Doing the right thing
By Karen Beckstrom, director, Columbia College of Missouri-Elgin
With all that has happened over the past year, it’s hard to craft upbeat narratives. Like most everyone, what can I say about 2020 without breathing a heavy sigh? Yet as we begin 2021, I am hopeful. A fellow director passed along a wonderful quote to complement the arrival of the New Year:
“Hope begins in the dark. The stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and watch and work: you don’t give up.” – novelist Anne Lamott
This is the perfect description of what you, our students, have been doing since the beginning of the pandemic. As numbers increase and stay at home orders prevail, you may not feel anything other than stress, but you all are amazing human beings! Despite the fact that the world around you has many more challenges than it did a year ago, you are persevering and continuing to pursue your college degree. That is no easy task.
Take a minute and feel good about yourselves! Think about all you have accomplished in the last year:
- You connected and collaborated online at a distance. These skills are invaluable in today’s world.
- You worked independently and exercised self-initiative, but had to do so in a home environment that is likely not always distraction-free (am I right?). Many of you have spouses working from home, had to begin homeschooling your own children, and had to adjust to rigorous stay-at-home directives (all while donning DIY haircuts).
- You learned to manage in a different social environment than any of us have ever experienced. The strange physical distancing we must employ may have made you feel remote and cut off from peers. No more hugs or handshakes and smiles are hidden behind facemasks, but you quickly learned to survive and thrive within an unusual set of social mores.
- You learned to cope with a variety of newly-imposed stressors – concerns about your own or a loved one’s health, job or financial insecurity, and children going back to a public-school environment, just to name a few.
Despite all of these challenges, you seized the opportunity to continue your education. You chose to do the right thing. When the pandemic disrupted your life, you did not put the pursuit of your degree on hold. We are so proud of the way you continue to adapt to this “new normal” every day. Your creativity and positivity will get you through this difficult time. Though you may not be able to envision it right now, I can say with assurance you will be stronger and well equipped to deal with whatever you face in the future. Like the quote above says – you are waiting, watching, and working, not giving up. Your dawn WILL come and you will complete your degree.
Thank you for trusting and believing in Columbia College. I wish you a happy, healthy and safe 2021!
by CCG staff (go to top)
We have a pair of updates from Main Campus in Columbia as you begin the semester. First, you may have seen earlier this month that the Board of Trustees named Dr. David Russell as interim president of the college following the resignation of Dr. Scott Dalrymple late last year.
Dr. Russell (right) had been a member of the college’s Board of Trustees since 2016 and served as Chair of the college’s governing body since July 1. He will serve in this position while a committee led by Rev. Dr. Brad Stagg, who will serve as the Acting Chair of the Board of Trustees, conducts a national search for a permanent president in the coming months.
Also, as set forth in our original return to campus guidelines back in the fall, we are set to resume instruction this semester. 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 Spring 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.
Eligible for a refund?
Are you eligible for a refund? Refunds are sent to students who have excess Financial Aid after their tuition is paid. Eligible students can expected their refund as early as January 29 for the Spring Semester.
Refund information can be viewed through your ePayments account. To ensure you have your refund as quickly as possible, set up your Direct Deposit by this Sunday, January 24. If you have questions, please email ESC at email@example.com or call (573) 875-7252.
Tips for online job interviews
Because COVID-19 remains an issue in the workplace, virtual job interviews aren’t going away any time soon; in fact, they may permanently replace phone interviews. Before we get into some tips, know that we’re here to help! Staff at the Grossnickle Career Services Center offers mock interviews for students and alumni over Zoom. We can always chat with you to help prepare for an upcoming interview.
While you certainly know at this point how to use Zoom and participate in best practices, here are a few tips to getting that job virtually:
- Dress for the part. The standard rules apply even if the venue isn’t traditional. Dress one notch above what the company’s typical attire is, so if the office culture favors collared shirts, check that box but also slip on a jacket. One interview expert even recommends wearing work shoes: “It might seem strange to wear your shoes during a videoconference, but it has an important psychological effect on you.” Also, be sure to wear solid colors, as stripes and complex patterns can look awful on video.
- Eliminate distractions. This one seems obvious, but doesn’t always happen. Close the door and windows in your room, shut off the TV down the hall and silence your cell phone (unless you’re using it for the conference). Even though it’s inconvenient, that includes the dogs and kids, if you have them. “And make sure the only window open on your computer screen is the video platform you are using,” says life coach Tom Marino. “Silence all pop-ups. The last thing you want is to lose your train of thought.”
- Prioritize the camera, not the screen. This may sound counterintuitive, but it’s most important that the interviewer see you clearly, not the other way around. This takes some practice and feels unnatural, but during your interview you should look at the camera as much as possible, not the picture of the other person on the screen. Looking at the camera is as close as you can get to making eye contact with the interviewer, while looking at the screen will appear to the other side like you’re staring off into space. The good news is that, on a small phone screen, this effect is minimized. If you’re doing your interview on a laptop, you can cheat this by shrinking the size of the videoconference app’s window and positioning it as close as possible to the location of the webcam. Also, elevate your laptop to eye level by stacking books or boxes underneath it. This way, you can stare directly into the camera without slouching or craning.
- Make a Cheat Sheet. Remember that the interviewer can’t see what’s not on camera, so use your interview space to your advantage. Stick a Post-It Note cheat sheet with notes, questions, or needed inspiration directly to the screen or to the wall behind your camera. The interviewer on the other side won’t ever know.
- Practice. Systems like Zoom let you record your meeting, so use this to polish your interviewing skills. “Record yourself telling your story before you go into an interview,” says Nicolle Merrill, a former career coach with the Yale School of Management. “A strong professional story will set a confident tone that offsets the awkward start on Zoom.” Study the recording to help scrub nervous tics, stammers, and other flubs from your delivery.
For assistance on this and other career topics, reach out to the Career Services staff by email at CareerServices@CCIS.edu or by calling (573) 875-7425. You can also schedule an appointment via Aviso, Zoom or Skype.
Apply for the Westling Scholarship!
By CCG Staff (go to top)
Applications are now open for the Frank S. Westling Scholarship, which is given annually in honor of a former dean of what was formerly known as the Extended Studies Division. Dean Westling was a champion of the adult student and these scholarships are given in his memory.
A total of 20 awards of $1,800 each are given to students from our Nationwide, Evening and Online programs. Applicants must be currently pursuing a Columbia College baccalaureate degree, be enrolled during this academic year, completed 15 hours of Columbia College residency credits, and own a 3.0+ cumulative GPA.
Students can apply through the Financial Aid office’s Scholarship Finder. The application includes a 400-500-word essay discussing the student’s career goals and leadership and/or community service achievements, as well as evidence of the student’s leadership and service to the community, college or country within the past 12 months. Students should include documentation of their accomplishments, such as letters of recommendation, awards and news articles. The deadline for submission is February 15, 2021.