Sunday, July 19, 2015

Journey to my Bachelor's Degree

After High School-ASU 1999
I began my college journey traditionally. In the fall after my high school graduation(1999) I enrolled at Angelo State University. I received a grand total of 3 semester hours credit for that semester. I was initially enrolled in 12  hours. I remember dropping College Algebra because-math. I'm not sure why I didn't pass English Comp I. I know that I failed photography because I used the money my parents sent for developing supplies to pay a secret speeding ticket I go the day I moved into the dorms. So yea that semester was fun but not so fruitful academically. I came home for Christmas break and lost my mom on New Year's day so I did not return. My dad and I could not breath without one another for that first 6 months.

the time fondly referred to as "first semester"
ah the college experience

HPU 2002-2003
I didn't attend school again until the fall of 2002 when I started taking courses full time at Howard  Payne University. I went  there for two semesters while working about 25 hours per week at Wal-mart's pharmacy.  After that year, Devin and I decided we did not want to continue to incur the massive student loan debt of a private school. We were 22 and 20 at this time and were not cash flowing any of my education.  It was around $10,000 per semester at that time. I completed 21 hours in my time at HPU and generally enjoyed their business program.

ASU (again) 2003
We relocated to San Angelo so I could return to ASU. That semester was a flop. I became pregnant with Carson and dropped all my classes about 6 weeks in. We returned home to Brownwood in January of 2004 because we wanted our kids to be raised in the community we were raised in.

CJC 2008
I did not take any more courses until the spring of 2008 when I enrolled in my first fully online courses through Cisco Junior College. I really responded well to this format. I was able to complete 27 hours in two semesters there while working forty hours per week.
I kind of gave up the idea of completing my degree after that. I was on a good career path and my kids were now 8 and 5 years old. They were super busy and Devin and I were creating a great life for them. I was accepted to UTA at one point  but the only online only degree they had was in liberal arts so I did not end up taking any classes there.

TAMUC 2014
You all know that I took courses to get my real estate sales license in 2014. I began that career in May of 2014.  In September of that year I saw a tweet from someone I follow on Twitter. All the tweet said was "Texas Affordable Baccalaureate". I gave it a google and once I learned about the program, I applied and enrolled within 5 business days. It is offered through two Texas universities. I chose to enroll at Texas A&M Commerce. It was very swift. Within one week of  finding out about the program, I was logging into my first class.  My kiddos were busier than ever by this point. I was working 4 days per week at the pharmacy and working in the real estate office one day per week. I was also showing houses in the evenings and on weekends. It was terribly difficult to juggle the chaos of parenting, wifeing , two jobs and school. I stopped selling real estate at the end of December. Something had to give and I realized that real estate was not for me.
In the ten months from September 2014 until June 2015 I completed 72 hours(24 courses). This program is amazing.
The early days printing course materials

when I accidentally ended up at TAMUC Dallas last week while roaming downtown

editing a presentation in a dingy robe
This is me dressed in a button down and sweats for a waist up video presentation.
A fun thing happened when my boss/our owners found out I was completing my degree. She created a position for me at our company where I get to do all the things I love all day.  It's the kind of job I have longed for and didn't even know was an option. God always puts us where he needs us and I am very happy to be the Operations Manager at Doc's Drugstores Inc.

first day as Operations Manager February 16, 2015

The moral of this story is that I will be walking at my college graduation next month at the age of 34. I initially went to college to have fun and be 18 and I did that, and did it well. Then I went because I knew I was capable of earning a degree and intended to achieve my potential. When I went back this time it was for one reason and one reason only: to show my daughter that no matter what happens in your life, if your parents die or you get pregnant at 19 or if you have to be financially independent at a young age-you can still accomplish your goals. She does not get it right now and that's okay. I know one day she will get it. One day when she thinks she has too much on her plate or when things don't go as planned. I just want her to know that women are more than moms and pretty things to look at. We are machines. I'm a machine.

To learn more about my experience in this program at Texas A&M Commerce click here.

TAMUC Class of 2015

Texas Affordable Baccalaureate Program-TAMUC

You can read about the program on Texas A&M Commerce' website here. Continue reading to learn about my specific experience.

I applied and enrolled in September 2014. It was the simplest process of any of my many college enrollments. This program is designed for busy working adults who already have some college and are already on a career path. I guess you can enroll if a degree would help you in a new career but I feel like most of us just wanted to enhance our value within our current field. I feel like it was designed just for me because it ended up being so perfect.

Program Description
Instead of semesters classes are grouped into 7 week terms. You begin each term enrolled in two courses. Additional courses are added as you complete the initial two classes. I chose to only work on one course at a time because my life was already chaotic with work and family. The program is built on competency based education. This means that once you "test out" of a class by making an 80 or better on the course final, you have completed that class. All the course materials(video, forums, text, etc.) are provided within the course and accessible through most platforms like your laptop, IPad, or IPhone. I chose to do everything from my laptop.

Here is a break down of the number of classes I completed each term:
Term 1, September 8-October 24: 4 classes(12 hours)
Term 2, November 3-December 19: 2 classes (6 hours)
Term 3, December 29-February 13: 6 classes (18 hours)
Term 4, February 23-April 6: 4 classes (12 hours)
Term 5, April 20- June 5: 6 classes (18 Hours)
Term 6, June 15-July 31: 2 classes (6 hours)

For me the dream was to complete one course per week but I never quite reached that goal. I am generally pleased with how I was able to accelerate through the courses.
The second term may look like I hit the brakes a little bit but I planned on giving myself the whole term to complete the algebra course I was enrolled in. I dropped college algebra more times than I like to admit so I needed all that time to master that class. Also the other course I was enrolled in, Professional Development,  is not exactly competency based. It was the only class I took that had weekly assignments.
With that exception, the amount of time I spent on school was dependent on how busy my kids were keeping me since my work schedule was consistent throughout.
My final term began on June 15th and I was actually finished with my last two courses by the end of June so I had some time to spare.
The last ten courses are formatted a little differently than the others. In addition to testing out  of the course material, we also had to complete a project. This is probably where I learned the most. I found the projects very stimulating.

The money
Each term costs a flat rate of $750.00. We paid $3500 for 72 semester hours.This includes books until you get to the last ten classes. My books for those classes cost less than $150, I shopped the best prices between Amazon, Half, and EBay.  Here is a quick comparison of the cost compared to other more traditional routes of education-
Private School- around $853.33 per semester hour
Public 4 year University-$520.00 per S/H
Junior College-$133.00 per S/H
Community College-$85.00 per S/H
My cost at TAMUC-$62.50 per S/H
Degree Information
My degree is from the school of Humanities and Education. It's a Bachelors in Applied Science in Organizational Leadership. My education prior to TAMUC was in Business so this was not much of a departure for me. 
If you have further questions about my experience in this program,  I am happy to answer them and help anyone who wants to complete their degree!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

I'm so over eating out

That's a lie. I still love it. Love it too much. I daydream about what takeout to pick up. It's sad. I am an intelligent girl. Why is it so difficult for me to excersize any self control in this area of my finances? I am forcing a self intervention. No more eating out for the whole summer. Except for once at the end of each month where we will share and celebrate our debt snowball and money goal progress. Bam. I probably just saved our family about $600 per month. I think if we kept this up we could cash flow our debt payoff without making any other concessions. We could still vacation, hobby and extracurricular as we pleased if we could control the eating out. Starting June1 through August 31st we will eat out only once a month. We did this in April 2011 and it was real eye opener but clearly did not become a habit.You can read about that experience here . This time since it's summer and I really love snow cones and sonic, I am not restricting beverage purchases. The rules for restuarant beverages are: it must be during-happy hour(Sonic and Chicken Express,not the bar) or from McDonalds where all drinks are $1 all the time.

Stay tuned; this should be interesting!
How much does your family spend eating out per month?

Monday, May 7, 2012

The Last Best Friend

Ahh. The best friend. A partner, sidekick, soul mate. This person has an invaluable role in a woman's life. I don't use the term "best friend" anymore as I have a family who my world revolves around. I have many close friends who are dear,however a REAL best friend requires attention and commitment I can no longer offer.

I have had a best friend since kindergarten when I made my first best friend Julie. She was a rock star. I recall, 26 years later, that we had the same black lace up boots. I am guessing our friendship probably grew from something more awesome like a mutual love for coloring. We would have play dates after school. Once her mom gave us some really great ice cream after school in their yellow house. Turns out her dad knew my dad through work. You can imagine my disappointment when we did not get in the same first grade class. DEVASTATION. Then she moved.....across the bayou. But to my little heart it may as well have been across an ocean. We exchanged Christmas gifts for a couple of years but she could no longer be my best friend. And it's a shame because that girl set the bar pretty high.

Second best friend came along just in time. First grade, Kristin. She was a more literal rock star than Julie. She had a spikey mullet-in the first grade. She was very cool. You know those people who always know what to say and know what's gonna be hip before everyone is let in on the secret. IN THE FIRST GRADE. We had a good little run until...she moved too.

Second grade brought my first recurring best friend Crystal. My first slumber party. We watched The Boy Who Could Fly. She was fun and just as smart as I was. I liked her so much she got to be my forth grade best friend when we were in the same class again. That was a huge relief after floating around for all of third grade with no anchor friend. We had perms and wore leggings and had crushes on boys.

Fifth grade was Jessica. We were in the same class and went to the same church. She was ambitious and adventurous and athletic. She was the first girl to join me in the G/T program after being the only girl for all of grade school. She ended up middle school dating my very close cousin which I appreciated because we got to spend all of our time together. Eventually she left for a new church and private school.

Enter the last best friend. We had gone to school together since kindergarten and were a part of a large group of friends through middle school. I wanna say it was track season of the eighth grade when the friend sparks flew. She was hilarious. Not like cracking jokes hilarious-like your walking down the hall, she grabs your hand and puts it on her stomach to show you what kinda strange motion noise she can make. She was gifted. Her handwriting was whimsical. She didn't really have boyfriends and I sure didn't have any. She was kinda different and so was I. I could list her quirks for days. She ate milk with mollymcbutter. The smell of pickles made her sick. She was 6'2". Her family was super americana and she was super unique. I don't remember spending a day without her after our best friendship was born. In high school we would go drive around after school. We would get taco bell. Her order was a bean burrito no onions. It cost 86 cents. She would pay with change from the ash tray of her chevy nova. My mom would make her fave-mac n cheese. Her parents took us to the waterpark in their suburban. If we broke curfew our parents would unite against us and orchestrate a plan to get "these wild girls in line."
 She was my other half. We were honest with each other always. We never fought. We made pacts and kept them. We held onto secrets. It was such a special time in our lives. We rarely shared the same extracurriculars but managed to always be together. I remember when she broke up with her first boyfriend and it was just understood at my house that we HAD to bring another mattress into my bedroom because she was sleeping over even though it was a school night. We would definately take one for the team when it came to boys, talking the the nerdy friend while she flirted with her crush. We took our show on the road and went to college together. We had walkie talkies(this is pre-cellphone) so we could chat on the 100 mile drive to move into school. They were yellow and black. I will never forget when my mom died, all I wanted, needed to do was have her there. I called her line. No answer. I called her parents line and left probably the most awful sounding message ever. She came to me and kept me alive through those terrible days. She was my rock. She sat next to me at the funeral. She was the person I was real with. The person who I didn't have to speak to in words. She already knew.

Life took us different places after that. I had a baby.She babysat and told me that my baby might be anorexic(apparently she spit up,alot). I got married. Her life progressed as well. Things would never be the same. They couldn't be. No major falling out. No clean cut end to bestfriendom but the end of an era nonetheless.When you love someone enough to marry them, they are your best friend. Even if that means your best friend has to be a boy. That's the way it is.We can't leave our husbands and children to go run around town and get into trouble. We aren't supposed to. We had 7 years of making each other who God wanted us to be all along. We formed a bond that never goes away.  When my dad died we were barely in touch. But you know who sat by me at his funeral. You're darn right. My last best friend.

I wish this for my daughter as she matures. One special person to make the good times better and the bad times bareable. I want her to be accepted unconditionally the way I was. I want her to have someone there to go through the terrors of being a teen with her because once she meets that point I surely will have forgotten what that felt like.

So here's to all of our best friends. And a special shout out to the last ones.

Monday, April 30, 2012

a couple of products I am loving right now

In the last couple of weeks I have tried a couple of new things that I ended up just adoring so I wanted share.

I am a loyal Bethenny Frankel fan. I loved her on RHNY and on her own show. I tried her Skinnygirl margarita last summer and didn't love it,probably because I am way too prudish to consume alcohol. I read A Place of Yes and was kind of disappointed with all the self help junk. I did enjoy the autobiographical parts of the book. While at Wal-mart a couple of weeks ago I picked up a sampler including her energizing lip gloss, mint facial mask, and vitamin C scrub. I love this scrub and I am not even a big scrubber. It makes my face feel good in a way I cannot describe. Bonus-it leaves my skin looking great and it's affordable. The bad- it is really hard to get out of the tube after a couple of uses. I actually ended up applying to much pressure and squirting half the bottle all over my hand. They really need to reevaluate the packaging. Overall it's a great find for your face.

Another product that has caught my dollar is these Minute Maid frozen soft lemonades-

Remember when you were a kid at Six Flags and you got a delicious lemon or lime ice, but you never got to finish it because you needed to ride a roller coaster!  You can have that same feeling at work on a Tuesday. These of course are easy to finish and only 100 calories. That is great for me because I work around ice cream, candy bars, and cookies all day. When I need a snack I just pull one of these out of the freezer instead. Everyone that has sampled mine has loved them I and I hope you do too!

What new products are you loving right now?

Monday, March 12, 2012

people who make lists

I wanna be the kind of grown up who makes lists. Not a ton of lists with categories or anything.I just need to jot down things that I want to do that tend to fall through the cracks of life. I used to post my daily goals on facebook back in the day and it was good for my accountability. Today I was off work and my kids were home for spring break. I put the list in my phone as a note.

  • clean off dresser(10min)
  • paint(30min)
  • go through action box(5min)
  • get stains out of stain pile(30min)
  • something else but I deleted it and now I can't remember(see why I need to write things down)
I also included a time frame for each task. So far so good. Dresser is neat and I even hung a picture that had been propped up there since we moved in 5 years ago! My son and I painted canvases. He painted Perry the platypus(shocker) and I did an abstract with some leftover teal and gold acrylics I had. It was so fun. You always need to have some fun on your list.(Apparently he is reading over my shoulder because he just corrected my spelling of "platypus". I am about to go through my action box while I watch the Celtics. My son helped me get the stains out and the clothes are soaking now. Does anybody else make list to keep them on task?

Friday, February 10, 2012

Blogging and The Half Project

I haven't blogged in while and I'm ready to get back at it. At first it was because both computers were broken and lately it's been because I take this blog way too seriously. I feel like it has to be a days long perfect drawn out thing. But I am over that now. Also I only think of things to blog about when I am trying to go to sleep. And let me tell you, I write some doosies(in my head).

The Half Project:

I am a lousy housekeeper. No one in our home picks up after themselves including me. I only clean when I am listening to pod casts and when I do that it is fun and easy. I can't live my life with ear buds in and therefore my house is an obnoxious mess.

My solution. We all need to get rid of some stuff. Again. I am going to go through each room, pile items in the floor in groups and get rid of half of the pile. Example: If Carson has 50 books, homeboy is getting rid of 25. I do not have a large quantity of material possessions myself, but my clothes are out of control. I have about a dozen tops that I need undershirts for or don't have the right shoes to match. I want to purge and get down to a small higher end wardrobe. The dream is to have so few clothing items that I can used a laundry service because I am over doing laundry. I have friends who wear jeans over and over between washes and I need to master that. The clothing segment of my room will require a lot of planning but I am game.

So that's my plan. Anyone else on board for a major purge.