Getting out of your own way
By Kathy Gress, director, Columbia College-Springfield
It is a trap that is easy to fall into. You juggle your job/career, your family, your health and college. There are times you may struggle to keep all the balls in the air and wonder if it would be easier to just let one drop. Should you keep them all in the air? Which one would drop? Are you overthinking it? I can’t answer any of those questions for you. However, I can give you three simple tools to help you get out of your own way and maybe allow you to keep juggling them all: plan ahead, manage your time and communicate.
Plan Ahead: Every Instructor in every college course I have ever taken made a course syllabus available to me on the first day of class. That syllabus normally describes everything you will have to read and every piece of homework you will have to complete along with their specific requirements, as well as the deadline for it all. My advice to you — Read it! Know it! Always remember where you put it. Use it to plan out your term. Know what reading needs to be done before you get to class, then actually read the material. The more you are familiar with the topic before you get to class, the better chance you will have of understanding what your instructor is talking about when you get to class. Use the syllabus to determine when your biggest workloads will be so that you can plan your time accordingly.
Manage Your Time: Manage your week. When I was in school, I took my books with me wherever I went. I would sneak in a few minutes of reading whenever I could, whether it was while I was waiting for my turn at the doctor or the dentist or some government agency with huge waiting lines. I made sure to schedule a block of uninterrupted time for times when I knew I needed to focus. Everyone in the house respected my schedule because they knew I had also included time for them at some point.
Determine what time of day you study best. Personally, I knew if I planned a study time during the afternoon, it would most likely start with me cleaning my desk and end with a nap and/or being distracted by any shiny object or roving squirrel. Try and pick a time of day when you learn the best and don’t wait until the day before your assignment is due. You may think you work best under pressure. I think that just may be your rationalization for procrastinating. When you are planning your study week, don’t forget to plan for family and relaxation time, too. That is just as important to your well-being.
Communicate: Last but not least. I can’t count the number of times a student answered “no” when I broached the question, “Did you talk to your instructor?” If you have an unexpected life event or just can’t connect all the dots, talk to your instructor. They can help you, but only if you let them know you need it. Don’t forget your classmates, too. You are all trying complete the work and learn something new. I found that I learned quite a lot just by talking things over with classmates and sharing the problem solving with them.
Planning how you are going to get through your course is no different than planning anything else in your life. Know what the problem is and know what is expected of you. Do the research and come up with a solution you can live with. Plan how you are going to get it done, then manage your time in such a way so you can avoid that last-minute panic when you realize you waited too long to execute. If you run into a speed bump, communicate — ask for help.
Paying attention to these three things will go a long way toward moving you forward and helping you to get out of your own way. And if you ever need any help, the staff at Springfield is happy to assist.
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 email@example.com for more information about these streaming video collections or other electronic resources.