The City of Brotherly Love: Fairmount Edition

Emily, creator of and long time blogger for HerPhilly, recently published an article sharing stories about 11 individuals and why they love their neighborhoods at which they reside in Philly. From Rittenhouse to Fishtown, these 11 ladies share something else in addition to their area code: they love Philadelphia.

Emily’s article is a tremendous resource for anyone who is considering moving to the City of Brotherly Love or relocating within it.

I’m slowly approaching the one year anniversary of signing my lease in the 215. Aside from the haphazard distribution of tickets from my friends at the Philadelphia Parking Authority, I have fallen in love with the city that has only been 75 miles away from me my entire life. Following Emily’s article, here’s why Fairmount has stolen my heart:

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How long you’ve lived there: 11 months and counting!

Why you originally choose it: My roommate and I are both students at Drexel University. I attend the main campus in University City while hers is in Center City. Since we both rely on walking as our main source of transportation, we actively looked to find an apartment that would house us at an even split between the two campuses. We love our decision with Fairmount and the apartment building we live in!

A few words describing your neighbors: Quiet, welcoming, and considerate.

Favorite thing about your neighborhood: Fairmount is a beautiful neighborhood that has a small town vibe but big city views! The area is quiet and safe, and there are an abundance of local places to walk to that make you feel as though you’ve stepped into a history book. My next door neighbor is the Art Museum, so my roof deck allows for some pretty tremendous panoramic sights. I love that Center City is only a quick ten minute walk away, but when I don’t feel like making that hike, Fairmount has it’s own plethora of dining and bar options to choose from!

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Our roof-deck view!

What you would change about your neighborhood: My building is centralized between the museums and the Penitentiary. With that said, finding parking can sometimes be a task and a half. I’d love to see more (affordable) parking options for residents!

Shoutout to Emily at HerPhilly for the inspiration for this post, and thank you for continuing to keep us city gals up to speed with all things Philly!

First Day of School: A Saga

As you learned in my last post, I am not the average undergrad. I had hoped that transferring to Drexel University as a full time student would somehow allow me to fulfill my dream of being the “regular student,” but I was sadly mistaken.

It was a cool spring day in March of 2016. I woke up earlier than usual, unable to sleep from restless anticipation of what the day was going to bring.

It was my first day of school.

I’m a junior in college, so I’ve had other first days, sure. But this one was different. This was my first day as a student who was going to sit in classrooms from ten in the morning until five in the evening. For the first time ever, I didn’t have to worry about going to work, rushing around, and making it to class in the nick of time.

It was my first real day of school.

I was nervous as I stepped out of my apartment and onto the streets of Center City, Philadelphia. It was a short walk to the shuttle that would bring me to my classes in University City. At quarter after nine, right on time, the shuttle pulled up to the stop on 15th street. I proudly flashed the driver my freshly printed student ID, found a seat, and off we went.

As we arrived to Drexel’s main campus, the first thing I noticed was the hustle and bustle of the university. Up to this point, I had been so used to seeing barren campuses at night. A student here, a late night library champ there. I was used to the moonlight shining down on the main hall of Muhlenberg College, casting an eerily comforting glow across the quaint campus.

Instead of allowing myself to get flustered, I sipped my coffee and made my way to my first class. After all, the goal was to blend in.

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As the class began, we went around and introduced ourselves as per usual on the first day of anything. I kept my introduction nice and simple.

“Hi, I’m Ashley. I’m a communication student and this is my first quarter here at Drexel.”

That’s all anyone needed to know. But as the intros ended, the classmate next to me called me out.

“You look like a grown ass woman with a credit score,” he said.

I had never been caught so off guard before, but it was for all the right reasons.

That simple yet bold observation changed the way I looked at this entire experience. I was under no obligation to fulfill someone else’s idea of what an undergrad should look like. This is my journey—and mine alone.

After further explanation, the fellow student explained that how I carried myself was just different. He got a “professional” vibe from me. After thinking it through, I realized how proud that made me feel. I had overcome countless obstacles to get to this point in my life, and although I know I haven’t “made it” quite yet, I am confident that I am well on my way—and possibly even five steps ahead of everyone else. After all, I have an established credit score.

So go out there and challenge the status quo. No one ever declared that you must look a certain way or talk a certain way to excel as a student. Find your own niche, run with it, and share your experience in the comments below.

Part-Time Student: Is the Walk Worth the Wait?

We all know the drill: earn your high school diploma, enroll in a four year institution, and graduate with your bachelor’s degree no later than the prime age of 22. Today, it’s practically taboo to approach the situation in any other way. But there are hidden perks to breaking the norm, and here are five of them:

1. Graduate with less student debt
We all know that the country’s student debt situation is a crisis spiraling rapidly out of control. Deciding to pursue your education at a part-time pace can ease the pain of the dreaded tuition bill. In addition, being a part-time student gives you the luxury of time. It is up to you what you want to do with that extra time, but use it wisely and in a way that you can benefit from in the future. Instead of taking a 16-20 credit course load (and paying that price!), opt to get a job to help finance your own education. Take it from me, I balanced a full time job, a part-time job, and a part-time college schedule for the first four years of being an undergrad. I chose the pay-as-you-go route and was able to make it to junior status until being in need of financial aid. Even still, when I finally walk across that stage, I know that my relationship with Sallie-Mae will be short lived.

2. Intimate night classes
If you can get past the idea of spending three hours in a night class once a week, you will see the value in taking one in the first place. The cliche is that undergrads want to go to classes during the day and party the nights away. However, the best part about being enrolled in these classes is that you are surrounded by people who truly want to be there (see reason three!). Even better, the class roster will generally be on the small side. I was once in an accounting night class with only three other people, three! Not only did we all get to know each other fairly well, but we were also able to speak up more freely and without fear.

I find that the overall learning experience at night is simply different. In addition, institutions realize that these classes are not typically as desired. Because of that, universities need to find ways to entice students to enroll in them. What better way is there to do that than with a discounted tuition rate? Often times, night classes are priced at a serious deal. For example, according to their tuition page, a class at the day school at Muhlenberg College in Allentown, PA costs $3,375 versus a credit at the Wescoe School, Muhlenberg’s night school, which will cost you about half the price at $1,575.

3. Classmates are usually older, went back to school by choice
My favorite part about being a part time night student was having the opportunity to sit in class with several older students. Hear me out: adults who choose to go back to school are clearly dedicated and passionate about learning. While a normal undergrad can certainly contribute to the conversation in a meaningful way, older students who may have worked in the field already can add valuable insights to the conversation. Not only that, but our older classmates are typically there by choice. That seemingly insignificant factor can make all the difference.

4. More time to find your passion
How is an eighteen-year-old supposed to know what they were meant to do for the rest of their life? It was not until my fourth year of undergrad (I had junior status), when I realized that I was born for the communication field. After a lengthy trial and error period, I am more confident than ever in my major of choice. As I approach the end of my B.S. at Drexel, I know with certainty that I am where I was meant to be. I couldn’t say that four years ago, and that means everything.

5. Employers will admire the dedication you have to your education, and your resume will flourish
Not only will being a part-time student allow you to work and finance your education on your own, but potential employers will respect you for your absolute commitment to your education. Working while being student is an admirable and daunting task, and it speaks volumes about your character. You’ll graduate with a resume that’ll have legitimate employment history and a lengthy list of soft skills that can only be taught with life experiences. Your time management abilities will impress any hiring manager, and you’ll be well on your way to landing your dream gig.

I did this. I’m still doing this, and it isn’t easy. But, employers and college advisors alike have both praised me for my dedication, passion, and hard work ethic. I dare you not to enroll full-time. Work a part time job to finance your education and gain connections that you wouldn’t have had otherwise.