Welcome to the norm!
By Erika Thomas, director, Columbia College-St. Louis
Have you noticed the incredible diversity of students at Columbia College? The students that attend Columbia College-St. Louis come from a wide range of backgrounds and experiences. Diversity brings tremendous richness to your educational experience.
Did you know: none of the Columbia College-St. Louis students fall under the definition of the “traditional” college student? Traditional students are characterized as individuals who go straight into college after they graduate high school, around 18 years old, 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.
The Columbia College-St. Louis student body would be termed as “nontraditional.” They are considered the new norm. They are greater in number than traditional students. Nontraditional students are adult learners. These students are over 25 years of age, entered the workforce in the years following high school, financially independent and often enroll part time.
Nontraditional students are unique. They have different needs, expectations and challenges than their traditional counterparts.
- Examples of some challenges they face as college students include:
- Uncertainty over how to efficiently manage their time — not sure how much time will be needed to succeed academically.
- Facing concerns about their math, speech, writing, test-taking, reading and study skills because they have been out of school for a while.
- Undergoing the stress of juggling multiple areas of responsibility in their life — family, child or elder care, social and community activities, work, etc.
- Feeling concerned about the cost and possible technology challenges.
On the other hand, nontraditional students also have greater opportunities for success because they have more life experience and greater knowledge about the real world around them, so that it can be practically applied. They have a strong desire to complete their degree — they stay focused. They know why they are in school and what they want to gain from it.
My sole purpose at Columbia College is to help nontraditional students overcome the challenges listed above and optimize their positive attributes so they can succeed in achieving their educational goals. Not only will I guide you, I’ll root for you. I was once a returning student — just like you. However, I didn’t have Columbia College as an option. Nontraditional students, you have a place to finish your degree: Columbia College-St. Louis. Welcome to the new norm!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.