Thursday, February 11, 2016

Frugal Failures and Successes: Thursday 2/11/26

  • I was gone all day so this is going to be a very short post today!

  • My daughter and I had a very very good visit at the University of Florida. She really was impressed by the school and especially the College of Engineering where she plans to study if she makes it into the school.  She will know in almost exactly one year if she has been accepted there since they release those results on the 2nd Friday of February.  
We got there an hour in advance and I'm glad that I had insisted on leaving so early. While traffic on I-75 was actually much lighter than I expected, parking was harder.  We had been told to park on the 1st floor of the Welcome Center parking garage but all the All-Day spots were taken (there are actually very few of them) and it didn't look like we could park in the 2-hour spots since you couldn't renew the spot.  Arrgh.  We left the parking garage to try to find parking somewhere else but all the lots we passed were "decal" lots only.  I finally asked my daughter to call the Welcome Center to ask them for suggestions and they said to go back to their garage and speak with the garage attendant. I had seen a guy hanging around the kiosk where you pay for your spot but there wasn't signage of anything and he didn't volunteer any info so I didn't think to talk to him. So this time we approached him and as I rolled my window he immediately asked if we were there for a campus tour, handed us a special pass and told us to park in a specific spot (marked as a 45-min spot) and come back to pay for the $5 parking pass. So we did.  Phew.  I don't know why they don't warn you about this right off the bat!

 So we had time to pick up a couple of campus maps, find a bathroom, and find the food court where we indulged in a Starbucks "second breakfast" which was free to us since I paid with my Starbucks app where I had loaded free gift cards that I had earned, several months ago.

Then we first attended the general campus tour. There was an information session first, where an admissions rep talked to us about the new application that is going to be in place starting next year, what they're looking for on the application and essay, etc.  I asked whether my daughter would need to apply as a freshman or transfer student if she obtained her A.A. while in high school.  My daughter hadn't wanted me to ask because she had already gotten an answer via email. However, we are glad I asked because she had been told to apply as a freshman... which is true, but we found out today that as a "high school AA'er" (as they call them!), if her application as a freshman was rejected, it would automatically be sent to the college of her choice (in her case the college of Engineering) to be considered as a transfer student.  This was very welcome news!  My daughter is very talented and an excellent student in the top 4% of her school, but UF is very, very selective and incredibly popular so it's actually very hard to get into. So this would give her a 2nd chance.

The campus tour was led by 2 student ambassadors who were very enthusiastic and well-spoken. It was interesting and my daughter was already stomping at the bit to attend that school.  Our area is very rural and conservative and has very limited opportunities not only for classes at the high school, but also for clubs, jobs, etc.  UF offers a very wide range of classes and activities (they have over 1,000 clubs on campus!) and right off the bat my daughter identified several organizations she would love to participate in so she was giddy. The resources available (career center, tutoring, libraries, etc.) were also impressive.

We were able to go into The Swamp, which is the University of Florida's football field (our team is the Gators, of course!).  We are Gator fans so I have watched games on TV but I had never been in the stadium.  Although it is apparently huge (they squeezed 91,000 people in it during the last UF/FSU game!), it actually is much smaller than I thought it would be. 

Our campus tour was 2 hours long and concluded at The Swamp.  From there, we walked back to the Welcome Center and went to talk to the Admissions lady about the admission process for high school AA'ers and she gave us the email address of the College of Engineering advisors to ask questions specifically about that college.

  • We had lunch at the food court again and decided on Wendy's.  Well, she decided on Wendy's and I just hope that my credit card won't get hacked.  I had brought bottles of water with me so I didn't buy a drink either for breakfast or lunch, not only to remain a little frugal, but also because coffee and sodas make me want to pee every 10 minutes and since we were walking around a lot, I wanted to avoid being uncomfortable.

  • In the afternoon we attended the College of Engineering campus tour.  My daughter was excited that the College of Engineering offered a tour specifically of their facilities since UCF (in Orlando) doesn't.  We ended up being one of only 2 parties on the tour.  We had 3 student ambassadors and an Engineering Advisor first give us an information session about the College of Engineering that was incredibly interesting and answered several questions that we had.  First off, we had been told at the morning session that she might not be able to minor in French as the College of Engineering had their own minors and preferred their students to have minors in the field. But the advisor this afternoon told us that actually, the Computer Science majors can choose ANY minor at UF thanks to Microsoft, whose philosophy of hiring computer scientists who are well rounded and have interests in other fields, greatly influenced UF.  This was very welcomed by my daughter.  I'm leaning towards encouraging her to actually minor in art and practice her French by joining the French club or even just making sure to meet French exchange students. My reasoning is that if Computer Science ends up not being her cup of tea, it would be easy for her to change her major to Digital Arts (also offered in the College of Engineering).  Digital Arts is what she had decided to study before she switched to Computer Science. Anothing thing that we found out is that the College of Engineering has a built-in Study Abroad program, something that my daughter is actually quite keen to do.  We saw a list of the programs that are available, very quickly as we passed a billboard, and for France they offer programs in Lyon (just 2 hours away from one of my brothers' and my dad) and in Troyes (just 45 minutes away from my mom's and sister's and 2 hours away from my other brother's).  We were told that they have a tuition exchange with those schools so Bright Futures scholarships would apply, although they still have to pay for their airfare/travel and lodging.  My daughter should also qualify to study in France for free since she is a French citizen (although I need to do a bunch of stuff to straighten out the legal paperwork for her to get a French passport that would prove that she is indeed a French citizen).  The 3rd interesting thing that we found out is that the College of Engineering offers a program where you can start earning graduate school credits during your senior year as an undergraduate (kind of like my daughter earning her AA while also earning her high school diploma).  The advisor said it doesn't save you money, but it saves you time, and that translates into being in the workforce, earning a good living much earlier. So that's something to look into although for now she is not planning on attending grad school. Oh, I forgot one of the most important things that we learned: while most engineering schools have an average of 18% of women as part of their student body, UF's College of Engineering is proud to boast  of 24% of women.  This might not sound like a lot, but it's exciting nonetheless.  We're hoping that this also will help her get her foot into UF.
After that session, 4 different engineering students took us on a tour of the various engineering facilities.  Those 4 students were being shadowed by 6-7 other engineering students being trained to become ambassadors.  They were a trove of information, being extremely knowledgeable of all engineering disciplines, not just their own. So while none of them were Computer Science majors, they were still able to answer our questions. They were very interested in knowing why my daughter was interested in Computer Science, what she was doing in high school, etc. and gave her valuable input and advice. I can't say enough good things about this tour, I wanted to become an engineer after it, LOL!  I also regretted not having brought my youngest son because it was such an eye opening experience as far as the possibilities and fields being studied within that college, I think it would have been beneficial for him to hear all about it. I might just sign up for another tour so I can bring him, maybe early next school year.  Even if he decides that this isn't for him, I think it would be progress in trying to determine what he WOULD like to study.
Another thing that we learned on that tour is that there is a residence hall that is mostly for Engineering students so if you live there, it's quite easy to find other students who are in the same classes as you to study with or ask for help on projects and assignments. My daughter was adamant about living off-campus but I like the idea of her getting used to the campus and the town while living on-campus, close to her classes, where she wouldn't need a car, and where she would be surrounded by her peers.  She wants to be involved in a lot of activities so this would be much easier if she was on campus as well (and a big time saver). She was concerned about finding a roommate, no matter where she chose to live but a student cued her to the fact that there is a Facebook page for each graduating class where students and prospective students interact and where most people go to evaluate potential roommates.

Lastly, we learned about the various engineering-specific clubs and professional organizations available on campus and the fact that the College of Engineering has earned a lot more national titles in their competitions than all of UF's sports teams, which are already top-notch.  UF encourages their students to get involved in a lot of activities and the College of Engineering is the same as they recognize that employers nowadays don't want just nerds with perfect GPAs, but students who have demonstrated that they can function well in a global society.

We regretfully left UF at 3:30 p.m. because I wanted to stop by Trader Joe's before we headed home and we needed to be home no later than 6 p.m. so my daughter could go to the movies with her BFF and her family.  My daughter was depressed that she had to go back to high school, but I pointed out to her that she is only going to be there for another 3 months or so since next year all her classes will be at the state college.  She is going to be crushed if she doesn't make it into UF, although she has yet to attend a campus tour for UCF (she was supposed to go with her dad earlier this week but he had forgotten about it so she needs to reschedule it) and we need to also go visit FSU in Tallahassee before the end of this school year.

So this was a fruitful and enjoyable day all around, and I'm grateful that I was able to share this with her. 

  • My daughter and I had breakfast at home before leaving for Gainesville.

  • I packed a lunch for Greg to take to work.

  • We drove the family car to Gainesville as the mileage is much better and it's always easier to park a smaller car on campus than a large SUV.  It was the absolute best decision I could have made!

  • My daughter and I had a breakfast sandwich (and she had hot cocoa) at Starbucks before the first campus tour started but I paid with my Starbucks app that was preloaded with gift cards I got for free.

  • I was able to request a free sample of Reynolds Cookie Baking Sheets from Labels4Education via their e-newsletter on my phone while we were waiting for a tour.

  • I resisted spending $28 on a stuffed Grumpy Cat at the UF Bookstore.  My son loves Grumpy Cat but  figured that a 14-year-old boy might be over stuffed animals by now. I'm glad I didn't spend the money because when I showed him the picture, he told me he already had a stuffed Grumpy Cat!

  • I bought lunch from Wendy's but I charged it to my Amazon Visa card so I'll earn 2% in Rewards.

  • I splurged on cheeses, whipping cream, and snacks from Trader Joe's but I charged them to my American Express card so I'll earn 3% in Rewards.

  • I was stressing about meeting my first goal of 105 Swagbucks since I was away all day, but when I got home there was a 100 SB survey that I qualified for. What a relief!

  • Bing Rewards: I worked on those on my phone while I was waiting for the 2nd tour to start and completed the PC searches when I got home.

  • Dinner was the Crockpot Lasagna that I had prepped last night and that had been cooking all day. I used 1 lb of ground beef (bought in a 5-lb chub), 6 lasagna noodles (box bought at Aldi), 1/2 a container of ricotta cheese (Aldi), mozzarella from Aldi that I shredded myself, and a package of Progresso crockpot meal starter sauce that I had gotten for free at Publix after clearance and coupon.  Well, it was... disgusting. Seriously. It looked and tasted like dog food. Our son ate it, Greg ate it but felt nauseous afterwards and I couldn't even eat it. I have another package of that sauce and I'll have to donate it because I'm never making that again. Yuck.

  • Roku allowed me to download 2 free themes for my Roku devices for Valentine's Day. I like my current theme (Letterpress), which I had also gotten for free and also... I really don't care about the "theme" of my Roku, but if it's free, I'm gonna grab it, lol.

  • CVS sent me another one of those 20% off coupon for the weekend (which doesn't work on sale items though) so I sent it to my ExtraCare card. I don't plan on shopping there and if I do, it'll be to buy the Nutella that's on sale so the coupon won't apply anyway.

  • Redbox emailed me a R1G1F code for this weekend that I can use to get just 1 movie for free.  I don't think we'll use it so I'll text my older sons to see if they want it.

  • I printed some coupons from Betty Crocker.

  • Greg gave me a gas receipt from RaceTrac. He remembered to charge the gas to our Discover card, with which we are earning a 5% bonus reward right now on gas purchases. I will also be able to take the survey on the receipt to earn another freebie.

  • Sling TV sent us a mailer saying that they wanted us back (Greg used a free trial via his Xbox One last year to watch the NBA playoffs) and an offer to get a free Roku 2 (my fave!) if we prepay for 3 months (@ $20/month).  Greg had been planning on signing up again for a couple of months starting in April to watch the playoffs again on ESPN so since we offer we got expires on 3/31, we'll plan on signing up again around 3/30 and prepay the 3 months so we get an extra Roku (might as well).  Sling TV includes ESPN, HGTV, Cartoon Network, A&E, and several other channels.

  • My daughter decided that she would pay for her movie ticket herself and gave me back the money I had given her :)

  • Gas and tolls to drive to Gainesville.
  • $5 for all day parking on campus
  • Lunch at Wendy's on campus
  • Snacks and scrumptious cheese at Trader Joe's :)
  • My son bought lunch from school today

  • No failures that I know of!

  • Cooked breakfast for Greg
  • Packed Greg's lunch
  • Set the breakfast table for the kids
  • Started dinner in the crockpot
  • Drove to Gainesville with my daughter to visit UF
  • Attended 2 campus tours and asked questions
  • Gave New Kitty her medicine

  • Hmm, nothing specific, I don't think.
  • Liquids:
    • 1 cup OJ
    • 1 cup water
  • Food:
    • Breakfast:
      • granola with 1 banana and ~2% milk
    • Mid Morning Snack:
      • Starbucks breakfast sandwich, water
    • Lunch:
      • Wendy's Spicy Chicken Sandwich, water
    • Mid Afternoon Snack:
      • Trader Joe's chocolate covered ginger
    • Dinner:
      • Crockpot lasagna
    • Evening Snack:
      • more Trader Joe's chocolate covered ginger
  • Weight:
    • Didn't weigh myself
  • Exercise:
    • Took (2) 2-hour campus tours!
Did you have any frugal successes or failures today? Please do tell!

1 comment:

  1. How is it that you can be away from home all day and still do all of those frugal activities? You had a free-to-you breakfast, you achieved all your Bing and Swag Bucks goals, and you managed to apply for free samples on your phone and printed some coupons. Come on.

    It sounds like you had a glorious day with your daughter. She was really excited to be there, and she probably appreciated very much being with someone else (that's you) who obviously shared all of her enthusiasm. I really, really hope she gets into this program....if not next year, she can always transfer there from another university program. Keeping my fingers crossed.


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