In reality, I will root for you!

By Theresa Genova, director, Columbia College-San Luis Obispo

San Luis Obispo campus director Theresa GenovaLike most television viewers during the past decade, I have been sucked into reality programs.

The singing competition shows are my favorites because in my earlier years, I studied theater arts and voice. I get perturbed when a contestant in their 20s or 30s says, “This is my last chance,” or “My world will end if I don’t make it here.”

These comments evoke a reaction that involves me lecturing at the TV screen: “You always have another chance if you take it. You’re not too old at 30 to meet your life goals and fulfill your dreams. You don’t have to settle!”

Similar to contestant comments, I hear the same types of comments from students. “I’m too old go back to school,” or “I’ve been in school forever; I should be done by now,” or, worse yet, “This my last chance; I need to finish now.”

Phooey, I say! I refer students to a photo in my office of alumna Catharina Bybee, who is wearing her cap and gown – at age 85. She raised children, had a nursing career and ran a small business, all before returning to school. I take her inspirational story and share it because you can achieve you dreams and goals at any age. That is the whole reason Columbia College Division of Adult Higher Education (AHE), of which the San Luis Obispo campus is a part, exists in the first place!

Put the past behind you and move forward to your future. Focus on your goals, work hard and believe in yourself, and you can finish your degree.

Unlike TV, I am here live and in-person to help guide you through your academic journey. I will be your coach, mentor and rooting section. I will be there when you make it to your final session and when you finish your degree.

Good luck with your August Session.

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Welcome to CC 360!

CC 360 survey graphicWere you one of the many students who took an online survey during the summer of 2014 for the chance to win a Starbucks gift card or $100 MBS book voucher?

If so, thank you! Your voice for an online newsletter was heard, and Columbia College is proud to introduce the first edition of CC 360, the digital newsletter for students of the Evening, Online and Nationwide campuses!

Last summer, students had the opportunity to take a survey about how they receive information about Columbia College and their local campus. The first 500 survey takers received a Starbucks gift card, and 36 lucky respondents – one from each campus – won a $100 MBS book voucher.

Now for each academic session, you’ll find the latest edition of CC 360 in your inbox. You can also access the newsletter anytime from your campus CC Connected page. Check out what you get with each newsletter:

The perks

  • News about your campus
  • Articles about campus resources like career services, online library tools, financial aid and scholarship opportunities
  • Important dates to remember
  • Links to the CC homepage, alumni homepage, CC Connected, bookstore, in-seat and online course schedules and social media
  • See what’s popular and stay connected with the “Trending on CC Connected” feature

Share your voice

  • Leave feedback by liking articles or leaving comments
  • Share the newsletter with friends and fellow students on social media
  • Submit your own story ideas for CC 360
  • Peruse related articles and social media to find out what’s going on with CC all over the world

CC 360 delivers relevant content to help you with your studies, take advantage of all the resources available to you and keep you connected with Columbia College. Thanks for reading, and be on the lookout for the October edition!
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Four things you have to do after a job interview

Job interview graphicYou got the interview. You nailed it. Now what?

Or maybe, you went to an interview and you just aren’t sure how it went. You’re ambivalent or downright upset about the way it went. It’s easy to forget the whole thing and move on, but here are four things to consider after the interview.

  • Send a thank-you note. Whether hand-written or through email, send a note. These are best when they are specific to the conversation you had during the interview and can be an opportunity to reinforce or restate key skills you bring to the position.
  • Follow up. In the interview, you probably asked about a timeline for a decision. If you haven’t heard from the employer by their deadline, reach out to them.
  • Keep practicing. Interviewing is an acquired skill. Contact Career Services (careerservices@ccis.edu or 573-875-7425) and ask them for assistance. Our career specialists can do mock interviews, work with you on specific questions and give you honest feedback.
  • Continue your search. While waiting to hear back from the employer, keep applying. Until you have officially accepted an offer, you want to keep pursuing positions. Even interviews you are sure went perfectly – you never know.

Didn’t get the job? Career Services recommends a Business 2 Community article, which has a couple of suggestions to add. Don’t be afraid to ask for feedback to see why another candidate was chosen over you. This can help you hone your interview skills and turn a “no” into a beneficial learning experience.

Also, regardless of how the interview went, connect with your interviewer on platforms like Twitter and LinkedIn. This will help you stay in the interviewer’s mind for future openings, and keep you informed of other job openings.

For more great career tips and resources, visit the Career Services Facebook page.
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Behind the scenes of Wikipedia

Wikipedia mobile phoneWe’ve all done it at some point. A burning curiosity or desire to quickly know the answer to something leads us to firing up Wikipedia, where information is immediately at our fingertips. “Wiki” is Hawaiian for quick, after all. Now that the August Session has started, you likely have at least one class that will require you to do some research. Is Wikipedia a good source? Is it accurate and credible?

To test the accuracy of Wikipedia, Nature, a respected science research journal, conducted a study in 2006 to compare Wikipedia to the Encyclopedia Britannica. It looked at 50 Wikipedia topics and found an average of four errors per entry, while the Encyclopedia Britannica averaged three errors per entry. Not bad.

Still, there are many critics of Wikipedia. In fact, the founder of Wikipedia himself, Jimmy Wales, has discouraged the use of Wikipedia for serious research in a 2006 article. You may even have instructors who will not accept Wikipedia as a source for your assignments. With more than 75,000 active contributors to Wikipedia, the content is always changing and therefore cannot always be assumed to be accurate. Some entries will even indicate that the content is biased.

Wikipedia is overseen by administrators who monitor and edit content for bias and accuracy. Well-developed entries will not state opinions and will cite sources. Used properly, Wikipedia can provide a starting place to help you find credible sources as you dig deeper.

The Stafford Library at Columbia College offers this behind-the-scenes look at Wikipedia to help you understand the pros and cons of using this free encyclopedia.

And don’t forget, the Stafford Library is a great place to start your research on any topic. And if you need help, you can call, email or even chat online with a library staffer who will help you find what you’re looking for!


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It’s not too late to scholarship hunt

scholarship education graphicDoes this sound familiar? The summer is over and you didn’t exactly apply for all the college scholarships you intended to. School has started and you’re unsure of where to start your scholarship search. Searching online is daunting and you’ve got homework, a job and family to juggle. What to do?

“I usually encourage students to look at local opportunities first,” says Rachel Smith, student success advisor at Columbia College. “The perk of local competition is there is a smaller pool of applicants.”

Smith recommends starting your search with organizations in your hometown, such as your employer, local businesses, religious organizations, and community and civic organizations. She also suggests checking with your local high school, which usually keeps lists of local scholarship opportunities.

“Most of these opportunities are not limited to entering college students, even though we might perceive them that way. Some of the larger high schools will publish the list on their guidance counselor’s website.”

She recommends checking out “7 Ways to Find Local College Scholarships” on MyCollegeGuide.org for more helpful tips to get rolling on your local search.

But what about searching for scholarships online?

“Online scholarship searches are one of the most under-utilized tools for paying for school,” says Smith. “There are all kinds of scholarships out there.”

She points to U.S. News and World Report, which compared five free scholarship search engines. Each search engine is a little different, and one of them even allows students to utilize social media to vote and determine a weekly scholarship winner based on the popularity of their discussions.

Plus, don’t forget Columbia College offers myriad scholarship opportunities. Your local campus awards at least one scholarship each year, so inquire at your campus office. Visit the Columbia College Scholarship Finder page for a complete listing, and keep an eye on the Student Success Money Stacks Facebook page for daily tips on private scholarship opportunities and how to live large on a budget.

Smith’s final tip on searching for scholarships is to not shy away from smaller scholarship amounts – a bunch of small ones add up to a large amount, after all.

“Searching and applying for online scholarships can take some work. But think about it in amount earned per hour: If you spend 20 hours filling out applications to win a $500 scholarship, that’s like getting paid $25 per hour. I would say that’s not too bad for your time.”

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