Tools for writing in college
By Barbara Pounders, director, Columbia College-Redstone Arsenal
As part of Columbia College’s academic rigor, writing is expected in all upper-level courses. Columbia College has a resource called the Elizabeth Toomey Seabrook Writing Center and Tutoring Services. This is an actual physical location on main campus where students can walk in and receive assistance in person. However, the site is user-friendly for those of us at locations far removed from Missouri. Take time to check out the various handouts and links provided on the site that assist in writing and editing your essays. Additionally, I have chosen to include some useful sources that I have recommended over the years from my college teaching experience.
At Columbia College-Redstone Arsenal, our goal is for students to become more proficient in writing. This newsletter article will provide tips on writing. More importantly, various websites will be provided with resources to help you write a scholarly paper. Of course, instructors might expect APA or MLA format. For an excellent resource for sample papers of both types, click here. This website has a wealth of information on writing.
Writing happens in stages, from brainstorming ideas to outlining a paper, writing and revising drafts and then proofreading the final copy. The first step in writing a paper is to choose a topic and take a stand. In some instances, the professor will assign the topic. Even if the topic is given, the writer must decide on a main point that will become the thesis statement. After the thesis statement, the body of the essay should support the view or thesis that you are building around. If you are a beginning writer, stick to simplicity. If you develop a good thesis sentence, then the body is easy because the thesis sentence should outline the entire paper. In the body of the essay, you should provide evidence, point by point, of whatever you stated in your thesis statement that was the basis of your topic. Here is an excellent website to understand writing a thesis statement. Furthermore, here is a website to assist in writing a scholarly paper, one to assist in APA citations and one to assist with in-text citations.
Writing in the passive voice versus the active voice is a mistake that instructors often critique. A quick trick to remember to stay in active voice is “SVO:” subject, verb, object. In active voice, the subject performs the action stated by the verb. If you reverse the sequence, “OVS,” then you have passive voice. In passive voice, the subject is acted upon by the verb. So, for example, an active voice passage would be, “Passive sentences bore people.” The passive sequence would be, “People are bored by passive sentences.” Other examples might include: “Barbara changed the baby’s diaper” (active), or “The baby’s diaper was changed by Barbara” (passive).
A requirement of any paper is originality. Plagiarism refers to breaking copyright laws, and instructors will impose a punitive grade as a result of it. There are ways to write a paper without plagiarism. First, understand what you read. If you are reading reference material, read the material and then put it aside to try and compose your version of what you read. Avoid paraphrasing sentence by sentence. If you mentioned a reference in your paper, place a parenthetical citation right after the last sentence. To be free from plagiarism, point out the source and the author’s name to make yourself safe. To ensure that your paper doesn’t exhibit plagiarism, use free, online programs to check your paper. The main thing to avoid plagiarizing is having the “knack” of paraphrasing and putting information in your own words without repeating and plagiarizing. Read to understand!
By Kim Major, senior academic advisor for Ready.Aim.Hire.
Deciding to begin higher education as an adult or return to it after being away for a long period of time is a courageous choice! It’s not going to be as scary as you might think. Here is proof that you are not alone. The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) projected a 13-percent increase in enrollment of nontraditional (adult) students between 2011 and 2021.
So if you are an adult who chooses to pursue higher education, how will you choose your first course? What do you need to know about studying? Where can you find help if you struggle?
Here are some tips for returning and new adult students that might help you along the way:
- Meet with your advisor. She or he works for you! Think about your favorite subjects in high school or courses you had success with in college, if this is not your first time in college. Your academic advisor will then help you select your first class.
- Begin with an introductory course, even if you’ve attended college before. Try a beginning course in your major, such as BIOL 108, CJAD 101, HUMS 105, MGMT 150, PSYC 101 or SOCI 111, OR take something in an area that interests you, such as HIST 121 or ARTS 105, OR even take a course to help you refresh or learn new skills, such as INCC 123 or ENGL 107.
- Before you go to your first night of class or log into an online class, read the course syllabus. Hopefully, you’ve already looked at it, but take time to read it again. Flip through your textbook. Better yet, read the first chapter. You do have your textbook, don’t you?
- Get to know fellow students and create a support network. Exchange contact information. Support from family and friends is one of the most important success factors for adult learners.
- Use your resources, including our online Tutoring Services and electronic library. You can find the current Tutoring Services schedule here, and some Nationwide locations offer face-to-face math and English tutoring free of charge. The library has course guides for a ton of subjects, from art and biology to psychology and religious studies as well as many other areas tied to specific Columbia College courses.
- Talk to your instructor, especially if you feel unsure or are struggling.
- Consult the list of strategies for success, specifically for nontraditional adult learners. At Columbia College, the Writing Center and Tutoring Services webpages have links to study strategies and skills, including time management, note-taking styles, test-taking tips and other helpful topics.
Once you get through that first course, you will be able to build on your experience and become increasingly successful. You are ready to begin!
By Columbia College Public Relations
The CC 360 Nationwide digital newsletters are an informative way to keep our community up to date on all the happenings around Columbia College, and we want your help making them the best they can be!
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Simply click on this link and take our anonymous, nine-question survey about the CC 360 digital newsletters to make your voice heard. Your feedback is appreciated!
By Department of Student Success and Money Stacks
College holds a different, unique set of challenges for adult learners, nontraditional students who are either picking up their college education again or entering an institution for the first time since high school.
The challenges start before enrolling in classes, continue during a college career that includes juggling family and professional responsibilities with schooling and extend long after a degree is earned, with financial-aid debt.
Yes, most students — traditional and nontraditional alike — incur debt. But nontraditional students have a special set of circumstances to consider when deciding whether to take on this debt, as well as how much they can take on.
A U.S. News & World Report article from January 2017 highlighted three potential financial aid traps for nontraditional students to avoid:
- Not completing a degree: A 2015 Federal Reserve Bank of New York study concluded that students who don’t complete their degrees are significantly more likely to default on their loans than ones who do. This leaves borrowers with no degree as well as financial liabilities. U.S. News & World Report urges nontraditional learners to find ways to navigate their courses without having to take out loans. Deliberate course planning will help to ensure academic success and may include limiting the number of courses taken to be able to pay out of pocket, utilizing tuition and student loan reimbursement programs through their employers and ensuring that opportunities to utilize Pell Grant funding are maximized. The Department of Student Success recommends working with advisors to ensure you are setting a good pace for yourself and, if you do end up needing to take time off school, to contact Student Success to talk about your options with loans to ensure you are able to successfully navigate the financial liability of loans.
- Leaning on loans: If you’re going back to school to better your employment credentials in the hopes of earning more money in your career, consider the final balance. Will the potential increase in salary outweigh the loans you’ll eventually have to repay in order to earn your degree? The article points out that nontraditional students don’t qualify for many of the grant and scholarship programs that traditional students do, so they’re more likely to have to rely on federal and private loans. Student Success encourages students to look at an estimate of what their borrowing might end up at over their time in college to ensure that their return will be worth the investment (or loans). The good news is, at Columbia College, tuition for online undergraduate courses for 2017-18 is about half the cost of the national tuition and fees average for private nonprofit and for-profit institutions, based on a 30-credit-hour academic year.
- Forgetting about the long term: A 22-year-old recent graduate has a 40-year career ahead of him or her before retirement age. That leaves plenty of time to pay off student debt. A 42-year-old recent graduate has to fit his or her financial obligations into a tighter window if he or she still wants to retire on time. U.S. News & World Report suggests budgeting a debt payment schedule based on your current income rather than any expected pay bump with a college degree. We hope that this encourages our students to look at paying off loans faster than required by the payment plan or borrow less. The more that they can do this, the faster they will get to a better financial place with their degree.
Even with financial aid considerations, going back to school is a decision that could pay off in the long run. According to 2015 U.S. Census data, the yearly median earnings for people 25 years and older were 21 percent higher with some college or an associate degree ($33,820) than with a high school diploma or equivalency ($28,043). The figure for bachelor’s degree holders ($50,595) was 80 percent higher than the high school earnings level, and the figure for graduate or professional degree holders ($66,857) was 138 percent higher. Education matters!
If you need any guidance utilizing the financial resources Columbia College has to offer or have questions about how to be a smart borrower, the Columbia College Department of Student Success and Money Stacks is here to help. You can contact the Department of Student Success and Money Stacks at (573) 875-7860 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Grossnickle Career Services Center
Lately, the staff at Columbia College’s Grossnickle Career Services Center has been getting variations on the same type of question quite frequently: “What should I know before making a career change?”
Deciding to leave your field for another can be a stressful process, definitely not one to be taken lightly. But, in the long run, it could also end up leading to a rewarding change of pace, either financially, emotionally or in other aspects of your life.
When considering whether to change careers, try to think about these things:
- How do you feel at your current job? A February 2014 article from Fast Company magazine lists three telltale signs that it may be time to change careers. First, is your paycheck the only thing fueling your workday? Second, do you wake up every workday wishing you could be anywhere but where you are? Third, do you have bad performance reviews? If you’re getting no enjoyment out of your job, performing in a mediocre manner and only showing up every day to get paid, it may be time to move on.
- Are you switching for the right reasons? So how can you tell whether you’ve hit a momentary rut at work or it’s time to plant roots somewhere else? An April 2013 article on KeppieCareers.com cautions against making rash decisions based on factors that may not even change with a career move. Evaluate why you’re unhappy with your job. Is it the work itself, or the office culture? If you’re frustrated with long hours or a lack of upward mobility, ask yourself if it’s worth starting at the bottom rung of the ladder somewhere else for the chance those aspects will be more favorable. If you’re feeling bored or unchallenged, think about how long it may be before you start feeling that way in a new career.
- Is there anything you can do to improve your current situation? The answer to your work malaise may not be outside your workplace’s walls. It may lie within you. An April 2012 Forbes.com story on the biggest mistakes career changers make suggests that you start repairing relationships and building respect and skills at your current job before deciding whether to leave. If you do end up leaving, then you’re in a better position to succeed in your next career. If you stay, then you’ve taken steps to improve your workplace environment. Whatever you do, the article warns, make sure you put copious amounts of time and research into the decision. And if you do change careers, be sure to give yourself time to settle in before deciding you need to be on the move again!
If you’re in need of advice, you can also reach out to the Grossnickle Career Services Center at (573) 875-7425 or email email@example.com.