Sunday, October 12, 2014

The Dollars and Sense of Class Attendance

Meet "Mike," a Nassau student who every so often opens his wallet, takes out $10 or $20 bills (sometimes several at a time), and throws them away.

Over the course of a typical semester, he may toss a hundred dollars--maybe more. It's money Mike will never see again, no matter how hard he may (later) wish he had the bucks back.

Is Mike crazy?  Dumb?  Oblivious to the value of money?  Not at all.  He's simply behaving like countless other college students (including some at NCC) who cut class--and in the process throw dollars down the drain.

Missing classes has more serious consequences than lost benjamins, of course.  It goes without saying that the more you're in class (no matter what the course), the more you're likely to learn.  And the more you know, the more successful you'll be--in college, in your career, probably in your life. While a good attendance record in itself won't guarantee straight A's and a bright future, you can't go wrong by attending class regularly.

But apart from all of these very important outcomes, class attendance is also a matter of dollars and cents. When you pay your tuition every semester, you're paying to be taught by your professors. Just as you would pay for a doctor's or dentist's services, you're paying for a professor's expertise, in the form of instruction, in college.  And when you miss class, even now and then, you're missing out on that instruction--and wasting money.

How much does a missed class cost? Let's use round numbers to figure it out.

Suppose, for instance, you're taking fifteen credits--five three-credit courses--this semester.  And suppose each course meets twice a week for fifteen weeks (the length of a semester) for a total of thirty class sessions. Multiplied by five, that's 150 class meetings in all (thirty class sessions x five courses).

Now let's divide a typical student's tuition at Nassau--$2117--by 150. The answer: $14.11--fourteen if you want to round it off.  So EACH class session costs roughly $14, money you've paid at the door, so to speak, prior to the start of the semester.

Money you waste by not going to class.

While this computation may not be the same for every person (lots of factors influence the tuition students actually pay), there's no denying the fact that missing class, even occasionally, costs money.  While you might argue that $14 isn't anything to sweat over, think about the long term costs of missing, say, ten class meetings (all classes together) a semester.  Or twenty or thirty over the course of a year.  Being absent regularly can be expensive.

Adults--parents, teachers, advisers, counselors, and everyone else (including bloggers!) in the mix--are forever going on about the importance of regular class attendance.  And as noted earlier, with good reason: showing up to class is an essential part of becoming an educated--and successful--human being (the reason most students attend college).

But on a different level, class attendance also has a financial dimension.  When you don't get to class, you miss out on instruction you've already paid for.  And if you miss enough classes, you wind up like Mike, opening and emptying your wallet for nothing.

There may be some reasons to be like Mike, but this clearly isn't one of them.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Click the Link

I've never been one for making predictions, but today I'll make an exception: Come the end of this semester, someone reading this post will be in academic trouble--seriously behind in a class, hopelessly confused by a course's content, and overwhelmed by readings and papers assigned back when the weather was warm.

Here's another prediction: The student who'll be agonizing over these problems in December knows about them RIGHT NOW.  The signs are already there: a bad first test grade, a lab that's not making sense, a textbook that grows more intimidating each time it's opened, papers and assignments that are already late (and maybe haven't been started).

Sound familiar?  Hope not.  But if the person in these "predictions" is you, it's time you did something to avert a disaster.  Simply hoping things will turn out okay on their own probably won't work.  In fact, a manageable problem in early October is likely to become a monstrous one later on--unless you act.

What can you do?

If you attended Orientation or are enrolled in NCC 101, you've probably heard that there's no shortage of academic services at Nassau.  A writing center, several math help services, tutoring in a range of academic subjects (Biology, Accounting, Marketing, Nursing, Foreign Languages, Physical Sciences, and so on)--they're all available.  So are your professors, who can offer help or make suggestions that will increase your chances of getting a handle on that troublesome class.

But you have to take that first step and ask for help. You're the one who has to visit that writing or math center (or other academic service) and explain what you don't understand.  If you think a conference  with a professor would help, it's up to you to schedule that appointment.  And if you're behind in readings or assignments, you need to push yourself to catch up, even if it means changing your routine a bit.

Notice all of the references to "You" in the previous paragraph? That's because you're the key player here, the one who has to decide what's going to happen in your classes this semester and what--ultimately--your December is going to be like. Such  decisions are all yours, no one else's.

And contrary to what you may have heard somewhere along the way, the decision to get extra help in a class isn't at all a sign of personal weakness or deficiency.  Just the opposite, really: the smartest, wisest, and most savvy students on campus get help when they need it.  They take full advantage of what's available.  

If your courses are going well this semester, awesome!  But if something in one of your classes doesn't feel right--or if a class is getting away from you--time to act.  Information about NCC's many free academic services is a simple click away:   http://www.ncc.edu/studentlife/orientation/student_support_services.shtml 

If you think I'm kidding, click the link and see for yourself.  Bet there's a service on campus that's just what you need and that will make the semester seem all right again. 

So go ahead: click the link.  Now.  No time to waste.  December's coming.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Read a Banned Book Today

Though National Banned Books Week officially ended yesterday, there's still time to thumb your nose at the censors and read a "taboo" text.  

Something like Mark Twain's "Adventures of Huckleberry Finn," Harper Lee's "To Kill a Mockingbird," or Kurt Vonnegut's "Slaughter-House Five" will do just fine.

So will John Steinbeck's "Of Mice and Men," J.D. Salinger's "Catcher in the Rye," Alice Walker's "The Color Purple," and Maya Angelou's "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings."

And don't forget Robert Cormier's "The Chocolate War," Stephen Chbosky's "The Perks of Being a Wallflower," Marjane Satrapi's graphic gem, "Persepolis," or even Dav Pilkey's "Captain Underpants" comic series.  

All are among the most frequently banned literary works in America.  All are routinely removed from school reading lists and library shelves because their ideas, words, images, and actions are thought to be inappropriate for young readers--and sometimes older ones as well.  

Crazy, isn't it?  In a country founded on freedom and on the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, some people see nothing wrong with depriving others of the right to read what they want. Censors sometimes justify their actions by insisting they're "protecting" people from disturbing ideas and images. But it's hard to imagine a more disturbing image than an adult (or group of adults) yanking a book out of a kid's hands.  Talk about scary.   

Literary censorship isn't new, sad to say, but even sadder, it shows no signs of abating.  In fact, the American Library Association (ALA), which monitors censorship activities across the country, reports that book banning in schools and elsewhere continues to be a thriving industry.  Though the censors' explanations for their actions are often preposterous, that doesn't seem to stop them.  

But you can.  If every college student picked up (and read) banned books regularly, they would make a powerful statement about the right to read.  And if every student spoke out against literary censorship, they'd quickly get the attention of the media and the adult world.  They might even make the censors think twice before locking a work away.

So find a banned book and read it today!  The ALA maintains a long list of literary works under attack http://www.ala.org/bbooks/frequentlychallengedbooks --there's plenty to choose from. Chances are you'll like what you read.  

But even if you don't, it will be YOU deciding to close the cover--not somebody else. And that makes all the difference.

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 (www.ncc.edu/vehicleregistration).  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 (www.ncc.edu/publicsafety 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.