Preparing for Final Exams: $66,663.50 Paid, $18,644.57 Till Payoff

So final exams ended for me recently, THANK GOD! I’m satisfied with my final grades and can’t wait to destroy my summer class. Another thank you goes to my wife. Thanks for taking care of our baby boy, and entertaining our ornery 2-year old daughter. Below are tips that helped me meet my academic goals with family and a full-time job.

1. Go to Class-And Yes, On Time.
Resist the urge to skip class for non-emergencies. Don’t create excuses either, reflect on the lesson from ‘The Boy Who Cried Wolf’ children’s story.

2. Stay Engaged-Use Different Methods.
Some of us learn through long lectures, others prefer instructors with engaging PowerPoints, while others must do something with their hands. Try taking notes with different colored pens, pencils, and highlighters to stay entertained during class.

3. Don’t Cram-Study Now.
Waiting until the night of a major exam can be disastrous for your GPA. Throughout the semester review your class notes daily before going to class and after class. This way you will retain more of the information through repetition.

4. Stop Procrastinating-Manage Your Time.
Organize your days by designating time for work, hanging out with friends, and study based on priority of deadlines.

5. Seek Support-Before Needing Help.
Remember, a cord of three strands is not quickly broken. We all go through stressful times, arrange to study with others in groups. Tackle challenges to learn material together, choose study mates wisely.

6. Quiz Yourself-Improve Your Knowledge.
Make flash cards or go digital with Quizlet’s online tool. Gauging your knowledge before exam time can prevent all-nighters.

7. Focus on Strengths-Not Weaknesses.
Are you most focused in morning or night? Consider your responsibilities at work and family obligations to allow time for rest.

8. Stay Positive-Visualize Success
If you tell yourself, “What’s the use? I’m going to fail anyway?” You will be 100% correct, 100% of the time. See yourself doing well on the final and determine steps necessary to make your dream a reality.

9. Rest-Don’t Stress.
According to Psychology Today, sleep is beneficial because 1) sleep protects new memories, lack of sleep makes you more irritable and forgetful 2) sleep consolidates memories according to their relative importance and the learner’s expectations for remembering.

10. Repeat Steps 1-9-Never Give Up.
Before you know it the semester will be over, you will log into student portal to review your semester grades and smile. You paid the price to win.

As usual, below is an update of my student loan balance. Until next time everyone! Stay strong, fight on, and have no debt but love!

Grief Is A Process: $66,305.41 Paid, $19,002.66 Till Payoff

Just Be There
Death seems so final. There are things we wish we could have said and done with loved ones before they pass away. It stings more as you grieve and people ask, “Is there anything I can do”? When the pain is indescribable, the best thing anyone can do in your time of hurt is be there.

I lost my biological father at an early age and recently lost my stepfather. As the Bible says, “Each heart knows its own bitterness, and no one else can share its joy” –Proverbs 14:10. I simply wish someone can just reach into my chest and take this pain away.

My Guilt, My Shame
I too am guilty-that even in our best intentions we are selfish. My encounters have been, “We will keep you in prayer”, “I’m sorry, I’m not available right now”, “How about tomorrow or next week”?
Or worse… the deafening silence from those you thought were closest to you.

But I have a friend in Christ who sticks closer to me than a brother.

Grief doesn’t have a schedule; it strikes at any moment. The most painful thing to hear at this time from someone is that they are too busy. Why are we too busy to comfort the ones we love? It leaves me to wonder, do we really love people as we claim to?

The Deepest Hurt

I now know not to ask, “What can I do” for someone who is grieving. It is best to just be there and serve the brokenhearted. We overthink what service looks like and in fear of rejection, we do nothing. At times, I don’t want to speak.

At times, I don’t want to have to explain that maybe I do need a cup of water or food after hours of sitting alone thinking about my fathers.

The pain of losing two fathers in my life cuts deep. I pray my children won’t have this same experience of loss at the ages of 6 and 33. I guess what hurts most is that neither man got a chance to meet my children.

The Future Isn’t Bleak
I am grateful for this pain because I understand more now than ever how important fathers are. I desire to grow old and witness the births of my grandchildren. Lord willing, I want to be a father who is involved in the lives of my children, my son and daughter-in-law(s).

I want my friends to know that I love them and I support them. I want to be a man who shows his wife what my submission under the authority of Christ looks like.

As part of bowing down to authority, I have debt to pay back. “The wicked borrow and do not repay…” -Psalm 37:21, and I don’t have time for wickedness. Below is an update on my student loans. Until next time everyone! Stay strong, fight on, and have no debt but love!

Tuition Assistance Is Here! $65,596.78 Paid, $19,711.29 Till Payoff

Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop

Just because you have “finished” college doesn’t mean you shouldn’t consider going back. I know… I know… I’m still paying back my undergrad and grad school student loans. Remember, there are many ways to pay for school besides going into debt (Scholarships, Family, Grants, 529 Plans, and crowdfunding sites like GoFundMe®).

However, an often overlooked tuition assistance source is employers.

Work Hard, Learn More

That’s right! Your job may extend scholarships to you and your dependent children. You may also get a salary boost or stipend for earning your degree as an employee. Talk to your HR office about existing educational benefits for yourself and perhaps your dependents. With the rising cost of tuition, a dollar saved is a dollar earned; because tuition won’t cost you pennies. That’s for sure.

Colleges and universities also offer great staff/administrator educational benefits. I am fortunate to work in higher education, so my employer pays the costs of two classes each fall/spring/summer sessions regardless of credit hour and final grade earned. However, I am mindful that my boss reviews my midterm and final grades to justify spending on my educational endeavors.

Employers Need Skilled Workers

Did you know your state may offer tuition exemptions/waivers for certain occupations? For example, the state of Texas will cover the cost of tuition for Police Officers enrolled in Law Enforcement or Criminal Justice classes. Firefighters receive the same benefit as employees or active members of volunteer fire departments to take Fire Science courses.

Right now, I am completing accounting courses in route to a certification to further improve my financial literacy. I am blessed with the opportunity to share my student loan debt story with students daily. The Lord has placed other things on my heart to take this mission further. It’s rough at times but as Joel Embiid of the Philadelphia 76ers says, “Trust the Process”.

Life’s a Marathon, Not a Sprint

Here’s an update on my student loan progress below. Until next time everyone! Stay strong, fight on, and have no debt but love.