Settling into the U of M

After a relatively stressful previous school year, I’m happy to say I’m finally settled into the U of M! Classes started this past Monday, and I am living off campus, in Dinkytown, with two of my buddies from high school. Switching schools twice has resulted in some unexpected, but probably pretty common inconveniences like accidental discrepancies in FAFSA info which led to unsent official transcripts, the possibility of owing MCTC a few thousand bucks, and a domino effect of other snags. However, after a summer of frequent MCTC visits, digging through old tax returns, and navigating my way through the consistently contradicting diagnoses as to what was wrong with my account, I was finally able to clear it all up and have a burdenless end to the summer. On September 1st I moved into my new house, just in time to have family and friends over for a Birthday celebration that weekend. Now, a week later, my house has slowly evolved from a post-move clutter of boxes, and into a place that feels like home. After a week of accustoming my self with the campus and settling in, I’m happy to start my collegiate adventure at the U of M.

Another reason I’m excited to start school at the U is because I just found out my GPA starts over from scratch. I worked hard in school last year, but my GPA was not as high as I hoped it would be. This fresh slate is giving me the opportunity to have a new beginning and a GPA that more accurately reflects my intelligence. I’m also happy about this because currently I’m in the College of Food and Natural Sciences, but if I have a strong enough semester, hopefully I’ll be able to transfer into Carlson School of Management. It’ll be a lot of work, but going into business is my dream, and if I put in the effort I know I’ll be able to achieve my goal.

Well shoot. As I finished writing this blog post I recieved a message from the site I ordered MCTC transcripts from saying they couldn’t be sent because I still owe MCTC money… I’ve already cleared up my account balance with a Financial Aid Officer there, but this is a prime example of the continuously contradicting information I’ve been receiving from them. That’s just life though, no need for me to stress about it. My FAFSA clearly qualifies for aid from MCTC, and I know it’ll all get sorted out eventually. Well, aside from that little snag, it’s time to embark on an educational adventure at the University of Minnesota. I can’t wait to keep you all updated!

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What A Year

Looking back at my first blog post from August of 2016, it’s funny to see how much unexpected changes have happened since I first embarked on my collegiate journey. There’s a few gaps in my blog posts, so let me give a quick run down of how my school year went:

It all started when I pulled out of the corn fields and into the medium sized town of Ames on a humid August day down in Iowa. My parents dropped me off at Delta Tau Delta, a fraternity that I had joined the summer going into school, and I was officially a college student. I had an awesome fall. I met great people, took interesting classes, and even managed to get in some volunteer hours through service projects my fraternity put on. My first semester GPA was lower than I had hoped, but I was prepared for a strong second semester. The same strip of highway that I had taken in August was now covered in snow, and I headed back to Minneapolis.  It wasn’t until I got home for winter break when I realized things might not go as smooth as I had expected.

I knew going to an out of state school would be pricy, but I was not prepared for the shock I received when I looked at my bank account. I was down to about $500, and I still had another semester to pay for. I had already taken out as much government loans as I could take out, and it now came down to whether or not I wanted to take out private student loans. After taking some business courses, and learning more about economics and finance, I knew there was no way I would dig myself farther into debt. It was a tough decision, but I decided not to attend ISU for a second semester. I looked over my options and after narrowing down a list of about 15 schools, I had decided that I would most likely want to attend the University of Minnesota. Rather than make another impulsive decision, I decided to take a semester at MCTC which in return would let me stay on track credit-wise and buy me a few extra months of decision making time.

After studying most week days at the U of M, and hanging out with my friends that went there, I realized that the U of M was the place I wanted to be in the fall of 2017. I applied to the College of Food and Agriculture intending to major in Applied Economics. The next couple months we’re pretty stressful. I started my summer job as a landscaper which took up most of my focus, but the thought of not getting into the U of M was always in the back of my mind. It was the only school I applied to for the fall semester, so I really put all my eggs in one basket. I started to nervously come up with back-up plans for what to do if my application was denied. Luckily, about two weeks ago I finally heard back, and I am now officially a student at the U of M! I still need to attend orientation and sign up for classes, but I feel as though a very heavy weight has been lifted from my shoulders.

The rest of my summer should be pretty straight forward. I am renting a house with a buddy in Dinkytown this fall, so the final months of summer are gonna be dedicated towards grinding out as much work as I can to save up for the cost of rent and tuition. I am also going to invest my energy in finding a job during the school year, catching up on school related things like orientation and scholarships, and overall preparing for the year ahead of me.

I had no idea that my college experience would turn out like this. It has been mostly stressful, very surprising, and a little exciting. I’m happy that I finally have a stable plan for the fall, and I can’t wait to get back into the swing of things!

The 9-3 Workweek (9am-3am)

I just had one of the most demanding weeks of my life. To preface this story, my English class is set up kinda different. Rather than there being specific due dates for assignments, there’s a list of available assignments and then benchmark dates where each student needs a certain amount of points by the listed day in order to stay enrolled in the class. I had both Econ and Calc tests that I had been focusing most of my energy on, so English homework had been put on a back burner. I took both tests, and my studying had paid off. I was happy and decided I should probably see when my next benchmark for English was. “Uh oh…” I thought to my self. It was a Sunday afternoon, and my deadline was the upcoming Friday. “That’s closer than I thought, but I’ve got a week to get the points required. I’ll be fine”. I was only about 20 points short of the upcoming deadline and was sitting pretty well in the class. I looked over the assignment list and had an awesome idea. Rather than do a small, quick, assignment that will put me just above the required amount, I’ll choose the biggest one I can find so I’ll be well above the points required for the next couple deadlines, and will be able to focus heavily on Math and Econ and have a stress free end of the semester finishing up minor, effortless English assignments just to keep me in the grade A range. I’m glad I decided to do this, but boy did I not realize what I was getting myself into.

I chose an assignment called “Operation Finding Nemo”. Worth 200 points, I knew this would set me very far ahead in the class, and the interesting title caught my attention. I read the briefing and basically I had to put my self in the shoes of a secret agent. The website I used for English, “D2l” was under attack by an unknown hacker and based on a list of clues they’d send me, I had to figure out who the culprit was, what their motive was, and then write a 1000 word minimum argumentative essay based on my findings. Sounded like a lot of work, but I didn’t expect the largest assignment available to be easy. Plus, I’m a weirdo who’s brain is bursting with creativity so I love stuff like this. I clicked on the assignment, and down the sleepless rabbit hole I went.

The clues were bizarre. Basically just series of numbers and letters and random words, and I started to think I might have gotten myself into a project that wasn’t meant to only take a week. My competitive nature kicked in though, and the clues were too intriguing to turn back now. It was go time. Basically my week went like this: 9am wake up and eat breakfast, 10am-12:30pm go to class, 1:30-5:00pm go to work, and then from 6:30pm-3:00am or so I’d grind out the answer this mystery. Luckily my Math and Econ tests were the week before so we were just learning basic stuff in new sections of the textbook and homework for those classes was pretty simple, which meant the majority of my study time could be spent on this pressing assignment. I spent hours at my computer, coffee after coffee trying to decode the clues. One by one I figured them out and started to build a web in my notebook in an attempt to connect the dots. They all were pointing to a town in Ontario called Kitchner so I knew that had to be important, but I had no idea why. I worked out many hunches but all seemed to far fetched. Then on Wednesday I received a clue “H3105 4 6 16”. “That’s gotta be a room number at MCTC” I thought. Later that day, I went to the room and sure enough on the interior of the door frame there was a list of numbers and letters. I plugged in “4 6 16” and got the acronym “CEO”. “What the heck is that supposed to mean…” I wondered exasperatedly. None of my hunches had to do with CEOs and I felt like I was back to square one.

I talked to myself out loud on the drive home trying to piece together this perplexing puzzle. Every time I had an idea, I’d pull over and google it. I looked up businessmen from Kitchener Ontario and got nothing, I wondered if CEO was meant in a different manner and stood for something else, and still came up with nothing. A 15 minute drive turned into 30 minutes, but as I pulled into my driveway it hit me. “Companies based out of Kitchener Ontario” I typed into google. I clicked a link to a list, and sure enough right at the top of the list was “Desire 2 Learn (D2l)”. I punched my steering wheel out of joy and excitedly yelled out some expressions I’m not gonna repeat in this blog post. I had figured it out! The CEO of D2l had hacked his own website to blame and shutdown his only competitor “Blackboard Inc.” in order to gain full control of the multi-billion dollar e-learning industry. The next two days were spent working out my argument and essay, and at 10pm on Friday, just hours before it was due I turned in an exceptional paper that far surpassed the minimum word count.

Although the investigation had no real meaning, I felt as though I had just caught the most wanted man in the world and although I was running on fumes, I didn’t feel tired as my fingers flied excitedly across the keyboard explaining in detail my investigative process and who the culprit was. I ended up getting an A on that assignment, and now I am able to focus more heavily on Econ and Math rather than stressing on the next English benchmark. As demanding as that week was, I had a blast working on that assignment and in a way fed off the stress I was feeling. I’m very glad I chose such a challenging assignment, and it was 100% worth being in bed all weekend in order to catch up on sleep.

Back To Blogging

What a hectic past few months… I’m months behind on blog posts, so lets just start from the top as to what happened and what has changed since my last post. It all started when I came home for winter break. I’d been loving Iowa State, and had just been initiated into the fraternity that I had spent all fall pledging. My grades were lower than I’d hoped, but I had a plan on how to bounce back. I quit the job that had been giving me a schedule far too demanding for a full-time student, pledgeship was finally over which freed me up, and I had fully adjusted to life as a college student. I was ready to have a stellar second semester, get my GPA up to a number I would be proud of, and live with 60 young men that I now considered my brothers. I was doing better than ever. Then I checked my bank account…

I knew it would be low, and that loans would be necessary to complete school but I didn’t realize the extent of these out-of-state costs. My bank account was a couple hundred south of a thousand bucks, which doesn’t seem bad at all, except for the fact I still owed $1500 towards housing costs, and still had a semester of college to pay for. Was Iowa State worth going into this much debt over? Was I paying for fun rather than education? What do I do this spring? I had a huge decision to make, and not a ton of time. I had already maxed out government aid, and I basically had three options left: Take out private loans, rob a bank, or un-enroll from ISU and go somewhere else in the spring. I had no idea what to do and time was running out very quickly. I did know this though; I wasn’t gonna base the future of my finances on how much I “liked my friends there”, or how “pretty campus was”, or any other emotionally impulsive decision. I knew there were better business programs out there that I could afford. I had to be fiscally responsible. I had to leave Iowa State.

The next two weeks that I had intended to spend relaxing before returning to Ames were spent at the computer. I looked at colleges across Minnesota, colleges across the country, and even a couple in Sweden. Tuition rates, transfer deadlines, social atmosphere, acceptance rates, and everything else that you’d normally spend Junior and Senior studying and mulling over was crammed into two weeks. I was honestly pretty close to buying a beater car with the last of my funds, hittin’ the highway, seeing where I ended up and going to college there, but even a sleep deprived stressed out Carter knew that would put me in a much worse situation that staying at ISU another semester.

What now seems like a ridiculously obvious plan, hit me with feelings of brilliance just a few nights before my decision had to be made. I clearly had no idea what I wanted to do in the spring, so I just had to buy myself more time. I’d enroll at MCTC to save money and stay on track with credits, and what would have been an impulsive decision as to where I should go to school could now be thought over for an extra two months or so. Initially I was pretty opposed to the idea of going to community college, but a semester of sucking it up and accepting my situation would be smarter than doing something I’d end up regretting. I’ve been at MCTC all spring semester, and I’ve come to realize that my assumptions of community college were wrong. Yeah, I don’t really fit in or connect with most of the students in my classes, but at least my class sizes are small, my professors are knowledgeable, my workload is surprisingly rigorous, and I’m just a couple miles away from all my buddies at the U of M. It also allows me to work part time and save up money for the fall semester. I’m applying to the U of M as a transfer student and hopefully will be attending there this fall. I’m also sending out applications to St. Thomas and Duluth so I don’t put all my eggs in one basket. The past couple months have been stressful and unexpected, but I’m glad I finally have a solid plan that will let me go to a school I want to attend, be with friends, and most importantly save a boat load of money.

 

Settled In

I’ve now been in Ames for almost three months, and I’m in the groove of college. My classes are going well, except I needed to get a tutor in Computer Science and Psychology because both are very confusing to me. I was working at a catering company, but had to quit because the hours they demanded were too much for a students schedule. Hopefully I’ll be able to find a different job that isn’t quite so demanding so I can make more money to go towards my tuition. On a side note, I was initiated into my fraternity a couple days ago, and am excited to officially be considered an active member. Overall, college is going great and I hope that with the help of my tutors I will be able to have a stellar second half of the semester!

One Month In

I’m a month into college and I’d have to say the first month went great. I’m finally feeling like I actually live in Ames, and I’ll the guys and girls I’ve met through Greek Life are awesome people. I got a job catering at a company close to my house, and have been working a decent amount of hours each week. Balancing work, school, and Greek Life can be very hectic, but so far I’ve managed to successfully find time for each aspect of my life. I’ve had a couple mid terms so far and I think I did alright on them. We haven’t gotten our score back yet, but Econ makes sense to me so I think I did good on it. The only two I’m worried about are Math 150 and Psych because both of those classes can be very confusing. I think I should have done alright on them though, and if worst comes to worst I’ll just get a tutor for those more challenging subjects. College has been awesome so far, and I’m excited to keep updating this blog and letting y’all know how I’m doing.

Entering College

This is the post excerpt.

I’ve been living in Ames, Iowa for the past couple weeks and I’m finally starting to realize that I actually live here, and will for the next four years of my life. I’ve only had two days of classes so far and don’t fully understand what the rest of the year will be like, but after meeting my professors and making friends, I am excited for what the school year has in store. I joined the fraternity Delta Tau Delta and it was the best decision I’ve made so far in my college experience. Not only will they help me keep my grades up with a mandatory GPA, mandatory study hours, free tutoring etc. but they are also just a great group of guys to hang out and become friends with. What I’m looking forward to most this year is all the activities I will be doing with them, especially “Yell Like Hell” which is a skit each house does during homecoming week that includes body paint, yelling, dancing, and other weird but fun aspects. It is also a great way to get to fully know brothers in the chapter as well as meet women from the sorority we are paired with. Overall I’m very excited for what the year has to offer and can’t wait to keep updating this blog as my college career continues!

seranades
A picture of me and my pledge brothers serenading a sorority the week before school started to congratulate them on getting bids.