Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Mao, Krishna and My Fall Schedule

We're on the homestretch - yea! The last day of classes for UT is April 30. In the meantime, most of my classmates have serious cases of spring fever and the motivation level of the average student has taken a serious hit. I am desperately trying not to fall into either one of those categories.

Next week is not a good week for me - two exams on Monday, one exam on Tuesday, and a research paper topic to pick. Everything seems to accelerate towards the end of the semester. To add to the craziness, I need to figure out my fall schedule as well. How do I keep my sanity and finish strong? I know I've share some of these things before, but they are worth repeating:

1. Prioritize - don't panic. Concentrate on one thing at a time. Of the two exams I have Monday, which class am I doing better in? I will peruse my notes for that one, hit some of the highlights and move on to studying for the exam in the other class. Monday night, I will study for the exam on Tuesday.

2. Review - I take good notes, I attend every class and I (mostly) stay awake during class. I will review my notes and any readings we had for the classes.

3. Ask questions - if I don't understand something, now is the time (in the next couple of days) to email my profs for clarification on anything. I will not wait until the last minute to clarify something I am not sure about.

4. Get a good night's sleep - this is always crucial before an exam. I don't want to fall asleep or not be clear-headed for the exam the next morning. Staying up all night long cramming for an exam is not the best thing to do.

5. Eat breakfast - I can concentrate better when I have eaten breakfast - my tummy is not growling and food acts as fuel for my brain.

It is supposed to a beautiful Easter weekend. I am going to enjoy the weather before I have to worry about Mao, Krishna and my fall schedule. Do you have exams coming up? Don't panic! Stay tuned . . .

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Crunch Time Again

It's that time again - we have less than six weeks left of school. Where did this semester go?? Exams, papers, projects - all seem to be due at the same time. So, what do you do if you are facing multiple assignments due at the same time? Try a few of these tips:

1. Write the assignment due dates down on a calendar so you can see how much time you have between each assignment.
2. Prioritize. If an assignment is due in one of your more difficult classes, start that assignment first.
3. Once you know what the assignment is, get started on it. There is nothing wrong with starting a paper two weeks ahead of the due date.
4. Once the assignment is complete, put it someplace where you won't lose it (flashdrive, folder, etc.). This sounds like common sense, but you'd be surprised at how easily assignments can get lost.
5. DON'T PROCRASTINATE!! Learn to say "No" to those non-essential life activities. If you explain to the PTA president that you are a nontraditional student and have a major paper due, she will cut you some slack on those 3 dozen cupcakes.

Time management, delegation of duties, learning to say, "No" - these are all good things for nontrads to learn. This is a season in your life and once you get through it and have that degree, perhaps once again you'll have time to bake 3 dozen cupcakes. Right now, papers and exams take priority over cupcakes. Hang in there! Stay tuned . . .

May My Words Be Sweet, For Tomorrow I May Have to Eat Them

This is not my typical "useful nontrad stuff" post.

I had to talk to my oldest son today about some difficult subjects. I have been thinking all week about what I was going to say to him. Being a follower of Christ, I pray. So, I prayed before I talked to Aaron. I remembered the poster I had seen years ago of two prairie dogs eating dandelions with the caption, "May my words be sweet, for tomorrow I may have to eat them." It was a difficult conversation, but it was good. And my words were sweet.

We are behind in my Asian Studies class - no where near what the syllabus says. The prof is trying to catch us up to where we are supposed to be. Tuesday, he announced we would not have the exam we were supposed to have today. Several students asked if it could be postponed until the week after Easter. The prof looked at me and asked, "What do you think?" I told him, "Sounds good to me." He postponed the exam until the Tuesday after Easter. Why did the prof need my okay? Not sure, but I think it has something to do with my words to him. I have learned to speak kindly to and about a professor in and out of the classroom because you never know who is listening. Last semester, I did have to eat my words about one prof and they were not sweet at all. It was humbling.

Much has been said and studied about the power of words - not just the written word, but the spoken word as well. We do good to one another when we speak words of life to each other - genuine encouragement, praise, and admiration. You never know what affect a kind word will have on another person.

I have been more aware of my words lately. Perhaps it is because I am not under the negative influence of my husband any longer. I choose more often to say life-giving than words that discourage. Perhaps today you might encourage a classmate or a professor with life-giving words. Life-giving words are much sweeter. Stay tuned . . .

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Have Laptop, Will do Homework (Anytime, Anywhere)

How many times do we find ourselves longing for "the good old days"? You know, the days without cell phones, laptops, gridlock, rat race, etc. We discussed "the good old days" in one of my history classes a couple semesters ago and came to the conclusion that "the good old days" are a myth, that we only remember the good about the good old days and not the bad.

I remember when my Mom went to get her Master's degree. She did not have a laptop or a cell phone. She spent long hours at the library writing in longhand then typing all that out on an IMB Selectric typewriter (remember those??) and had to find a payphone to call us if she needed anything.

In many ways, I am glad times have changed and we have the technology that allows us to be more mobile. It helps with my time management. Megan had a volleyball tournament in Franklin, TN this weekend and, as always, I took my homework with me. I did less homework and watched more volleyball and more NCAA hoop action. Oh, well. What are weekends for?

The whole point is that without my laptop, I would fall behind in my schoolwork. I don't know how my Mom did it without all the great technology we had today. I guess my laptop can also be a drawback as I am chained to it because of having to do schoolwork. However, it is a great tool and it is good knowing that wherever I am, as long as there is an electric outlet, I am good to go!

How about you? What is your take on today's technology and how it affects your education? and what is your favorite gadget that you absolutely cannot do without? Gotta run - homework calls! Stay tuned . . .

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Amassing versus Expanding Knowledge

Sir Francis Bacon said, "Knowledge is power". Some people know a lot about a little, some people know a little about a lot and some people know a lot about a lot. I know a little about a lot. That's how I like it. I like to expand my knowledge. To me, knowledge is like the tiles of a mosaic instead of the mosaic itself. Everything I know is a piece of the person that is me.

See that blue tile over there? That's what I know about weather. See those brown tiles over there? That's what I know about Geology. See those funny shaped, odd-colored tiled over there? That's what I know about raising children. See those Milk-bone shaped tiles over there? That's what I know about dogs. See those green tiles over there? That's what I know about plants. And I could go on and on. I can point out all the different colors to you as we stand close to the mosaic, but when we stand a few feet away, you will see that all those tiles make a portrait of me.

To me, amassing knowledge is like accumulating books and setting them on shelves, never intending to read them, but having them because having that many books makes one look intelligent. What good is gaining knowledge if you are not going to use it? Expanding knowledge is adding to what you already have and making what you have better so that you can use it more effectively.

For me, going to school has been expanding my knowledge. I already know just enough to be annoying, but by going to school, I mature from Cliff Claven to Colonel Henry Potter. (For those of you who are unfamiliar with these characters, google Cheers and M*A*S*H.)

"Knowledge is power." I don't intend to have the kind of power that would take over the world, just change my little corner of it. How 'bout you?? Stay tuned . . .

Back At It - Almost

Spring break is almost over - I write this as I am sitting in the Phoenix airport, realizing Tennessee is now three hours behind Phoenix. I had a good spring break. Got to spend some great time with my Mom. We woke up Thursday morning to 2" of snow in Sierra Vista. My dad always told me that bad weather followed me. By that afternoon in Phoenix, it was 66. Hmmm.

I went to speak to my geology advisor a week ago Friday. He said that if I decided to take the Cartography class, I would need to petition it. I asked the Geography department about it and they said the class probably would not petition because it is more technical instead of historical. I am going to take the class anyway just because I want to and I can. I will take the last class I need for my degree (an elective) in the spring. I figure at this point in my college career, I have a few hours I can play around with. I am not held to such a strict program like so many of my younger peers who want to get out in 3-4 years.

I am looking forward to the waning days of my college career. This time next year, I should be ready to graduate. Wow. That scares me. I may just have to go back to school for another degree! Is it possible to be an education addict?

I plan to finish my foreign language requirement in the summer at the community college (hoping it will be easier than at the university). The majority of next year will be spent
my minor requirements. I enjoy geology, so I am looking forward to that coursework.

Hmm - so what is the nugget of wisdom in this blog for nontrads or would-be nontrads? Go for it! If you can take a class you really want to take, even though it won't count for anything, take it! The whole premise behind education is broaden your knowledge base. Notice I did not say "amass knowledge". Big difference - but a different subject for another blog (if I remember).

Remember, Life is an adventure, live it! And, "Nothing ventured, nothing gained." I want to get to the end of my life and say, "Well, I did most of what I wanted to do and I don't have any regrets." How about you?? Stay tuned . . .

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Is It Spring Yet??

I look out my window and watch the wind whipping around the magnolia branches as the students hurriedly walk past, bundled up against the cold. And it's 3:30 in the afternoon. I don't think it got any warmer than 35 today. Brrrr! What happened to springtime? Everyone I have talked to needs a serious dose of sunshine and warmth!

I am going to Phoenix on Monday to visit my Mom, my friends and to attend my 30th high school reunion. In the meantime, I have an exam tomorrow morning to get through. That will be the second exam this week. I got a "B" on the first one - a Geology exam. I also have two papers and a quiz due when I return from my spring break. Fun stuff.

However, I have been invited to attend a master class taught by Richard Harris, Senior Science writer for National Public Radio, on March 16th. Only a limited number of students will be in attendance. I am looking forward to it. I think the class will mesh well with my History major and Geology minor.

I am also trying to figure out my class schedule for Fall 2010. I think I may just take a class that I don't need just because I have always been interested in it - Introduction to Cartography. That would be cool.

My mind is racing, I think I am trying to get a cold and I need to study for tomorrow's exam. I definitely need spring break and warmer weather. I will be in hot pursuit of spring come Monday. I'll let you know if I find it. Stay tuned . . .