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<<August 2014>>
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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: college, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 63
1. She Doesn’t Live Here Anymore

And so, the wheel turns. My eldest has moved to college. Although my Lovely Wife (LW) tells me we have to keep her room intact because she will still come home, I remember that I never lived at home after I left for college. I am somewhat sad about that, but we’ve been prepping for this and hoping she would take flight someday. It’s just hard to watch the baby condor drop off the ledge knowing the perilous plunge that awaits.

I’m taking it pretty well, actually. LW, not so much. Everything in the house seems to remind her that one of her babies has left the nest. Tears, oh there have been tears. I don’t understand tears, nor do I deal with them very well. I remind LW that she’s always got me… forever…  Somehow, that doesn’t seem to help.

After moving our collegian, we had to take our little patient in for treatment where she and mom stayed a few days. While they were gone, I happened into the pantry and realized LW must not have been there since baby condor left. If food packaging could form a face, every piece of junk food in there conspired to draw our missing daughter – even to me and I’m oblivious to the most obvious of things.

This was bad! I couldn’t let LW see this, she would cry for days. It all had to go, but the cheapskate in me said I also couldn’t throw out all of the food. Only one option remained. A 24 hour binge of Munchos and Dr. Pepper.

Have you ever read the nutrition label on those things? DON’T! You can gain 3 pounds just from holding the bag too long. They don’t list things by proportion, otherwise the label would read something like this:

Lard 70%image

Air 27%

Salt 2.5%

Potatoes 0.5%

How they bond the ingredients I will never know. Anyway, I polished off the first bag for breakfast and washed it down with three Dr. Peppers. I checked the remaining inventory and was disheartened to discover that LW must have decided to stock up to try to lure the girl to forsake college and stay with us. Either that or she suspected a Y2k15 disaster and wanted to be prepared. Our pantry was like a saferoom.

This is where having many offspring should pay off! I enlisted the help of the remaining children. When I explained the dilemma, I got more “Oh, Dad” eye rolls than the average game of nine-ball. One took a Dr. Pepper before she left, so I was down to hoarder’s surplus minus one. Alone, I dug in for the day.

In the late evening, I was sure a trip the emergency room was in order. The pantry was reverting back to a faceless state, and my stomach was screaming something in Idahoan. I was sweating a substance that looked like maple syrup, which can’t be good. I put in a call to Poison Control where a kind gentleman told me there was no known toxicity in the combination, but urged me to go to the hospital if I felt light-headed. That’s the last thing I remember before passing out amongst the crumbs of the last bag.

When I came to, it was time to go and pick up LW and the youngest. I used the shower squeegee to remove the syrup-sweat and when I arrived, they were ready to go. The trip home was uneventful, I successfully hid the tick and slurred speech caused by sugar intake. While I was unloading the car, LW stopped me.

“Where are the snacks for the party?”

I shrugged my shoulders and grunted. I didn’t ask ‘what party’, I’m sure I’d been told.

“The pantry was full of them.”

“I dunno,” I replied without making eye contact.

“Well, we need more for the party Saturday. Can you go to the store?”

“Uh, sure.”

They say never go to the store hungry. I went full! And I bought $57 worth of Dr. Pepper and Munchos, feeling bloated and quite resentful. Even after all the sweets, this was a bitter pill to swallow.

Filed under: It Made Me Laugh

1 Comments on She Doesn’t Live Here Anymore, last added: 8/21/2014
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2. Spotlight and Giveaway: Choosing You by Allie Everhart

Choosing You

Jade Series #1

By: Allie Everhart


When Jade is given a scholarship to an elite private college in Connecticut, she sees it as a chance to finally escape her painful past and get a fresh start. She’s determined to succeed and that means keeping her focus on school and not guys. But her plan falls apart her first day on campus when Garret, a rich prep school boy with swimmer abs and a perfect smile, offers to help her move in.


Jade tries to push him away, but she can’t deny her attraction to him and Garret won’t let her. Things quickly heat up between them, but then come to a sudden halt when reality hits and Jade realizes that a relationship with Garret may never be possible. He comes from a world of wealth where there are rules, including rules about who he can date. And not following those rules has consequences.

As the two of them try to overcome the obstacles working to keep them apart, Jade is confronted with another challenge. On her 19th birthday, she receives a letter that her now deceased mother wrote years ago. In it are revelations that explain her traumatic childhood but also make her question the past she’s been running from.

Note: This is a New Adult novel and contains mature language and situations.

Link to Follow Tour: http://tastybooktours.blogspot.com/2014/04/now-booking-tasty-blurb-tour-for_26.html

Series Goodreads Page: https://www.goodreads.com/series/112892-jade

Buy Links

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Choosing-You-Jade-Series-ebook/dp/B00FCEBAEE/ref=zg_bs_6487838011_42

B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/choosing-you-allie-everhart/1117134964?ean=2940148697367

Kobo: http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/choosing-you

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/choosing-you/id806873933?ls=1&mt=11 \

Author Info

Allie Everhart writes about dating, love, and romance. She’s also a freelance writer for magazines and websites. Before freelancing, she was a book editor for a publishing company where she worked on several NYT bestselling nonfiction books. She loves to read as much as she loves to write. And when she’s not reading or writing, she’s outside running, which is when she gets her best book ideas.

Author Links







As soon as I start running, I feel the calmness I was craving. I get lost in the repetition of my movement around the oval track and I lose all sense of time. After a while the sun is really hot and I realize that it’s probably way past noon. I take a break and sit at the side of the track, completely soaked in sweat. 

“Have a good run?”  

I turn to see Garret walking toward me in navy athletic shorts and a gray t-shirt. It looks like he’s been running, too, although he’s not nearly as sweaty as me. 

“It was all right,” I say. “I don’t usually run on a track.”

“You should’ve come with me. I ran a couple miles around campus.”

I shake my head, sweat dripping off me like a wet dog. “That’s not far enough. I usually run 8 or 9 miles.”

He sits down next to me. As in right next to me. Can he not see how sweaty I am? I’m sure he can smell me from 10 feet away. I can’t even stand the smell of myself.

“Eight or 9 miles? You must be a serious runner. I’m a swimmer. I only run to improve my cardio for the pool. I do a couple miles at a normal pace and then I do sprints on the track.”

So that’s why he has that body. He’s a swimmer. That explains the broad shoulders and narrow waist V shape he’s got going on.

“Go ahead.” I point to the empty track. “It’s all yours.”

“Why don’t you do them with me?” he asks in a challenging tone. “Let’s race.”

I never turn down a challenge. Well, sometimes I do, but it’s rare. “I’m a distance runner, not a sprinter. But a distance runner can beat a swimmer any day. This should be easy.” I stand up, stretching my legs which are stiffening up after my short break.

“You think you can beat me, huh?” He stretches as well. “So what’s with the insults? You don’t like swimmers?”

I shrug. “Swimmers are okay. I just don’t think they have to work that hard. I mean, the water makes you basically weightless. It’s easy to go fast when you don’t have to drag your body weight around. You don’t get that benefit with running.”

His jaw basically drops to the ground. I’ve just insulted both him and something that’s near and dear to his heart. Apparently this has never happened to him before. Pretty boy must be used to only getting compliments. 

“Are you shitting me? Did you just say swimmers don’t work hard?”

“Yeah, why?” For some reason, I’m really loving insulting this guy.

“Game on, Iowa girl. Get your ass in position.” 

He sets himself up in lane one of the track. I take my sweet time walking over to lane two, yawning just for added effect.

“Do you need a head start?” I ask him, stretching my arms behind my back.

“Damn, you’re annoying.” He smiles when he says it. “We do one lap around. Ready? Three, two, one. Go!”

I take off down the lane, my eyes straight ahead pretending he’s not there. I quickly round the first end of the track and hit the straightaway. I imagine myself running far away from that place. Running back home and seeing Frank and Ryan again. I round the next end and keep running.

“Stop! We’re done!” I hear Garret’s voice and slow down, noticing that I’m already halfway through a second time around the track. I finish the loop and meet up with him again. He’s bent over, hands on his knees trying to catch his breath.

“Okay, I admit it. You’re fast,” he says, panting as sweat drips off his face.

“Fast? That was my normal pace.” 

He glances up at me, trying to figure out if I’m kidding. Then he stands up straight and wipes the sweat off his forehead. “Remind me never to do that again.” He walks over to the edge of the track and gets his water bottle. “You should sign up for cross country or track. You’re really fast.”

“Nah. I ran cross country in high school. Now I just run when I’m stressed.” It’s true, but I wish I hadn’t said it. It makes me sound weak and I hate sounding weak, especially around a guy.

Series Info

Description of The Jade Series

The Jade Series is a New Adult Romance that follows the relationship of Jade and Garret in their first year of college. In Choosing You, (Jade 1), Jade and Garret meet on Jade’s first night at Moorhurst College and despite their strong attraction to each other, they’re not allowed to date because of the strict rules that control Garret’s life. In Knowing You, (Jade 2), Garret breaks the family rules and begins dating Jade. Their relationship grows deeper but issues from Jade’s past complicate matters. Loving You (Jade 3) shows Jade and Garret growing closer as a couple but also hints at the trouble that lies ahead in Promising You (Jade 4), in which a new challenge emerges for Garret that could interfere with the future he wants with Jade. Originally, book 4 was the end of the series, but fans wanted more of Jade and Garret, so Allie recently published Forever You, an all-new, full-length follow-up book to The Jade Series.

Buy Links

Buy Links for KNOWING YOU
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Knowing-You-The-Jade-Series-ebook/dp/B00GEB7LM4/ref=zg_bs_6361435011_29

Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/knowing-you-allie-everhart/1117322750?ean=2940148876861

Kobo: http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/knowing-you

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/knowing-you/id807091940?mt=11

Buy Links for LOVING YOU
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Loving-You-The-Jade-Series-ebook/dp/B00H9GMPYM/ref=pd_sim_kstore_2

Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/loving-you-allie-everhart/1117673203?ean=2940149098064

Kobo: http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/loving-you-5

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/loving-you/id807103144?mt=11


Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Promising-You-The-Jade-Series-ebook/dp/B00I0XNO3E/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top

BN: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/promising-you-allie-everhart/1118212305?ean=2940148168188

Kobo: http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/promising-you

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/promising-you/id807114110?mt=11

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The post Spotlight and Giveaway: Choosing You by Allie Everhart appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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3. Delinquent Blog Writer Turns In Self

dreamstime_xs_40481396blogEver notice when you pick up a bad habit it’s easier to keep it than shed it? Yeah, my bad habit is ignoring my blog. This time, for a couple months. I know. I give no warning. Disappear. Then try to pick up the pieces of a blog that’s feeling the pangs of rejection from it’s very own mama.

Here I offer up my top 5 excuses; or as I like to say to that sweet police office writing me a speeding ticket, my “Mitigating Circumstances.”

1. That cough-up-a-lung illness that was going around. I am a germ-magnet. Not only did I catch it, but it decided we needed to have a “relationship” that lasted 5 weeks.

2. Normally, I teach 2-4 independent studies in the Spring Semester on top of my regular credit hour load. This Spring I did 9. *Thumps Head*

3. Three kids. The oldest is a senior in highschool, the middle one runs on Energizer rabbit batteries, and the youngest is currently channeling Cersei Lannister (the attitude, not the extracurricular activities). I know, it could be worse. Could be Joffrey. Or that Ramsay guy.

4. I started a children’s publishing company with my parents, because you know, I don’t have enough stuff crammed into my life. Then I wrote 2-1/3 books for the publishing company to publish. Yeah, that 1/3 is a WIP I’m still working on.

5. When faced with the choice of writing for the blog or taking a nap, I’ve napped. Because, well, see excuses 1-4.

So why are things different now? Well, my semester is over. My oldest is poised to get his drivers license and his HS diploma. *Fist Pump* My other two kids can play outside all day because the temperature in Rockford is finally above freezing. With a renewed respect for germs, I’m starting to rub elbows instead of shaking hands. And that little publishing company is in its third trimester, ready to birth some books into the world.


Picture © Iqoncept

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4. A Final Napkin Masterpiece

I am coming to terms with the fact that yesterday was my eldest’s last day of high school…sort of. I am not given to emotion, but this is a big deal. In a little over a week we will celebrate her graduation where she will walk across the stage with ribbons, cords, and medals she earned for her outstanding achievements of the past four years. I had a ribbon adorning my graduation gown, as well. Just look at my picture as I accepted what I thought was my diploma.


Yes, R. Ted Boehm knew that wasn’t my ribbon also. I mooched it from someone who had already walked – note the smarmy grin quickly quelled when Mr. Boehm whispered “This is not really your diploma either, son.”  Oh the relief when I did pick a real one up a few days later. I’m guessing he got more than a few reprobates with that nugget over the years.

There is no doubt she will get a diploma, though. And in the fall she will go off to college. She is loud, messy, a bit sassy at times…and I will miss her greatly. I will miss being woken up by her singing at inappropriate hours of the night. I will miss her ignoring me as she saunters to her room and I will miss her friends being over to all hours watching movies underneath my room with the volume so high my bed shakes. (In writing this I wonder why teenagers hate sleep.) I jest. I could list her positive qualities, but my blog would run out of storage space. She is a true gem – a lovely, talented, and godly young lady.

And so, I drew her a last napkin art yesterday morning. I don’t have any idea when this tradition started or why, but whenever I pack lunches, I draw them a little picture on their napkin. My drawing ability would have to increase significantly to be called rudimentary. My sketches are barely above cave art. But if I ever pack a lunch and forget napkin art, they call me on it. Often my pictures are so terrible that I have to explain what I drew and why it is funny (to me).  Ironically, they also render the napkin basically useless as an instrument of cleanliness.

Most of the time they involve animal humor, but on this occasion I drew a creative take on graduation where my graceful daughter trips in front of the principal.


I doubt it will come true, but you never know with all of those cords & ribbons weighing her down. Those things are dangerous on many levels, thus my aversion to earning any.

10 Comments on A Final Napkin Masterpiece, last added: 5/15/2014
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5. Double Digit (A Girl Named Digit): Annabel Monaghan

Book: Double Digit (A Girl Named Digit)
Author: Annabel Monaghan
Pages: 192
Age Range: 12 and up

Double Digit is the sequel to A Girl Named Digit (reviewed here). Double Digit finds our heroine, Digit, starting college at MIT, and planning on a long distance relationship with her 21-year-old FBI agent boyfriend, John. At MIT, math genius Digit finds a quirky, agreeable roommate, other friends who accept her for who she is, and an attractive, kindred spirit resident advisor. Really, what she finds is a place where she is finally comfortable, and where she can use her prodigious intellect for research that matters, and feel at home. Until, that is, a hacking incident gets her in hot water with the CIA, and her old nemesis, Jonas Furnis, tries to kidnap her. Various chases, deadlines, and code-breaking ensue. 

Digit is one of my favorite recent book characters. She's smart but not arrogant. Her sensitivity to patterns amounts almost to a disability (she can't stand it when things are mis-aligned or chaotic). She's introverted, but loyal to her friends and family members. She genuinely and in a non-annoying way, wants to improve the world. And she's bright enough to actually do something about it, if the people who want things from her will let her. 

There are two details that I love about Digit's first-person voice. First, periodically we'll see her inner monologue, followed by what she actually says. And often there are the same (or at least consistent). She doesn't hold back. Second, the chapter headings are hilarious. From "What could possibly go wrong?" to "Some days you're the windshield; other days you're the bug."

Digit often has keen little insights. Like this (starting with remarks from Digit's roommate, Tiki):

""...And this thing with Howard is pretty serious, maybe the real deal. I think." There was something about the way the light left her face as she said this. It was like she wasn't buying her own story." (Page 7)

And on New England trees and weather (vs. LA):

"But here it's sort of dynamic. Like every day you wake up and the weather's a little different, the light's a little different. It keeps you on your toes." (53)

Then there's her self-deprecating humor:

"What more could a girl ask for? I had an ex-boyfriend who'd been spending all his time with Malibu Barbie, a brother who was dressed in drag, a slice across my neck, and a one-way ticket into witness protection." (Page 68)

Honestly, who wouldn't want the whole context, after reading that snippet? 

So yes, Digit is a character I enjoy reading about. I hope that she has many more adventures. And I think that MIT is the perfect place for her. And yes, there is also action, danger, and high-stakes suspense in Double Digit (as in the first book). It's not exactly realistic action (though more so than the Young Bond and Anthony Horowitz novels and the like), but it's great fun. 

A note on age range for readership. Double Digit is set in college. There is a muted reference to Digit having apparently slept with John (and intending to do so again), but nothing overt. Digit and Tiki do attend a toga party, where Tiki drinks too much. But overall, despite the college setting and the 21-year-old (mostly ex)boyfriend, this is no "sexy-times New Adult" novel. The language is fine, and there ends up barely even being kissing. I think it's fine for YA readers.

Another note. Although the main character is female, and more cerebral than action-oriented, I think that the Digit series would work well for male readers, too. There is hacking, a cool robot, and code-breaking. There is a toga party. There is, in short, no reason on earth for boys to brush this off as a girl book, and I applaud the publisher's choice of a blue cover.

But I also think that the truest sweet spot for the Digit books lies with smart, math-oriented girls, who will be thrilled to embrace Digit as one of their own. I would have been so, so thrilled to run across these books when I was in high school. Heck, I'm still thrilled, despite my 25 year high school reunion having come and gone. I can't wait to see what's up for Digit next (and I know which of her two potential love interests I would like her to choose, too). 

Double Digit is highly recommended for YA or adult readers, male or female. But do read A Girl Named Digit first, for background (and more time with Digit). This one is due out next week. 

Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers (@HMHBooks)
Publication Date:  January 7, 2014
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher

FTC Required Disclosure:

This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through Amazon links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).

© 2013 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook

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6. Roomies: Sara Zarr and Tara Altebrando

Book: Roomies
Authors: Sara Zarr (@SaraZarr) and Tara Altebrando (@TaraAltebrando)
Pages: 288
Age Range: 13 and up

Roomies is the story of the summer before college, told from the alternating perspective of two future roommates. Elizabeth, or EB, lives in New Jersey with her single mother, and looks forward to traveling across the country to UC Berkeley at the end of August. Lauren, or Lo, lives in San Francisco, and worries about how her parents will cope with her five much younger siblings once she has moved across the Bay. The two young women get to know one another slowly, with fits and starts, via email throughout the summer. The entire book is not told in email, though - details about the girls' lives are filled in via alternating first-person chapters. 

Although both Lauren and Elizabeth have summer relationships with boys, I liked that the core relationship that Roomies is exploring is that of the two future roommates. The romances are both nice (one inter-racial, one inter-socioeconomic-status), but neither demonstrates much conflict. Authors Sara Zarr and Tara Altebrando reserve that for EB and Lo's relationship. The alternating viewpoints allow the reader to glimpse each girl from the outside, and their voices are quite distinct. The digital version that I read also used a much larger font for one of the viewpoints, which helped, too. I never had that problem of wondering which character I was reading about (something I frequently notice in first-person multiple-narrator stories). 

I also liked the authors' choice to set this book during the summer before college. This is a such a pivotal time for teens - preparing to leave family and high school friends, uncertain about the future - or at least it was for me. I'm thrilled to find another novel that takes this on. (Roomies could paid well with Justina Chen's Return to Me). 

Another aspect of Roomies that I appreciated was that the authors weren't afraid to take on discussions about race and sexual preference. Elizabeth's long-absent father is gay, while Lauren's simmering relationship is with a boy who is black (as she is not). More to the point, Lauren and Elizabeth discuss these things - Elizabeth's awkward feelings about having a gay dad, and the uncertainty that Lauren feels in dating someone black (Keyon), because this is new for her. Here's a quote:

"Race. It's so tricky, even though we're all supposedly enlightened and color-blind. I don't want it to be a Thing. But it kind of is a Thing, isn't it?" (Lauren, describing her first visit to Keyon's house)

Both Lauren's and Keyon's parents are well-meaning but also awkward. All in all, I found this refreshing. 

I did find some of the text (mostly from Lauren) a little ... deliberately profound. Like this:

"As much as I love to imagine being alone in an orderly lab, I also know you can't stay in there forever and expect to do good work. Life is one of those experiments meant to be conducted in a stimulating, messy environment."

But that's a minor quibble from an adult reader. The style of writing will probably work well for actual teens who are thinking about heading off to college, and all of the change that this implies.

Roommates getting to know one another over the summer before college is the perfect vehicle for teen self-exploration. Roomies is a relatively light take on relationships with friends, boyfriends, and, of course, roommates. There is some adult behavior discussed (including sex), though nothing described in detail. This is still YA, not new adult, in other words, but I don't see it having much interest for kids who aren't yet in high school. For kids (mainly girls) approaching the end of high school, though, Roomies would make a great gift. 

Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (@LBKids)
Publication Date: December 24, 2013
Source of Book: Advance digital review copy from the publisher

FTC Required Disclosure:

This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through Amazon links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).

© 2013 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook

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7. That would be excellent


I've been a very bad blogger this year, mainly because of this, of course. But G's treatments are now done, and we're working toward getting our life back to our "new normal." But first, we're moving apartments this week and packing is exhausting!

As always happens, while packing I've been finding forgotten things, like this letter Grace had sent me back when we were both seniors in high school. I had brought this with me from my parents' house in California a while back because I wanted to quote some of the letter in a talk I was giving, I think.

In it, we talked about boys, of course. I had asked her to send me a boyfriend, so she sent me this guy:

Cute, huh? She named him Roger.

And here are a few snippets from the letter:

"I'm going to illustrate children's books, y'know. That would be so cool. One day when we're all grown up, you'll see in a book store: Illustrated by Grace P. Lin. That would be excellent."


"I wish I could show you my portfolio. Then you could tell me if you think I'm talented. Or then you could lie to me and tell me you think I'm the bestest artist in the world and of course I will make it into RISD."

I wonder if Grace has the letter I wrote back to her. But I'm sure I said something like:

I think you're talented, Grace! You are the bestest artist in the world, you will make it into RISD, and you will become a famous children's book author and illustrator.

See, I can predict the future!

4 Comments on That would be excellent, last added: 10/31/2013
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8. The Pros and Cons of Getting a Higher Education Locally

While conducting research for an article about colleges in Broward County, I was overwhelmed by how many choices there are for schools in my community. Times have certainly changed since I graduated from Florida State University in 1983. Back then there was a small community college in Broward County and a few nondescript vocational programs promoted with tacky TV ads.  College trends have changed drastically in many ways to meet the ever-changing needs of the business world and job market. Here’s what I noticed about local college trends:

  1. More people are seeking to get a degree while working full time.
  2. Many students in local colleges are older, having worked for quite a few years after high school.
  3. Colleges have adapted better to schedules, providing online courses, night classes and flexible class hours to accommodate working people.
  4. Colleges are offering more focused majors that apply directly to the work force, like Network Systems and are shying away from general degrees like Philosophy.
  5. There’s a great demand for workers with technical degrees.
  6. More workers are seeking graduate degrees than ever before as more jobs are requiring them.
  7. Colleges are putting more effort into their job placement programs to attract more students.
  8. Community colleges are adding four-year bachelor’s degrees to their academic programs.
  9. Adults currently working prefer to attend colleges with smaller classroom size (number of students).
  10. The cost of obtaining a higher education has gone way, way up.

As parents who currently pay tuition for our daughter, who attends one of the nation’s top-rated universities, we are all too familiar with the ultra high cost of a quality college education.  But after researching schools for my article, I’ve learned that it’s not just the top schools in the nation that are costly. Most colleges – big or small, prestigious or not – are now ultra costly.  So it’s important to weigh the pros and cons when choosing a local college education. Ask yourself:

  1. Is the tuition affordable?
  2. How am I going to pay for it?
  3. Do I want a long term loan I will not be able to pay off for many years to come?
  4. Is the college/university’s reputation worth the tuition?
  5. If I were to move to another city or state, would the college be respected (or even known) by potential employers there?
  6. Is it best to attend an in-state school to keep costs down?
  7. Am I choosing a major that has a good long-term outlook as far as job placement?
  8. Will going back to school now really boost my pay at work or future promotion potential?
  9. Do I really have time to work, take care of family, attend classes and study?
  10. What are my long-term career goals?

There’s a lot to think about when deciding whether or not to go back to school. But the good news is that there are more choices than ever before, and you don’t have to love or give up your job to get a decent education in many places in the US.

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9. On the Eve of Teaching

I am sitting here in a mad scramble to finish up these notes for my very first class I'll be teaching tomorrow. Yes, that's correct. I'll be teaching a class on children's book illustration for Portland State University for the second half of this semester. I'm scrambling to get these notes together, to make sure I don't sound like an idiot and what am I doing? Posting something for the blog? I know, it doesn't make sense, but I don't care. I need a little bit of a break from all this note-taking and image-gathering, just to somehow gather my thoughts somehow. It's been a long time coming, some folks have said. I agree. To a point. I've always enjoyed talking to students about what I do (I've done several appearances wherein I talk about my career, show a few tricks of the trade & how I work, and show off some of my vintage book collection), but it's an entirely different thing to actually teach. The more I think about it, the more nervous I get.

I hope I'm up for it. I guess I better be, huh? After all, it's only the potential careers of 11 some odd art & design students that're on the line here, right?

Many thanks (or blame) to Kate Bingaman Burt for roping me into doing this. She & her co-horts got a good thing going on at the Graphic Design department at PSU. Looking forward to being a part of the mix.

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10. Go, Renee Olstead!

You may recognize Renee Olstead from her current role as Madison on ABC Family's The Secret Life of the American Teenager, or you might have seen her as Lauren on the TV series Still Standing. Maybe you saw her in the movie 13 Going on 30. But did you know that Renee is not only an accomplished singer and actress, but also a student? She's currently attending college classes and working on two productions, a new season of Secret Life and the movie The Midnight Game.

Renee recently posted an article at The Huffington Post in which she thanks her English professor, Joan Eyles Johnson, for inspiring her to be "a better writer, citizen, and human being." She goes on to say:

"I want to speak up and tell you that mascara and clothes don't make you cool, neither do name-brand handbags, but being a leader can. Every day we can choose to challenge what we 'know' and go on our own quest for answers. As teens, you have the ability to channel your thoughts and inspirations through the power of social media, to connect with one another and start social movements for change! Find something you care about -- social injustice, animal rights, international war crimes, human trafficking, or women's rights -- and make a statement. Connect with one another, take a stand, and spread the word."

Click here to read Renee's article.

Follow Renee on Twitter @renee_olstead - and tell her @readergirlz sent you!

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11. February Research Roundup

Happy February! Here are some interesting happenings, research, and innovation that you might want to share with your patrons. As always, leave comments if you have any suggestions.

  • Programs such as the It Gets Better Project have made teen suicides, especially those related to homophobia, a more pressing issue. But is it reaching middle school-aged teens and tweens? A new study shows that many teens who have made suicide attempts made their first ones before high school, which means new approaches to mental health and wellbeing need to be taken earlier. U.S. News and World Report did a writeup of the study, which was published in the Journal of Adolescent Health.
  • If you’re looking for a way to make your programming happen outside of the library, take a note from Katie Glick, a poet who set up the Spontaneous Prose Store, which consisted of her, sitting on a street corner, selling poems. Passersby could offer a monetary donation and Glick composed a poem for them on the spot. If your library hosts a writing group, propose they do this instead of a normal meeting. Or set teens up at different points in the library, having them compose on-the-spot poems for or about other patrons, random books pulled from shelves, or anything else you can think up.
    Rosenbaum, Richard. “Poetry in the Streets: The Spontaneous Prose Store.” Broken Pencil, 53 (2011).
  • I don’t even have a suggestion for this, but it was too interesting not to share. The Telegraph has reported that, in the UK, at least, parents are increasingly deciding not to read fairy tales to their children, because they consider them too scary or outdated for them. That’s striking, considering most people like to talk about how sanitized fairy tales have become over the years. If nothing else, this should spark discussion amongst your colleagues and patrons about that ever-present topic in libraries: censorship.
  • The University of California system is actually considering going tuition-free, Colorlines reports. Students presented a plan to the UC president proposing that, instead of paying tuition, graduates pay a portion of their income for 20 years after graduation, which would actually make the university more money in the long run. Bring this up as a snappy tidbit at college application or SAT workshops, or use it to spark a discussion about the economy and teens’ plans for the future.

Until next month!

bookmark bookmark bookmark

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12. Update on the Birthday Girl--Blondechick19!

She's a college girl now.

She got a music scholarship, so she's been taking voice lessons, participating in choir, and singing with the worship team in chapel.  She sang recently at our All-Church Talent Show:

She probably wouldn't want me to post this, since it wasn't her very best performance; she was at the Urgent Care the next day for an ear infection AND an upper respiratory infection.  But no one else could tell!

She's planning on switching majors, though.  She can still be in choir, voice lessons and worship team, and probably keep most of her scholarship, but she can tell she's just not cut out for the hours in the practice room that a music major requires.  She's not thrilled about her required keyboard lessons or Music Theory class either.  Music Theory is, in fact, the bane of her existence this semester.

And she's coming home tonight, on her birthday, for Thanksgiving break!  Her siblings are excited.

(I call this "the blonde team." Half our kids have the white-blonde hair, and we honestly can't figure out where it came from! No blondes among their parents, grandparents and great-grandparents. Yes, my husband is half Norwegian, but Grandpa says that out of the 11 in his immediate family, only one sister was blonde.)

Mugging for the camera is one of her favorite activities!

These two have always been close.  Ask either one of them who their BFF is, and they will name the other.

(It is one of my great joys and blessings that my kids all seem to like and enjoy each other.  I don't know if we've done something to cultivate this or if it's just a gift!  I think homeschooling has contributed to a great extent, and it's probably the right mix of ages and genders too.  Recently B16 told me that one of the best things about being home this year has been re-establishing his relationship with B12--they are enjoying each other a lot.  Too much, sometimes, given their school workload--but I am so grateful!)

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13. So what do we think? The End of the Line

End of the Line: A Parker Noble Mystery


Manno, Mike (2010) End of the Line: A Parker Noble Mystery. Five Star Publishing of Gale, Cengage Learning. ISBN 978-1594148637. Litland recommends of interest to adults, acceptable for older teens.

 Publisher description:  When former banker R. J. Butler is found murdered on a city transit bus, police take little time making a connection with the embezzlement at his former bank. But is that the motive for his murder? State police detective Sergeant Jerome Stankowski and his persnickety “partner,” Parker Noble, are called to investigate and run into a host of possibilities including a trophy wife on drugs and an ex-wife desperately needing a church annulment R. J. was blocking..

 Our thoughts:

 The second installment of the Parker Noble series, End of the Line, is a fun yet engaging, quick-paced detective mystery. Parker Noble may be the genius who solves the crimes, but it is Detective “Stan” Stankowski’s antics both on and off the job that lighten the story. Truly a man’s man, Stankowski enjoys girl watching while being easily manipulated by his somewhat-girlfriend Buffy the reporter.  He  tries to juggle dating 3 girls at the same time, each end up having a role in solving the mystery. Meanwhile, the contrast of Parker’s rigidly-ordered life to Stan’s adds color, and both humor and clues surface throughout the story just often enough to keep the reader alert. My favorite dialogue pertains to Parker’s dog, Buckwheat Bob the basset hound, who listens to talk radio while Parker is at work:

(Stan) “I take it that the human voice is soothing for him?”…(Parker) ”Not really, he likes to listen to the political talk”…”You don’t think he understands all of that, do you?”…”Don’t know, Stanley. All I can tell you is that he’s turned into quite a Republican.” LOL!

 A cozy mystery written for adults, it would probably have a PG rating if a movie: use of the bird finger; one suspect referred to as tramp, hussy, nude model; Buffy pressuring Stan into taking a vacation together. However, Stan remains chaste in his girl-chasing and the story is focused on the relationships between all the characters, which adds depth, interest and a few chuckles along the way. A fun story available in the Litland.com Bookstore.

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14. We can’t teach students to love reading

By Alan Jacobs While virtually anyone who wants to do so can train his or her brain to the habits of long-form reading, in any given culture, few people will want to. And that's to be expected. Serious "deep attention" reading has always been and will always be a minority pursuit, a fact that has been obscured in the past half-century, especially in the United States, by the dramatic increase in the percentage of the population attending college, and by the idea (only about 150 years old) that modern literature in vernacular languages should be taught at the university level.

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15. Blondechick At College

Well, she's all moved in.  With a little help from her fam!

There actually was enough room in the closet for her all her clothes. We were surprised.

Since this picture was taken, she and her roommate have bought matching shower curtains to cover their closets, so all the clothes aren't exposed to view.  I forgot to ask what color.

She took a page from "Legally Blonde" with her room decor--all hot pink!

And here's how she feels about college so far....

And how is Mom?  Everyone keeps asking me that, and honestly, I'm just so happy for her, that I haven't even begun to really feel much sadness.  I think it will sink in eventually.  But considering how close she came to going a completely different route and missing out on this entirely, I am just so relieved and thrilled and happy to be back to Plan A!  As we left her on Saturday, I barely had room for any emotion other than overwhelming thankfulness for this opportunity for her.

And God is doing a work in her heart.  I wish I could share some of the things she's learned from going through all the heartbreak, pain, anger and confusion, and finally moved on to acceptance and thankfulness.  We've had so many good conversations, and she's continuing, even in these first whirlwind days of orientation and activities, to lean into God and to rediscover her self.

Her Facebook status today is "God is so GOOD."  For an 18-year-old girl who's had to change her Facebook profile from "engaged" to "in a relationship" to "single" in the last two months, that's a pretty huge statement.

I am so proud of her.  And so thankful!

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16. Keeping Him Busy Until Something Happens

Springfield is a college town – in case you didn’t know that.

We have:

Missouri State
Drury University
Evangel University
Baptist Bible College
Central Bible College
Ozarks Technical College
Vatterott College
Cox School of Nursing

And I’m sure I’ve missed a few more technical colleges.

All of these colleges are crammed into our “little” city. (We’re actually the third largest city in Missouri, but you rarely hear that fact because we’re ignored a lot of the time. Which … is actually okay with me because the media is lame to begin with).

So when Fall rolls around, the college students start POURING in. Which is fine – it’s great for our economy, not so great for our traffic flow. But whatever We quickly adapt.

Now that Dude has graduated from high school …

*Side Note: Now that Dude is 18, I really don’t have a problem calling him by his real name on this blog. I want to, but I don’t think it’s wise given this blog comes up pretty easily in Google (not because it’s popular but because I’ve been blogging for nearly seven years now) and I don’t want a potential employer googling Dude’s name and this blog comes up. It’s not that I have anything to hide, per se, but it might just be too weird to watch baby videos of a potential candidate … in case you were wondering why I still refer to my oldest son as “Dude.”

… and has applied for 17 jobs (at last count – and yes, we’re keeping track of where he has been applying as well as the dates he applied through an Excel sheet), but hasn’t actually landed a job yet, he has some time on his hands. Time that he WILL NOT waste away by playing video games all day long.

Since his long-term goal is computers, Kevin suggested (as in STRONGLY suggested, as in you don’t really have a choice until you get a job suggested) that Dude come up to the office every weekday afternoon and work toward his A+ certification. (Computer places won’t hire you to work on computers unless you have this certification). He’s also dabbling in Java and PHP, too. (Those are computer programs, in case you don’t speak geek. HA!)

We really expected him to complain about this “arrangement,” but so far, Kevin and I think he’s actually relieved to have something TO DO while he bides his time on the job front. I mean, playing games is fun and all, but doing it every day, all day long, has GOT to get old after a while.

Learning Java

I think he likes the independence, too. He comes and goes as he pleases (as long as he gets to the office around 1-ish and stays until 4:30 – 5-ish) and he drives his own car. We wanted to give him a taste of what it’s like to leave the house and report somewhere. I want to eventually make him get to the office earlier – there’s really no excuse NOT to. We wake him up at 8:00 (because if we didn’t, he’d sleep until noon every day and if he wants to do that on his days off after his gets a job, fine. But until he gets a job, he’s not sleeping all day and staying up all night &ndas

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17. So what do we think? Waking Rose: a fairy tale retold


 Doman, Regina. (2007) Waking Rose: a fairy tale retold. Front Royal, VA: Chesterton Press. ISBN #978-0-981-93184-5. Author recommended age: 16 +. Litland.com also recommends 16+.  See author explanation for parents at http://www.fairytalenovels.com/page.cfm/cat/116//

Publisher’s description: Ever since he rescued her from Certain Death, Rose Brier has had a crush on Ben Denniston, otherwise known as Fish. But Fish, struggling with problems of his own, thinks that Rose should go looking elsewhere for a knight in shining armor. Trying to forget him, Rose goes to college, takes up with a sword-wielding band of brothers, and starts an investigation into her family’s past that proves increasingly mysterious. Then a tragic accident occurs, and Fish, assisted by Rose’s new friends, finds himself drawn into a search through a tangle of revenge and corruption that might be threatening Rose’s very life. The climax is a crucible of fear, fight, and fire that Fish must pass through to reach Rose and conquer his dragons.

Our thoughts:

It is difficult to capture the essence of this story coherently because it touches upon so many aspects of life. There is the mystery, of course, and continuing depth of family loyalty amongst the Briers. The craziness of those first years experienced when young adults leave their nest and venture into the outer world of college life, whether as newbie freshmen or advanced graduate students. Unlikely friendships as the strong nurture the weak with Kateri mentoring Donna in her mental illness, and Rose guiding Fish through abuse recovery. Fish’s loyalty to Rose, taken to the extreme, becomes unforgiving. But then self-denigration turns into enlightenment and hope.

And after all of that is said, we are left with the relationship of Fish and Rose finally reaching a neat and tidy conclusion :>)

The girls have progressed in the series to young adults. Blanche just married Bear and Rose is off to college. Fish continues in his college program too. Doman shows us the challenges young adults face when they first enter the world on their own, particularly in making friends and exploring crushes. We can imagine ourselves engaged in the chit chat and horseplay typical in budding relationships. Important also is the picture implanted in our mind of courtship.

Throughout the story, we can see the existence of three pillars: faith, family and friends. Whenever one of these pillars is weakened, internal conflict and unsafe situations arise. Maintaining the balance, we see Rose’s keen ability for discernment that has been honed as a result of consistency in faith life, family home “culture, and choice of friends. Her discernment is key to good decisions, keeping safe, etc.

Going beyond stereotypes, the dialogue paints a clear picture of the perceptions held by non-Christians against Christians, countered with a realistic portrayal of the passionate young Christian student. Previous books portrayed ac

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18. I have a lot of catching up to do here because it’s been a...

I have a lot of catching up to do here because it’s been a busy few weeks with the end of the school year.

It’s strange but here in China most students are not actually around campus for their final semester of school. As second semester seniors they are expected to go off and find jobs and internships and generally get all the experience they should have been getting all along (and of course still pay for a semester of school while doing it). It is a little bit of a sad time for them because it is confusing, scary and I imagine lonely being away from all of your friends right when your college life is coming to an end.

I was on my own one night for dinner when I ran into a group of students I hadn’t taught since my first semester here. They were back to pick up their diplomas and were having one last dinner together. They kindly invited me along and we had a nice time with lots of toasting and a melancholy mood. Then we went to the field that plays a central role in most student’s lives. There they lit and sent lanterns off into the sky with their prayers, wishes and desires to combat, what seems to them now, an unstable and difficult future. It was a very beautiful moment and I really appreciate them sharing it with me.

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19. Passing Notes

Delivery from Etsy

Image by cowbite via Flickr

Did you ever get in trouble for passing notes in class?

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20. The best gifts come from the heart

Last Friday I was fortunate to take part in an event sponsored by Kappa Kappa Gamma, the sorority I belonged to at Duke. We visited K through 1 kids in the after school program at the George Washington Carver Center in Norwalk, and gave them books to keep of their very own from the organization so near and dear to all of our hearts, Reading is Fundamental. (BTW, if you haven't responded to RIF's latest action alert, please do so NOW by clicking here.

From Blogpics

Dr. Susan Weinberger, (aka "Dr. Mentor") a former assistant Superintendent of Schools in Norwalk and founder of the Mentor Consulting Group read the featured book aloud in such an engaging way - she had the kids wagging their fingers and responding to the book's signature line with brio.

Before rewarding them with cupcakes, we did a craft. I'd suggested something that we have them make their own books, which they could write a few reasons why they loved someone special in their life and give it to them as a gift. My kids had done something like that for me at their age in school, and I still treasure those books - especially the observations like: "My mom is always reading books"and "My mom makes the best chocolate chip cookies in the whole world." :-)

As I moved around the room helping some of the kids to write, what became heartrendingly apparent were the stories between the lines of what I was writing. The stories where Mom and Dad didn't really figure - but thankfully there was an aunt or a grandparent who was a steady figure for the child. I wanted to hug all these kids but I also wanted to thank the person they were having me write to for being there for them.

Well, last night for Hanukkah, my son gave us a book of his own. I got all verklempt reading it, because it was about this:

Son is clearly thinking about the creature comforts that will be lacking in a college dorm, because the first few things were:

See - everyone thought that when I put chauffeur in my author bio it was a joke. They were WRONG!!!
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21. An Award and the Beatles!

I received a blog award and I am sharing my love for the Beatles

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22. Women’s Stories

International Women's Day

Image by George via Flickr

In honor of International Women’s Day what has been your biggest challenge as a woman?

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23. Answer: The skeleton was real

Keble College Chapel as viewed across the quad...

Image via Wikipedia

*Dear readers, you have inspired me to continue with one more year of questions. Thanks for the new subscriptions and the encouragement. The next year of questions starts tomorrow. Here’s this year’s last answer*

The skeleton was real.

One fearless thing. That’s all I wanted. One crazy-ass thing.

But I never thought it would happen the way it did. I never thought I’d jump. And the real kicker is? I know the real reason why and I’ll never tell. I guess you could say I took it with me to the grave. But I’m totally claustrophobic so it was more like taking it to the crematorium which is a way creepier sounding word than grave, but just doesn’t have the same ring to it. Since the world’s running out of places to bury people maybe it’ll catch on.

It all started at a football game. There was this guy. And there was my lying boyfriend. And, there was my sister’s raised eyebrows. For the first time in my college life something started that wouldn’t stop. It would follow me and put a smile on my face. And would have followed me until I was old and gray because when your jumpmaster is a red-headed, Irish, politically-incorrect joke cracker named Angus and his company mascot is a full-scale [whispered to be real] human skeleton named Winston, well, that crap sticks with you. I think of it every time I eat Giordano’s.

“Look. look. check. check. Pull.”

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24. Love at first sight

Milano, Italy

Image via Wikipedia

What’s been your experience with ‘love at first sight’?

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25. The Indeterminable Rate of Educational Velocity

This morning I turned in the last piece of homework I will ever have. I submitted my final research project: my master’s thesis.There was no parade, no trumpets or cymbals to herald my victory. No “three cheers!” to mark the completion of my efforts. Just the simple knowledge that I have finally finished.
They won't hand me my diploma until later this month, but the reality is that today marks the end of my years of formal education. Added up, 18 years of teachers, classrooms, professors, projects, presentations, and dreaded papers. Over.

When I think back on the memories of school, what stick out most are not the facts I learned or the books I read, but what I recall are all the relationships I made and the fun I had when I wasn’t studying in the library alone.

School offers us just that, the opportunity to find new experiences that we wouldn’t have otherwise discovered.

Because of a middle-school French-class trip to nearby Québec, I learned that my friend Emma would always find ways to get us into the most fun kind of trouble, and that I love all things maple-syrup related. Because of reading I Will Try during library hour in elementary school, I have made it my mission to travel across Africa (although not exactly the way the author did, when he decided to walk from Malawi towards America for his education). And because of spending countless hours at the local pub after economics class, I have learned that while philosophical entanglements often leave one feeling unfulfilled, beer and good company always leave one in better spirits. We would spend hours there, after Economics Development class, after History of Economic Philosophy class, after Statistics class: my peers and I, in time spent not studying, but taking what we learned in lecture and talking about it, openly, with opinions, with our own theories and smart colleagues to bounce ideas off of. 

These are the friends, memories, and happy learning experiences I will grow from for the rest of my life. Even if, heaven forbid, I forget how to use the econometrics regression equation to find the unknown parameters to formulate the average expected outcome of an observed condition. (Not that I hope to ever forget my mathematical training!) My experiences remind me, looking back, that learning happens throughout life. One has only to put oneself in situations that allow for unexpected, exciting opportunities to arise.

Though my years of formal education might be complete, they leave me with the knowledge that power lies in asking questions, and life is a learning curve that I will always be trying to bend. I may be out of the classroom, but I will forever be a student.

Do you have favorite memories, or wisdom to share about your education experience? Leave a comment below!

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