Returning to Michigan!

When I came out here to California, my hope was to make it a permanent move. During the first couple of weeks, it sure seemed like that would be the case. I interviewed for jobs, had my first bits of mail transferred to my girlfriend’s address, and was able to breathe a whole lot easier since I was now officially out of my parents’ house. At 28 years old, that’s how it should be, right?

It didn’t take long for my homesickness and misery to kick in. Despite wanting and dreaming for over two years to be out west, now that I’m here I’m longing again for the Midwest. I’ve always gotten this way whenever I’ve lived out of state, whether it being while I was in the Marine Corps, doing the Disney College Program, or staying with other friends out of the area. There’s just something about West Michigan that is home to me, and where I feel I belong.

The misery got to be so bad the other night that my parents and I were planning on getting me a ticket home right then and there, but something big came up here at Alexis’s house so that was put off. I still don’t know when I’m going to be making it back, trying to sort some stuff out here, but at least I know one thing.

California is not the home I wanted it to be. To quote the old movie, “There’s no place like home.”

But I’m not upset, and neither is Alexis. To my great shock, she was also getting sick and tired of California. Her family is originally from Wisconsin and has wanted for a long time now to be able to have a white Christmas. Green grass, a yard for her future children to play in, colorful seasons…so naturally she has decided to follow me. My phone is being blown up constantly by apartments and schools and things she’s excited about for whenever we get to GR. She’s even to taking to calling it “home”.

I’m already enrolled in a class at Grand Rapids Community College starting in a couple of weeks, and being home before January means that instead of transferring credits and paying out-of-state tuition for a school here, I can just go back to the college I love and finish up my associate’s degree there. Then after that I can actually go to my dream school, Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo.

It’s going to be amazing…

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Sharing is Caring

I don’t know how many of you had your blogs connected so that it would post to Facebook for you, but in case you missed the notice as of August 1, 2018 Facebook no longer allows WordPress to share our blog posts to our Facebook profiles. If anyone has a Page, which is different obviously than a Profile, we can still connect with that but for a lot of us who don’t have pages or the time to make and manage one, we have lost out on a great advertising space for our blogs.

I cannot know or say how big of an impact Facebook has had on my past blog success, but I feel that maybe we should all try stepping up to the plate a little more and helping spread the word for each other’s blogs and websites. More sharing, guest blogging, and re-blogging posts and content that we really like.

The more ways we can get our names out there, there better it is not only for us, but the blogging community as well. WordPress sure as hell won’t suffer for it, either…

Advice for Online Classes

In a couple weeks I’m starting English Composition 1 ( EN 101) at Grand Rapids Community College. Since I’m still figuring some stuff out in California I’m taking it online. I talked yesterday about a few tips on how to have a good semester if you’re new to college, so with my online class in mind I thought I’d share a few thoughts on how to do well in that kind of environment, too.

(Note: This advice is again primarily gleaned from my experience at the community college level. I’m sure online university courses (courses from an actual campus university) are very similar but I have not taken any of those. I do not know the expectations of purely online schools or accelerated degree programs. So bear in mind this is assuming the class you’re taking is a traditional semester-long course.)

1) Log in daily. In every class I’ve ever taken, attendance in the online class has been based on logging in a certain number of times per week. Just like in a regular class, you’re not going to learn anything unless you show up to class. It’s even more important when it comes to forum discussions. Most online classes I’ve taken at the college required at least a few replies each week, not only to the discussion topic but other classmates’ comments, as well. I was always one of the first on Sunday nights to knock out the majority of my work, but I would have to wait until later in the week to finish up because too many of the classmates waited until the last second to post their own stuff. Logging in every day will help make sure you at least see if other people have been posting so you don’t have to wait until the last second yourself. Which brings me to the second point…

2) Don’t wait until the last minute. You never know if you’re going to have technical issues or if your WiFi is going to crash on you. If your assignment is due late Saturday night and you’re waiting until Saturday afternoon to do it, what are you going to do if the school server goes down or someone crashes into a pole and you lose power at home for a while? More than likely campus will be closed, so even if the server does get up and running how are you going to get your assignment in? Some instructors are a bit more forgiving, but most have too much to do to give a rat’s ass why your paper was turned in two days after it was due. You need to plan ahead in case something goes wrong, and the best way to that is to make sure you don’t procrastinate.

3) Get to know the professor. If you’re taking one or two online classes alongside regular classes, take a little time to meet with your professors during office hours. It’s always good to put a face to a name, especially for those classes with zero in-class meetings. If you live two hours away and are only taking classes online, at least shoot out some emails. There’s only so much you can learn and say to an instructor in a discussion forum. Reaching out to them in your own not only shows initiative but that you actually care about your learning, and you never know when that might come back to help you in the future.

4) Don’t take an online class unless you know you can do it. This is not something to consider lightly. If you live in a place with shitty internet connection, don’t do it. If you have problems staying committed to things, don’t do it. If your life consists of work and taking care of kids by yourself, you probably won’t have the energy to tackle an online class. I can already feel the burnout from that situation. I’m not saying it’s not doable, but if any of these scenarios describe you you’re probably just better off taking the class online. Would save a little stress, I think. Or make taking the class that much harder. But environment aside, it takes far more commitment than most people realize to do well in an online college class. You don’t have professors or TA’s standing in front of you or around you to keep you in check. You’re too old for mommy and daddy to make sure you get online when you’re supposed to and do whatever it is you need to be doing. It’s all on you. Online classes can be an easier way to get shit done, but it can also backfire way too easy. They’re always more expensive than a traditional class and requires much more out of you than just going and sitting in a lecture for an hour or two. Your success depends entirely on you, even more than it would a regular course.

I was going to go for five bullet points like I normally do for this kind of post, but I rambled a bit in some of these so I’m going to leave it as is. Again, once I start taking my class on the 27th I might have more to add, but for now I think this is a good starting off post. If you have any friends or children or if you yourself am taking an online class for the first time pretty soon, read this and let me know what you think. Share it around. I’ve never taken an online class I haven’t excelled in.

My Advice for New College Students

I don’t know if I’m the best person to give advice to new college students, especially since I’m still technically a freshman after ten years (let the shaming begin). Still, having made the Dean’s List once and bound and determined to do so again for the rest of my academic career, I know sort of what it takes to have a successful semester. Here are a few pointers for incoming students.

(NOTE: I only have experience so far with community college. I have never been a freshman at a university, so I’m not entirely sure if the same advice will apply to new university students, but if it can, great.)

1) Do your homework. My grades in high school would have been absolutely phenomenal had I turned in my homework on time and actually did it. You don’t know how much of an impact on your grade and retaining the material your homework has until you don’t do it. There are so many classes where homework will make or break you. Even the classes where homework is “optional”, like a lot of math classes, you want to put some kind of effort into it because when it comes to those kinds of problems you need all the help you can get.

2) Study. I can’t tell you how many times I thought I had paid perfect attention during class and knew deep down that I’d ace a test or exam only to not do nearly as well as I thought I would when I got my grades back. You’re in college now; the subject matter is just going to get more and more advanced. It’s going to be harder and harder retaining the information unless you spend ample time outside of class studying. Whether it be taking notes and reading over them before and after every class, reading and re-reading the text, or printing off power points and reading the bullet points, study study STUDY.

3) Show up to class. You can’t learn unless you’re there. Most schools require instructors to take attendance for financial aid purposes, and because it’s more work for them they tend to make it a component of their grading. So not showing up to class means a lower and lower grade. I would not have gotten the D- in German 101 back in 2009 had I not missed so many classes.

4) Go to the tutoring labs. Most colleges have tutoring setups. At GRCC they have tutoring labs for almost every major subject area, as well as one-on-one and group tutoring for those who requested it. At Kalamazoo Valley Community College, there was one large tutoring lab for all the subjects. I know that a lot of universities break it down even further for their students. Even if you don’t think you need tutoring or feel like working a little harder will help you pick up where you’ve been struggling, I strongly recommend making an appearance and talking to a tutor about something. You never know what that extra bit of time and a tutor’s perspective will gain you.

5) Take advantage of your professor’s office hours. My uncle graduated with high honors from Western Michigan University several years ago, and he told me that a big key to his success was visiting with his professors in between classes. Tutors can only get you so far. It’s the profs themselves who can elaborate even further on the information they were trying to get out to you, and help possibly build in you a passion for the subject matter that will motivate you even more to succeed in the class. Not only that, but you never know when you might need a letter of recommendation or sponsorship for something. Building that sort of relationship could easily be advantageous in more ways you could possibly have realize, inside and outside of school.

I’m sure once I start my class in a couple of weeks and then hopefully full time again in the winter I will have more to add to this list, but those five things transformed me from a C/D student to a straight-A average almost overnight. I plan on following the exact same course of action in my future semesters and I am confident that the same results will happen.

Anything further you guys want to add to the conversation? Let me know in the comments!

More Posts, More Views

For most of the week I for all intents and purposes neglected this blog. For various reasons I didn’t post anything, not even little tiny ones like I’ve often done the past month or so, and the numbers showed.

When I first got this blog going, it shot off like a rocket. I was getting well over 400 views a day and it only took me a month to reach a thousand followers.

During the days I neglected the blog, I got around 25 each day.

Yesterday morning in the early hours I woke up and was unable to go back to sleep, so I wrote a long blog post about my experiences with Full Sail University. It was the first longer, essay-length post I’ve written if weeks. After I posted it I fell back asleep for a few more hours. When I woke up, I had received close to a hundred views. It was not even noon California time yet. By the end of the day, I had I think three further posts written. I surpassed 200 views for the first time in a long time.

The correlation was evident.

It doesn’t matter how many loyal followers you have, or how well you advertise your sight. If you’re not writing and posting, nobody’s going to read you. And even if they do read your posts, if they’re not longer and interesting than just a few paragraphs of whatever, you’re not likely to get many (or any) comments and likes. I had almost 30 yesterday, which is MUCH more than I got in a single day for the entire month of July.

I think I wrote about his early on in this blog when I was writing more and more about writing and blogging on here, but the more posts you write the more people will see you. And the longer the post, the more reception you’ll likely receive.

My activity from yesterday just drove those points home to me.

One Less Stressor to Deal With

After two weeks of interviews with five different people, I finally got a call from the employment agency I’ve been working with informing me that I have been offered a contract Financial Services Rep position at Monterey Financial in Oceanside, California. I have to go into the agency on Monday morning for my orientation and then I start at 9am Wednesday morning.

Words cannot express how much of a load this news takes off of my back. With everything going on lately, a job is what I needed most. I’ve been absolutely broke the past month, unable to afford anything without my girlfriend’s help (luckily that only entailed new socks). I always felt bad when her and her family got up and went to work every day whereas I would remain in bed or downstairs on the couch gaming or watching YouTube. I can now get out of the ruck I’ve been stuck in and go to work myself at a decent-paying job. No factory work this time!

With school starting in a few weeks and a single textbook to get my hands on, even a half-week’s pay will go a long way. The payment plan I scheduled with the college has me making a payment in September and October. Now I don’t have to worry about that because they will be able to be paid on time. If I want to go somewhere, I can now afford to hop on a bus or call a Lyft. I won’t have to rely on rides from those in the house who have cars. I am well on my way to being more independent.

And most important of all, Alexis and I want to move forward in our relationship and move out of the area and out on our own by the end of the year. With both of us working pretty good jobs, that is now just a matter of WHEN, not if.

I couldn’t have picked better news to wake up to. And now, a nap.

Returning to College: The Anxiety

Going back to school has been on my mind almost nonstop the past few days. After putting it off for FAR too long, it’s nice that it’s finally happening. I still have three weeks to go until the 27th, but I can’t help thinking that my GPA will be higher at the end of the year when I retake this class.

Still, I’m in the same exact spot I’ve been in a few other times before. Here I am overly excited about going back to school to finish something that should have been done a long, long time ago, pumped up and eager to get t done and move on in academia. It only ever lasts a semester, though. That’s what’s been kicking me in the ass today.

It’s not enough to want something. It’s not even enough to want something really, really bad. I’ve never been able to figure out what I needed to do, whether it be with my writing or my studies, to keep the passion that is STRONG in the beginning from dying out. It’s happened to me time after time after time again. I’m really worried that I will go into English 101 strong but then when winter time comes, when I plan on going back full-time, I will fail again. I know I refuse to let that happen right NOW, but whose to say I won’t when December/January comes around?

So besides researching universities, applying for jobs, and Pok√©mon, I’m planning on reading up on potential ways to battle this bs brain of mine. Hopefully this time will not be a repeat of the last several times I’ve tried going back to GRCC…