1/31/17 – There’s a Study.com app? + More. Long. Soul-Sucking. English. Composition.

Yesterday I discovered Study.com’s mobile app. Since I need to knock out free two courses this month to take advantage of my scholarship, I signed up for Digital Marketing (Business 309). I easily knocked out the 59 quizzes in a little time before work and during my lunch break.

I took and passed the closed-book final with an 83% in about 40 minutes after work. All I have left to do is a PowerPoint presentation and I’m done with this class. The class could easily be tackled by anyone with a little marketing and PowerPoint experience in one day on the weekend.

I happily stopped studying to make dinner and spend time with my family. After dinner, I started to write my argumentative paper for English Comp I. I have to reference three scholarly sources for this paper for a potential grade of 100 out of 1000 for the course? This is soul-sucking. I’m sorry. I’m not sorry. I know it’s a general education requirement for pretty much everyone seeking a bachelor’s degree, but this course requires so much effort for so few points toward the final grade.

Ugggghh. OK, I’m done complaining. I know, it needs to be done. I’ll get it done this week then turn off my Straighterline subscription before I’m charged for February.

1/30/17 – Persuasive Essay Submitted

Last night before dinner I knocked out my persuasive essay. Another 750 word assignment, this time worth 50 points out of an overall 1,000. I chose to write mine on President Trump using an anecdotal fallacy when he said that Mexico is sending us rapists who are bringing drugs and crime into the United States. This quote was a softball for a paper on fallacies. It was almost too easy.

Also, I got my grade back on my personal narrative submission – 92.5%. I don’t know if it’s because I work on a Mac, but either there is no feedback on any of these papers or I can’t see it. I’ll need to look into that, because I’d like to know what I could have done better. Tonight, more writing. Only two papers to go. One is 750 words, and one is 800.

1/29/17 – My Personal Narrative

Here’s my personal narrative submission for English Comp I. I don’t plan to share most of my class-related writing in my blog, but I thought this was particularly relevant:

Writing My Book

     Ever since I was a teenager, I’ve wanted to publish a novel. In 2014, I finally realized that I could successfully write a non-fiction book about my favorite hobby. I published it in paperback and as an e-book and have sold hundreds of copies so far. I only needed to get over the novel idea and write about what I know.

     Several times over the years, I tried to write a novel, but I always felt overwhelmed by the vast open-endedness of the endeavor. I inevitably outlined a few weak, shallow characters and a bougie upper-middle class plot. After a few weeks, I would give up on the project after a chapter or two. Meanwhile, for the past 20 years, I’ve devoted myself to the hobby of collecting, restoring, and modifying older Volkswagens. In other words, I had become somewhat of an expert in this area.

     One day, it occurred to me that I could write a brief non-fiction book about my Volkswagen hobby. Suddenly, the idea of writing a book seemed easy. I estimated the number of words I would need to write for the length of book I wanted to write, then divided that by ten to fit the book into ten chapters. I spent a little time thinking about what the nine most vital topics would be (ten with an introduction). Now I had ten topics with a finite number of words I needed to write per topic. Writing my book was going to be easy!

     When you’re writing about something you know a lot about, writing becomes almost a stream-of-consciousness task. I would sit at my computer and say to myself, “OK, time to knock out another 500 words.” Like any other task that requires repeated effort, all it took was dedication to carve out the time from my busy schedule. Ideally, setting a small goal of 200-300 words per day is best, but you have to make sure to write the 250 words every single day. If you can write 250 words per day, you can accomplish a small to medium sized book in three to four months. Once I had finished my rough draft, I realized that I had used way too many adverbs and cliches. To distill my book and make it as powerful as possible, I actually had to edit out almost a third of my rough draft to create my final draft. I removed, as opposed to adding, about a third of my book! That’s not something I ever imagined when I started the project.

     To get my book out there as quickly as possible and maximize my profit, I decided to self-publish my book. All I had to do was upload my manuscript to Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing, make a few edits, and my e-book was available for download. To publish my paperback, I paid someone $20 to make cover art, and I uploaded the manuscript and cover art to Amazon’s companion site, Createspace.com. One weekend’s worth of preparation and my book could now be purchased by anyone, anywhere, in the world. Better yet, it qualifies for Amazon Prime free shipping. I didn’t hire an agent, so I don’t have to share any of the profits. Createspace ships books on a per-order basis, so I have no inventory expense and I won’t get stuck with any unsold books. I make money on every single book I sell at a fixed, not variable, rate.

     In the future, I plan to write lots of other books. Now that I know that it’s not a behemoth, unending process to write a book, my future books will be even easier. All it took was the realization that I didn’t need to start by writing the next great American novel. I wrote a book on a topic I love in just a few months and published it myself. Other than promoting the book and filing my taxes, I don’t have to do anything else to continue to earn this passive income stream.

     I’ve also started a blog that one day I might be able to turn into another income stream. Who knows, a few more books like this and one day maybe I’ll be able to quit my day job. Next up is a book about earning my bachelor’s degree completely online in under a year. All it takes is a finite strategy and the dedication to write 250 words a day, every day. I may not ever write the next great American novel. I have, however, come to realize that there are many ways to achieve success and happiness. All of them have a common denominator of dedication.

1/29/17 – Sunday Progress Update

I figured it would be nice to do a weekly progress update. Hopefully this will make it easier follow my progress. Here’s where I’m at so far in terms of credits and dollars:

Completed courses – 23.0 Credits, $420.53

3.0 College Algebra – ALEKS – $19.95

3.0 Intro to Sociology – Straighterline – $49 + $31.31 Textbook

2.0 Ethics – The Institutes – Free

3.0 American Government – Straighterline – $49 + $109.56 Textbook

3.0 Intro to Religions – Straighterline – $49 + $87.71 Textbook

3.0 Intermediate Algebra – ALEKS – Free

3.0 Trigonometry – ALEKS – Free

3.0 Principles of Management – Saylor – $25

0.0 Beginning Algebra – ALEKS – Free

0.0 Personal Finance – Study.com – Free

Courses in Progress

3.0 English Composition – Straighterline – Progress 79.2%

3.0 Microeconomics – Straighterline – Progress 26.9%

2.0 Cybersecurity 101 – TEEX – Progress 33%

Additional Subscriptions/Fees – $74

$25 ProctorU Fee

$49 Monthly Straighterline Fee – January


23.0 Credits Complete, 8 Credits in Progress, $494.53 Spent


My plan for the upcoming week is to complete English Comp & Microeconomics, transfer them to ACE and cancel Straighterline for the time being. Then I’ll start knocking out my 2 Study.com courses for the month.

1/27/17 – Personal Finance Exam, Good To Great

I took the Personal Finance final and passed. It says it will take several days for me to find out my final grade. 

In the meantime I’m going to finish up English Comp & Microeconomics. Unfortunately, I have to work all day tomorrow (Saturday) so it may be dicey squeezing in study time.

Also, I finished Good to Great and started a new free audiobook, You Are Not So Smart. Good to Great was a fantastic book and I agree completely with his findings on leadership and what it takes to make a company go from good to great. I like to think I have many of the characteristics of a Level 5 leader, but I also feel there’s a lot I can still work on. If you’re a owner, manager, or aspiring manager, I would classify this as a must-read. 

1/26/17 – Finance 102 – Ready for Final

I finished off the last of the quizzes this morning before work and I’m ready to take the final. We have dinner plans after work, so it will have to be late tonight or early tomorrow morning. The online proctoring seems very similar to what I’ve experienced with ProctorU except that you don’t need to schedule the final from what I can see.

There is a lot of good comprehensive information about personal finance in this course. Everything from investments to debt, insurance, wills, and real-estate. I would have benefitted greatly from taking this course as a high-school senior or college freshman. I appreciate study.com requiring students to take it first before moving on to other subjects.

As soon as I’m done with this course I’m going to jump right back into English Comp and knock out the four remaining papers.

1/25/17 -Personal Finance: Finance 102

I figured I would knock out a big chunk of this study.com personal finance course quickly after dinner before finishing English Comp & Microeconomics. I spent a little over an hour last night and 45 minutes this morning and completed 53 of 86 quizzes. I didn’t need to read any of the information or take any of the exams.

It’s all vital personal finance information. Frankly it’s a course I wish I could have taken when I was 17 or 18. Through some tough life lessons and lots of study, I’ve learned plenty about personal finance, but I had to do it the hard way.

To move forward with the study.com scholarship, I have to take this course first before I can start anything else. I know it sounds like I’m starting too many courses without finishing any, but I will finish 2-4 courses in the next few days and it will all make sense.