Avoiding For profit Colleges While Stuck at the Airport of Life

by Angie Hilbert
( September 27th, 2014 )

the for profit college questionAirports are a weird limbo to me. You’re pretty much helpless there waiting. Waiting in the security line, waiting for them to announce your flight, waiting for your shuttle or taxi to arrive. Nothing is happening but you have the potential energy of something about to happen. Get on with it, already!

It hasn’t always been like that. I used to go to the airport and feel the same kind of feeling you get when you open a new book. A new adventure awaits. Who knows who you might meet, what you might experience or see. You  can’t wait to start a new chapter. The excitement and anticipation and the opening of myself to new experiences.

I had that same feeling of vastness the late summer of 1986 when my parents drove me off to college. Back-to-school season was always special to me but that first semester of college exploded my imagination with excitement. I felt it again when I returned to college as a non-traditional student after raising my my daughters to school age themselves. We shared so many wonderful first-day-of-school days in those years. All three of us full of excitement, potential, and possibility.

back to schoolAll that was some 20 years ago. Now I face going back to school for a second degree. It wasn’t easy navigating the seedy world of online, for profit colleges. I’m lucky, I found a non-profit college with a reputable distance-learning program. My career has taken me on a wonderful adventure. I am where I never dreamed I would be in my professional life. Now I need the educational credentials to back it up. Unlike getting my first degree, I’m not going to school to prepare for my future. I’m going to school to back-fill the credentials and education I somehow made it to my future without. And I don’t like it, it’s uncomfortable. I have my nursing degree and a curriculum vitae as long as my arm full of literature, music and biology. But as a clinical learning consultant at an international company, that’s no longer enough. It’s time to cobble those 108 credit hours into a degree of some kind. If I take a full-time course load (and do nothing else but work and go to school) I can finish a BA Humanities concentrating in communications by this time next year.

School, as a non-traditional student, feels like being stuck at the airport of life. Waiting at the gate. Going through the stress of carrying a career’s worth of baggage through the narrow isles of classes focused on specialized topics. Nebulous degree requirements fade in and out of focus as quietly as TSA rules. I don’t have that delightful sense of discovery just the exasperation of negotiating a delayed flight. Still, it must be done to eventually get wherever I’m going.

for-profit-college-spiritI successfully avoided the for-profit quagmire but now that I’m an enrolled student, I long to recapture that erudite “back-to-school” excitement. I got a cardigan with the college name and logo over the left breast and a skirt and scarf in the school colors. I even got matching argyle socks. My school girl get-up may look a little silly on a 47 year old woman. It’s more like an early Halloween costume than a statement of school spirit. But it helped me cultivate a little inner excitement about going back to school. It was kind of fun to let my inner co-ed out to explore.

So now I’m asking you for ideas. I need help. My inner school girl has been bullied by the corporate world and needs to recapture that sense of intellectual adventure. What advice do you have for a middle aged woman going back to college for a second degree?

Read ~ Write ~ Wander


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Ned Stark was more Machiavellian than Littlefinger

by Angie Hilbert
( August 22nd, 2014 )

Machiavelli and Ned StarkHaving been consumed with a sudden interest in medieval Italy, I found myself reading The Prince, Machiavelli’s political work of instruction for a new ruler advising him to be successful through cunning and ruthlessness. When suddenly it hit me… Niccolò Machiavelli was a lot like Ned Stark. Yes- the  honorable character in George R. R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones.

No, really, just hear me out. I know Littlefinger is usually the Game of Thrones character described as Machiavellian, but Ned Stark’s story more closely follows the truth of the Machiavellian life. Both Niccolò and Ned were on the loosing side and history is written by the victors. The official historical narrative in Game of Thrones is that Ned Stark coldly betrayed his friend and king for personal gain by committing treason upon the king’s death and conspiring to take the throne from his son. Readers know the truth, of course, and the unfairness of it is a bitter blow to fans of the book series. So it is with the truth of Machiavelli’s life. Click on the vcast below and I’ll tell you all about it.

Read ~ Write ~ Wander



Jamaica me change my mind… again.

by Angie Hilbert
( August 6th, 2014 )

Gillian Royes Shad SeriesWhat do you think of when you think of contemporary Jamaica? I bet it’s not what Gillian Royes makes you think about in her Shad series. Shadrack Myers is a Jamaican bar tender far off the beaten tourist track in the small town of Largo Bay. Largo’s one hotel was destroyed in a hurricane and now the only industry left is fishing or scamming and minding one another’s business. Shad is especially good at that last one. So good that he sort-of becomes Largo’s unofficial sheriff. The expats, immigrants, tourists and locals that populate the series make each book culturally complex and the characters nuanced. No one is quite a stereotype but everyone gives you little clues about how the stereotypes were generated.

Where it takes you:

The Jamaica of Gillian Royes is rich and complex. It’s not a spring break beach fantasy. It’s not a political awareness tale. It’s just delightful characters in realistic places you come to care about and come to understand. The small-town dynamics of Largo will ring true to anyone from any small town. People help one another and hurt one another as their character interacts with their circumstance.

What Wander-Readers will love:

Reading the Shad Myers series gives you a very real sense of contemporary Jamaica, not just the Jamaica the board of tourism sells. Still it is never biter or shocking. There is a sense of optimistic realism as you are introduced to people and situations that make their own sense in the context of their story. Shad is a gem. His role as bartender has taught him a lot about human nature and allows him to socialize across social barriers. Shad has friends everywhere.

Trust me, you want to read these while you still have some summer. The Goat Woman of Largo Bay introduces you to Shad, his boss, a mysterious hermit-woman and the little town of Largo. Shad’s resourcefulness proves the only thing to keep his town safe and peaceful. In The Man Who Turned Both Cheeks, Shad really shows his chops as a detective and his bravery as a man. Shad must save the fine people of Largo from their own fears and prejudices, as well as others who would exploit them. Royes’ newest book, The Sea Grape Tree, makes the stakes personal for Shad. As class and romance complicate a business deal, Shad finds it difficult to feel at home in his own community among his own friends.

My first visit to Jamaica, I was young, naive and a total tourist. I was expecting it to be all steel drums and rum punch and was shocked to find myself in the middle of a documentary on extreme poverty. Sure, the tourist area was all beach and pirate games but one wrong turn and you could find yourself on the set of a Sally Struthers commercial. I knew Jamaica was a poor country, but I had visions of a more romantic poverty: smiling fishermen returning to picturesque grass huts, women in bright clothes picking coffee beans, Harry Belafonte loading bunches of bananas.  (Did I mention I was young and stupid?) My most vivid memory from that trip was seeing what I thought was my friend feeding seagulls on the pier. As I walked up to her I realized she wasn’t tossing bread. She was throwing coins over the rail as unbelievably tiny children jumped to catch them in the air on the way down… down… down… until SPLASH! A boy called to me, “Miss! miss! throw something for me!” I couldn’t even look him in the eye.

My second visit to Jamaica I was more prepared. I immersed myself in the history and culture instead of just good-timing it, plantation tours, slave uprisings, the spirit and politics of reggae. That trip was amazing! I got to know a few of the people as human beings. Not as objects of pity. I had grown up a little bit, but having made my peace with the country, I felt no call to return again. Until I read the Shad series.

I still think Jamaicans are insane drivers. I still hate dealing with the touts. And no, I do NOT want my hair braided! But in spite of all that. I maybe I do love Jamaica after all.

Read ~ Write ~ Wander



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