Thursday, April 30, 2009

Slowing Down

After moving at the speed of light all semester, I am finally getting the chance to slow down. I still have one more final to go - my Anthropology final on May 4. I will have the whole weekend to study for that.

It's good to be able to move a little slower! I was finally able to join the Phi Alpha Theta (history honor society) gang at the Mellow Mushroom last night for trivia night. Our team was in second place until the final round when we bet it all and lost it all. Such is life. It was fun, though.

Slowing down has also allowed me to see that there are things in need of my attention - my house, my dogs, relationships. It will be good to give attention to those things/animals/people that need my attention before I have to gear up again in July for summer school.

Got some great news about financial aid. I qualified for a $2,000 Pell Grant for next year. That will definitely help. I'm also having to use more student loans, but that's okay. If I stay on top of my studies and continue to do well academically, I may qualify for more scholarships.

Slowing down, however, has felt more like the sensation one feels when an airplane lands - the pull as the plane dramatically slows down while the pilot practically stands on the brakes and the flaps are at a full ninety degree angle to the wings. Slowing down from this semester has not been a gradual process.

Still, it has been good not to have to head to the library every night or stay up late typing a paper or reading. Just when I get used to this, I'll have to "take off" again. Ah, such is the life of a college student! Stay tuned . . .

Friday, April 24, 2009


Now that the semester is almost over and the race is nearly finished, I have had a few minutes to reflect on my classes. I have come to the conclusion that a student is only as successful as his or her notes. I have had the opportunity to review several peoples' notes since I had to ask classmates for their notes due to being out of class for a week. Wow.

I take notes in outline form. I have been taking notes that way since my sophomore year in high school. I have Jim Walker, my sophomore Biology teacher, to thank for that. An outline is comprised of several main points with several sub points. The sub points help to define the main point. I like that kind of organization. I do not do well with random facts floating around on a piece of paper, especially if I am going back several weeks later and trying to study those facts.

A typical portion of my notes looks like this: (from my Anthropology class - indentations not formatted in this program)

I. Middle Archaic Hunter Gatherers
A. Middle Archaic (c. 8,000 - 5,000 BP)
1. Expansion of pine forests & prairies during the Middle Holocene in
the Southeastern US
a. Climatic changes - increasing solar activity in Northern Hemisphere
1) drying out, getting hotter
2) affected plants and animals
b. Middle Holocene climate
1) warming trend from 8,000-4,000 BP, 2-3 degrees warmer than present
2) expansion of pine forests and prairies

One of the main points of that lecture was: hunter-gatherers in the Middle Archaic period. The first sub point defines the time of the Middle Archaic, while the other points define the reason for the expansion of forests and prairies during the Middle Archaic. The reason it was important to know about the expansion of forests and prairies was because it signified an expansion in the territory for the hunter-gatherers. It all adds up to a wider definition of the main topic.

How one takes notes is vitally important to one's success as a student. Review of those notes is vitally important to studying for an exam, recalling information for a paper or recounting facts for a presentation. For me, taking notes in outline form makes the information in my notes easier to access. Are your notes "noteworthy"? Stay tuned . . .

Thursday, April 23, 2009


I can't believe this semester is just about over! Where has the time gone?? It seems that not too long ago, I was trudging through midterms. I told one of my coworkers that I love the beginning of the semester because I love the new classes. But I also love the end of the semester because I am so glad to be done with those classes!

Oh! Before I forget - a big shout out to Dr. Ernest Freeberg at the University of Tennesse for his book, "Democracy's Prisoner" (a biography about Eugene Debs), that was nominated for the Los Angeles Times Book Award. He is on his way to Los Angeles this weekend to see if he won. Go, Dr. Freeberg!

Elisabeth Shepperd has posted some tips on her blog for taking finals. They include things like getting to class early, getting a good night's sleep, making sure your calculator has fresh batteries, reviewing your notes, etc. One thing I have found most helpful is to review my notes one last time before the exam. Staying relaxed is another good thing. A couple organizations on campus here are sponsoring a "Relax Day" on Monday, April 27th - the first day of finals. They are going to be giving massages, having refreshments, etc. I thought that was a good idea. So may people stress out over finals. I figure that if I have done well in class the rest of the semester, the final is not going to be that big of a deal. However, if I am borderline, I will need to make an extra effort. Either way, I make sure I re-read pertinent parts of the text, review notes and take advantage of study groups.

Good Luck to all the nontrads, whether you are online or on campus, as you face the end of another semester - final(ly)! Stay tuned . . .

Monday, April 20, 2009

To Be (a nontrad) or Not To Be (a nontrad)

I have talked to so many people lately who are either thinking about going back to school or who are newly back in school. I think it must be the economy (see?? I told you so!!). My little brother and my little sister's husband are also nontrads, so it runs in the family. :)

One guy I talked to said he was encouraged by my return to school and that it gave him renewed enthusiasm to pursue his goal of returning to school. That's what the blogs, the forums, the connections are all about - encouraging one another. I want to take this opportunity to thank Deb and Elizabeth who are relentless in their pursuit of information, encouragement, and high fives for all the other nontrads. Two big "Atta Girls!" for you, ladies! Thank you so much for your dedication!

Whether we are online or on campus, we all face the same fear, "Can I do this? Should I really be doing this?" Yes and yes. I figure I birthed three children, moved halfway across the country to follow my husband for a job, and homeschooled for seven years. Getting my degree ought to be a walk in the park, yes? Sort of. At least I'm done with my Math requirement - thank God! Did I ever mention I am not a Math person?

Finals start in a week. To be, yes. Definitely, to be. Stay tuned . . . .

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Time Management

Just got back from a weekend volleyball tournament in Atlanta with Megan and Mike (husband). Whew! Megs' team did not advance out of the quarterfinals. They were disappointed even though they played their hearts out. The match went to a tie breaker game that they lost by two points.

I should have included Larry the Laptop in that list of tournament attendees. I have mentioned Larry before. He helps me with my time management. One thing I have learned from being a nontrad (and oh, there are so many wonderful things one learns as a nontrad - groan!) is how to manage my time. Whether it's on the bus, on my lunch hour, in the car on the way to a volleyball tournament, in between games at a volleyball tournament or during a time out and halftime at one of Megan's basketball games - I am reading, typing up notes, typing up a paper, looking up sources, etc. When one is working full time and going to school full time, one cannot afford to waste any time.

I've had several people ask me, "Don't you have time for fun?" On occasion. We've gone to UT Vol basketball games, on a hike in the Smokies, out to dinner, etc. I'd like to hike the Smokies more, though. I am hoping a part time job will allow me more time for and to myself. I've also had several people tell me to take more time for myself since I am the only one who can do that. The semester will be ending in a couple of weeks. I will take the time to breath and chillax then. I don't have to be in summer school until July.

That's one thing I am learning as a nontrad - take time for myself. I am not very good about that - just taking time to do nothing - because there is always something that needs to be done (schoolwork, housework, etc.). E. Sheppard goes on some really cool adventures. I need to be more like her.

Looking forward to some time management for myself! Stay tuned . . .

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Are We There Yet??

This is a phrase every parent hears on a roadtrip with their children. The initial utterance of this phrase is usually within five minutes of pulling out of the driveway. This phrase captures the essence of how I feel at this point in the semester - "Am I there yet??" Oh, please, please, please say that I am! No, I have a couple more weeks to go until finals.

But, I got my Anthropology paper done and submitted in time to get extra credit (I hope). I had a Spanish exam tonight that I thought they took last week when I was out. I think I did okay because I studied for it a little bit. Still have more schoolwork to catch up on. I'm getting there slowly but surely.

I will have a little bit of a break until summer school. I don't go until second session - July through August. I will be taking nine hours in summer school. Need to knock out a few classes in my major. I am looking forward to it. I love being a student.

An aside to flit - yes, you're doing grad school right. Hang in there!

Are we there yet? Almost! I can see "the light at the end of the tunnel"! Stay tuned . . .

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Pitch a Tent

I feel like I need to pitch a tent in the library. No sooner will I get caught up with my schoolwork then I will have to begin studying for finals. Such is the life of a student.

Studentmum made me laugh. She said that nontrads are referred to as "mature" in the UK, although some younger students are more mature that the "mature" students. She said she likes the "nontraditional" label better. Me, too. It makes us sound unique!

My Mom had each of my siblings and I share a memory of my Dad when we had the luncheon after his funeral. My older sister shared about going camping with my parents when we were younger. She said that she remembers waking up and there would always be a fire going. Who got up in the cold early morning to start that fire? Dad. He always made sure his family was taken care of. I remember struggling to set up the old canvas tent. What sweet memories.

Now, when I think of pitching a tent, it reminds me of safety and security and of hope. As I "pitch a tent" in the library, there is hope - to finish my degree (keep my fingers, toes and eyes crossed!!) and to work toward a better future. Stay tuned . . .

Monday, April 13, 2009

Something to Think About

I got a few new comments from "Studentmum". She says the didn't realize mature students were referred to as "Non-traditional" or "Nontrads". Studentmum has alot of good things to say. One thing she says is that there comes a point where one has to make a choice between working full time or pursuing one's degree full time. I am at that point. I want to pursue my degree full time. I am actively pursuing a part-time job. My degree is my future, not my job. Besides, I don't like being treated like I don't know anything. I have been at my job for 4-1/2 years - I think I know what I'm doing. But, I digress.

I am excited about the future - summer school, fall semester and beyond. I'm excited for my children, too. My oldest son will be doing his Master's work at UT, so we will both be on the same campus next year. My middle son is almost finished with his first year of college. And my daughter will be a high school senior next year. There are many things to look forward to in the coming months.

Studentmum has given me a great deal to think about as I gear up to finish up this semester. Finals in two weeks! Stay tuned . . .

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Stay in the Race

I have spent today being a condiment - catchup - get it??!! I spent the afternoon in the library and just got done with my Spanish homework from last week. I also have reading to do for Anthropology and History. I don't want to fall behind and get to a place where I will not be able get caught up.

It takes alot of hard work to stay in the race, especially when one finds oneself falling behind for one reason or another. It would be so easy to quit. But there are only a few more short weeks left in the semester. I know my Dad would have wanted me to finish the semester strong. There are few things I have learned these past few months about staying in the race. I'd like to share them.

Tips for Staying in the Race:
1. If you know you will be out of class for one reason or another, let your professors know as soon as you know. That way, everyone is prepared and your profs (and perhaps group members) aren't blindsided when they expect you to be in class and you're not.
2. Stay on top of schoolwork as much as possible. Find out from your profs what you will be missing and what you need to do while you're out (of class).
3. If possible, work ahead. Read those next couple of chapters so you're ahead of the game.
4. If you do fall behind, contact your profs as soon as possible. They should be willing to help you get caught up.
5. Stay in contact with all the pertinent people - profs, group members, and others who may be relying on you in class. If you don't communicate about what's going on, no one will be able to help you.
6. Be responsible in doing your part to get back on track. Don't shrug it off and fall off the face of the planet.

When I knew my Dad was sick and there was a possibility I would have to be out another time during the semester (in the event of his death), I let my profs know as soon as possible. When my Did pass away and I had to go out to Arizona for a week, my profs knew it was coming. I know they appreciated the communication and they are willing to work with me to help me stay on track and get caught up.

I do have some good news. I got two scholarships from the History Department. They are small scholarships, but every little bit helps. I asked one of my favorite history profs, Dr. Nancy Schurr, to be my "stunt double" for the History Honors Banquet and accept the scholarships in my stead. I understand she did a great job.

Staying in the race is not always easy. Achieving our goals is not always fun. However, if we want something bad enough, we will work hard to get it. I want to get my Bachelor's degree in History. I want to get my Master's degree in Public History. I am willing to sweat through whatever I have to in order to achieve my goals. I am going to finish this race!

Stay tuned . . . .

Friday, April 3, 2009

Bearing One Another's Burdens

This is a Biblical concept - to love and support one another during hard times. I have been overwhelmed at the outpouring of prayers and kind thoughts from so many people as my family and I deal with the loss of my Dad. Thank you to all who have expressed sympathy. Your kindness is humbling.

Please continue to keep my family and me in your thoughts and prayers as we walk out the week ahead. Dad was a veteran, so he will be buried with full military honors. Also, please continue to keep my Mom in your thoughts and prayers as she adjusts in the coming months to the loss of her life partner, her best friend, her love.

From my family and me - deepest thanks.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Sad News

I got the call tonight. My Dad died this evening at 6:30 ET. My sister called me while I was in Spanish Class. My heart is broken. My Dad was a great man. He helped my Mom raise us six children. He was an only child, but he has 15 grandchildren. He knew about my scholarship and Aaron graduating in May. I want to finish this semester strong in his honor.

Dad, I love you. I'm glad you're not suffering anymore. Thank you for being the best Dad ever.