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Struggling student? Ways to earn money (part-time)

Many students wish they had more money in a month, to actually buy the things they want (and not have to stare at people who are holding the...

Thursday, 28 July 2016

How to tell your parents you plan on quitting college/university

As I have stated in previous blog postings, many people take up their studies just to keep their parents happy. Grandpa became a surgeon, daddy followed in his footsteps and therefore it is expected of Sonny to do exactly the same thing.

But, what if Sonny decides to do his own thing? Live his own life? How can he get out of the great big mess his family has placed him in? How can he be free without disappointing everyone around him? Many people believe this to be an impossible feat and that is why we find so many people today that are miserable in their professions.

It is true that telling your parents you wish to quit studying (or that you wish to change your field of study to something you actually enjoy), won't be an easy task, but if approached/handled in the correct way it is not an undo-able one.

The first step would be to compile a list of reasons why college/university studies are not necessary for everyone in life to make a success (whilst also listing examples of such people who made a resounding success of their lives, without any formal education/training - Google search can help you with this). 

Then the next step would be to compile a list of reasons why studying is not right for you personally. Once you have both lists it is time to plan the event in which you will be discussing your choice with your parents. This does not have to be an elaborate affair and should just be something simple (and private) such as a meal by either your home, or your parent's abode. Privacy and intimacy is key here, since you can never be 100% sure what their initial shock reaction is going to be like. Don't let this scare you though since around 70% of parents tend to take the news extremely well once it is initially broken to them, and even if your parents fall into the 30% category of parents that totally lose it, you are their child whom they love and eventually they will come around to the idea - Remember, once a wound is exposed it can begin to heal. 

When the "breaking the news to my parents" day/event arrives, start off by explaining to your parents that you have thought long and hard about your decision and in the end you realised that quitting will be better for you. Explain to them that it will be a waste of their money (or your scholarship providers money) if you continue because you do not have a passion for what you are doing and therefore you are most certain you won't be able to make a success out of it one day as a career because of this reason. Go on to remind them that life is short and it does not help wasting valuable time on something if it makes you miserable. Then read them the list of reasons why studying is not right for you personally and the list of reasons why studying is not necessary for everyone in life to make a success. Once done you can finish off by naming the names of around fifty highly successful people who don't have any formal education or training (which you compiled earlier using Google). To completely round off the topic/conversation you could add something in the lines of; "Success comes from hard work and not academic training. If you enjoy something and are therefore compelled to work hard at it, you are more likely to make a success out of it than if you pursue something you hate and find no enjoyment in". 

Your parents are bound to have a lot to say to you at his point but whichever way it goes just remember that after this whole dreaded discussion with them is over, you can begin to get your life back and the worst will be behind you. Don't feel discouraged if they (your parents) try and retaliate by threatening to make you pay them back for the money's they have already paid or worse, if they threaten to disown you. 85% of the time this is just the initial shock kicking in and in a few weeks they will recant their "threats/decisions". My advice to you for the 15% of cases where this doesn't happen is this - You have one life to live. You have to ultimately live it for yourself and not for others. Time wasted is time you can never get back and if people can't accept your choices and wish to cut you off due to them, then so be it, even if these people are your parents. If they truly love you, they will come around eventually. They had their lives and made their choices. Now is the time for them to trust you to make decisions for yourself as an adult who is over the age of 18. If you are forced to pay them their money back, then do it with pride, even if it takes you years to do this, at least you will have the knowledge that you don't owe anyone for anything and that your actions did not have an effect on anyone but yourself. 

With this all being said, quitting is not a decision to be taken lightly. Be very sure about your actions before taking them. Take at least a semester to think about it long and hard and then only quit if your feelings have stayed the same all the time. If you have any doubts, rather make an appointment with a student counsellor or join a student support group to see if you cannot resolve any of your issues that way first. Many students tend to quit due to feeling overwhelmed or when they are battling to cope. They then convince themselves the real reason for quitting is due to them not having a like or a passion for what they are doing, or simply that university/college is not for them. Be 100% sure of your reasons and also be sure of how you are going to feel once you have quit. If you feel you are going to have any type of regrets, then maybe you are being too hasty. 

Take care and good luck in your choices. I hope my suggestions can help some of you out there. 

P.S - If anyone has any stories to share with us regarding how they told their parents they were going to quit, pls share these with us in the comments section, as I am sure many students will find help in these. 


Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Suicide is not the answer

As the title of the post says/reads, suicide is truly never the answer. There is nothing in this world that cannot be fixed or healed providing you are prepared to fix or heal that which needs fixing or healing.

Even if you are suffering from depression or you have a Bipolar disorder, suicide is not an easy way out. Killing yourself solves nothing. When you are really low or when you feel like your problems are so humongous that the only way out is death, think again, think about your loved ones, think about what you would be putting them through. This should bring you back to reality.

Even if you feel nothing for yourself anymore (at that moment in time), think about everyone out there that loves you and that you love back. Would you want to see your parents suffering? Of course you wouldn't and if you kill yourself you would be subjecting them (as well as your other loved ones) to the worst suffering imaginable. This knowledge alone should be enough reason to seek help for whatever it is that you are going through.

When you are overwhelmed by your problems and/or you are terribly down/depressed, tell yourself that this feeling is just temporary. Nothing can last forever, including stress, fear, depressed moods or whatever it is that you are going through at that specific moment in time.

Seek help and don't suffer in silence. Depression, bipolar disorder, fear, panic etc. is nothing to be ashamed of. More and more people suffer from depression each year and suicide rates are increasing at an alarmingly steady pace (according to statistics). Ask yourself truly, do you want to be part of that statistic? Remind yourself of the happy times, of how good you felt whilst doing something you truly enjoyed. Pull yourself out from that dark place you are creeping into, and if you find that this is too difficult for you, reach out to someone, anyone, before it is too late.

I know at least 50 people who have either tried to commit  suicide or thought about it at some point in their lives. All of them say the same thing now though, and that is that they cannot believe how close they came to making a huge, permanent and devastating mistake. All of them have found happiness and are in a happy place in their psyche today.

One particular case/person was a teacher I had in college (whose permission I have to retell her story with the intent to help others). She was a victim of rape when she was a teenage girl. Instead of confiding in her parents and/or her closest friends, she kept the secret to herself in fear of what others might think of her. She held it in for years until it consumed her entire being. She couldn't eat or sleep and she began to feel that life would never be the same again and that she would never be able to live with the memory of what happened to her. Suicide became her only choice. Her only way to have peace. Her only way out.

She planned her self-destruction/demise very carefully. For months she started stealing and hiding a few of her mothers sleeping pills in a sock in her cupboard. Finally, when she felt she had enough she waited patiently for an evening that her parents would be out for at least a few hours. When the evening came she made sure that she told everyone (her parents and friends) that she would be going to bed early, as she had an upset stomach and wasn't feeling too well. She requested no one to call her awake on the phone.

Her parents left. She placed the letters of farewell she wrote to/for everyone dear to her on the dining room table, went into the bathroom, poured a bath, drank all the sleeping pills and then climbed into the tub. She waited patiently. For quite a while she felt nothing.

Then all of a sudden it started to happen. She started to feel her brain and functioning slowing down. It was the weirdest and scariest feeling she ever felt. "Why am I not just falling asleep like I see on the t.v?", she thought. She began to panic, but she couldn't do anything, she couldn't move. It was horrendous and nothing like she expected it to be. She asked herself, "what the hell am I doing?" She realised that she wanted to live and that her ordeal seemed so meagre now in relation to the fear she was currently experiencing. She knew she was dying but she couldn't scream... She blacked out....

Then, she could see a sharp light. She heard voices around her. She managed to open her eyes. She could barely make out the face of a man. After a while she recognised his voice. It was her doctor. She could hear him telling her mother (whose crying voice was echoing in the room), that all they could do now is wait to see if she lived or died since they did all they could on their side (by pumping her stomach out etc.). She felt the overwhelming fear of dying return, just before she blacked out again........

Needless to say she made it out alive (or else she wouldn't have been able to tell us this story as her students). She got lucky. Her mother broke the strap on her shoe and went home to change her footwear. That is the only reason she (my teacher) was still alive today. Her mom found her just in time and even then her chance of survival was around 50/50.

She had a major wake up call during her suicide attempt and got the help she needed as soon as she had recovered enough

She learnt to live with what happened to her and realised that it was in the past and that it could only effect her future if she kept dwelling on it. It wasn't the end of the world. She had a second chance at life. Her attempt at suicide taught her just how valuable life is and how much she really wanted to live. She started to enjoy her life, went to university, got her degree, fell in love, got married and had three beautiful daughters. The mere thought of what she attempted to do to herself seems so unreal to her now.

If you are someone who is contemplating suicide please let all I have said above sink in. Your life is precious even if you don't feel that way right now. Please get the help you need, or even just reach out to someone.

 I know that in this age of technology people are very out of touch with each other (which in my opinion is also to blame for many suicides since so many feel alone). but there is always someone who will listen, whether it be one of your parents, or siblings, your minister/priest, varsity counsellor or even just a friend.

Here is a list of online suicide prevention chats (help-line chats) that you can access via a VPN if you feel you would prefer to remain completely anonymous, and other suicide resources such as international suicide hotline telephone numbers:

Suicide Prevention Chats (Worldwide)

International Association For Suicide Prevention

Suicide Prevention Lifeline


International Suicide Hotlines List

I want to close in saying that life is precious and that each and every single one of us are amazing and special.

With that said, remember these words: Whatever is upsetting you won't last forever (unless you force it), but suicide is final.


Thursday, 2 June 2016

Forty great essay (composition) topic ideas

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Good old essays (compositions). We had to write them in school and now (in more volume's than ever), we have to write them in university/college. 

I never really minded writing essays, however, I hated coming up with topics to write about, when none were given. That is why I thought you (my readers), would appreciate a nice little list of "not so common" essay topics, for each of the four main types of essays you have to write in varsity/college. 

Here is the list:

Descriptive Essays - (essays that describe something - paint a mental picture)

1) My favourite places/destinations in the world (and why they are my favourite/s)
2) My favourite foods or different food flavours (and how they compliment each other)
3) What I look for in a potential boyfriend/girlfriend (looks wise, personality wise, style wise etc.)
4) What I look like to myself, when I look in the mirror (face and body)
5) The ugliest dog (or other animal) I have ever seen
6) What my dream house will/should look like one day
7) How I would change the world (if I could change anything and/or everything about it)

Argumentative and Persuasive Essays - (essays meant to persuade or convince others)

1) Why extreme dieting is bad for you
2) Why marijuana should be/shouldn't be legalised
3) Why my favourite (presidential) candidate should win
4) Why rapists should receive life sentences
5) Being a vegetarian is better than eating meat
6) Abstinence is the only real "safe sex"

Narrative Essays - (essays that tell a story about an experience or that reveal stages in a plot)

1) My first day/week at university/college
2) The first time I went to a party/my first date
3) What happened on my worst date ever (NB: Keep it clean!)
4) The best day of my life (so far)
5) The worst day of my life (so far)
6) My best Christmas/holiday

Expository Essays - (essays that investigate and explain/describe facts)

1) Events that took place during 911, World War 1, Word War 2 and/or The Great Depression
2) Why global warning is taking place/happening
3) Factors that caused/contributed towards, the hole in the ozone layer
4) Why too much sugar is bad for you
5) How and why smoking cigarettes causes cancer
6) The causes and effects of acid rain

Sometimes we are given a broad topic we are meant to write an essay of our choosing about. Since this can also be daunting, here is a list of some of the popular topics you might be given, with ideas of subtopics you can write about:  

1. Problems in the current education system
2. The value of education
3. Self education versus university/college
4. Special education needs
5. What having an education means to me

1. The value of our oceans
2. The importance of animal and/or nature conservancy
3. Pollution: Causes of pollution and/or the effects of pollution
4. Global warming
5. Lesser known exotic plants and/or animals

1. Why do we have to pay so much tax?
2. What does it mean to be president?
3. What are the duties of a president?
4. Do we really need a government and/or why we need a government
5. The value of affirmative action

And that is that. I hope you will find some of the given topics useful the next time you need to write an essay/composition. 

Take care and happy writing

Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Motivational: Don't let the fear of failure or success, pull you down

So many people let their fears get the better of them. Especially when it comes to the fear of failure or success. Yes, you read correctly. I wrote the fear of failure, or SUCCESS.

It is still a little known fact that just as many people (if not more) fear success, as those who fear failure. But why would anyone fear success?

The answer is actually quite simple. Many people fear success because we as human beings fear change as well as the unknown, and as we all know, with success comes both (change and the unknown).

The trick however to beating this fear, is to tell yourself that nothing can stay constant (the same) forever. Change is inevitable, and even though the huge changes that success brings might be daunting, do you really want your life to stay the same forever? Exactly, no you don't. Then why fear your own success?

Think about it. I know I would much rather live an interesting life full of change, than a bland one in which everything stays the same for an eternity. Can you imagine doing what you are doing now forever? Since most of you reading this are students, can you picture being a student for the rest of your life? No of course not. You want to be a doctor, lawyer, teacher or whatever it is you are studying towards. So don't fear your ultimate goal, which is exactly what you are doing when you give into fears of your own success.

As for the fear of failure. Failure was something that I feared so much that I let it ruin everything for me. All I had to do was realise that I hadn't failed yet. And even if I did (fail), why on earth would it have been the end of the world for me? Exactly, it wouldn't have. I would have just tried and tried again until I succeeded. 

Remember failure is not absolute. If we fail, we can always try again. Yet we tend to live as if failing once would be the end of us, as if it would mean game over without the option to respawn ourselves. Failure cannot kill you! So don't fear it so much! We can't always be perfect at everything and do everything perfectly all the time. Failure is part of being human. Think of it (failure) as going to the loo or farting - annoying and embarrassing, yet part of being human.

As I have said so many times before, we control our own destiny, and that means that you control your own future (and attitude towards it), so don't let fear pull you down and prevent you from reaching the heights you were meant to.

Keep positive and reach for the stars

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Struggling student? Ways to earn money (part-time)

Many students wish they had more money in a month, to actually buy the things they want (and not have to stare at people who are holding the latest gadget, droolingly). Others simply need more money in order to survive or pay for their studies. 

Don't despair. If you can make the time, and put in the effort, there are many ways of earning some extra cash whilst you are still studying (that DON'T involve selling any parts of your body). 

Below I will be giving you a list of things/jobs you can do for extra dough, but just a word of warning first:- Try and do your own thing independently and stay away from so called "student employment agencies" or "student job providers", as many of these are out to exploit or scam students (by placing them in jobs that pay peanuts and taking a cut of the proceeds, and/or by selling them (students) products or services they don't really need). Please note I stated that SOME and not ALL agencies/providers are out to do this, so do your homework before making use of one of them (if you still so wish).

Okay, now for the list of jobs/things students can do for extra cash:

1. Waitering- This one is a classic! Even in my early days of studying (in the 1990's), part-time waitering was a big earner for students. Just make sure you don't take on more hours than you can handle and that you work by a restaurant/establishment that gives you a share of your daily profits/sales and not just your (earned) tips as an income. I remember working at a restaurant that only let us keep our tips. Many nights I would only earn two rand (as in seriously, there are many cheapskate tippers out there) and then I was still made to do some dishes in the back after my shift ended (hardly worth if for two rand).

2. Recycling - Don't knock it till you've tried it. Recycling is actually a great way of earning some extra cash if you pursue it seriously and collect many varied items. Cans, glass, paper and plastic can all be recycled which is great for students, since all of these items can be found on campus (and it dorms) in abundance. Few people know that all forms of cans are recyclable (aluminium and steel etc.) so collect all forms of these (soft drink cans, beer cans, paint cans, food cans, aerosol cans etc.). Once you have a good collection going, you can just surf the internet for a list of local places you can drop your stash at, in exchange for cash. All in all recycling is really worthwhile (the cash part and the fact you are doing your bit to save the planet). The only down side to recycling is the fact that you will need quite a lot of space to store all the items collected. 

3. Child minding - You can call it babysitting or au-pairing (even though this term is traditionally used for those child minders who have come from a foreign country to work for host families), however, whatever you wish to call it, part-time child minding is another great job for students. Again I wish to add that you must be careful not to take on more hours doing this than you can handle. Also, make sure that you know your rights as a child minder (as well as the rights of the parents) and any other legalities concerning child minding (such as safety laws, responsibilities etc.), before taking on any jobs. Note: You should only attempt doing this (as a job) if you have tons of patience and a love for children. 

4. Weekend car wash - Definitely a job I recommend for the summer only (unless you are super brave and like to play "Fear Factor" with icy cold water). How this works is you get a bunch of your friends to join in on the idea, then you go and visit local premises (such as shop parking lots, petrol/gas garages etc.) and ask their permission to set up your own small car wash on weekends. Alternatively you could also just apply for part time work at an existing car wash (on weekends only since this job can get very messy and exhausting).

5. Dog walking - Now this is something many students never even think of doing. Why dog walkers have started dying out is beyond me because they are needed now more than ever! Think of it. More and more people are working extended hours and on weekends and have way less time to spend with their children, nevermind their animals! You could even extend your services to dog/house sitting when people go on holiday or away for the weekend. All you need are some good references (written by your family, neighbours and church back home, in order to prove you are not a psychopathical maniac out to ransack, pillage and burn the house down), some flyers advertising your services (which you can put up and/or hand out at local shops) and you are good to go.

Note: References such as the ones mentioned are a very good idea if you are considering other jobs dealing with children, properties or animals as well (such as child minding mentioned above).

6. Dog bathing/grooming - Only attempt this if you know how to cut/groom a dogs hair without hurting it! Alternatively you could just offer a dog washing service on weekends, where people can bring their dogs to you and you give them a bath and gentle towel dry (with NO haircut). Note that you will need a bathtub, towels and warm water source in order to offer this service. Tip: Many South African houses have back rooms/ maid quarters built in their backyards, therefore students who still live with their parents can make use of these rooms in order to run a weekend business of this sort (provided these rooms are used for no other current purpose of course). 

7. Flea markets - Lets face it, most people will buy the biggest load of junk just for the sake of shopping, so why not turn the shopping addictions of others into some cash for yourself? In a previous post, "Fun things to do on a student's budget (outside of drinking)", I mentioned how students can host craft evening for fun, now you can turn those craft evenings for fun, into craft evenings for profit! Collect all the crafts you make independently and on craft evenings until you have enough of them to sell at a flea market, or other sale venues. Alternatively you could bottle/can your own preserves or bake some goods for sale (and also make evenings out of these activities with your friends). Note: As mentioned before in my "Fun things to do on a student's budget" post, only the craft items made with bought goods/crafting materials or "quality" junk items such as glass, should be put up for sale - (think of it for a minute, would you want to buy a cow ornament made out of eggshells and a milk carton? Exactly! Hell no, you wouldn't. On the contrary you would just burst out laughing and give the person who tried to sell the item a bad name, and who wants to walk around for the next four years being called "carton cowgirl" for example?). 

And that is that. If you can think of any other jobs/activities I have left out please share them with us (as long as they are not dangerous or vulgar).

Have fun and happy earning!