Three Quick, Freezer-Ready Recipes for Adult Students On the Go

November 19th, 2011 by rebeccac

quick-easy-spaghetti-ts78364649Whether we like it or not, food is a necessity, and finding ways to feed ourselves and our families when we’re juggling hectic schedules can be a constant challenge. During the week, adult students often have responsibilities during the day and classes or schoolwork at night, so when is there time to make dinner?

We’ve got three recipe suggestions for you. Not only are they quick to put together in the first place, but they also freeze well and can be easily doubled, which means you can whip a gigantic batch up on Monday and be set for the rest of the week. On top of that, they’re about 10 times healthier and more cost-effective than hitting the fast food drive-throughs.

Going back to school as an adult is a challenge, but easy time management solutions like these can help you make it work.

Recipe #1

Sausage Chili
Chili is a great staple, especially during the colder months, and switching out a couple of the basic ingredients – kielbasa for beef, black beans for kidney – puts a nice twist on the classic.

16 oz. turkey kielbasa
1 can of corn
1 can of black beans
1 can of diced tomatoes
1 diced green pepper

To taste:

Garlic power
Chili powder

Cut up kielbasa and brown in a large saucepan. Add in corn, black beans, green pepper and tomatoes. Add salt, pepper, garlic powder and chili powder to taste. Add a little bit of cayenne if you need more spice. Heat through.

Recipe #2

Quick Spaghetti
Most Italians would object to the phrase “quick spaghetti,” but this ingredient combo is just as delicious after a quick heat-through as it is after simmering all day.

16 oz. Italian sausage
16 oz. lean ground beef
2 diced garlic cloves
2 regular cans tomato sauce
1 can tomato paste
1 can diced tomatoes

To taste:

Additional garlic

Brown the sausage and beef and garlic and drain off fat. Add in tomato sauce, tomato paste and diced tomatoes, and season to taste with salt, pepper and garlic powder. Heat through. If too thick, add water to thin it out.

Recipe #3

For the vegetarians out there or if you just want to bring something new and different to the table, here’s a quick recipe that still packs a flavorful punch.

Tuscan White Bean and Spinach Soup

2 tsp. olive oil
1 diced garlic clove
½ cup diced onion
3-4 cups chicken broth or vegetable stock
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can white beans (cannellini or other)
1/2 cup shell pasta
1 tsp. rosemary
3 cups baby spinach, cleaned and trimmed
1/8 tsp. black pepper

To taste:

Crushed red pepper flakes

In a large sauce pan, sauté the onion & garlic in the olive oil. Add broth, tomatoes, beans and rosemary, and season with black and red pepper. Bring to boil. Add pasta and cook 12 minutes. If the soup seems too thick for your liking, add a bit more broth. Add spinach and cook until wilted.

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The pros and cons of day, evening, weekend and online classes

September 23rd, 2011 by rebeccac

nontraditional-students-stk162318rkeTime. It’s our best friend and worst enemy. When you need it, you never have enough of it, but when every minute seems like an hour, it doesn’t go quick enough. It’s something we’ll never have complete control over – something you just have to learn to work around.

This particularly comes into play when you’re contemplating going back to school. As a busy adult, you already have your fair share of responsibilities – work, family, friends, hobbies, etc. Do you really have time to fit in an education? The answer is yes!

Schools everywhere are offering students flexible scheduling options so that they can go back to school and not worry about having enough time. For those who can’t make the drive, there are online classes. For those that work the night shift, there are day classes. For those that work during the week, there are weekend classes. And for those that work during the day, there are evening classes.

So what are the pros and cons of these flexible class schedules? Read on to find out.

Online Classes

Online Classes: Pros

Learning at your own pace
Online classes are time-friendly because students can learn at their own pace. Some students learn faster than others and, as a result, instructors in larger, more traditional classrooms might overlook those slower paced learners. With online learning, you control how fast or slow you comprehend the material at a pace that’s right for you.

Studying when and where you choose
Just because you have time doesn’t mean that you have the opportunity to learn. Online classes allow those students who are already pressed for time the ability to take tests, study and discuss lectures all online – anywhere and everywhere. Whether you’re traveling for business, on vacation or just don’t feel like getting out of bed, online classes can give you the freedom to learn at a place and time of your choosing.

Online Classes: Cons

No face-to-face interaction
Online classes are flexible and convenient, but sometimes questions are hard to convey via an email or phone call. They’re just not as effective as sitting down one-on-one with the professor and going through the material. Although some online courses offer once-a-week, in-class discussions, not all schools provide this feature or have the means to do so.

No motivational force
Learning at your own pace was a pro, but it can also lead to a con where online learning is concerned. Since you’re following your own time table, sometimes lacking that physical classroom or professor can lead you to put off or not take online classes as seriously. Sometimes an instructor’s push is what we need.

Day Classes

Day Classes: Pros

The traditional route
Day classes have been around since schools were formed, and as a result the pros are simple. You wake up, go to class, do your homework and then have the rest of the evening free to complete any other obligations or responsibilities. It’s the way it’s been done since the beginning.

Evening family time
If your family is like most, then odds are that the time everyone is going to be around the house is the evenings, when the standard work and school hours are over, and day classes allow you to be home when they are.

Day Classes: Cons

The 8-to-5 job
Day classes are the traditional route, but for the nontraditional student, they’re not as time-friendly. Those who have full-time day jobs obviously can’t attend classes during the day and maybe can’t afford to quit said job in order to make the traditional schedule work. It’s just too inconvenient for most adult learners.

Not a morning person
Even if you don’t have a job to contend with, daytime classes may still prove way too much of a scheduling challenge. It could conflict with school drop-off, school pickup, practices and games and lessons, errands, appointments – all of the little things you have to do that add up … and can’t be done after work hours.

Weekend Classes

Weekend Classes: Pros

Avoiding the weekday dilemma
Taking classes on the weekend is an excellent way to avoid having to compromise time and travel if you work a job throughout the week. This way, you still get your education without having to sacrifice your existing weekday responsibilities.

Hit me with your best shot
Instead of stringing out subjects over the course of the week – during which you have to juggle divided attention and a string of distractions – weekend classes allow you to hit a whole cluster of learning all in one go. It might be more like three hours than one hour, but you have the advantage of sitting down and learning in one clean sweep.

Weekend Classes: Cons

The 1 vs. 2 vs. 3 rule
Weekend classes can help you avoid disrupting your normal weekday routine, but they may cause you to prolong your total time span spent in class. Weekday classes may meet 2 to 3 times each week, but the weekend is a much shorter time period. Classes often meet just once – generally on Saturdays – but they still have to cover the necessary information, so you’ll end up sitting at your desk for a longer time period.

Use it – don’t lose it
Since weekend classes only meet one time per week, students may suffer from a decline in comprehending subject material compared to traditional students who would meet 2 to 3 times throughout the week. With such a big gap between classes, students may find it more difficult to build on the material. You know what they say, “If you don’t use it, you lose it.” In this case, it could be true.

Evening Classes

Evening Classes: Pros

Have your cake and eat it too
Similar to taking weekend courses, evening classes can help you dodge the 8-to-5 dilemma. Got a daytime job or other responsibilities? That’s fine! You can save the classroom for the nighttime – hit the books after the sun sets. This is especially handy if you’re working and can’t afford to quit your job in order to start school.

Scheduling freedom
A lot of times, evening classes run on the longer side, which means they often only meet once or twice a week. What does this mean for you? In addition to having your days available for work, appointments, school events or practices, you also have some wiggle room on your calendar for the later hours as well.

Evening Classes: Cons

Working the graveyard shift
Most of the world may function during the day, but there are those who work graveyard shifts. After all, gas stations, retail stores, and 24-hour convenience stores and restaurants need to have someone operating their stores during the night hours. As a result, evening classes don’t quite fit everyone’s schedule.

Busy and busier
Night classes can allow you to squeeze in that much-needed education on top of your current day job, but chances are that you’re in for a long day. You go from work to class, maybe with errands squeezed in between, and there’s still homework, too. It’s tough – but definitely doable with some juggling, a little organization and a drive to succeed.

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Top 5 fears non-traditional students have about going back to school

August 29th, 2011 by admin

Nontraditional Student Worries ts_ AA018431There are a lot of people considering going back to school right now for various reasons – maybe they’ve been laid-off recently because of economic cutbacks, or they’re stuck in a job with bad pay or bad hours or bad responsibilities, or they’re just finally ready to start doing something they love instead of just something they get paid for.

There are also a lot of people who keep putting off going back to school because of fears or self-doubt – they’re not necessarily happy with where they are, but don’t feel ready to take on a big life change. You might be one of these people. If you are, you’re not alone – a lot of non-traditional students share the same types of concerns about furthering their education after time out of the classroom. What are some of them? Let’s find out.

1.) Putting a burden on your family
Once you’re settled into a routine – however dissatisfying it may be – it can be really difficult to change things up, especially when you have other people to consider. You begin to wonder if you’re being selfish or if you’ll end up making things worse somehow – financially, professionally or personally. You don’t want to miss things happening at home – if you have younger children, you don’t want them to feel abandoned; you don’t want to get too far behind on housework and home responsibilities; you don’t want to make the rest of your family pick up all of your slack.

Mothers especially struggle with this and how their decisions will affect their children. And it’s true that, while you’re taking classes, you will have less free time and there will have to be some compromises made with your routine. The nice thing is that a lot of schools offer evening and weekend schedules, and more and more are offering online programs that mean you won’t have to commute or rearrange your family’s schedule. But the bottom line is, if you get your family on board with your decision to change your life, they’ll understand and be willing to accommodate your needs. After all, it’s only temporary and the benefits afterward should be worth it!

2. Not fitting in with other students
As you get older and the generation gaps widen, it’s easy to think that going back to an environment you haven’t been in for a long time will leave you feeling overwhelmed and out of place. Things change so rapidly nowadays that even just a couple years removed from school can seem like a lifetime. You may worry that you won’t understand basic assignments because of technological deficiencies or that the younger students will think you’re strange and too old to be in school. Your instructors and the faculty members may be younger than you, and you may just feel like you’re out of touch with the entire school system.

However, adults everywhere are choosing to go back to school later in life to begin a new career or continue their education, so there’s a chance you won’t be the only adult learner in your program! Also, if you choose a non-traditional education at a career college or technical school, many of your classmates, regardless of age, are probably dealing with a lot of the same obstacles you are. Because of this, these schools also typically have very supportive faculty and staff who are willing and able to help you with any concerns you may have and guide you through your studies.

3. Balancing your job, family and homework
Adults are busy and getting busier – between a job that may or may not have a set schedule, a family that needs things from you and that you want to spend time with, and basic life upkeep like car repairs and bill payments and grocery shopping and … well, you know how it goes, it can feel like there’s no room for anything else, especially something as major as school. Not only will you have to spend time in a classroom each week, but you’ll also have to complete assignments at home.

Sounds exhausting, right? It doesn’t have to be as inconvenient as you might think – as mentioned above, get your family to help you out if they can so you aren’t spreading yourself so thin. You can also opt to enroll in an accelerated program that will allow you to complete your studies more quickly, an online program that will allow you to fit class and homework in when it’s most convenient, or a program that allows you to take just one course at a time so you’re not trying to learn too much at once. When it comes down to it, career colleges understand the difficulties their students sometimes have and will work with you to make sure you’re successful.

4. Worrying the material will be too difficult
Starting something new is often a lot more scary in your head than it is in practice – it’s people’s nature to anticipate the worst and blow unfamiliar situations out of proportion, only afterwards realizing that whatever it was really wasn’t that bad. The same is true with any educational program you choose – it’s going to be something new, and even though you’ll have a course list and descriptions of what you’ll learn and how, until you’re actually there, doing it, there will probably be fear that you’re getting in over your head.

The important thing is to realize the difference between being challenged and being overwhelmed. Easy, throwaway coursework probably means you’re not getting a quality education and learning what you really need to know to be prepared. Plus, many career colleges provide a laboratory environment where you can practice classroom theory in a simulated – or real, in the case of internships and externships – work setting. Many students find that this is what really prepares them for what they’ll do after graduation and what gives them confidence in themselves.

5. Wondering if getting more education late in life is worth it
Let’s begin by saying, “It’s never too late to go back to school!” And it’s not – if you’re in a place where you’re unhappy or unemployed and need a change or a different career path with opportunities, it doesn’t matter your age. Of course, there’s the argument of the costs vs. the payoff to run through to determine if any loan amounts you have to pay off are going to be manageable.

But in the end, it’s the quality of your life that’s at stake – if beginning a new career doing something you’re passionate about will have a positive impact on your professional point of view, then it will also overflow into your personal point of view and allow you to enjoy life in general all that much more.

Basically what this all comes down to is deciding whether school is the right thing for you right now, and knowing that there are others out there going through what you are. A good way to get support before you decide what school to choose is to post on back-to-school forums or message boards so you can communicate with others who are in your situation or who have been there and can offer advice. And once you enroll, use the resources your school offers to their highest advantage – whether it’s the financial aid or admissions office, your instructor or fellow students, the support system you create can help you get through anything.

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