve gained through the struggles I went through for that year and a half.  I guess the take away point matches the title, “Never giving up all my life” – a random English line from Tohoshinki’s song “Android.”  Although I, or you, will go through many struggles in life, you keep rolling with the punches and deal with it.  Dwelling on how you wish things could have been will not get you past the situation; the most you can do is figure out a new solution of how to reach your goals.

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You know what I mean, mean~

While I have discussed a little about my working life at this point in time, I have not yet mentioned anything specifically about taking night classes at the community college.  When I was looking for schools to apply for back in high school, I did not give community college much of a thought.  I wanted to go to a four year school and will admit I was biased against community college.  I thought it was easier or somehow inferior to starting out at a four year school.

Since then, I have had the opportunity to take some classes at a community college, and my younger brother chose to go that route before transferring to a larger school.  And I must say, my opinion of community college was unfounded and untrue.  If you get a great scholarship to a four year school or can afford a four year school and it’s what you really want to do, go ahead.  There’s no problem with taking that route.  But, if you are struggling to try to find a way to afford it, or you are unsure what you want to major in or where your focus should be, you should definitely consider community college.  Especially if you are worried about starting off at a big place or don’t want to make the move away from home yet (although you can dorm at community college like my brother did and still get that distance from home).

A big reason?  In my experience, community college is much cheaper.  You’re more likely to get a better scholarship to a community college, and the tuition and cost of classes isn’t as high.  Plus, you can usually stay at home which will cut dorm and food costs.  Another big reason?  Books.  At MGCCC, you rent books at a much cheaper cost than when you have to buy them at a college or university.  Taking classes at JD was way more affordable, and my brother wound up paying far, far less than I am by going to Perk for his first two years.  It would especially be great to go to community college if you are undecided about what you want to focus on in your undergraduate studies; it’s going to cost less if you keep changing majors there than if you keep tacking on years at a four year school.

Also, the quality of classes that I took at JD were pretty much the same as at a four year school.  I had one awful professor, but you get those at a four year school too.  The French classes I took there were excellent, and I am very glad I was able to take them with only one other class at a time.  Doing so allowed me to focus more on French since learning new languages does not come as easy to me.  Another  great thing about the night classes I took is most my classmates were older students that were working full time while trying to get a degree.  Therefore, they were serious about their education and worked harder/studied harder than some of the students closer to my age that I’ve encountered in a four year school.  It was nice to be around others who were also very serious about their education.

Therefore, I overall had a positive experience taking classes at a community college, and think it is a great option for those that want to spend less money on their education.  I greatly value the time I spent at Spring Hill and all that I learned while there, but honestly going to a community college or an in-state, public school would have probably been the smarter option.  Even knowing that, deep down, although I am in a lot of debt from SHC and went through a lot of anxiety trying to stay there, I probably would have taken that route again if given another chance just because I loved the time I spent there so much.  However, I do appreciate the time and growth I had through taking classes at JD, and am really glad I had the opportunity to then transfer to the University of South Alabama.  Each step of my journey has been important to my development, and hopefully in my future posts you can see why all of my (or your) life experiences are beneficial, even if they don’t seem to be at the time.

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Once again, back again~

My hopes that things would work out as I wished would soon prove to be wrong.  My summer at the kids center was pretty stressful since this year I helped out with the kid’s camp.  Lots of incidents occurred as a result of there being too many kids and not enough staff when I worked in the afternoon (for some reason, they would schedule an abundance of staff in the morning and then only have two of us upstairs in the afternoon when we still had camp kids for a few more hours), and due to many of these problems I decided that after this summer I wouldn’t work there anymore.  I did have a lot of fun working with kids, but I was tired of working for places that were poorly managed.

I would also soon grow disappointed over the fact that for multiple reasons I would be unable to transfer to South Alabama in the fall. Thus, I had another bout of frustration and disappointment that yet again my plans were coming apart.  I wound up taking two more night classes that semester and also reluctantly applied to work as a hostess/cashier again at the Hard Rock.  My mom still worked there and my manager had really liked me, so I knew I could probably get the job.  This time I worked day shift which was generally less stressful than swing shift had been, and I also had experience with the job and picked up on how to use the cash register again pretty quickly.  I was met with a lot of the same problems as last time, but at least now I was more used to dealing with them.

Unfortunately, while I was working at the Hard Rock, my mom lost her job there in a really unfair way (they made up an excuse to fire her the day before she would have been there a full year and then never posted the position again…so basically, they had only wanted to use my mom temporarily from the get-go), and I was also feeling really disappointed that I had been out of regular school for an entire year by this point.  I went through a short period where I didn’t have a lot of patience with people, but I eventually worked through it and began to focus on trying to get through the rest of the semester so I could finally transfer to South in the spring.  My next two posts will finish up about this section of my life by talking about my experience taking night classes at a community college while working, and on what my experiences through my year after Spring Hill taught me.

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So I think it’s time to let this die.

The big problem with 2009 was my big dream to graduate from Spring Hill College wound up being crushed twice. I withdrew from the school in the spring semester, but had planned on trying to re-enroll over the summer. I thought I would come up with some way to pay for school and that after my one semester setback it would all work out. So, I took two night classes at the Jeff Davis branch of MGCCC and managed to get a job through my mom since she was working at the Hard Rock Casino at the time. I started as a hostess/cashier at the Hard Rock buffet the same week as Mardi Gras, which was pretty hectic since the Mardi Gras parade runs right past the casino. In fact…it was a pretty awful way to start a job you had no experience in. It also killed my feet at first because it took awhile for me to find the right shoes to wear (I eventually got a pair of black Nike Airs with inserts that worked wonders).

I was thrown into hostessing with some direction from a fellow hostess who was younger than me but had been working the job for awhile, and I did not actually start to learn how to work the cash register for another month or so because every night I worked was just too busy to try to teach me how to use Micros. Once I finally did learn how to run the register I became pretty fast with it, and I later wound up on the register more than I did sitting people (which was a reversal from the first month or so).

The job was pretty awful in a lot of ways. While the buffet was nonsmoking, the rest of the casino allows smoking so I would often times go home with a sore throat and smelled horrible (I do not like smoking at all; the smell has always made me feel sick). While I had some great experiences with customers, especially several of the regulars that got to know me and liked me a lot, I also had really awful experiences as well. Some people are just mean and rude or feel like they are somehow entitled to more than the rest of the people in line. And many people are drunk and/or losing money at a casino, which means they decide to take out their frustration on you.

There were also a lot of managing issues and communication issues that made my job difficult (we had many days where we had an inaccurate bus schedule and would thus be staffed with either too many or not enough people to handle the volume), and there were a lot of expectations and pressures placed upon the staff since the Hard Rock is a four diamond venue (in order to be a four diamond venue you have to score very high on customer service) even though we were severely understaffed.  I got along with most of my coworkers, however, which did make work a lot easier.  Some of the other hostesses and servers that I worked with were wonderful people and made my experience so much easier.  Looking back on it, based on my experiences since and the experiences of my friends, it seems most places you work in customer service are very similar.

So, after a semester of work, I thought I would be able to re-enroll at Spring Hill and that my life would be back on track. Unfortunately, at some point during the semester I realized it would be practically impossible for me to ever afford SHC, and I wound up having to drop that dream. My goal shifted instead into getting into the University of South Alabama. I decided that I really loved the city of Mobile, and since South counted me as in-state since I lived on the Gulf Coast I decided I would transfer there. I wouldn’t be able to transfer until the fall semester, so I decided to leave the Hard Rock which would only get more hectic with the summer crowd.  That summer I wound up working again at eFitness & Wellness in the kids center since my boss had asked if I wanted to work that summer, and I took a summer night class at JD.  After this, I thought my life would finally be back on track.

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Keep Your Head Down

It’s been awhile since I last posted due to a variation of causes, but hopefully I will now begin to post more regularly again.  This series of posts will revolve around the year that I was taking night classes at MGCCC and working part time and what I have learned from that experience.  All of this occurred in the year 2009, which was a pretty depressing year for me.  I do have to admit now that some of my experiences in 2009 have really helped me gain some real world experience and understanding about the workplace and my goals, but at the time I hated it.

I will post links to the following posts below.  In the meantime, feel free to answer the poll about graduating within the traditional four year route.  It seems most people I know wound up taking longer than four years to get their undergraduate degree; in fact, only one of my good friends from high school graduated in time, while I am the only other one to have graduated so far.  Feel free to comment about whether or not you graduated in the traditional four years and why.

 

1. So I think it’s time to let this die.  In this post I discuss my first semester after Spring Hill College and my experience in a customer service position.

2. Once again, back again~  In this post I discuss my summer and second semester after Spring Hill College.

3. You know what I mean, mean~ After focusing on what work was like during this year, I take time to discuss my experience with community college.

4. Never Giving Up All My Life~ I provide a take away point from my experiences my year outside of a regular four year school.

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Oh she’s back, she’s back, she’s back, she’s back oh~

When I started my sophomore year of college it was a very exciting first semester.  I had a lot of friends, I was more settled with my major and college path, and I kept myself busy with extracurricular activities.  I even had all four years of college planned out with what classes I would be taking which semester (yes, I really plan ahead).  The summer before I had a minor hiccup when I couldn’t reapply for a private student loan because Mississippi changed the minimum age to 21, but due to some help from my grandparents I was ready to go.

Then by the end of Christmas break it all came crashing down.  Due to the student loan problem, I couldn’t afford Spring Hill College’s high tuition, even with the scholarship I had and the help from my grandparents.  While my parents tried to help me find out a solution, some of my professors tried to speak up for me to the school to find a way to get me to stay in.  However, since my family wasn’t low income enough (even though only my dad was working at the time and we were still paying for repairs to our house from Hurricane Katrina), the school decided nothing could be done.  It didn’t matter that I was a 4.0 student that did well in all of their classes; money matters a lot, especially when the school doesn’t have a lot left in savings from donations.

Therefore, I found myself leaving Spring Hill College.  On the day that I was supposed to move in, I instead came to campus and packed my bags before going through the process of formally withdrawing.  It was a really emotional day for me – getting my degree was my greatest goal at the time and being in college was very important to me.  When people tried to tell me to treat it as an opportunity or a break, I lashed out and didn’t want to hear it.  In my mind they didn’t understand just how devastating this development in my life was.

The same day I left SHC, I enrolled at the MGCCC Jefferson Davis campus and signed up for a few night classes.  I also began looking for a job to keep myself occupied while out of formal school and to start earning money to put toward the student loans I already had and transferring to another 4 year school.  My next post will cover what it was like working while taking classes at the same time.

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Filed under Sophomore year

Summer days driftin’ away to, uh-oh those summer nights

Breaks at the college level tend to last longer than they did in high school, because during the winter and summer breaks the school can offer more classes.  Therefore, you have a lot of options of how you can utilize that time.

My freshman year, I was able to work my summer job during the winter and summer break.  The rest of my winter breaks I actually took off and relaxed (sometimes you just need  to relax and recharge after a difficult semester), but I generally tried to find work to do over the summer break (whether or not I could find a seasonal job in our current economy is another story).

My advice for most students is to make good use of your summer.  You can take summer session classes if you want to graduate on time or focus on a class that may be more difficult and take more time to focus on.  Sometimes certain specialty courses are only offered during the summer, so it could be a good opportunity to learn something new.  Another option (if you can afford it) is to take a study abroad course, where you can study, tour, and learn about a different country.  If you check out your foreign language department I’m sure they have study abroad opportunities for you to look into and would point you to grant and scholarship options to make it more affordable.  If you are majoring or minoring in a foreign language it is great practice, but there are also English language options available for those that don’t want to learn a new language but still want to travel.

If you don’t want to (or can’t afford) to take a summer class, then you definitely want to be working.  Your summer jobs not only act as saving opportunities, so you can have more spending money during the school year or more money ready for after graduation expenses such as student loans, but they are also great experience and look good on your resume when applying for jobs later.  When you are applying for jobs, it’s better to have some experience and to prove you’ve worked before.  If you don’t have any work experience by the time you graduate and haven’t spent your breaks taking classes or volunteering etc., your interviewer is going to wonder why.  No matter what job you wind up with, you can find a way to pinpoint certain tasks or qualities about the job that tie in with the job you may be applying for.  An example is how my hostessing job at the Hard Rock Casino buffet helped me get a job as a student usher at the Mitchell Center, since they both require good customer service skills.  The same skills apply to my current marketing position which involves public relations.

Other ways you can occupy your time is by either volunteering or finding an internship.  Volunteering can be another good way to build up skills or to gain contacts and references when applying for jobs later.  It is also a fulfilling activity that not only helps your community but can make you feel like you’ve accomplished something positive.  An internship is also very important, because it can help you gain work experience in the field you are interested in and help you gain a skill set specific to the career you have in mind.  An internship can also help you gain good contacts to get a later job or, as in my case, it can lead to a full time job.

If you are unable to find a job, can’t afford to take classes, can’t join any volunteering activities, or are unable to gain an internship, the least you can do is pick up some hobbies or work on improving your skill set to make yourself more marketable.  Maybe learn how to use a design program such as Photoshop, Illustrator, or InDesign, or learn how to build applications for smart phones.  The more skills you have or the more programs you know how to use, the more you will be able to market yourself when applying for a job.  Although it is tempting to waste your whole 3 and 1/2 months of summer having fun or slacking off, it is much more worthwhile and beneficial to find a way to utilize it for your future.

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Filed under Freshman year, Sophomore year, Upperclassman