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Graduation: It’s Closer Than You Think!

Graduation: It’s Closer Than You Think!

Have you figured out yet what you want to do after you graduate, especially those of you graduating in Spring 2021? You already have so much on your plate that you might think you can’t handle one more thing.

You have help! The Career Office at Harcum has all kinds of resources, whether you want to continue your education or land a new job and it’s all free for Harcum students. 

Do you want to talk with someone about your options, or help you figure out your next steps? Set up a phone call or Zoom call with a Harcum career advisor. It’s easy to do — just click here to talk with Claire (Meet with Claire Williams>>) or Trevor (Meet with Trevor Gulledge>>).

Once you’ve written your resume and/or cover letters, send them off to the Career Office and someone will review them and give you suggestions. Again, it’s really easy — click on this link Bear Tracks. Once you submit them, it takes two or three days to get them back. 

Harcum also has an online job board where you can look at jobs posted by local and regional employers. Take a look here at the Job Board.

Instead of focusing on getting a new job, maybe you’ve decided to transfer to a four year college to get your bachelor’s degree. Harcum has several webinars scheduled in February and early March to describe the process of transferring, completing an application for admission and applying for financial aid. You can sign up here https://www.harcum.edu/s/1044/bp20/interior.aspx?sid=1044&gid=1&pgid=2918. Scroll down to the “Upcoming Events” section. 

FInally, always remember that your site coordinator is here to help in any way! 

 

Meet Jamoca Harkins

Meet Jamoca Harkins

Jamoca Harkins

Many adults seeking college education find that when the burden of finding and registering for programs is all on them, the dream falls into the background when you already have a career, and life is moving forward. For Jamoca Harkins, a mother and school bus driver, the availability of ACE in her neighborhood made all the difference. She heard about the program from a friend, and immediately saw an opportunity.

Jamoca decided to major in leadership to eventually start her own café business. After graduating from Harcum, she pursued a B.A. in Psychology from Cheyney University, and now wants to become a family therapist. This decision was rooted in Jamoca’s experiences as a child in a broken home, raised by her grandmother during her teen years. “My background has made me interested in understanding people and their choices… I knew that I had options. I could live like my parents or I could live like my grandmother.” She’s glad that her children are following her footsteps by also pursuing higher education, “Two are in college, one is a senior in high school, and one just got her Masters.” And now that she has fulfilled her dream of achieving college degrees, Jamoca wants to work with kids who were raised with domestic violence.

Reflecting on her success, Jamoca says that “The fact that Harcum, I-LEAD and ACE were brought to my community is important. I didn’t have to search it out. It fit around my family and work schedule.” She urges, “Take advantage of the opportunities that are right in front of you.”

After completing her associate degree from Harcum, Jamoca kept moving forward and pursued a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from Cheyney University. graduating suma cum laude in May 2020. She is currently enrolled in the Master of Public Health program at Temple University.

Equipped with a Bachelor’s Degree,  Jamoca dove into her career field and now works with The Crime Victim’s Center of Chester County as a Victim Advocate and Restitution Manager.

“I am a success, and I have Harcum and I-LEAD to thank for their role in it.” 

 

Harcum Community Scholars

Harcum Community Scholars

Anybody who is receiving a Harcum Community Scholarship is eligible to take the HCS Leadership workshops which happen twice a month on Zoom.

The workshops complement the academic work you’re doing — they help you to become the very best possible version of yourself and an agent of change in your own life and in your community. The material you get in the workshops (each one includes guided conversation and specific exercises) will help you create a vision for your life and figure out how to make that vision a reality — a series of goals. You’ll identify your strengths and how to build on them. You will learn tools that can help you change outdated habits that hold you back from achieving your goals and how to overcome old ways of thinking that tell you what you can’t do. You’ll learn specific practices that will keep you motivated, focused and help you develop a sense of purpose. 

If you want to know when the next series of workshops will start, send an email to [email protected]

It’s All About the Money

It’s All About the Money

It’s still January so you have some time to make (no more than one or two!) resolutions that may make your life at least a little bit easier and more satisfying. Let’s start with the hard one first – money issues (at least the ones you can control!). 

Bank Accounts

Life can be harder and more expensive than it should be without a bank account. Today, there are options for online bank accounts that are easy to sign up for and easy to use. For instance, Chime (https://www.chime.com/) is an online banking system that does not use the Chex system to qualify applicants. With a Chime account, you can do everything you would with a traditional bank account including receiving direct deposits form employers and government agencies. Check it out. 

Student Loans

 It can sometimes be a struggle trying to stay afloat financially while you are getting your degree. But you also want to graduate with the least amount of debt possible. And you want financial aid dollars to see you through that bachelor’s degree! So, while it may be tempting to take out the maximum student loan you can get, DON’T DO IT. Use it for necessary expenses, of course.  But if you can come out the other end with your degree and only a few thousand dollars of debt, you will feel so successful. With your degree, you are going to get a better, more satisfying job that pays you a good salary and you won’t have to use that great new salary, or raise, to pay off student loans. 

Budgets — a dirty word but a great idea!

You’ve probably heard this advice hundreds of times but life really is easier if you have a budget. The truth is, the lower your income, the more important a budget becomes. And it’s hard. We get it. But if you keep track of how you spend your money, you’ll probably see ways that you can better manage what you have coming in. Mint (https://mint.intuit.com/) is a free app that gives you insights about your spending, helps you create a custom budget, and tracks your spending. It links all of your bank accounts and credit cards and automatically puts each transaction in different categories. Review your transactions periodically and identify possible cuts to make. see what you can cut. Be Ruthless!

Recurring Transactions

You know those subscriptions with recurring monthly fees? Each one is such a “reasonable” amount of money…$5.99 here, $7.99 there, but they start to add up. And sometimes you might sign up for something, never use it, and completely forget about it. TRIM (https://www.asktrim.com/) to the rescue. Trim keeps track of those monthly transactions and tells you how much you spend on subscriptions each month. It will let you know if you have two subscriptions to the same service and will ask you each month if you want to cancel particular subscriptions. And the really good news? If you say “yes,” the app will take over and cancel the subscription for you — you don’t have to do a thing! 

Can We Talk About Credit Cards?

It’s so easy to get into trouble with credit cards. Sometimes we use them to make ends meet at the end of the month and make minimum monthly payments and then get slammed with high interest charges on the remaining balance. STOP THE MADNESS. 

This is another piece of advice you’ve heard at least a hundred times, but if you do it, you will have greater peace of mind. Pay down your debt with a method called “snowballing.” 

Snowballing means listing all of your debts in order from smallest to highest dollar amount and focus on paying off the smallest balance while only paying the minimums on the others. If you have a $5,000 student loan at 4% interest, a credit card balance of $6,000 with 17% interest, and a $10,000 car loan with 9% interest, you pay off the student loan first, followed by the credit card and finally the car. Once the smallest debt is paid, you move to the next smallest using the same strategy and include the amount you were paying on the first debt into your monthly payment on the next. You continue to do this until all of the debts are paid, the largest being the last one to go.

A big pro for this method is the psychological win it provides. It’s so satisfying to cross a debt off your list. That boost can also give you momentum; you killed that one, you can kill all of these debts! This kind of boost is no small thing.

Ok. Enough money management advice for now. If you only act on one or two of these suggestions, you’ll feel at least a little bit better about your financial situation. Promise. 

Meet Larry Carlton

Meet Larry Carlton

“I was laid off in 2013 after 24 years because I didn’t have a degree. Finding another job was hard.” It can’t get more real than that. After a year of unemployment, Larry started working at a grocery store, but wanted to find a job that was more meaningful to him. 

Larry’s sister graduated from Harcum in 2016 and was the driving force behind his choice to pursue his associate degree with the ACE program. “She encouraged me to enroll, and it was a challenge,” he says, but after taking the leap, he considers it the best decision he’s made in the last five years. Inspired by his grandfather’s return to learning, Larry’s 19 year old grandson also returned to night school to finish his high school diploma. 

Even though Larry had been out of school for forty years, all the assumptions he had made about himself and education — that he couldn’t pick up concepts quickly as an adult, or that he wasn’t an “intelligent” person — were replaced by the realization that he could do anything. “ACE has made me realize that there are no limits to me. When I walk, I hold my head up higher, and when I ask for a raise at work I know that I deserve it.”

Some Good News About Money; New (better) Pell Rules

Some Good News About Money; New (better) Pell Rules

Along with the $600 stimulus payment that was approved in December, Congress also made some welcome changes to Pell grants and SNAP, and allocated money to offer assistance to help low-income people get internet service. The new benefits should be available in September. Here’s what we know so far —

SNAP 

  • A 15% increase in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefit amount for all recipients.  
  • Expansion of eligiblity to students who are eligible to participate in a federal or state work-study program. You don’t have to actually be working in a work-study program to receive SNAP benefits.
  • Students with an Expected Family Contribution (EFC) of $0 based on their FAFSA for the academic year will be eligible for SNAP.

Financial Aid Improvements 

  • Students from families who earn up to 175 percent of the federal poverty line, or up to 225 percent for single parents, will automatically qualify for a maximum grant. What this means: If you are a single parent with a household of 4, you can earn up to $59,000 and still get the full PELL grant of $6,345.
  • Those who make up to 275 percent of the poverty line, or 325 percent for single parents, are guaranteed at least the minimum award.
  • The concept known as an expected family contribution will be replaced with a student aid index. This index can be negative, but cannot go below -$1,500. Restoration of the Second Chance Pell Grant for individuals pursuing postsecondary education while or after being incarcerated. If you know someone who has been incarcerated and who wants to go to college, tell them to reach out to us.  
  • The ban on people getting PELL for prior drug convictions has been removed. 
  • The selective service requirement has been eliminated. 

Internet

  • Low income families can get up to $50 a month for their internet bill. Eligible households include households having individuals or children that qualify for free and reduced lunch program, Pell grant recipients, recently laid off or furloughed workers, individuals who qualify for the Lifeline program, and  individuals who qualify for an existing discount program offered by internet service providers. Payments will go directly to your internet service provider. Directions for how to apply are not yet available, but we will let you know as soon the process is open.