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A diary of a college student: Meagan’s story

by Meagan Garrett

“A diary of a college student” is a series where we profile a variety of students to get a glimpse of their day-to-day. Learn from their stories of balancing family, work, and school.



Good parents, in my opinion, want to give their children more opportunities than they received and open more doors. Good parents wish to offer their children more in life. That’s what I wish for my child, and that’s why I’m going for my second college degree.

Tell us about yourself

My name is Meagan. I attend Lamar University in Texas, and I am currently eight classes away from attaining my BBA in Human Resource Management. I’m 24 years old with a 5-year-old son. His father and I just celebrated our eight year anniversary in June, but we have never made the decision to tie-the-knot. We still live in separate homes for financial reasons but see each other almost daily depending on our schedules.

I became pregnant with my son my first semester of college while working towards my associate’s degree. I gave birth the week of finals during my Spring semester. I was lucky enough to have the summer with him off and continued a full schedule in the fall. The following December, I walked across the stage with two certificates, one in Entrepreneurship and one in Accounting, along with my AAS in Business Management.

Why did you decide to go back to school?

Though living at home with my mom helped me financially, I am the main financial support for my son. I knew I could not live off my savings from the previous summer’s internship earnings forever, so I was fortunate enough to get a job in town and began saving for our future. After a year of working, I realized that my entry-level position paying $10/hr would not be enough to live the life my son deserved. It was then that I decided to continue with my education if I was to ever open more doors for my family.

How did you pay for your education?  

That following fall I was enrolled in fifteen hours of online classes at Lamar while continuing to work forty hours at my job. Each night I concentrated on one or two classes, depending on the assignments, sometimes working four to five hours after leaving work. Though financial aid covered only half of my tuition, I refused all loans and paid out of my own pocket for tuition and books to avoid finding myself in debt. I knew that as difficult as it was at the time, it would be a breath of fresh air by the time I graduated. After the majority of my core classes were complete, I was faced with a difficult decision: had I saved enough money to leave my job? After much thought, I decided that I could afford to leave my job in order to concentrate solely on school and get more time with my son.

What is the hardest part of balancing family life and school life?

I have now attended Lamar University every semester taking between fifteen to eighteen hours each time and holding about a 3.5 GPA with A’s and B’s across my transcript. What began at 37 transfer hours only two years ago is now 122 hours, after electives and pre-req classes, with no debt. The hardest part of balancing a family and school life is that you have to be able to give yourself fully to school and to your family, which leaves little room for “me-time”. I have gone days without eating, and have tried to complete tests and papers while only running on a couple of hours of sleep because my son was up sick. I’ve been stressed to the point that I breakdown and cry. I have felt like no parts of my life receive the attention they deserve and feel a strong guilt. Eventually though, the fog clears. The assignments get caught up. Your classes finally end. You can finally take a break and get some sleep, and when you’re rested, your children are there waiting to play, waiting to welcome you back to the world. Though you feel guilty for missing that time with them, even though you can never get it back, I think about the future. I think about the dream home we’ll one day own. I think about working at a job that I love instead of fearing about working at two that I hate. I know that even though I don’t get to be with my son full-time, one day I can make up for it.

What have you learned from raising a family while in school?

All in all, I’ve learned that raising a family while in school is hard. It’s exhausting…but it’s worth it. I’ve learned that if you’re going to go to school, you have to look at yourself in the mirror and ask yourself in all honesty if you can do it. You have to fully dedicate yourself to go to class. You have to make sure to turn in your assignments and talk to your teachers if you need help. You have to have faith in yourself even when it feels like you may fail. You have to remember exactly why you are doing this. You have to tell yourself that you’re going to class from 8 am to 7 pm two days a week because you want the best for your child and yourself.

Do you have any advice for other parents who want to go to college?

My advice to parents who want to go to college, if you can afford it in any way, avoid loans. Though it may be impossible for some, if you can put anything down out-of-pocket, do it. For me personally, it gives me more motivation to pass knowing that I paid for myself. Don’t miss class. You may want to lay in bed, but you never know what information you may miss. It was not easy for me to waddle down the hallways at forty weeks pregnant, nor was it easy to stay awake when I had a sick baby and only got one hour of sleep the night before, but it shows more dedication to your teachers if you at least try. Keep an eye on your degree audit and learn who to talk to in case your class schedule has issues. My final piece of advice is to make sure you take some time to yourself even if it’s for an hour. You should be proud. You’re doing something amazing. You’re setting an example for your children, you’re setting a goal for yourself. I went to back for my bachelor’s because I saw what a degree did for my mom’s career. I want my child to see that as well.

linkedinAbout the author: Meagan Garrett is 24 years old and studies at Lamar University as a  full-time undergrad student. Her major is Human Resource Management. To know more about Meagan you can check out her LinkedIn profile here!



ValoreBooks is making it easy for savvy students like you to save money, make money, and get the most value out of your college experience. Save up to 90% on the cost of your textbooks when you buy or rent them here


7 clever ways to organize your dorm room

by ValoreBooks

Let’s face it. We all wish dorm rooms were bigger, but they’re not. So make the most of the space you have with these clever DIY dorm room organizational tips:

1. Use soda can tabs to hang extra clothes in your closet. 

Can tabs organizing clothes

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2. Organize your shoes with small tension rods.

Shoe organizer

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3. Use over-the-door shoe organizer to store snacks.

Over the door shoe organizer

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4. Use a cork board to hang necklaces and other jewelry to keep them tangle-free.

Cork board jewelry organizer

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5. Organize your monthly schedule with this DIY whiteboard calendar.

White board calendar

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6. Make more space in your drawers by folding clothes correctly.

Folding clothes correclty

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7. Organize your drawers with these DIY dividers made from cereal boxes.

Cereal box dividers

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A diary of a college student: Ashley’s story

by Ashley Beckner

“A diary of a college student” is a series where we profile a variety of students to get a glimpse of their day-to-day. Learn from their stories of balancing family, work, and school.

Elementary teacher with girl

Tell us about yourself

I am 24 years old and I have one child, a daughter who just turned two in April. I get help raising Alexandria from her father, he’s really good with her but I’m mostly the one that takes care of her. He supports her financially, I raise her. I am a full-time student at Liberty University Online. Online classes fit so much better with my life and schedule than on-campus classes. I want to be the one taking care of my daughter, I don’t want strangers to be the one getting those precious moments. Taking classes online gives me that opportunity. I’m studying for my Bachelor’s in Elementary Education and Interdisciplinary Studies.

The hardest part about balancing college and family life is being able to make enough time to where you’re not neglecting either one.

What have you learned from raising a family while in school?

I take 2 classes every 8 weeks, which keeps me busy. Plus, I have a toddler who is at the ripe age to learn her colors, alphabet, and so on, and she needs someone to work with her and teach her those things. That’s one of the joys of being a parent. Your influence on your child makes all the difference in the world. What you teach them now will stick with them for the rest of their lives. It’s amazing! It can also be extremely stressful trying to balance all of this. But, I love being a mother and I love being a student.

You have to make a schedule, I have learned. You have to map out times for school and time for family and stick to those times.

Do you have any advice for other parents who want to go to college?

You have to make some time for yourself; if for no other reason than to keep your sanity.  In August I will be starting my Sophomore year of college and it wasn’t until my second semester that I realized you have to take a break. Even if you don’t feel overwhelmed after you have been working for weeks, you have to refresh yourself. There is nothing wrong with getting a babysitter for a few hours and doing something for you. That is probably one of my biggest suggestions for young mothers who are also students. The kid needs you at your best, and when you are stressed, you are not at your best. Breaks and me-time are necessary to remain relatively stress-free and happy.


Ashley BecknerAbout the author: Ashley Beckner is a 24-year-old full-time undergraduate student at Liberty University Online. She is studying Elementary Education and Interdisciplinary Studies. Ashley has a two-year-old daughter named Alexandria. Ashley loves being able to stay at home with Alexandria, helping her learn and grow each day. “She is a blessing to me and I’m grateful to have her in my life.”


7 out-of-the-box packing tips for college

by ValoreBooks

As next semester draws closer, you should start thinking about packing. Follow these out-of-the-box tips to make packing as easy and efficient as possible:

1. Pack your clothes with trash bags.

Pack your clothes with trash bags

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Cover your clothes with trash bags while they are still hanging. This will make make unpacking quick and easy.


2. Roll clothes, don’t fold them.

How to pack t-shirts like a boss

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Using a rolling technique to pack you clothes will make more space in your suitcase for other items or more clothes. You can learn the step-by-step process here.


3. Cover the openings of your toiletries with plastic wrap.

Cover the openings of your toiletries with plastic wrap

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We’ve all had our toiletries spill in our suitcase. This will prevent that from happening ever again.


4. Put your shoes in plastic bags or shower caps.

Put your shoes in plastic bags or shower caps

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Putting your shoes inside plastic bags or shower caps will prevent your clothes from getting dirty or damaged.


5. Pack your jewelry in a bead organizer.

Pack your jewelry in a bead organizer

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A bead organizer is perfect for moving your jewelry. It prevents your necklaces from getting tangled and allows you to keep your earrings paired together.


6. Pack and organize your cords in toilet paper rolls.

Pack and organize your cords in toilet paper rolls

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Keep track of all your cords and cables by sticking them in toilet paper rolls. This trick will prevent the cords from getting tangled and will make it easy to label each one.


7. Pack your flat iron safely, even if it’s hot.

Pack your hair straightener

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Now you can pack your hair straightener even if it’s still hot. Just roll it up in a potholder!


A diary of a college student: Anna’s story

by Anna Marie Magro

“A diary of a college student” is a series where we profile a variety of students to get a glimpse of their day-to-day. Learn from their stories of balancing family, work, and school.

Online education

Tell us about yourself

I live in Glendale, CA, which is a fairly large suburb of Los Angeles. I am 46 years old and I have three children, all boys, ages 5, 9, and 11.  I have been married for 12 years to a CIO-turned college professor. I am currently going to Penn State online, part-time, working towards my Master’s Degree in Human Resources and Employee Relations. I work full-time as a Manager of Administration for an in-house law department.

My early college career was less than stellar. I have always worked full-time, and trying to fit in night classes at the age of 18 – 20 was just too much for me. So I dropped out of college and focused on my job. Unfortunately, after about ten years in the workforce, I was still basically where I started. After much complaining about my boss, my job, my life, I decided to go back to school. What good was complaining if I wasn’t prepared to do something about it?

Four years and a wedding later, I was just finishing up my Associates of Arts degree when…surprise, I’m pregnant. I’ll never forget my very last night class at my local community college – I had to switch to a backpack with wheels because I couldn’t carry a regular one; I had trouble squeezing into the standard desks; and my professor thankfully waived the “no eating in the classroom” rule so that I could eat my bean & cheese burrito during class.

What is the hardest part of balancing family life and school life? 

I completed my degree on-line at the University of Maryland while having two more babies. It was not always easy, and with each baby, I had to take a semester off to focus on my family. Then I would get back in the momentum and pick right up again, fitting classes and studying in with working and potty-training. Going that slowly, taking classes one at a time, was definitely discouraging at times; but I carried on nevertheless. It helped having a college professor as a spouse. He never let me drop a class; no matter how much I would rant and rave about not being able to handle it. He would let me calm down then hand me my textbook and tell me to keep at it.  I am so grateful to him.


At last I was finished. I felt rather disconnected with my school as I was still in California taking classes, so I decided that I would fly to Maryland to accept my diploma in person. I am happy to say that my two oldest boys, along with my husband, were there when I walked. I wanted them to see why I had spent so much time studying and stressed out about my grades. They needed to understand how important it was for me to finish what I had started before they were even born.

What keeps you going?

I have now begun the Master’s Program at Penn State in Human Resources and Employee Relations. With a job, a husband, and three small boys, I am very busy and people always ask me how I do it. For me, taking classes is to me what a spa day or a girls’ night out is to some other women.  College is my therapy, my “me” time, my future, my example to my children. It makes me feel good about myself and gives me more than I put in. One of my most cherished memories is of my children waving to me from the stands while I was walking up the stage in Maryland. So get ready, Pennsylvania, in 2017, here we come!


Anna Magro

About the author: Anna Marie Magro is a 46-year-old part-time graduate student at Penn State online. She is studying for a Master’s Degree in Human Resources and Employee Relation. Anna Marie is married with 3 children, all boys, ages 5, 9, and 11.




ValoreBooks is making it easy for savvy students like you to save money, make money, and get the most value out of your college experience. Save up to 90% on the cost of your textbooks when you buy or rent them here.