Have I mentioned how much I love going to college? I embrace the entire experience. It is very surreal to me. Surreal, i.e. strange, weird, unreal, dreamlike, bizarre…it is all of these and more.
I go to a local community college. There are loads of students my age. Many of them are displaced workers who lost their livelihood when the economy lost its MoJo. Like me, they are retraining.
We are all getting a second chance. I plan to make the most of it.
Every decision I make is centered toward me obtaining my goal of a college education. This is important to me for two reasons.
- My children will know that they too can achieve their goals.
- We will have more options for our life.
Going to school is hard work and I’ve found that if I want this dream, I will be tested.
The following is a description of how I got from A to B. Use it as a guide and also a caution as to what obstacles you may expect to pop up along the way. Pack your bags and be ready…you’re in for a bumpy ride.
I started this journey not on a whim, but I decided this was the path I would pursue on very short order.
I received a letter explaining that I may qualify for a Pell Grant. In this letter was a web address that I could log onto and complete the FASFA (student aid) application. I never thought I would qualify for a Pell grant, but I did. That was the easy part.
Then I logged onto the local community college website and found out what I needed to do to get enrolled. Classes were scheduled to begin in 19 days. I had less than 3 weeks.
I completed the application.
I requested my transcripts, including my high school diploma.
I got immunized.
And then I followed up.
And that girlfriends is the key. Success means you stay on top of things, otherwise you get lost in the shuffle. Don’t wait – DO!
I programmed the number for the Admissions Office and Financial Aid into my cell phone. At least once, sometimes twice a week, I called to find out where the name Consolata Querme was in the queue.
Finally, my admissions packet was complete and I got an appointment with my advisor.
I worked with my advisor to get enrolled in the few classes that were left. There are so many displaced workers in my area. Enrollment at the college is up between 30-40% depending on who you talk to. This means that many courses that normally would be available to an entering Freshman were full – even overfull.
So, I got my schedule and next I had to pay my tuition.
I headed straight to the financial aid office.
This is what is important to know about Financial Aid – a lot of stuff goes into that office, but not much comes out. Don’t get discouraged. Go back, stop by, check in. Don’t just wait for them to send something to you.
When I checked in I discovered that there was some problem with the number of college credits it “appeared” I had earned. Because of this I was on “hold” status. They gave me an appeal form to complete and send back.
Next, I went to the Business Office and signed an “I wish I could pay for college” promissory note. This gave me 30 days to figure out financial aid or make a tuition payment of $638.
Next I went to the Book Store. Because I didn’t have my financial aid in place, I took every dime out of my savings to purchase my books.
When I got home, I immediately wrote the letter for financial aid and submitted it back to them. Then I waited.
After all of that, here I am, enrolled and ready for school. I’ve got the laptop, backpack, binders, folders, paper and pencil. Now what?
Well I started classes a week late because I began the application and enrollment process rather late. I’ve been playing catch up ever since.
One of my courses was cancelled due to low enrollment. I jumped through flaming hoops of fire to get this course added back to my schedule as a Directed Study Course. I needed it so I didn’t fall below full-time status for financial aid.
Next, the unemployment/training debacle happened (see previous blog).
This time I had to set myself on fire and then jump through flaming hoops to continue to receive my benefits and go to college.
In the interim, I received a letter from the Admissions Office. Twenty-two of my college credits have transferred. Score! Victory! Great! Back to financial aid.
I stopped into their office the next time I was at school. This wonderfully helpful woman looked over all of my stuff and said, “you’re all set.” :You should get a letter soon.”
Two weeks later, still nothing. So, I dropped in again. Finally, on Thursday I confirmed that they have mailed an award letter. I’m waiting expectantly by the mailbox.
So, this is how I have been tested – and will continue to be tested as I work toward this goal. My dad said something to me that summed it all up. He said at some point the scales will tip and I will not be able to imagine doing anything else but going to school. Right now it seems like a choice, in the future it won’t be a choice anymore, it will just be.
I’m certain My Girl Oprah would be proud of my desire and tenacity. Sometimes I surprise myself.