azurite: (all muses are busy...)
[personal profile] azurite
So, I'm a student at DeVry University on top of everything else now. I was looking into the possibility of getting some kind of certification in web design, since I feel like I've reached a standstill when it comes to learning from books. I wish I could take a class on it at CSUN, but on top of them freaking out about my financial aid because I have too many units (read: I took classes I didn't need because I either wanted to be full-time or because the other classes I needed weren't available), they have pre-requisites for the basic web design courses, and no way to take a competency test to get out of them. Plus, they're ART classes, which means the curricula overlaps with Journalism and I'd get no credit for it under the accreditation rule.

So anyway, I looked into online schools, and lo! DeVry got back to me. They have a campus in Sherman Oaks and a really nice advisor who's been helping me find the right program for me. I started out just looking for a certificate, but then an Associate's in Web Graphic Design. Then I wondered if an Associate's after a Bachelor's would look good on a resume. Would it even have enough classes to teach me something I need? Would enough of my CSUN units transfer over so I wouldn't have to take classes in math or public speaking?

So we started looking at a new Bachelor's: a business degree in Technical Management. It was the catch-all major that allows for the most units to be transferred over from another university, but, being a business degree, involves lots of business and management classes. Helpful those may be, I didn't feel it was the right "fit." My advisor and I discussed a Bachelor's in Multimedia Design & Development with a concentration in Web Graphic Design, and I feel like it's a great fit.

See, CSUN has SOME classes in web design, and there's a tiny bit of emphasis on staying abreast of the current technology in the Journalism major, but I never felt like it was enough. In those classes, I was always lazing off, because the work was so easy! So I want a challenge, but I also want to feel like I'm learning things that are relevant, practical, and will enable me to combine my two fields of interest --writing/editing and computers-- into one practical one, making me more marketable and capable of doing more jobs for a variety of companies.

They had to do another evaluation based on this final decision for a different Bachelor's, and I'm hoping to hear from the academic advisor today, and then talk to the Financial Aid folks so I can see how that'll work out. If I have to pay ANYTHING out of pocket, there's no way this can work, but it's not like I want to be overdoing it with student loans, especially if they're unsubsidized. I want more credits to transfer over so I'm spending less time in class and more time working and getting real hands-on experience.

The way the Financial Aid is looking to work out, DeVry would get priority access to my remaining Financial Aid: my Pell Grant, the rest of my subsidized Stafford Loan, and possibly a Cal Grant. I'd get a refund check for the difference and use that to pay both my credit card debt and CSUN for my last semester of 7 units, which is about $2500.

It sounds like everything would work out and be fine, but really, it's all going to hinge on what CSUN units transfer over; the more I'd have to take at DeVry for classes I feel I've already done, the less likely I'll be to keep seeing this thing through. I want to just jump right into some web graphic design or multimedia classes, but if I can't because of weird pre-requisites that are because of some picky people doing the evaluation, I won't waste my time (or loan money). I'm paranoid enough as it is about my last semester at CSUN, what with the Financial Aid people saying that everything is based off this appeal that I filed last week and even if I do get approved, everything will be adjusted for my needed 7 units, not the necessary 12 units for full-time (and the best financial aid). That is, loan money will apply for 12 units, but even if I take 12 units, my grant money will only cover the needed 7. Which sucks. But still, the less debt, the better, so if DeVry doesn't work out, I need to pray that my Financial Aid comes through and I can enroll in 12 units, get the full-time Financial Aid refund check, and use that to pay off my credit cards. It's sort of like loan consolidation....

Anyway, this might just be me trying to duck out of the "real" world. Doing this has made me wonder:
(1) Do I even need a Master's to get the job I want, working for a video game strategy guide publisher? Is the job I want where I want (not just in NYC, but with the company I've always hoped for, BradyGames?)

(2) If I did still go to NYC and miraculously get into the NYU Summer Institute in Publishing (and possibly the MS in Publishing afterward), would it be worth the additional debt? I hear that the headhunting fees are what the bulk of the cost is for, and that would imply a job right after finishing, which sounds darn good to me...IF it's a job I'd want to do.

(3) I now know of a company in S.F. that does exactly what I want to do, and a person I know via LinkedIn that appears to be DOING what I want to do, but what should I say to them if I want to contact them? Grandpa thinks I should ask to tour the offices of the S.F. place, and I DO want to contact the LinkedIn person, but I don't know how to phrase it right! Yes, I'd like a job after graduation if none of this extra education stuff works out, but I'd want it to be in a place I like, doing something (or on the path to it, anyway) I like!

So, in the meantime, I'm working on revamping my resume site, the NSLS website, hopefully, the SO3 shrine...I'm also now blogging for Site of the Gaming Dead and maybe even doing tutorials for DayDream Graphics. Biting off more than I can chew for this summer? Just maybe. In-between all this I plan to write WDKY27 and participate in a few challenges. Oh, and go to AX! Go me.

I also need to learn to budget, because I'm quite sick of having to borrow money in order to stay afloat for the 15 days before my next paycheck. Any tips?

Date: 2009-06-29 07:51 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
A friend of mine is selling these off, and they looked like your style. I know this is probably the opposite of a budgeting tip, but I figured I should share anyway.

save! save! save!

Date: 2009-06-30 05:50 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
That's the best budget tip I can offer. You never know when a REALLY good deal will come along and you want to have the money for that, whether it be a dress you've been eyeing for months or that acceptance letter from the grad school of your dreams.

And if that doesn't work try this: (I just learned it today!) Take the amount of money that you'll allow yourself to spend each time you go out of the house in cash. Keep the credit card(s) in the very bottom/ back of your purse/ wallet to make it really hard to get and imagine that you don't even have them. Then only use your cash. Good luck!

Date: 2009-07-13 01:17 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I now know of a company in S.F. that does exactly what I want to do, and a person I know via LinkedIn that appears to be DOING what I want to do, but what should I say to them if I want to contact them? Grandpa thinks I should ask to tour the offices of the S.F. place, and I DO want to contact the LinkedIn person, but I don't know how to phrase it right!

Introduce yourself then let them know what type of position you're interested in and ask what type of experience/skills/etc. they are looking for. Confirm the education and experience you've already had (if asked about that) and if the response is favorable, let that person know you would be interested in touring the facilities and maybe shadowing them for a day. You might also want to ask about job outlook in the field.

I also need to learn to budget, because I'm quite sick of having to borrow money in order to stay afloat for the 15 days before my next paycheck. Any tips?

Create two spreadsheets - it always helps to have a visual.

1. Go through your expenditures for the last month and categorize as Fixed Cost (i.e. bills that you must pay every month), Variable Cost (i.e. bills that you may or may not pay every month or bills that you pay at different rates), Unnecessary Cost (i.e. fast food purchases, unusual expenditures like car maintenance fees or one time fees such as the purchase of an appliance), and Miscellaneous.

2. Tally Total Costs

3. In a separate column, list your Earnings for the last three months (this is any kind of income including gifts, donations, etc.)

4. Tally Total Earnings

5. Deduct Total Costs from Total Earnings.

6. If you come up with a negative amount, you are living outside your means. Go through your unnecessary costs and miscellaneous costs and decide on what is the most REASONABLE type of expenditures to cut out or reduce. If you possibly can, find a way to not only break even but create a positive balance. (Your goal should be to cancel Unnecessary Cost and reduce Miscellaneous). It might help to look back at the last three months and average how much you've had to borrow to better understand your spending trends and how to reduce them.

Now that you can see how much money you make and how you're spending it, you should be able to budget a little more effectively.

7. Make a budget plan with estimated earnings as your first column then the types of costs listed above. When you get to Unnecessary and Miscellaneous try to make a reasonable estimate based on past months and the reductions you decided on in step 6. Also include an Emergency column and a Savings Column. Try to balance. Remember there IS room for error as long as you keep in mind that (1) a budget plan is only an estimate (albeit one you should try to live by) and (2) money is fluid, when you take a little out of one column, you can place that amount in another. It's all about priorities.

Hope that helps a little.

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