“Normal” No Longer Exists

By Kathy Gress, director, Columbia College-Springfield

What does “normal” mean in 2020? Short answer: Nothing. Normal doesn’t exist today.

What does seem “normal” about 2020 is how easy it is to feel helpless and overwhelmed. Nearly everyone feels like 2020 is the year that won’t end. It taps into that sense of foreboding over what will come next? Think of the Facebook memes about 2020 bingo… Who had “murder hornets” on their bingo card? Who had “gators that can climb fences?”

Not much about 2020 seems normal. In fact, the words we hear most often are “new normal.” Today’s definition of the word normal is defined as uncertainty. The new normal is adjusting to an everchanging world.

I do believe there is light at the end of the tunnel. You, our students, have shown us that most of all. You have this incredible ability to adapt and move on. Non-traditional college students understand how flexible you must be when juggling work, family, and college amongst the day to day of shopping, cooking, cleaning etc. You have told us stories of homeschooling your kids while studying yourself. You have told us about being furloughed and using that time to clean out your garage, paint your walls, and write letters to soldiers. You have found ways to donate your time by finding and sharing resources on social media to those struggling. Some of you have even taken the time to plan out the rest of your degree and research scholarships. You are amazing!

We are all learning this is a marathon and we are eventually headed somewhere better. It just means, like anything, we be uncomfortable for a bit. What we, the staff, have come to appreciate is connecting with you in unconventional ways. We have zoom meetings, skype meetings, more phone calls, and even chats! Our new normal at Columbia College-Springfield is adapting to anything that may come our way. What has never changed is that we will continue to focus on helping you reach your goals, one class at a time!


 

College COVID-19 update

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#DoYourPart: ccis.edu/2020PathAs you are well aware, we have resumed operations this fall. Most courses at Columbia College Global (CCG) locations are being offered in-seat, with appropriate social distancing, and include a virtual classroom option for students. This initiative expands on our existing expertise in virtual teaching and provides students with access to a wider selection of synchronous instruction.

Due to local and state regulations, some locations are not currently able to offer in-seat courses. In addition, locations that are hosted by a partner institution, such as locations on community college campuses or military installations, may not be able to offer in-seat courses if the partner institution has cancelled face-to-face education for the Fall Semester.

You should contact your location director if you are experiencing symptoms, have been exposed to COVID-19, or have tested positive for the virus. The important thing is that students who are experiencing symptoms, tested positive, or have been identified as a direct contact of a person who has COVID-19 should self-quarantine at their residence and not come to campus, and seek medical attention if they need it.

Please review the college’s full return-to-campus guidelines for more information.


 

Virtual career fairs are the ticket to your next job

by Grossnickle Career Services Center (go to top)

Career fairs remain one of the most important ways to meet employers and get on their candidate lists for internships and jobs. For obvious reasons, those events are moving online to virtual fairs. And while they are certainly different from in-person events, the goal is still the same.

As with job postings and other career resources, your Handshake account is a great place to view virtual career events. Based on your profile and interests, the system will recommend virtual events for you, and you’ll also be notified when the employers you follow on Handshake are attending a virtual career fair. You can also see a full list of upcoming events via the Events tab on your Handshake dashboard.

Not all virtual fairs are created equal. One might just be an online list of employers who are hiring, with links to a virtual booth that explains what the company does and what type of individual they’re looking to hire. Others are more robust and include the ability to “drop in” and chat with a company’s representative via video.

Regardless of the virtual fair’s setup, you should still go into a virtual setting as prepared as you would be for an in-person experience. Here are some tips:

  1. Update your Handshake profile. Check that your basics (graduation date, year in school, major, etc.) are accurate. Select the job types, locations and roles that interest you, so recruiters may better know what positions are a good fit for you. Make sure you’ve updated your courses taken, skills, and previous work experience.
  2. Find out which employers are attending. View the virtual fair details page to see the full list of employers who are hosting sessions. From there, you can click through to each employer’s page to learn more about them and read reviews from other students. Be sure to sign up early for sessions with the employers you like so you’re guaranteed a spot.
  3. Research the employers you’ll meet. When you sign up to attend an employer’s virtual fair session, research beyond their profile. Check out their company website and search online for recent news articles and other relevant information. This will help you think of questions to ask during sessions, and make conversation during one-on-one sessions you may have.
  4. Prepare a few talking points. Think of an “elevator pitch” about yourself—a short overview about your background, studies, and career goals. Practice with a friend or family member so you’re ready when it’s time to introduce yourself to a recruiter.
  5. Dress professionally. Even though you won’t be meeting employers in person, you’ll want to ditch the sweats for the career fair. Dressing up a bit will make a good first impression with recruiters and employees. Plus, wearing your favorite polished outfit will help boost your confidence in time for the event!
  6. Find a quiet spot and a neutral background. Try to limit potential distractions for yourself and for the recruiters. Plan where you will be sitting during the event ahead of time—make sure it’s quiet and there is a plain background behind you. Keep the recruiter’s eye focused on you.
  7. Arrive on time. It’s very important to show up at your selected session start time. Being on time shows the recruiter or employee ambassador that you’re dependable and respectful of their time as well.
  8. Maintain eye contact and practice active listening. Consider smiling and nodding occasionally as you would during an in-person conversation. Limit any distractions around you so that you’re not tempted to look away from your computer screen.
  9. Ask questions. Bring a list of prepared questions for each session. Having several questions ready will help you in case one or more of the questions are answered early by the employer. Have a pen and paper with you so you can jot down new questions that you think of during the conversation.

The Career Services staff remains available to provide service and resources to our students. We can be reached by email at CareerServices@CCIS.edu or by phone (573) 875-7425. You can schedule an appointment via Aviso, Zoom or Skype as well.

 


 

Make sure to review your loan status!

by Student Success (go to top)

The “new normal” of COVID-19 has obviously affected nearly every area of our lives. For those of you on Department of Education-held federal student loans, we wanted to provide an update on loan forbearance.

On March 27, Congress’ passage of the CARES Act provided a suspension of loan payments, a halt to collections on defaulted loans, and set interest rates to 0%. Under the CARES Act, these measures were set to run through September 30. On August 8, President Trump directed the Secretary of Education to continue the above forbearance measures on DoE-held student loans through December 31, 2020.

Now is the perfect time for you to review your loan statuses!

  • Know who your loan servicers are
  • Understand your repayment plans
  • Confirm when you are expected to resume payments.

For more information on federal loan forbearance due to COVID-19, please visit https://studentaid.gov/announcements-events/coronavirus.

 


 

Your library is here to help!

By Stafford Library (go to top)

We are very excited to have students, faculty and staff back in the library here on Main Campus, but we also wish to remind you of the various services that are available to our students nationwide. For starters, you can review course guides for each of your classes, or search the full list of full-text databases.

Help finding peer-reviewed articles
We can assist you in finding peer-reviewed articles for assignments if you need help. Contact us and we can give you a consultation on finding sources for your topic. If you contact us after library hours, email us and we will contact you the next business day.

Free virtual resources
Many free resources are being offered during the pandemic. Here are some links you might find helpful:

We’ve always been available in person as well as phone, email, and chat. Now, we are adding Zoom as an option. To set up a zoom session, use our email or chat function and send us a request, and we will send you the Zoom link to get started. If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, let us know! Email the library at library@ccis.edu or call us at (573) 875-7381.