A Year in Review
By Cory Elfrink, director, Columbia College-Rolla
It’s been one year since I joined Columbia College-Rolla as the Director of our location. While it’s always good to reflect on lessons learned and battles won, it’s a particularly attractive task at the annual mark.
Over the past year, we have focused on improving quality over quantity. We have hired exceptional new faculty members to fill previous gaps in our curriculum so that we can offer more diversity in course offerings to our in-seat students. Along with new faculty comes a heavy dose of training and we’ve witnessed great strides in our course evaluations provided by our students.
Our retention rates climbed for the third year in a row, indicating that more and more students are remaining committed to their academic goals. I believe this reflects well on us in a number of key areas, but primarily this reflects increasing student satisfaction. While our days and weeks can get broken down into millions of little administrative tasks, all of the effort adds up to keeping our students satisfied and on the path that they set out on when they first applied to the college.
According to our enrollments, Rolla location students still prefer to take courses on location rather than online, although we have many students finding success through both routes. Our location class sizes remain smaller than most, and our students get to know their teachers well over the course of the academic sessions. These student-teacher relationships often flow over from the defined curriculum to personalized career guidance.
This past August, we launched Truition® which introduced a single flat rate that replaced the traditional model of tuition plus various student fees (for everything from application to graduation) plus textbook costs. Along with Truition® came the introduction of eTexts and new avenues for teaching and learning outside of the classroom. What was daunting a year ago has now become a (mostly) smooth operation!
We held our commencement ceremony here in April to celebrate 46 graduating students, most of whom received their bachelor’s degrees, with some associate’s and some master’s degree completions as well. Clearly, this is a noteworthy ceremony for us as it signifies just what it is that our staff and faculty are all striving for: facilitating student completion of their academic goals, and conferring degrees to signify an education that will go to use in our communities to improve the lives of students and the lives of others.
With a year under my belt, I hope to expand my focus from mostly internal operations to those outside of our doors. In the year ahead we hope to be more involved in Phelps County, seeking out ways to meet the educational desires of the businesses, families, and individuals that make up the region. We hope to launch more degree programs this fall, reward more scholarships, welcome new students, and continue to fulfill the needs of current students. We see great potential in promoting our Pre-Engineering, Healthcare Management, Criminal Justice, and Accounting degree programs, among many others.
A big thank-you to my staff for consistently bringing great attitudes and giving their best effort. We’ve taken on a great deal of innovation in our processes over the past year and it’s become clear that learning at Columbia College is not reserved for the classrooms, but in the offices as well! Our hope is that all we’ve learned over the past year will be critical to our continued improvement, growth, and impact in our community.
Help wanted: Employers seek liberal arts degrees
by Department of Marketing (go to top)
Good news, lovers of literature, admirers of Aristotle and supporters of the social sciences! Liberal arts degrees are relevant and in demand in today’s workforce, and there’s research to back that up.
Recent studies confirm what small liberal arts colleges have always known: Employers value a well-rounded education that equips people with skills separating the humans from the bots.
In fact, that’s the gist of a report released last year by Emsi, a labor market analytics firm and the Strada Institute for the Future of Work.
In the study, researchers examined millions of resumes and job postings and found STEM employers are hiring more candidates who have liberal arts degrees. A separate study conducted in 2017 by Hart Research Associates found that business executives and hiring managers list communication, critical thinking and decision making as the top skills they value.
These are all proficiencies you develop with a liberal arts education. So what does this mean for you?
Regardless of what you’re majoring in, you are earning a degree grounded in liberal arts at Columbia College. You’re becoming a more globally engaged, well-rounded citizen.
And it means the jobs are there. Employers want candidates who have foundational knowledge in a variety of subject areas and the “soft” skills gained in a liberal arts programs. They’re seeking well-rounded, innovative individuals who have the ability to learn and be flexible in an ever-evolving workplace.
So, rejoice, history buffs. Raise a glass, philosophers. Applaud, patrons of the arts.
A liberal arts degree remains an investment worth making.
Can I really afford summer courses?
by Department of Student Success and Money Stacks (go to top)
Summer is here and for some this comes as a welcomed break. For others who might be looking to get to the graduation finish line as soon as possible, summer can drag on with anticipation of the upcoming fall semester when you can start classes again. If you are someone that already loves the idea of summer courses, the next step might be figuring out how to afford them. For those of you that relish the break, remember that taking four courses over two summers (two courses each summer) could help you graduate an entire semester early.
Here in the Department of Student Success, we understand that deciding to take summer courses can be the easy part and affording them the hard part. We want to help take the guess work out of your options. The first step is to figure out if you could afford to pay anything over the summer, and if so, how much? Even $50/month can make a difference. This is potentially what you could put towards one of the Columbia College payment plans.
If you are a Federal Pell Grant recipient, you could have the option to use funds this summer as well. If you attended part-time at any point in the Fall 2018 or Spring 2019 semesters, you will likely have leftover eligibility that has been already moved over to the summer semester.
If you received Pell, but attended full-time in the fall and spring semesters, you still may have an option. Year-Round Pell is an initiative that allows a student to use up to an additional 50% of their annual eligibility. This means if you enrolled full-time (at least 12 credit hours) over the summer semester, you could use an additional 50% in the summer. It is important to remember that to use Year-Round Pell, you need to be enrolled at least half-time or in six hours for the semester. Many students have concerns that they will run out of Pell Grant eligibility if they utilize it over the summer. Pell Grant-eligible students have a lifetime eligibility of up to 600% (e.g., if 100% is used each year, 600% equals 6 years). The best way to see how much you have used is to visit NSLDS.
The final option is to look at utilizing loans. If you haven’t already hit the annual eligibility limit, you can request to use some of your loans for summer. The best place to check and see how much you have borrowed this year is through your Award Letter on CougarTrack and compare that to the annual limits listed on the Columbia College website.
If you have already utilized your full eligibility this year, but you want to plan ahead for next year, this is the perfect time to do so. As you receive your 2019-20 aid package consider allocating loans for Summer 2020.
If you are interested in taking summer courses and want to see if you have any eligibility, you can review your Financial Aid information on Self-Service, contact your campus, call the Enrollment Service Center at (573) 875-7252 or email Financial Aid at email@example.com.
Late summer session courses start on June 24.
Need Help With Career Planning? Try Focus2!
Have you wondered what you need in a job that will make you happy? Confused about what types of positions your major will lead to or what major you want to choose? Perhaps you want to reinforce your plan and feel more confident it’s the right choice for you? If you answered yes to any of these, you might be interested in taking advantage of Focus2 – a resource for career planning that is free for all Columbia College students and alumni.
Focus2 is a self-paced online career and education planning tool that consists of five separate assessments including separate ones on Work Interests, Values, Personality, Skills, Leisure Interests and Career Planning Readiness. After completing as many assessments you wish, you can navigate the results and find occupations that match your interests and values. From there, you can explore occupations and understand what it will take to get there. You can save favorites for future deeper exploration or to talk it over with an advisor. It typically takes a student about 45 minutes to complete all the assessments.
In addition to finding information on potential careers, you can also work with Focus2 to create a career action plan. It will show where you are on the career decision process and what steps you can take to move forward.
Focus2 is easy to access. Start off here and use the access code when you create your profile. When answering questions, go with your first instinct. You don’t want to spend too long on an individual question or you might bias your response. After you are done, you will immediately get the results and if you would like to speak about those with a career counselor, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or (573) 875-7425 to set up an appointment.
Nexis Uni has replaced LexisNexis Academic
By Stafford Library (go to top)
We are proud to offer the new and improved LexisNexis Academic, called Nexis Uni. Designed with input from university students, Nexis Uni addresses the three components requested most by users: personalization, collaboration and quick discovery. It offers intuitive searching for all levels of research experience, empowering students to access discipline-focused pages with curated news and featured publications for political science, business and criminal justice majors.
Students who have grown up googling will appreciate the streamlined interface of Nexis Uni as a research tool. It begins at the big search box. Students can quickly conduct either natural language or complex Boolean searches across the entire content collection, making it an ideal tool for novice and advanced researchers alike.
Nexis Uni delivers unmatched depth and quality content, with more than 15,000 news, legal and business sources. Nexis Uni helps students find credible, full-text sources including:
- Print and online journals, television and radio broadcasts, newswires and blogs
- Local, regional, national and international newspapers with deep archives
- Extensive legal sources for federal and state cases and statutes, including U.S. Supreme Court decisions since 1790
- Unparalleled business information on more than 80 million U.S. and international companies and more than 75 million executives
Students can access Nexis Uni from Stafford Library’s list of databases, or directly at library.ccis.edu/Nexisuni. The library has also left the Lexis Nexis Academic entry in the database list with instructions to find Nexis Uni until students and staff become familiar with the change.
Enter your CougarTrack username and password when prompted if accessing the database from off campus. As always, you can contact Stafford Library by emailing email@example.com or calling (573) 875-7381 or (800) 231-2391, ext. 7381.