Early Weeks of School: What’s Next?

The first few weeks have come and gone. Adult students should be settling into their classes finally, and after maybe having a first test, knowing how their professors intend to evaluate them. Remember, the first test is always a trial, even in an accelerated class. You should now have an idea of the kinds of questions the professor asks. At the same time, you know the workload that will be expected of you throughout the semester.

CALL provides the following tips for a smooth start and a strong finish during your semester:

1) Task Lists -We have always used them when shopping, keeping our items and thoughts in one small place, but some people do not recognize the power of even a small list when it comes to your daily tasks, especially your school work. With the availability of mobile phones and internet access, new tools and software are released every day to help you track your daily activities. Most have ways to access them on the internet or on your mobile phone. Some of the recommended programs are:

2) Test Comparison – After the first test or two, compare the test with your notes. One of the most crucial things you can learn is the difference between what you have taken away from lectures and assignments, and what was asked on the test. This can help you determine what information is most important, and how to alter your listening and note taking. It only takes a few minutes and can be invaluable later in the course.

3) Eyes on the Prize – Comparable to a list or program that helps you keep track of your goals and assignments, mark a calendar for all of your future tests, papers, and projects. Those assignments will be the benchmarks of your semester. So make sure you keep an eye on them.

4) Take a Day Off – Yes. That’s right, whatever you need to do to take a day off, especially after the rush of the first week, take the family out for a picnic, have a barbecue in your back yard, or just enjoy the day. You do not have to take an entire day off, we know our students have very little time on their hands with jobs, families and school, but schedule some actual time to remove yourself from all of those things. Then get right back down to business.

5) Get Ahead – Most important, early on, is to get ahead. Things can quickly escalate; tests and papers can pile up and cause a lot of stress. Do whatever you can to get ahead, even if only slightly. The breathing room will come in handy later on when you may need that day off of homework to focus on other responsibilities. Using tasks lists and noting big assignments and tests ahead will let you navigate the early goings of the semester and align your goals comfortably with the compressed amount of time you have.

If you can apply a few of these suggestions over the course of the next couple of weeks, you’ll be in a better position to handle the rest of the semester and succeed in your pursuits. As always, talk to your college advisors if you need even more help, they are equipped to give you more suggestions. But if you don’t know what to do, just ask below and we’ll do what we can to help as well.

Good Luck!

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Student Spotlight: Craig Moran, Northwestern State

Born in Houston, Texas and growing up in Many, Louisiana, a small town outside of Northwestern State University’s home in Natchitoches, La, Craig Moran is familiar with moving around. Like many students, he attended college immediately after high school, when he applied and was accepted to NSU in 1979. After switching majors, and moving again into the Dallas metroplex, Mr. Moran entered Eastfield Community College, again with the intention of earning a degree. Mr. Moran never completed, and dropped out of college in 1982 after 4 semesters.

His story can draw comparisons to stories that we hear from across the country, but especially from residents in Louisiana. Sometimes college just does not fit at the moment. Sometimes our responsibilities get in the way. Sometimes we just can’t find what we do. And for a long time, some of us might feel ashamed by that. That fear to return may not let us do what we really wanted to do. But, remember, there is always a way.

Craig Moran, Northwestern State University Student

Moran said, “Year after year went by, and I kept thinking that one day I might pick up where I left off and go back to school.” And go back he did. Moran spoke with Callie Hammonds in the NSU administration in 2009. Moran was interested, but still hesitant. And then he heard Carl Henry speak on a radio program with fellow NSU employee Katy Hall. Mr. Henry’s topic was CALL. Moran heard the call when Henry talked about the program’s capability to handle adult students, by a predominantly online course list, and student services that fit working adults. Student Services included the willingness to talk to Moran that same day. Moran enrolled in CALL immediately.

“All of my instructors realize that the world of non-traditional students is growing more and more. They have accepted me with open arms and give me help whenever I need it,” said Moran. Since the Spring of 2010, Moran has taken two classes per semester, a fair class load for an adult with a job and family.

“Anyone who has ever thought about going back to school should talk to Mr. Henry or anyone at NSU about the CALL program. Give it a chance. You’ll be glad that you did,” Moran said.

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New Year, New Opportunities

Dear Reader,

The Center for Adult Learning in Louisiana would like to thank you for visiting our website. After 5 years of operating, we are happy to report that we have been successful in educating Louisiana’s adult residents. With over 300 graduates, our small program has evolved to serve a broad category of adult learners through online and fast-track programs. We have been lucky to work with some of the most influential and progressive educators in the state.

To those of you who are not potential adult students, we hope that you will keep us in mind for the new year. A large majority of the working adults in this state lack a college degree. You may work with them, they may be friends or family. Our purpose is to serve them, but they may not know we exist. Forward this website to them, or just tell them that someone out there is ready to serve their needs. One problem that adults often have is the doubt that college CAN serve them effectively. And while that may have been the case 10 years ago, the online environment allows for flexibility and access that far surpasses older forms of education. With our fully accredited and nationally recognized state institutions, adults can get a cost effective degree on THEIR time. The cost of a degree from a Louisiana institutions is a better value than a for-profit enterprise.

For potential adult students, we can assure you that we have advisers and staff ready to help you at any CALL campus. With our broad range of programs, we believe we can serve your needs quickly. Think about the New Year, if you have been debating on whether or not to enter college again, think about your needs first. Then, if you still want to, but remain a little unsure, take one of our assessments to get an idea on your online learning readiness. But we believe, especially if you have found this blog and website, that you are ready, or that we can get you there very quickly. No longer do you have to doubt a college’s ability to serve you on your time. We understand that you might have children, a full-time job, older parents to care for, or any number of other constraints on your time. We know that we can help you work around those issues and earn your degree.

How important is a degree in today’s world? Unemployment is lower in the population with degrees. And they often make a higher salary and report more happiness. Those are the simple statistics that we can point to. But what stands in the way: your time. Making time for school can be difficult, but we have learned to meet you halfway with online learning. If you want to take your courses after 10pm at night, we can do that. If you need a bigger window to take a test, we can do that too. Most importantly, trust us to put your needs first.

Browse our site and our blogs, and find the information that you need. We can point you to some outside resources, that may help you decide.

Most importantly, contact us with any questions. We hope you set achievable goals for yourself and have a great 2012!

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Program Spotlight: General Studies Associate Degree

Bossier Parish Community College (BPCC) in Bossier City, Louisiana offers multiple degrees through CALL. One such degree is a great entry point for adult students. While offering Portfolio and other forms of prior learning assessment, BPCC, the General Studies Degree is a very useful path for adult students.

The Associate of General Studies can serve as a terminal degree for those wishing to pursue the two-year degree, or it can be a formal recognition of the first two years of college work. In addition, courses in the General Studies degree can be applied to a variety of four-year degrees.  While offering 4 and 8-week courses, BPCC also assures students that they will be profficient in all levels of college reading, comprehend general math problems, and learn critical thinking skills across the curriculum.

The General Studies degree program is an excellent choice for students planning to transfer to a four-year college, updating their skills for job opportunities, looking for a diverse curriculum to broaden their horizons, or still undecided as to what career they would like to pursue.

For adults coming back to college, earning a wide range of skills first, over the course of a 2-year associate degree, can help ease them back into the more specific work of college. BPCC allows those students to leverage prior learning and experience into credits towards the degree.  By using BPCC also uses the Blackboard Learning Management System for their online courses, with access to a large set of tools for keeping track of your progress.

If earning a degree is important, but you are unsure of starting or what you would want to earn a degree, check out the General Studies Program at BPCC, and it should fulfill your needs and get you started right away!

Apply Now!

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You Are Not Alone

As we know adult learning is a Louisiana problem, it is a Louisiana problem alone. Most states are suffering from the same problems, an increasing number of non-traditional students trying to enter a system to pursue their personal goals that is not built for them to excel.

USA Today has also highlighted the plight of non-traditional students:

Degrees of Difficulty

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Tools: Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL)

For adults, we find that making sure they know about user-friendly, helpful, and easy to use tools can help their success rates. In all phases of the learning environment, we have found tools that stand to be useful to each person, in any subject.

Writing is part of the college curriculum as a whole. Outside of the normal phase of writing for an English class, we find writing in all social sciences and history. In sciences and even sometimes in math, writing forms the basis of communication, and being able to communicate our ideas is effective in any business environment. One of the most important skills we can have as a part of the workforce, writing is a key. From our resumes, to our daily communications, effective writing can be a large part of the way you are seen from your supervisors.

The Purdue Online Writing Lab is a comprehensive website that has many tools to help the learner (online or not) writing correctly formatted and well organized pieces.

The Lab includes everything from Starting the Writing Process and  How to Avoid Plagiarism to Commas.  The guides provide quick tips and hints, as well as thorough analysis of proper English writing and formatting.

Most importantly, the OWL includes guides on ALL styles of citation, one of the most important and tricky parts of collegiate writing. MLA and APA styles are analyzed and all of your answers are answered quickly with an easy to search approach. Can’t find out how to reference an article on the internet, or an episode of TV? The citation guides can help you quickly, and for free. They even accept emails on questions that may not be answered through the guide.

All in all, Purdue has crafted an abundant resource for students to understand any issue they may come across. Even if they just need help organizing their paper (tips included).

The end of the semester is approaching and we know that CALL students will see essays and essay tests soon. Get the help you need today.

Source: Purdue Online Writing Lab

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Student Spotlight: Ashley Reevees, ULM

ULM’s Bachelor of Science in Health Studies degree is part of the CALL initiative, and it’s a program that Ashley Reeves was eager to explore.

An employee of Monroe Surgical Hospital, Reeves, 21, is enrolled in the health studies program and ultimately hopes to enter a career in nursing or occupational therapy.

“I’ve always been interested in health care. I guess it was the idea of service,” Reeves said. The Virginia native is a second-year student who carries a full load of courses online while working full time.

Ashley Reeves, ULM

Ashley Reeves, a recent student from ULM, earned her degree and progressed in her career.

“I’m very disciplined,” she said. Reeves also is fortunate in that the surgical center, which provided a grant for her books and tuition, allows her flexible hours to study. She completes most of her school work on the nights and weekends.

The online program offers a connection to the campus, with engaged professors and periodic in-person meetings with professors and fellow students.

“I like being able to take courses online. But it’s not as if we’re alone. We have chat rooms online that allow students to talk to each other for support. And the professors are always there with encouragement and links to resources. They even give us their home numbers in case we need them,” she said.

The online initiatives are critical to students like Reeves, as well as the entire state, which suffers from a shortage of highly qualified workers in a number of professions – education and health care chief among them.

Through ULM’s online initiatives and other innovative programs, the credentials needed to fill these critical positions are well within reach.

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Decision Fatigue and You

I think we have all reached that point in the day when it seems that the cause and effects of our decisions seem to matter less and less. From questions as insignificant as what jelly to put on your toast, to those larger questions like “Should I return to school to earn my degree?” we encounter many decisions that must be weighed and decided upon.

Some researchers have proven that we can undergo “decision fatigue” and make poorer choices; our willpower weakened by the questions of toast, switching lanes in traffic (because the other lane always goes faster) and whether or not to make a big purchase.

Decision fatigue helps explain why ordinarily sensible people get angry at colleagues and families, splurge on clothes, buy junk food at the supermarket and can’t resist the dealer’s offer to rustproof their new car. No matter how rational and high-minded you try to be, you can’t make decision after decision without paying a biological price. It’s different from ordinary physical fatigue — you’re not consciously aware of being tired — but you’re low on mental energy. The more choices you make throughout the day, the harder each one becomes for your brain, and eventually it looks for shortcuts, usually in either of two very different ways. One shortcut is to become reckless: to act impulsively instead of expending the energy to first think through the consequences. (Sure, tweet that photo! What could go wrong?) The other shortcut is the ultimate energy saver: do nothing. Instead of agonizing over decisions, avoid any choice. Ducking a decision often creates bigger problems in the long run, but for the moment, it eases the mental strain. You start to resist any change, any potentially risky move — like releasing a prisoner who might commit a crime. So the fatigued judge on a parole board takes the easy way out, and the prisoner keeps doing time.

John Tierney outlines the topic for the New York Times well, thoroughly dissecting the problem for the public. Why should we be concerned?

Because like most adult students, or potential adult students, you already have a plethora of responsibilities. If you are a student, you have already made that choice (one backed by your personal goals), and that choice has put more responsibilities on the table. You have to decide between how to incorporate school into your time, what the most important material to study is and how best to study. But along with those simple choices about school, come choices about your career, your family, and everything else in between. You have added more to your day. Keeping the idea of decision fatigue relevant may allow you to make better decisions. And realize that your time is best spent understanding your decisions.

Tierney writes:

Once you’re mentally depleted, you become reluctant to make trade-offs, which involve a particularly advanced and taxing form of decision making. In the rest of the animal kingdom, there aren’t a lot of protracted negotiations between predators and prey. To compromise is a complex human ability and therefore one of the first to decline when willpower is depleted. You become what researchers call a cognitive miser, hoarding your energy. If you’re shopping, you’re liable to look at only one dimension, like price: just give me the cheapest. Or you indulge yourself by looking at quality: I want the very best (an especially easy strategy if someone else is paying). Decision fatigue leaves you vulnerable to marketers who know how to time their sales, as Jonathan Levav, the Stanford professor, demonstrated in experiments involving tailored suits and new cars.

Be aware.

For those potential students out there, you are most likely shopping for that learning option because you want to, but you have not made the decision yet. And that is ok. Make the best decision for yourself, but understand both your current environment, and what you are deciding to add to your life. Potential adult students are serious shoppers, they are looking for value and worth. They want their time already spent to be worth something (PLA), and they want their decisions to be valuable to their life goals.

You do not have to study the problem, or be an expert on psychology, but you can be equipped with the knowledge that our decisions carry weight, and that weight grows every time we make one, simple or not. Knowing how to manage that, and to be aware of it, is all you have to do.

See the full article here.

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Making the Transition to the Digital World

From time to time we like to give out some advice. While our readers are mostly going to be adults in college, it is essential for us to understand their challenges. Not only do they have to worry about how an online class works, but how to enter college again.

Along with those concerns is something like being paperless. Part of making the transition to the digital sector in online learning, is understanding the amount of content that is available off paper, and how our own content can be kept digitally.

Lifehacker.com, an always cutting edge website for productivity, has a great post on making the transition into a paperless world. Paper will never go away, that is not the point, but it has become better to store some things digitally. But there is also a shift in philosophy and practices that might help an adult student, or just an adult in general.

Melanie Pinola says:

My strategy is twofold:

  • Keep a digital and paper version of critical documents that are either, a) hard to replace and related to something of significant value (family health records, for example, or major home improvements), or b) tax- or business-related.
  • Knowing that I can’t horde every piece of paper, everything else gets scanned or opted for electronic version.

The post contains many hints and tips about what and how to do it.

See the full post here.

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Secrets of Success

Technology, Entertainment and Design, or TED for short, is a group of innovators and entrepenuers who are focused on “Ideas Worth Spreading,” as their tagline indicates. As a group, they are formed of people from many different industries who try to look at the different ways people can see the world.

One presentation, entitled “Secrets to Success,” is relevant for many adult learners. How do we succeed? How have the very successful achieved their goals?

The TED website outlines the presentation:

Why do people succeed? Is it because they’re smart? Or are they just lucky? Neither. Analyst Richard St. John condenses years of interviews into an unmissable 3-minute slideshow on the real secrets of success.

Take 3 and a half minutes to check it out below:


 

Source: TED

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