The New Normal
By Kelli Fram, director, Columbia College-Lake of the Ozarks
Have you noticed the incredible diversity of students at Columbia College? The students that attend the Lake of the Ozarks location come from a wide range of backgrounds and experiences, and that diversity brings tremendous richness to the classroom experience. Nearly all of these students fit into the “non-traditional” category. What exactly does that mean?
Traditional students have been characterized as those individuals who go straight into college after they graduate from high school, usually enrolling full-time, living on a residential campus and still financially dependent on their parents. Interestingly, these “traditional” college students no longer make up the majority of students in the United States.
Instead, the type of students now termed “non-traditional” — the type served by the Lake of the Ozarks location — are greater in number than the so-called traditional students. These folks are over 25 years of age, entered the workforce in the years following high school or served some time in the military, are financially independent and often enroll part-time. Non-traditional students have differing needs, expectations and challenges than their traditional counterparts, though.
For example, some of the challenges they face as a college student include:
- Feeling alienated from their peers who have already completed college.
- Experiencing financial pressure from increased expenses due to educational costs.
- Becoming engaged in learning process due to many outside distractors, which can also make them less likely to persist.
- Uncertainty over how to efficiently manage their time — not sure how much time will be needed to succeed academically.
- Facing concerns about their math, writing, test-taking, reading and study skills because they have been out of school for a while.
- Undergoing stress due to the multiple areas of responsibility they have — family, child or elder care, social and community activities, work, etc.
- Having family members who may not be fully aware of the time needed to spend on their studies and also worried about not spending enough time with their kids.
- May be a first-generation college student and not sure what to expect.
- Feeling concerns about being in classroom again and may be reluctant to participate.
- Experiencing possible technology challenges with unfamiliar systems.
- Raising questions about whether the time, money and effort put into school will yield a good return on investment for their career path.
On the flip side, though, non-traditional students also have greater opportunities for success in pursuing their education due to these positive qualities:
- More life experience and greater knowledge about the real world around them, which places new learning in proper context so that it can be practicably applied.
- A strong desire to finish college and to complete it as quickly as possible — more focused and determined to achieve a postsecondary degree.
- Well-prepared to make the sacrifices needed to reach educational goals.
- Knowing exactly why they are in school and what they want to gain from it.
- Familiar with technology as it is used in the working world.
- Able to achieve better grades due to greater effort and focus.
- A family that is supportive and encouraging and feeling proud of setting a good example for their kids (or grandkids).
That’s why we are here — our job at the Lake of the Ozarks location is to help our non-traditional students overcome the challenges listed above and optimize their positive attributes so that they can succeed in achieving their educational goals. Columbia College as a whole is committed to helping this process by: offering different methods of course delivery (i.e., in-seat and online); scheduling classes in an accelerated format that allows students to progress through their program more quickly and achieve their degree sooner; making transfer credit policies that are student-friendly; connecting students to real advisors that can help navigate academic and financial concerns; and keeping tuition and fees affordable to reduce educational debt. You may be considered “non-traditional” in higher education, but you are definitely the type of student for whom we exist to serve here at the Lake of the Ozarks location!
Is one résumé enough?
Often in the Career Center, a student will tell us they are applying to hundreds of jobs, but not getting any response. While this can happen for a number of reasons, one question we always ask is whether they are tailoring their résumé to fit the different jobs. One standard résumé often isn’t specific enough to the job to catch the attention of the recruiter – it’s always better to modify it to make sure the résumé speaks to the position. With that in mind, here are some quick tips to help you point your résumé in the right direction:
- Think about how your work translates to different industries. Let’s say you managed a restaurant for five years. If you are looking to go into Human Resources – your résumé can highlight the hiring, training, employee relations part of your job. But if you are looking to go into project management, you can de-emphasize the HR part of the job and instead focus on work that you did to make the restaurant more profitable or run more efficiently. You always want to angle your work so it reads to the industry and employer you are applying for. Generic and/or irrelevant points will just be skipped over and eats up valuable space.
- Remember that placement on the page is important. So sometimes it may not be a matter of rewriting aspects of your résumé, but rather placing it higher in the résumé so it’s more easily noticeable.
- When graduating, often times we add a “Relevant Coursework” category under your degree. Be sure to list courses that are relevant to the job – not to your major. This could include high level courses in your major, but also courses outside your major that will help you in the position.
- Use the job description as your guide. Typically in a good job description, they will use key words and talk through the qualities they need. You want to be sure you can demonstrate as many of those qualities as possible. Use your work and/or volunteer experiences to showcase the skills you have in response to what the employer is looking for.
Focus on the skills section. If you are going into marketing, list out the social media platforms you are interested in. But if it’s for a medical administration position, they may want to see a more expanded list of office software.
Tips and reminders for adult students
by Department of Marketing (go to top)
As an adult learner, we know you perform a balancing act managing work, family and household obligations while investing in your future by earning a degree.
We also know the New Year is a good time to remind yourself to breathe. You’ve got this! Remember why you started and celebrate how far you’ve come. In the meantime, we have a few suggestions to help you stay focused in 2019.
Make a weekly schedule that provides flexibility.
Making a weekly schedule helps you carve out time for your studies. Spread your assignments over several days to allow for unexpected circumstances. Multi-task when it makes sense. Read an assignment while waiting for laundry to finish, for instance. Or download the VitalSource Bookshelf mobile app to listen to it during your morning commute.
Enlist the help of family and friends.
Talking through a lesson with someone else has proven to be an effective way to make sure you have a working understanding of the material. So tell your kiddos, spouse, friend or mom about what you’re learning in class. And make sure they understand why you need time to focus on your studies. If you have children, this can be a great opportunity to stress the importance of education.
Take advantage of resources.
CougarTrack offers academic resources that are available 24/7. And you have access to e-books, articles and academic videos through Stafford Library’s online system. Of course, if you need additional academic support, contact your instructor or advisor. They will be happy to assist or point you to additional resources.
Reward yourself with a relaxing walk, some downtime in front of the TV or a special meal when you finish a difficult assignment or successfully complete a class.
Keep your eye on the prize.
We’re ready to celebrate commencement with you when you’ve finished your last session. And every eight weeks, you’re that much closer to having your degree.
Be proud of yourself. We are!
Thinking ahead to summer school?
by Department of Student Success and Money Stacks (go to top)
It may seem early to be thinking about summer courses but we are at a prime time to be planning! And while it does not fit in to everyone’s schedule, summer courses are a great way to help you finish your degree faster. If you have decided to take courses, the next step for a lot of students is to figure out how to pay for them. Setting up a payment plan and paying out of pocket is always an option, but you can also utilize federal financial aid. If you have not done so already, filling your 2018-19 FAFSA at fafsa.ed.gov is the first step.
One type of aid you might be eligible for is the Pell Grant if you have been awarded this for the academic year. Some students may be able to use up to 150% of their awarded Pell over the summer. Students may receive Pell for up to the equivalent of 12 semesters (about 6 semesters) or 600%. To be eligible for Pell funds in the summer, you may be required to be enrolled at a minimum of half-time or 6 credit hours for the semester. To check if you are awarded Pell Grant, log in to CougarTrack and review your Electronic Award Letter. You can also read about Pell Grant eligibility at studentaid.gov.
Another option in using federal aid for summer courses is to allocate some of your federal loans for summer use. You would need to stay within the annual and aggregate limits for federal loans, but you can move any unused funds from this academic year to help with the summer educational expenses. In order to utilize federal student loans you would need to be enrolled at least half-time for the semester. To reallocate your loans you can fill out the Stafford Loan Request Form found on CougarTrack.
If you have questions about whether you might be eligible to use your Pell Grant eligibility over the summer or reallocating your federal loans feel free to contact Financial Aid.
Select feature films available from Stafford Library
By Stafford Library (go to top)
Working with Online Education, Stafford Library has purchased streaming rights to 30 feature films used in online courses. The Swank portal allows access to most of the titles. However, due to restrictions from some production companies, not all titles are listed in the portal. All titles available through Swank can be found in the library’s catalog by searching for Swank Streaming Video. These videos include closed captions and are to be used only in the classroom.
The library also subscribes to Films on Demand: Master Academic Collection which includes more than 30,000 documentaries, archival films and newsreels. Films on Demand titles include closed captions and public performance rights.
Contact Stafford Library at 573-875-7381 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information about these streaming video collections or other electronic resources.