Could the Americorps Be the Answer to Escaping College Loans?

Today’s post is from guest blogger Maria Rainier.

This is the story of how one of my best friends found a way to make college more affordable by enrolling in the Americorps. I’m taking this opportunity to say I have no affiliation with the Americorps whatsoever; I’m solely sharing his story to demonstrate how volunteering can be the gateway to earning a higher education. To learn how you can pursue your diploma with help from the Americorps or another nationally recognized volunteering organization such as the PeaceCorps, continue reading below.

As early as 6-years-old, Matthew Daniels knew that earning a college education was something that he needed to pursue. He never worried about finances that much—that is until he got older and began to realize that his single working mother barely made enough to make ends meet. Scholarships and grants would be the route he knew he was going to have to take—loans were not an option. As a freshman in high school, Matthew made sure he enrolled in advanced classes and all of the extracurricular activities he could so that he would impress not only college admission officers, but scholarship and grant awarders too. In 2004, Matthew won a full academic scholarship to the University of Texas in Austin.

Two weeks before graduation, Matthew began to question what he was going to do with the rest of his life. Sure, he would earn a bachelor’s degree in finance, but he just wasn’t sure if that was his true passion. He needed some time to “think” perhaps even travel before he went off into the real world. Because Matthew was always a philanthropist, he decided that until he really knew what he wanted to do career-wise, he’d volunteer his time and labor to the Americorps.

Because Matthew minored in Spanish and spoke the language fluently, and because he wanted to help families in need of financial assistance (something he could easily relate to), he was immediately accepted into the Americorps VISTA program, a domestic version of the PeaceCorps. For two years, Matthew traveled the U.S. restoring and building homes, helped the homeless get back on their feet, and mentored impoverished children.

While his daily tasks were rewarding emotionally, the job didn’t pay much. In fact, he barely had enough money to live on—Matthew and his team members would pool their stipends together just to be able to afford groceries. It was by no means a “glitzy job.”  But in the end, Matthew was given an education credit valued at $5,500. His experience as a volunteer made him see that he was destined for a career greater than finance and so he decided to put his education credit towards earning a master’ degree in public policy just a few short years later. He wanted to be able to influence policy making so that he didn’t have to see as many people suffering in poverty as he did during his two years with the program.

The education credit may not be enough to help you pay for your entire education, but at a time where students are facing the highest loan debt in history, anything will help.  For more information how you or your child can benefit from volunteering, make sure to check out Americorps.gov.

Maria Rainier makes her living as a freelance blogger. An avid follower of the latest trends in technology and education, Maria believes that online degrees and online universities are the future of higher learning. Please share your comments with her.

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Learn Something New Today!

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One of our team members showed us this list on “The 37 Best Websites to Learn Something New” published on Medium. We loved sharing about the different sites and strategies we all use to keep learning new things everyday. Here are some suggestions we came up with:

Take a class on Coursera! One of our team members proudly calls herself a Coursera junkie and has taken classes like “Macroeconomics: Economic Principles in the Real World,” and “Effective Altruism,” which you can also take. The great thing about Coursera is it’s free and you’re able to set your own pace and only complete the activities that you want to! So, skip the essays and go watch some videos of world-renowned professors like Peter Singer and Paul Bloom for free! Other similar services are iTunes U, Khan Academy, and Udemy. If you want to learn how to code and use languages like Java and HTML, check out Codecademy and their super comprehensive (and super easy) tutorials!

Listen to a Podcast! One of our team members listens to podcasts on her way to work and loves the feeling of getting energized and ready to take on the day’s challenges by learning about random stuff while she walks. If you want to listen to 30-minute explanations on topics ranging from Trickle Down Economics, to how the NSA works, listen to Stuff You Should Know, by How Stuff Works. If you’re a history geek or want to learn more about it from an incredibly engaging speaker, listen to Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History and prepare to get the scoop that you don’t read about in textbooks. If you’re the intellectual type and want to learn about Moral Psychology and Practical Ethics, listen to Very Bad Wizards for an unforgettable ride through the mazes of free will, meta ethics, and primatology studies on goodwill. You can also listen to a book on Audible. With books on any and all topics, there is nothing we could say about Audible except: Go download it now!!!

Watch a show on Netflix with the subtitles in another language! One of our team members has been reading Portuguese subtitles for 2 years now, and she swears she can (sort of) understand it now. This is the easy way to do it, but if you’re really serious about learning a language, try Rosetta Stone or Duolingo. Two of our team members have completed courses on Rosetta Stone and loved their experiences, and one of our team members practices her skills on Duolingo whenever she has 5 minutes to spare.

Looking for Spiritual growth? In this day and age, it is hard to make the time for a spiritual activity… and yet, it is so important! One of our team members found the app Headspace and has been practicing mindfulness meditation for almost two years now! With meditations that range from 3 minutes to several hours, you’re bound to find something you like on Headspace, plus the first ten 10-minute intro meditations are free! Another amazing app is Happier, where you can post (privately or publicly) the happy things that happened during your day. Noticing the happy moments in life and engaging with them through meditation will surely make you a happier person, so give it a try!

Did we miss an app or service you love to use? Let us know by tweeting to us @universalgiving

Could the Americorps Be the Answer to Escaping College Loans?

Today’s post is from guest blogger Maria Rainier.

This is the story of how one of my best friends found a way to make college more affordable by enrolling in the Americorps. I’m taking this opportunity to say I have no affiliation with the Americorps whatsoever; I’m solely sharing his story to demonstrate how volunteering can be the gateway to earning a higher education. To learn how you can pursue your diploma with help from the Americorps or another nationally recognized volunteering organization such as the PeaceCorps, continue reading below.

As early as 6-years-old, Matthew Daniels knew that earning a college education was something that he needed to pursue. He never worried about finances that much—that is until he got older and began to realize that his single working mother barely made enough to make ends meet. Scholarships and grants would be the route he knew he was going to have to take—loans were not an option. As a freshman in high school, Matthew made sure he enrolled in advanced classes and all of the extracurricular activities he could so that he would impress not only college admission officers, but scholarship and grant awarders too. In 2004, Matthew won a full academic scholarship to the University of Texas in Austin.

Two weeks before graduation, Matthew began to question what he was going to do with the rest of his life. Sure, he would earn a bachelor’s degree in finance, but he just wasn’t sure if that was his true passion. He needed some time to “think” perhaps even travel before he went off into the real world. Because Matthew was always a philanthropist, he decided that until he really knew what he wanted to do career-wise, he’d volunteer his time and labor to the Americorps.

Because Matthew minored in Spanish and spoke the language fluently, and because he wanted to help families in need of financial assistance (something he could easily relate to), he was immediately accepted into the Americorps VISTA program, a domestic version of the PeaceCorps. For two years, Matthew traveled the U.S. restoring and building homes, helped the homeless get back on their feet, and mentored impoverished children.

While his daily tasks were rewarding emotionally, the job didn’t pay much. In fact, he barely had enough money to live on—Matthew and his team members would pool their stipends together just to be able to afford groceries. It was by no means a “glitzy job.”  But in the end, Matthew was given an education credit valued at $5,500. His experience as a volunteer made him see that he was destined for a career greater than finance and so he decided to put his education credit towards earning a master’ degree in public policy just a few short years later. He wanted to be able to influence policy making so that he didn’t have to see as many people suffering in poverty as he did during his two years with the program.

The education credit may not be enough to help you pay for your entire education, but at a time where students are facing the highest loan debt in history, anything will help.  For more information how you or your child can benefit from volunteering, make sure to check out Americorps.gov.

Maria Rainier makes her living as a freelance blogger. An avid follower of the latest trends in technology and education, Maria believes that online degrees and online universities are the future of higher learning. Please share your comments with her.