We Will Rise- Women of Inspiration

Keys to College (UWF) Success

By Jalia Bannamon  

Each semester millions of people attend classes at a local or online college. All students know that textbooks, lectures, and projects will become part of their daily lives. Most wonder what they can do to be as successful as possible in their courses and make the road to a degree as easy as possible. The following are a few recommendations to help any student do well:

Know what works for you. Before you enter the classroom know what you are going to have to do to achieve your best in that class. Understand where your strengths are and find help for your weakest areas.

Know how you learn best. Are you a visual learner? Do you have to physically write-down notes or are you okay with typing them or, perhaps, just listening to the lecture?

Know how to study. Use the study methods that are best suited for you. Give yourself adequate time to review material. Do not form a study group with anyone if the time will not be used productively.

Know what your resources are. All campuses have some form of academic help. Utilize tutors, libraries, databases, organizations, and professors' office hours when you need them.

Be prepared. Preparation is an element of success in almost anything. College is no different. Just showing up to class is not enough.

Keep a calendar of assignment due dates. With everything there is to get done, it can be hard to remember when things are due. Create a calendar to stay on top of due dates and make sure that you are managing your time wisely.

Get started on assignments and projects early. Oftentimes, projects and assignments will require more time than initially expected; completing the work as soon as possible allows you to dedicate the appropriate time to the task and do a better job.

Become familiar test material ahead of time. Focus foremost on the information you are certain will be on the test (or quiz). From there, concentrate on important topics/main points and items of discussion highlighted in class lectures.

Actually READ the chapters of the textbook. While most of the text is similar to lectures, reading the book ahead of class will allow you to follow the discussion more easily and understand what is going on.

Be willing to put in the extra work. No one ever attended college because they thought it would be easy. You have to study many hours and collaborate on group work to have a successful college career.

Ask questions. If you do not understand something, ask the professor or peers, most are more than willing to help.

Do not skip any assignments. Avoid the temptation to 'just take a zero' for one or two small assignments. You don't want to be kicking yourself at the end of the semester because you are.01 away from a higher letter grade (or even passing the class), which could have been locked-in with that one extra grade.

Come to class, even if you would rather be elsewhere. The professor isn't there to lecture for no reason. What they have to say will help to understand and reinforce the material, which will show when it comes to exam time.

Take advantage of extra credit opportunities. If your grade is wavering, just as with skipping assignments, those extra points can 'make or break you' at the end of the semester. It would be rough retaking a class knowing there was something you could have done to pass it the first time around.

Adapt to each class. Every class is run a little bit differently. Be aware of what the professor expects from you and how work is to be presented. Each class may require different study methods or time dedication. Identify these differences and tailor your habits to match.

By utilizing these recommendations, college students will find they have better success at achieving the expectations they set for themselves in regard to their coursework.


Can You Tell When Your Students Are at Risk for Failure?

By Dr. Bruce A. Johnson 

If you were to ask an instructor which students in a particular class were likely to fail, the easiest indicator would be grades as that presents evidence of students who are not making significant progress. As most educators know, grades present only one aspect of the learning process and it is still possible that any student can be at risk for failure - even those students who are peak performers. While some students can excel, regardless of classroom conditions, most experience fluctuations in their performance throughout their academic journey. Every student presents an instructor with an opportunity to have a direct impact on their ongoing development, especially if they are aware of the risk factors present at every level of performance.

I have been actively involved in the field of faculty development, specifically in the field of distance learning, and I know how much time these faculty spend on their duties. One recent article described adjunct faculty, including the online adjuncts, as the working poor - as they are teaching classes with a high number of students, often at marginal pay rates. The reason for bringing this up is that adjuncts themselves are often at risk for failure as they are working at peak capacity - and when I talk about spending more time with students it can seem overwhelming. I have even been told by administrators that if students were at risk, I should simply pass them along to ensure they earn a passing grade for their courses.

This presents two dimensions for teaching adult students, especially online students in the for-profit industry. I have had to make a decision as an educator about my position regarding helping students, having classes with high enrollments, and being told to pass students along. My decision was to leave schools that asked me not to focus on teaching and stay with those that allowed me to be an educator, even if I had to spend additional time helping students in need. My reason for becoming an educator was based upon a desire to help others learn, including students and faculty, and that has served me well. I do not want to see students struggle and then decide that I do not have enough time. I want to be present and available, aware of how all students are performing, alert for signs that they may be at risk for failing, and ready to assist.

Examining Risk Factors

When you look at your gradebook and see how your students are performing it may give you an impression that this is how your students are, in terms of their academic development. For example, a student with an "A" grade is likely to be someone who naturally excels at any task assigned. But sustaining a particular grade is not always guaranteed. There may be bumps along the way. I have found, as a general rule, that most student perform close to the average range - with fluctuations up and down throughout the class. The best indicator of performance includes how students are writing their papers and participating in the class discussions. Below are typical performance levels and something to consider for each one.

Above Average: Here are some questions to ask yourself about a student who is currently at this level: Can they sustain it? Will they feel pressure to sustain it? Was it a breakthrough or a once-in-a-semester occurrence? As you get to know your students, which will take time and effort, you can find out more about their abilities - and this can help alert you to their potential risks. For example, if this was their first success, you will want to help them sustain it.

Average: Here are some questions to ask yourself for students at this level: Is the student stuck for some reason? Was this student performing Above Average or Below Average before? Is this the best of their abilities? Does this student need encouragement to excel? Does this student need resources to improve? Does this student need to adapt their attitude? Does this student need confidence or self-motivation? Here again, the more you get to know your student, the more you can help to coach them further along. Some students perform at an average level for so long that they begin to accept this is the best they can do - until someone else comes along and shows them they have a greater ability or capacity to learn.

Marginal: This student is at the borderline of failure. It may seem that they are putting in the minimal effort and perhaps they may not even care about their progress. It could be possible that they have not established a productive working relationship with an instructor before and this is something you could help to change as perceptions have a direct impact on the learning process. This student may have also had negative experiences in a prior class and developed a poor attitude, and while you may never know about it - the more effort you put into connecting with them, the more you will be able to help them improve. As a result, the level of motivation of this student may also improve because of the effort that you extend into working with him or her.

Below Average: This student is obviously not showing up for class, not submitting papers, and/or not responding to your coaching attempts. With this student, you are going to need to extend the most care, time, and attention - if you are really interested in helping them connect back with the class. It is possible that this student may never engage back into the class and while this is understandable, I have been surprised many times by the students who responded to a call or something personal that demonstrated I cared about their progress.

Assumptions Made by Instructors and Students

When students are failing a class, there is often a blame game that comes into play. It can begin at the institutional level as class assignments can be made based upon an adjunct's teaching scores. Then comes the finger pointing, as if it is an instructor's fault. Then an instructor may state that the student is self-directed and is responsible for their own progress, which means they are responsible for keeping up with class requirements and completing all assignments. Instructors will state that they do not have time to analyze every student, and it is not their responsibility to do more than their job.

From the perspective of the students, they may believe that their instructors are supposed to help them. I've heard students state that they "do not know what to do" - and they are waiting on their instructors to respond. Students may get stuck if they do not know how to improve or they believe this is the best they can do. While I cannot change any of this I can tell you that if you commit to being an educator, your role is to be focused on the developmental needs of your students - and not blame anyone when they earn a failing grade. You can help students, even those who may not realize yet that they can benefit from your guidance and coaching.

Assisting Students Who Are at Risk

There are some additional tools that I have implemented and would recommend you include as part of your instructional strategy, to help students who may be at risk for failing. Most of these strategies are useful for online instructors rather than instructors teaching in traditional classrooms.

Feedback Report Summary: After you have completed all feedback for a particular time period, send a summary report via email directly to each student. I understand that this is making a commitment of additional time and if you have a large number of students you could craft one short, concise paragraph. The point is to highlight accomplishments and achievements, and more importantly - encourage both a dialogue and questions. Now I would like to make an important point about this strategy: if the student did not submit a paper, or the paper submitted was very poorly written, an email is not the best approach. This is the time to schedule a phone conversation or make a cold call to the student.

Weekly Check-In Progress Message: A simple, friendly message from an instructor can add a personalized touch to your instruction - provided that you add value to that message and encourage students to actually read it. You could mention the topics being studied that week and then share a weekly tip. For example, you could share a weekly study strategy of study tip. More importantly, encourage students to ask questions as a means of keeping them engaged in the course and with you.

Contact with Students Who Are Not Participating: When students are not actively participating in class discussions, try contacting them earlier in the week instead of waiting until the end of the week. A friendly reminder could be a very helpful method of keeping them engaged in the course and also alert you to watch their progress in class.

Communication Strategy for Email: With every email sent to your students be sure that you show appreciation in some manner, even if you acknowledge their question and thank them for the message. The purpose is to encourage an ongoing dialogue with them and build a working relationship with them. It is a good idea to never discuss developmental needs by email and instead, schedule a time to speak by phone or other forms of direct communication that you have made available. You want to convey warmth as you write, offer follow up, and then confirm how you will follow through with your ideas, suggestions, and coaching.

The goal of assisting students who are at risk is to bolster their performance so that they are improving, regardless of where they are at now. I have never liked labels and instead I prefer to look at students as adults who have potential for growth and a capacity to learn. That does not mean every student is going to progress at the same rate as they have developmental needs, attitudes, beliefs, under-developed skills, and other factors that can influence or impede their growth. What I can do is try to be a positive influence and help prevent them from not only declining in performance, but seeing a new or renewed sense of self. That sense of self-empowerment is what every student needs to sustain their progress, even when faced with challenges.

Dr. Bruce A. Johnson has expertise in higher education administration, adult education, distance learning, online teaching, faculty development, curriculum development, instructional design, organizational learning and development, career coaching, and resume writing.

Dr. J writes blog posts and articles to help inform, inspire, and empower readers. To learn more about the resources that are available for career and professional development from Dr. J please visit: http://www.drbruceajohnson.com/

Good Luck To The Classes of 2018. Best Wishes During This School Year!

PBS Reports On Student Loans - A Leftist Slant Of Reality

By Lance Winslow  

As a conservative or right-leaning gentleman, I can sniff out leftist propaganda quite easily, and mind you, that's not so hard, considering it is virtually everywhere in our society and has infiltrated our corporations, government and even our own families. Yes, everyone has their point-of-view (POV) on politics and that is perfectly acceptable - except for one thing, on the left it really isn't someone's actual POV, rather it is one of a brainwashed mindset from repetition, false argument and propaganda. Let's take this growing and out-of-control college student loan crisis we are in today.

Did you know that nearly 50% of all student loans are in default or not a single payment has ever been made, with a huge chunk of the outstanding $1.35 Trillion -- yes, that's correct with a "T" -- hasn't shown a payment in over 7-years? We are told, or were told by the Obama Administration that employment is at an all-time-high, now at just over 4%, well then how come no one is paying on their student loans, not even small payments to stay at least in the game?

Now then, there is a YouTube video: "PBS Looks Into The Student Loan Problem," on the Credit Care Channel, which goes on and on about how Sally Mae collection personnel are misadvising debtors to pay their loans before their rent, health care insurance or house payments, and how borrowers didn't understand that it was a bad idea to do that. The 25+ minute video makes the student loan borrowers look like victims? What? They are not the victims, we the taxpayers are in many cases, as we are guaranteeing those loans, no not all, but a portion of them.

One estimate was that the taxpayers are on the hook for about $108 Billion of the already in default student loans, ouch. What do I think of this? Well, I think PBS, yes, also partly funded by the taxpayer is making things worse, and their documentaries on this topic are a very leftist view point, following the likes of Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders who basically told voters that if they voted them into office there would be forgiven student loans and free-college for everyone.

But, why does PBS make these borrows out as victims, they are not, they owe the money, the taxpayer should NOT bailout this abuse of our system by students, leftists in politics and students. Academia is to blame too, those know-it-alls claiming they care about the kids, BS they care about their pensions, tenure and leftist politics.

If these colleges would teach "Financial Literacy" along with other requirements to get a degree, maybe their students wouldn't be such deadbeat consumers. Instead academia teaches leftist socialism, brainwashing students. Maybe, it's okay if the college loan crisis debt bomb bubble pops, NO taxpayer bailouts... We have an academic university system out-of-control partly funded by taxpayers, as the tenured professors act high-and-mighty, but hide out in academia, never having had to make payroll or deal in the free-market.

If you don't have a problem with those who've allowed this student loan debt bomb to lead to a crisis of epic proportions while the bubble is still building - then you are NOT paying attention. Think on this.

Lance Winslow has launched a new provocative series of eBooks on the Future of Education. Lance Winslow is a retired Founder of a Nationwide Franchise Chain, and now runs the Online Think Tank; http://www.worldthinktank.net.

For more on book purchase click here to see




Will my divorce affect my children’s education?

Q.  My wife and I are getting a divorce.  I am dreading telling my children who are very young and in elementary school.  How will this news and the actual divorce affect their education and what can I do to help them?

A.  First, I’m sorry to hear about your divorce.  You are right to be concerned about your children.  Children thrive on consistency, stability and a happy environment.  Divorce shatters what they know and they become scared, hurt, angry and bewildered.  Miserable, fighting parents don’t make kids feel safe and secure either but new research suggests that divorce, not the discord before, can negatively impact children’s performance in school.  In a study of 3,500 children, those whose parents divorced between 1st and 3rd grade, scored lower in math and had poorer interpersonal skills than children whose parents were still married.  Children exposed to divorce are twice as likely to repeat a grade and five times likelier to be expelled or suspended from school, according to the article "Divorce's Toll on Children" by Karl Zinsmeister. In the early months after a divorce, young children especially, are less imaginative, more repetitive and passive watchers. They tend to be more dependent, demanding, unaffectionate and disobedient than children from intact families. They are more afraid of abandonment, loss of love and bodily harm. They carry these problems to school.  Young children, who can’t verbalize their feelings effectively, may develop behavior problems, trust issues and feel caught in the middle. Divorced students were more likely to abuse drugs, to commit violent acts, to take their own life and to bear children out of wedlock. School personnel have their hands full trying to deal with the psychological and social issues of divorce in the classroom.  According to the National Survey of Children, 15 percent of children living with their mothers without contact with fathers were booted out of school. In Judith Wallerstein’s study of the effects of divorce on children, of the middle class sample, 13% of the children had dropped out of school all together. Barely half of Wallersteins’ subjects went to college, far less than the 85% average for students in their high schools. Sadly, she concludes that 60% of the divorce children in her study will fail to match the educational achievements of their fathers.

 It is challenging for parents, who are in so much turmoil themselves, to focus on what’s best for the kids but it must be done and it can help parents heal, too. 
"Just as there are good and bad marriages, so there are good and bad divorces," says Marian Wilde, a senior editor at GreatSchools.org and a divorced parent. "In a good divorce, parents can continue to co-parent and communicate with each other. Much of what divorced parents need to communicate about is logistical: Who has homework? When is it due? Who needs a permission slip signed? It can be tough the first year of divorce when parents are focused on creating arrangements and dealing with lawyers. But it's important to be aware of what's happening with your child." She adds that with good communication, family relations do get better over time.  

What Should Parents Do?

1.      Try to stay focused on the kids as much as possible.

2.      Don’t let them miss school or get behind in assignments.

3.      Tell the teacher and school psychologist what’s going on and solicit their help.

4.      Try to stick to the previous routine as much as possible.

5.      Create new routines and plans with the children so they feel included.

6.      Reassure them you will both continue to be there for them and do!

7.      Plan together and work together as parents to ensure the kids feel secure again.

8.      Seek counseling for the children if they need it and look for physical signs of illness depression, withdrawal, bedwetting and tearfulness in your children as these are signs of anxiety. 

9.      Provide lots of reassurance, hugging, attention and help put feelings into words for them.

10.  Don’t be consumed by guilt.  Many marriages end in divorce and you can make sure your kids survive and thrive. 

Visit www.divorcewizards.com, www.momshomeroom.msn.com, http://momstryingtogetourkidsback.wordpress and www.Greatschools.org for more information.

Good Luck! 

Lisa-Anne Ray-Byers is a licensed and certified speech-language pathologist who has worked in education for over two decades. She holds graduate degrees in speech-language pathology and multicultural education. She also holds certification in educational administration. She is the author of the books, They Say I Have ADHD, I Say Life Sucks! Thoughts From Nicholas, They S S Say I am a St St Stutterer, But I S S Say Nothing! Meet Kelly, The Tail of a Black Panther and co-author of 365 Ways To Succeed With ADHD and 365+1 Ways to Succeed With ADHD all available at www.Amazon.com.   She is a member of the National Education Writers Association and the education editor for the Community Journal newspaper.  She is currently employed in the Hempstead School District. You may contact her at speechlrb@yahoo.com or by visiting her website at www.AskLisaAnne.com.

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