Sunday, September 21, 2014

Get Ready for the Activities Fair!

Run--don't walk!--to the front of the College Center Building this Tuesday, Sept. 23 at 11:30 a.m.

Bring your appetite--there'll be goodies galore--and come ready to meet some of the coolest students on campus (all eager to convince you that their club is the best at NCC).

It's the Activities Fair, one of the highlights of campus life at Nassau.  And it's a great opportunity for you to get a feel for the 100+ clubs that are active at NCC.  Most clubs will be staffing tables and putting on their best face through photos, banners, artwork, short videos, and--let's not forget--giveaways (snacks, pens, key chains, hats, buttons, and other neat club stuff).  Most will also have sign-up sheets handy for students wanting to get a text or a call about a club's upcoming meeting.

You can browse to your heart's content on Tuesday, chat with club members, and sign up for as many clubs as you want--or none at all. There's no pressure to join something or even to attend a meeting if you do sign up.  You can simply look things over and decide afterward what's for you.

Given everything else you have going on in your life, you may be wondering why you should join a club.  

Some reasons: to pursue a specific personal interest (jazz, anime, science fiction, knitting, gaming, computer graphics, etc.); to learn more about a specific career (Marketing, Nursing, Finance, Education, Fashion Buying, Accounting, Hospitality, Journalism, Criminal Justice, Interior Design, Paralegal, Surgical Technology); to get involved in political and social issues (NYPIRG, PeaceWork, InterAct, Amnesty International, Make a Difference); to cultivate your creative side (singing, performing, creative writing, photography, dancing, etc.); to stay active (Ski Club, Concrete Canoe Club, Outing Club, Fit for Life Club), to learn more about a particular academic subject (astronomy, philosophy, psychology, biology, earth science); or to celebrate your culture or religion (Newman Club, Jewish Student Organization, Gaelic Society, Student Organization of Latinos, Haraya, Turkish-American Club, Muslim Student Association, etc.).

Whatever your reason for joining something, you get one other benefit as well: a sense of community, a chance to get to know a group of people (including a faculty member) you might never have met if you hadn't gone to that club meeting.  Community is important.  It helps you to connect with people.  It helps you develop as a person.  It makes college seem like more than just classes.  It adds that extra "flourish" to your college experience.  And it makes Nassau more intimate and--yeah-- less anonymous. 

So come Tuesday, come on over to the Activities Fair and check out another side of NCC.  Don't be shy.  Remember that all of these people at club tables were not so long ago just like you: looking for a way to make their college experience more interesting and more fun.  They've found their sense of community.  Now it's your turn.  Join a club.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Enjoy September, but . . .

September is a great month for new NCC students.  Nice weather, new friends, a cool campus, almost nonstop social activities (parties, tournaments, club fairs, rallies, games, etc. etc.)--who could ask for a better start to college?

And classes?  Not a problem.  Required readings, tests, quizzes, papers, projects, and research assignments (all probably listed on course outlines) seem light years away.  Nothing to sweat about--plenty of time to get serious later on. . . .

Fast forward to December.  Those new college students, many now pretty stressed out (and maybe pretty behind), are scrambling to finish papers, catch up on readings, pass exams, and salvage their semester.  Asked the most important lesson they've learned about college, most say they need to start working earlier.  Many admit they spent too much of September--and even October--having fun and putting off studying.

This isn't a sermon on the evils of enjoying college life.   Socializing should definitely be an important part of your college experience.  And what better time to sample that experience than the first weeks of the fall semester, a time of promise and possibilities?  That new club, that interesting new girl or guy, that upcoming party or pep rally--all are intriguing.  And all "happen," more or less, this month.

But so do your classes.  For many new students, the biggest challenge of starting college is finding ways to be involved in not just the life of their campus but that of their classes as well. Striking this balance is tough--just ask students who've lived it up too much in September and paid later on--but essential.  And it involves more just going to class.  It means keeping up, paying attention, being mentally engaged, and--when you've work to do--telling friends you can't hang out and will see them later.

Formidable tasks for sure, especially given all of the sweet temptations of September.  But consider the alternative: waking up in the middle of the semester and realizing you're heading over the cliff academically.

Enjoy September, a month with lots to recommend it.  But also remember why you're in college--and where you want to be come December.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Campus Driving 101

So it's your first week of college and you're eager to get to your classes at NCC on time. You don't really know your way around campus just yet, but you know you have an 8:30 a.m. class and are in a hurry to get there. 

Trouble is, so are a lot of other people, including some drivers who, unfortunately, will do some not-so-smart things: park in nonexistent spots, drive the wrong way on one-way streets, blow off stop signs, roar past pedestrians, and go way too fast.

Don't be one of these folks. 

On a big campus with cars constantly coming and going, drivers need to exercise good judgment and common sense.  Even if you manage to avoid colliding with another car (which occasionally does happen), driving carelessly can add unnecessary stress to those around you.

What's more, by ignoring parking and traffic signs on campus, you increase your chances of getting a ticket, if not right away, then before long.  And tickets are serious money, often $90 and up.

Here are a few tips to keep the commute from ruining your day.

  • Register your car before school starts.  No matter what you're driving to campus (car, SUV, motorcycle, etc.), you'll need to register your vehicle with Public Safety (  Otherwise you risk getting a ticket, which can wind up costing plenty.

  • Leave enough time to park.  Don't arrive five minutes before the start of your first class and expect to find a space next to your classroom building.  Instead, leave at least 45 minutes to park, get your bearings, and walk to class.  NCC may be big, but it's not an impossible place to navigate on foot. 

  • Scout out parking in advance.  Finding a space will be easier if you know where to look.  If you're entering campus from Endo Boulevard via Stewart Avenue, there's the East lot (the largest on campus).  If you're coming from Earle Ovington Blvd. via Hempstead Turnpike or Charles Lindbergh Blvd., there's the West lot, which also has plenty of spaces.  There's also parking behind Clusters A-D as well as near Building H, on the western part of the campus.  P.S.  If these directions seem confusing, you can download a campus map that shows the parking fields ( and click "Map and Directions") and how to reach them.

  • Read signs carefully.  Most parking on campus is available to students, but some spaces are reserved for employees and people with disabilities.  Park in one of these spots and you're likely to get a ticket--again a costly mistake.

  • Pay attention to campus speed limits (and traffic signs).  The Nassau campus is a busy place--no shortage of traffic and pedestrians at times.  Speed limits and traffic signs try to ensure safety, yours and others'.  Be smart here.

  • Be careful coming in and out of campus.  Nassau County's red light cameras dot the roads around NCC.  They pick up drivers who run lights or fail to stop on a red before turning.  You may not get pulled over on the spot if you're careless, but you could find a County ticket in your mailbox a few weeks later.

  • Whatever you do, don't text and drive.  Is there anything more that needs to be said about this issue? Texting and driving can be a lethal combination not only on college campuses but everywhere else your car is in motion.  In a word, don't.

Is commuting to Nassau always stress free?  No.  At certain times of the day, the campus is busy, with a good number of people either looking for a parking space or trying to leave one.  But if you plan ahead--and use your head!--driving (and parking) on campus doesn't have to be a hassle. 

Thursday, August 21, 2014

No Excuses: Come to Orientation

It never fails.  Every year about this time a handful of students call our office and say, "I just received my invitation to Orientation. Do I really have to come?" 

The question makes me cringe.  

Here's what I want to say: "You're kidding, right?  You're starting college next month and you're thinking of not attending your orientation?  Is this any way to begin the next part of your life?" 

Let's get serious: If you miss Orientation, you're missing something vital.

At Nassau, Orientation is where your college experience begins to take shape.  It's where you meet other students, get a feel for the campus, catch a glimpse of college life, meet some friendly faculty, and go home with some tips about handling the first few weeks of classes.

Orientation is about learning to make connections--through your classes, clubs, sports, campus services, community service projects, and other experiences that will help you feel welcome and at home here.  These connections matter.  They'll play an important role in your overall happiness and success in school.  They may sometimes even lay the groundwork for life beyond Nassau.

What's more, Orientation introduces students to the promises and possibilities of college. Orientation's basic message: "Here's your chance to see what the world of higher ed is all about, to discover (or rediscover) yourself, to be whatever you want, and to pursue dreams and goals that once seemed out of reach."

All this happens at Orientation--which is why you ABSOLUTELY have to attend.    

So no excuses: come to Orientation.

See you next week.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

S-t-r-e-t-c-h-i-n-g Yourself

Okay all of you soon-to-be-Nassau students: Time for some advice on stretching.

I'm not talking about calisthenics here, but about a different kind of stretching--the kind that will broaden your understanding of yourself and others, help you discover a talent you didn't know existed, teach you something important about the world, and maybe help you see life's big picture.  

Your professors will do their best in class to stretch you, of course, but you can also stretch yourself (in ways you've never imagined) outside the classroom walls.  Being part of campus life--joining a club, attending a lecture, seeing a theatre production, being part of a campus/community service project, even going to a social event--can make your college experience richer and more interesting. Participation can also make you feel more connected to Nassau (an important thing at a large school) and expose you to people and ideas you might not have otherwise encountered.

And if that's not enough, involvement in campus life can be FUN, a word you might not associate with college right now, but one that--trust me--is definitely important.

You might be thinking that between your classes and the rest of life (work, family, etc.), you probably won't have a whole lot of free time for anything else this fall.   Understood.  But remember: no one's asking you to join every club at NCC or attend every campus program.  Nor is anybody suggesting you spend every waking minute on campus, ignoring job, family, and classes.  Balance is important.  Making all of the pieces fit is critical to your success in college.

But somewhere during the fall semester, find at least a little time to see what campus life at NCC is all about.  Be selective--choose something that interests you or that at least looks promising.  Check out NCC's 100+ clubs at the Activities Fair in September; drop by the Firehouse Art Gallery to see your classmates' work; enter the chess tournament or the Edgar Allan Poe contest sponsored by the Office of Student Activities; listen to Ernest Cline, author of "Ready Player One" (NCC's common reading for 2014-2015), talk about the potential and perils of the digital age; drop in on the Halloween Film Festival in the College Center in October; write a poem or short story for Luna, NCC's student literary magazine; or peer at the heavens through the Physical Sciences Department's high-powered telescope on Astronomy Night.

Nothing here grabs you?  Keep searching; there are plenty more campus activities taking place at NCC this fall. 

But whatever you do, avoid racing for the parking lot or bus stop immediately after your last class every day.  Don't shortchange yourself by walking around campus with your head down, bypassing opportunities to widen your world and make your life more inspired. There's a great education--and a great time--to be had outside the classroom at NCC, provided you're open to it.

September's almost here. Get ready to stretch.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Making Your Voice Heard

Like journalism?  Interested in politics?  Want to make your voice heard at NCC?

If so, the Vignette and the Student Government Association (SGA) want to meet you--and soon.

The Vignette (pronounced Vin-Yet) is NCC's official student newspaper.  It offers members--students like you--opportunities to be involved in every aspect of publication work, from story development and writing to editing and layout and design.  It also gives you the chance to learn photography, gain experience in advertising and business, and see how a newspaper comes together.

Maybe best of all, the Vignette provides a forum for you and other students to express your views on issues (campus and off-campus) that matter.  Besides reporting the news, the Vignette encourages students to speak their minds.  The paper is not the only student voice at NCC, but it's definitely one of the most influential.

So too is the Student Government Association, an organization that oversees student life at NCC and that also speaks up on behalf of students.  SGA members serve on campus committees and other groups--NCC's Board of Trustees, for example--where the student perspective is essential.

If you join SGA, you'll gain practical experience in budgeting (the group manages a student fee budget of more than a million dollars) as well as a host of organizational skills--committee work, conflict resolution, and campus outreach.  It's the place to be if you're interested in a career in politics or public service.

Though the Vignette and the SGA differ in their work (and sometimes in their views on things!), both have students' best interests in mind.  They're similar in another way too: both need interested and energetic members, students who have ideas and who are willing to work, speak up, and make life better for their classmates.

If that's you, come look them up when school starts!  You can find Vignette editors in Room 347 of the College Center and the SGA leadership just down the hall in Room 341.  Stop by, introduce yourself, and see what's cooking.  Find out how you can get involved and how you can make a difference.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Before September Arrives . . .

I know what you're thinking: Why's this guy talking about September already?  Isn't there still a month of summer left?

Of course there is.  And there's no need to rush August (a great month) away or to act like school is starting any minute and you're already behind.

But in fact, there are some NCC things you'd be smart to handle before the curtain rises on the fall semester.  None will gobble up all of your time, but they're better taken care of sooner than later.

Sometime over the next few weeks . . .

. . . get your NCC 1D.  You'll need an ID to use some campus services, enter the library (and take out books), and get into NCC concerts and other events.  You can get an ID, which is free, from the Public Safety office.

. . . register your car.  It doesn't matter what you're driving to Nassau (car, SUV, motorcycle, etc)--you'll need to register it through Public Safety.  There's a fee (sorry), but it beats getting a County ticket (which can run into serious money) for parking an unregistered vehicle.  You can register your car online at

. . . check out NICE. NICE (Nassau Inter-County Express) buses make regular stops on campus.  If you're traveling to Nassau by bus, download a schedule from 

. . . get to know NCC's campus. Though you'll get a good tour of the campus at Orientation, there's no law against visiting NCC on your own and getting a feel for the whereabouts of things.  If you can't visit in person, take a virtual tour at

. . . keep up with us on Facebook and Twitter.  Both Nassau's Facebook page and Twitter page will help you stay on top of life at NCC.  And while you're exploring, visit NCC's First-Year Experience link for info about "Conversations About College" workshops, our common reading (Ernest Cline's Ready Player One), our Day of Service, and other interesting campus happenings. 

See?  There really is some NCC "business" to think about between now and New Student Orientation later this month.  And while you can still have a great rest of August, definitely give some attention to these things in the weeks ahead.  Summer's still got some life in it . . . . but September's coming.