education

Don’t Let Hidden Insecurities Keep You From Pursuing a Goal

Since starting this blog in January of this year, I have had some fantastic opportunities to connect with some great women.  Our conversations revolve around the power women have when we support each other, the importance of motivating others (for them as well as ourselves) and how education broadens the choices we have for ourselves as well as our families.

There are four women I can think of off hand who are facing financials constraints as they contemplate further education.  I am a planner and like to have a budget set up prior to taking a financial leap such as going back to school.  But when I applied to grad school,  my plan wasn’t rock solid.  I had submitted my FAFSA and brainstormed with my family but it wasn’t until I jumped in and started school that all the pieces fell into place.  Maybe I didn’t think I’d get in or some major family issue would keep me from taking that leap.  I think many times women let these financial worries hold them back when deep down it is our fear of the unknown as well as other insecurities that keep us from pursuing a goal.

By checking out scholarships and other assistance programs, we can alleviate some of the anxieties and get the push we need to move forward  towards our goals.  Check out these resources and see if it will give you the incentive you need to reach further towards your goal of further education.

The Talbots Women’s Scholarship Program is specifically for women who choose to return to college later in life.  Thirty scholarships of $5,000 and one of $30,000 are given to women pursuing a bachelors degree.  Scholarships are given in honor of Talbots founder, Nancy Talbot.

The Linda Lael Miller Scholarship was established by #1 New York Times bestselling author, Lindal Lael Miller, to encourage women to improve their lives through education.  Applicants must be over the age of 24.  Maximum grants are $1,000.  $10,000 is awarded each year.

PEO Program for Continuing Education is one that I have mentioned in a previous post. Up to $3,000 can be awarded to women who have a break in schooling of over 24 months and are within 24 months of reaching their educational goal.  An applicant must be sponsored by a chapter in order to apply.

Emerge Scholarships awarded 14 women over the age of 25 with scholarships ranging from $2,000 to $5,000 this year.  This organization believes in empowering women through education as well as recognizing the importance of giving back to a community.

The Jeannette Rankin Women’s Scholarship is named for the first woman to be elected to the United States Congress.  Women applying must be over 35 as well as low income to meet eligibility requirements.  87 women benefited from this scholarship program in 2013.

Whether you proceed to the next step or hold off for a bit, I hope you check these programs out and keep that information in your back pocket.  Hopefully it will come in handy one day!

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Looking Close to Home for Educational Funding

When looking at funding your educational ventures, be sure to look close to home at the numerous local organizations that offer grants and scholarships.  One such organization is Soroptomist.

Soroptomist is a global organization whose goals is to improve the lives of women and girls through programs that lead to social and economic empowerment.  With over 80,000 members in 120 countries, the variety of programs offered helps multiple women on so many different levels.

One of their main focuses is providing women with access to education which we know leads to empowerment. Educated women are more involved in their communities, less likely to become a victim of domestic or sexual abuse and feel the need to educate others.

Live Your Dream award program is the Soroptomist program that focuses on educating women. Each year $1.5 million is awarded to over 1,000 women. This enables the recipients to pursue training at a vocational or technical school or enroll in an undergraduate program.

In the social media age, soroptomists have reached out with Live Your Dream.org. This online community uses articles, tips and blogs to inspire women to better themselves. Its’ members share the common goal to support women and girls in their quest to lead better lives, while gaining inspiration in their own lives.  Some topics discussed within the community are women’s economic empowerment, ending violence against women and human trafficking to name a few.

This non profit organization began in 1921 when a group of 80 women wanted to serve their community. Women, at that time, were not permitted to volunteer in men’s service organizations. Their initiative grew to a global organization which helps shape and support women as they venture towards growth and wellness.

Soroptomist have put out a great video called “Soroptomist Empowers Women & Girls“.  You can find it below.  Check it out.  The video was a Bronze winner in the 35th Annual Telly Awards, which honors outstanding video productions.

P.E.O.’s Mission to Promote Educational Opportunities for Women

It may seem like a new idea:   A group of women of diverse ages and occupations who support each other in their accomplishments, as well as seek out other women with a desire to better themselves.  A society of women such as this actually began over 140 years ago.

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P.E.O. is a philanthropic organization founded on January 21, 1869.  The seven founders were students at Iowa Wesleyan College.  These women, all teenagers, envisioned undying support for one another and a tie that would strengthen over time.

The society that was formed from this friendship has grown has grown to over 252,000 members in the United States and Canada.  Their mission is, quite simply, to promote educational opportunities for women.  The organization boasts ownership of Cottey College in Nevada, Missouri as well as five philanthropies used to carry out their mission.

P.E.O. Educational Loan Fund

P.E.O. International Peace Scholarship Fund

P.E.O. Program for Continuing Education

P.E.O. Scholar Awards

P.E.O. STAR Scholarship

Each of these programs are tailored to meet the needs of a variety of women in different stages of their lives.  Cottey College has graduated over 8,600 women from over 85 countries since its first class in 1887.  The five other philanthropies have given $235 million to 90,400 recipients.

As a member of P.E.O. for over 20 years, I’m so grateful our seven founders had the ambition and determination to form such unique society.  Our mission is clear, yet our group is based on friendship. Throughout the difficult stages of my life, P.E.O. has been there to support me and see me through, stronger and more determined than before.

Identifying women in our community that can benefit from our awards is especially gratifying.   Seeing a recipient receive an award, actively pursue her goal and, ultimately,  achieve her goal is a road that is strengthened with support and friendship.  Each chapter embraces the women they sponsor for an award and celebrate together.  What a unique experience to be so openly welcomed into such a loving group of women, whether as a member or a recipient.

P.E.O. is where women celebrate the advancement of women; educate women through scholarships, grants, awards, loans and stewardship of Cottey College; and motivate women to achieve their highest aspirations.

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Are you a P.E.O.?  Do you have an experience with P.E.O.? Tell me about it by posting a comment.

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Funding Our Educational Venture

Once we have decided to take that leap to return to school, funding our educational venture moves to the forefront of our minds. There are a ton of questionable websites that claim they can identify funding sources for your education for a fee. Be cautious as there are scams targeted at students. Conversely, there are an abundance of resources available online that are completely free.

The first website that I suggest you visit is Benefits.Gov. This is a great resource when searching for educational benefits (as well as other benefits). It has an easy to navigate questionnaire to lead you to the programs that apply to your specific situation. The programs are explained briefly with a link to get more information and to apply.

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid, FAFSA for short, is an online application for various grants, loans and work study programs for college and career schools. Part of the U.S. Department of Education, Federal Student Aid provides more than $150 billion to students each year. There is nothing I love more than an organized and informative website. You can even populate your financial information from your last tax return on file with the IRS. Additionally, the website offers free assistance throughout the financial aid process.

Fastweb.com is one of the largest online databases for scholarships. This database is great as it looks at student involvement rather than just grades, matching students to groups within their community for assistance.

Talk to other women in your community about your new endeavor. There are many local groups and clubs that offer financial assistance as well as guidance to help you through the journey.

What other roadblocks do you anticipate as you begin your pursuit? Share them in the comments section.

A Gift that cannot be taken away

Education holds an immense amount of power. It is the one gift that we can give ourselves that cannot be taken away. As women, further education enables us to:
• Start a new career
• Advance in our existing career
• Earn more income
• Have a higher quality of life
• Maintain job security
• Boost our self image and self esteem
Additionally, education allows us to be role models for others as well as encouraging our children to pursue higher education.

As we progress through our lives, women often find that it becomes more difficult to allocate the time and make the commitment to go back to school. Families are established and careers in place bringing the feelings of guilt when thinking about doing something for ourselves. By making the decision to return to school, the woman, her family and her career will all benefit in the long run.

Unfortunately, there are many uncontrollable factors that lead women to seek more education. The two-income household is a reality and with unemployment at staggering levels, losing one of those incomes can be devastating. An abrupt change in household dynamics can force a woman to reevaluate her earning potential as a single parent. Whether by choice or out of necessity, women are seeing the need to advance their education and enjoying the value it brings.

Statistics show that women with college degrees earn 30.8% more today than in 1979. More women are taking advantage of this by pursuing undergraduate degrees. 43.1% of undergraduate students in the 1969-1970 academic years were women compared to 57.2% in 2009-2010. This is projected to increase to 58% by 2020-2021. Women pursuing graduate degrees are also increasing. 38.8% of graduate students in 1969-1970 were women versus 60.3% in 2009-2010. (U.S. Department of Education-National Center for Education Statistics)

Ultimately, furthering a women’s education offers her more choices and more flexibility.
Please leave any comments or motivation that you would like to share!
Vashon High School