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Instructor Blog: Keys for Studying at Home

I’ve been teaching online since before my three-year-old was born. So when students share how difficult it is to complete assignments with young children at home, I understand! While everyone enjoys working from home, there are some disadvantages. I wanted to share some strategies for studying amidst the distractions at home.

One disadvantage to attending class online is that there is no set time to spend time on schoolwork. There is always something that seems more pressing like housework, or more enticing like the internet. I encourage all students to log in on Sundays to look at the discussion topic and the assignments for the week. Writing down all of the tasks for the week (four days in discussion, reading, activities) can ensure you allow time for everything. If it helps, you can write specific assignments into your calendar. For example, “Monday, 10 p.m., write initial post for discussion and read textbook reading.” Writing deadlines on the family calendar will help your family remember your commitment. Setting boundaries that you can live with- such as staying off social media during your study time, or waiting to answer a text- can provide some accountability.

The most challenging distraction is, of course, children. While children naturally want your attention, there is a benefit to them seeing you study. Treat studying with the seriousness of going to a job, and you model healthy habits to even young children.  Explain why you are studying and what the benefits will be for completing your degree. For older children, connect your homework to the importance of theirs. Your study time can be time for them to play on their own, or, depending on their age, “lesson time” for them to color while you study and complete assignments.

There may also be times when it is necessary to arrange for childcare. I tell my daughter she will have more fun playing with friends than playing by herself while I am working. Paying for childcare (or swapping with friends, if possible) also helps me be the most productive.  It can be hard to invest in childcare, but, remember, your degree is the ticket to a new career. Devoting time to understanding the course content and producing your best work is an investment in your future. I’m also able to enjoy my time with daughter knowing the work I completed.

In the short term, it can be hard to plug in the headphones, turn off social media and open a textbook.   But the rest of the world will be waiting, and you will be proud of yourself for each well-completed assignment!

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Back to College, But Do You Need Back to School Supplies?

Store aisles are overflowing with school supplies and back to school sales. You may be checking off long lists of must-haves for your children in elementary and high school classes. Even preschools are sending home hefty requirements of paint brushes, playdough Ziplock baggies.

But when you head back to class, online, do you need to have a stack of freshly pressed notebooks and red pens at your side?

No. Your only must have is your computer and an internet connection.

Brook Urban, Bryant & Stratton Academic Advisor, said students do 100 percent of their work online.

“Their papers are submitted online, the quizzes are completed online, even the portfolio they create will be completed online,” she said.

Which means your number one school supply is your computer and an internet connection.

Students in the public speaking class will need to make sure their computer contains a camera since they will need to record themselves giving a speech.

All students are given a list of hardware and software requirements when they submit their application, but in case you missed it, here it is again: Read More…

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Instructor Blog: The Importance of Instructions

Imagine if you will for a moment, how easy it is to make a peanut butter & jelly sandwich.  Simple, right?  I bet you could even show someone how to do it in under a minute.  Now, write it down, step-by-step as though someone had never seen bread, a jar of peanut butter, or jelly before in their life.  Trust me; it just got a lot harder.

Following directions and especially complicated directions can be a very important tool that serves you well throughout your life.  What does this have to do with going to college?  College instruction is full of following directions.  One of the most common mistakes that most students make is not fully reading and comprehending instructions.  Often students skip over the steps of the instruction with the understanding that they know what tasks need to be done.  And before long, they grow frustrated because the tasks they performed did not give them the result they wanted. Read More…

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Be Prepared Before Applying to School

Enrolling in classes at Bryant & Stratton College Online is a straightforward process that requires a few short steps to be completed. The required steps are communicated to our students by their Admissions Representative once they’ve completed their initial admissions interview. There are additional steps that a student can take to ensure their enrollment goes as quickly as possible.

The support offered by our admissions staff is second to none. From your first interview all the way until your first day of class, your personal Admissions Representative is there to guide you through the process of getting enrolled. They will require that you complete certain steps and submit required documents throughout this process. While many of the steps cannot be completed ahead of time, there are a few things that can be done to help speed up your enrollment: Read More…

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Instructor Blog: Why does writing well matter?

For some students, English courses can seem unrelated to the knowledge they need to be successful in their field. However, strong writing skills demonstrate that you are educated, professional, and pay attention to detail. Before I was in the education field, I was part of a team that was evaluating candidates for a position. There was one resume from a candidate that had great experience, but it also included a typo.  The individual was not offered the job. Imagine sending your resume to a potential employer with the employer’s name spelled incorrectly. What first impression would you be making?

These are certainly minor errors and it may seem unfair to disqualify someone from an interview because of them. However, these are the details that can leave a negative impression before someone even has the change to meet you in person. Error-free communication, especially when applying for a job, is crucial.

With that in mind, let’s address common errors in writing: Read More…

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Instructor Blog: Practicing Professional Communication

As instructors, we are here to help, and are happy to answer your questions and address your concerns. Many of my best students are the ones who email the most. They are quick to ask for clarification before an assignment is submitted, or for clarification on a graded assignment. Reaching out to instructors shows that you are taking responsibility for your learning.

While it can seem intimidating, think of your relationship with your instructor as practice for a relationship with a supervisor in your field. If you had a question about how to complete a project, would you email for clarification, or take a guess, submit the project and hope it is correct?

A professional tone is critical when contacting a supervisor. Maintaining a professional tone when emailing instructors will give you valuable practice. Here are some guidelines:

  • Avoid focusing on emotions. While phrases such as “I am frustrated” may be appropriate, stating much beyond that will detract from the issue.
  • Clearly state your question on concern. For example, saying “I am unclear about my grade on the week 3 activity” allows the instructor to address your concern more quickly.
  • Avoid making assumptions and focus on your question or concern.
  • Can the answer be found elsewhere? At Bryant & Stratton, you don’t need to contact your instructor to find out your grade. Similarly, there may be information in a work environment that could be found in a policy handbook.  Being proactive and finding what you can on your own will better prepare you in your course as well as your career.
  • When emailing, take advantage of the option to review your email. Ask yourself: Was I courteous and clear? Did I present myself in the most professional way possible?  Would I be embarrassed if anyone other than the instructor saw this?

Each of these guidelines will help you in a professional environment. In a work environment, an email may be forwarded without your knowledge. If you are professional and courteous, you will have nothing to worry about!

Another great option is to hop on Skype. Many instructors, myself included, have office hours on Skype, or similar platforms. This is a great way to create a more personal connection. Also, it is great practice in getting used to technology you might need for a job interview.

At Bryant & Stratton College Online, we pride ourselves on preparing students for their work environment. Learning how to reach out to an instructor, even if it feels uncomfortable, provides you valuable experience in professional communication. A proactive, professional attitude will help you stand out against the rest!

 

 

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Why an associate’s degree is important

Your diploma for your associate’s degree is so much more than words on a piece of paper. On top of showing that you’ve studied a particular discipline, your associate’s degree is proof that you can commit to a program, master the course materials, work with others and fulfill your obligations.

“I also believe an associate’s degree, especially through us, provides the ability to connect learning not only to their career but as a contributing member of society,” said Brandy McDonough, associate dean of instruction for Bryant & Stratton College – Online. “We provide opportunities that help expand a student’s understanding not only of what they have to learn to meet those course outcomes, but more importantly how they’re going to take what they learn in the classroom and translate those skills in the workplace.”

Most of Bryant & Stratton’s programs are two-year, associate degrees, McDonough said.

“Our curriculum is very career-oriented, outcome-based,” she said. “We really take the feedback that employers give us and help us ensure our curriculum is contemporary and current.”

In addition to greater marketability for a job candidate, a two-year associate degree can also mean higher earning power. In some cases, those degrees bring even higher salaries than a four-year degree.

According to a study by CollegeMeasures.org, “Together, the high wages accruing to graduates completing many certificate programs and technical associate’s degrees demonstrate a faster, cheaper route to the labor market that many students should consider before enrolling in academically oriented associate’s degrees or even bachelor’s degrees.”

Associate’s degrees are the second most popular choice; more than 1 million people graduated with associate’s degrees in 2012, according to CollegeMeasures.org.

The study found grads with technical associate’s degrees made more money than their peers preparing to transfer to four-year schools but were in the labor market. Technical associate’s degree graduates’ first-year salaries in Texas, Virginia and Colorado were higher than their counterparts with bachelor’s degrees.

“The technology field is very specific in terms of the skillset that is needed,” McDonough said. “That’s really something that employers need to be able to know that not only do you have that educational background, but that you have the specific skills needed to perform those job functions.”

But certifications and certificate programs can get a little confusing, McDonough said. Some private companies offer their own certification programs, which can be different from degree certifications and certificate programs.

“The certificate is an opportunity if you already have a degree, it’s a good opportunity if you have to get continuing education or a certain number of credits in a certain area,” she said. “The entire degree program itself gives you a much more well-rounded experience. It will not only give you the content-specific knowledge you need, it will also give you course work that will help to better understand things like time management, social skills – these are extremely important to employers.”

An associate’s degree gives a student a solid start in a particular career field. From there, she may decide to further her education along that same path or chart a different course based on her studies and work experience, McDonough said.

“I look at it as a stepping stone from a lifelong learner perspective,” she said. “When we think about the two-year degree, it’s absolutely of significant value. It can open more career opportunities and doors. Once that’s been achieved (the graduate) may want to look at where can I take this next?”

 

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Four Health Tips for Students in Online Degree Programs

Healthy habits have been linked to many benefits like improving self-confidence, living longer, fewer trips to the doctor and a decreased need for medications. For students in online degree programs there are also things to try that can improve your health and impact your studying. Next time you sit down for an extended study session, consider these tips.

1. Move around – When you are taking classes online you are at your computer a lot. You need to stay focused, but make sure you also take breaks to stand up and move around. Recent research has shown that prolonged sitting contributes to things like heart disease, risk of stroke, and other serious issues. While most of these studies focus on older adults, practicing good desk health habits while you’re young may help you avoid issues as you age. So for every hour you study take a couple minutes to get up, walk around your house, dance about, march or just walk to the door and come back.

2. Give your eyes a break – Long and continued use of a computer can cause eyestrain. And, with mobile technology being as prevalent as it is today, your eyes don’t get a break often enough! Many experts recommend you follow the 20-20-20 rule to prevent issues with your eyes. To follow the rule be sure to stop looking at your screen every 20 minutes and focus on something 20 feet away for 20 seconds. To prevent these breaks from being a distraction, try looking away from your screen every time you have to think through an answer or are memorizing a new fact.

3. Sit up straight – Now is the time to listen to the advice of your fourth grade teacher’s advice: sit up straight at your desk. That, of course, first requires you to study at a desk! If you use a laptop to study and find yourself on the couch, invest in a lap desk to keep from hunching over your computer. If you have a desk already, here are a few tips to practice good posture: line the top of your computer to the height of your eyes and tilt your monitor slightly up, keep your forearms supported and as parallel as possible to the floor, tilt your pelvis forward slightly so your weight is on your legs instead of your tailbone, use the back of your chair to support you (but don’t slouch against it), and keep your feet flat on the floor or on a footrest if your legs don’t reach that far.

4. Snack with caution – One benefit of enrolling in online degree programs is you can avoid crummy cafeteria food and save money by eating in. If you need to grab a quick lunch before logging into a class – you can simply go to your kitchen! But, that easy access to food can also cause distracted eating. Studies have shown that when you are not paying attention to what you eat, you tend to eat more. Try scheduling breaks while studying to eat away from your desk (which will help you practice tips 1 and 2 from this article!). If you have to snack while studying, limit yourself to foods that are known to increase brain function like blueberries, nuts and seeds, avocados, whole grains or wild salmon. Also pour those snacks into a small bowl instead of bringing the whole bag to your desk to keep you from eating more than you need.

Practicing these healthy tips can help you stay focused for long study sessions, improve your ability to retain information and keep you healthy so you can stay on track with your degree!

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It’s time to celebrate for the Class of 2014

Thirty eight different states were represented by the members of the 2014 graduating class from Bryant & Stratton College Online.

Students from as far away as Alaska and Hawaii, including an overseas military spouse formed the 380-member graduating class of 2014. Of those 380 graduates, 117 made their way to various graduation ceremonies to walk across the stage to celebrate earning their degree.

A testament to the hard work and dedication that it takes to earn a degree was highlighted by the impressive number of students who made lengthy trips to any of the Bryant & Stratton ceremonies. Trips from Dayton, OH to Buffalo, NY and even from Texas to Wisconsin didn’t keep graduates from coming to celebrate their achievement with their classmates.

The group that joined the Buffalo-area graduates were treated to a terrific commencement speech from fellow graduate Marc Brooker along with a rousing address from Darius Pridgen. The City of Buffalo Common Council President is a familiar face at Bryant & Stratton’s graduation ceremonies as 2014 marked the third time Pridgen delivered the commencement address. In addition, Kimberly Bullock was named the recipient of the 2014 Campus Director award for Online.

After the speeches and awards had been handed out it was time for the graduates to walk the stage and the group from Online led off the festivities. Walking across the stage officially capped the journey that each graduate took from their first day of classes until graduation. It also represented the close of graduation weekend, something that kicked off on Friday evening with the 2014 Graduate Reception.

The reception is an event that allows graduates to meet their classmates and the Bryant & Stratton faculty and staff members who helped guide them through school. For many, this is the first time they’re able to put a face to the name who they spoke with in discussion boards in class or perhaps the advisor who was with them throughout their time here. The reception is also the time when military students are presented with their cords and honor students are presented with their Alpha Beta Gamma honor stoles.

In total, 27 graduates joined the festivities surrounding the Buffalo graduation and we hope to see just as many, if not more, walking the stage in 2015. Pictures of the Buffalo ceremony and from other graduates can be found on the Bryant & Stratton College Online Facebook page.

Congratulations, once again, to each and every one of our 2014 graduates.

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Finding a Career to Match You

The time we spend at work can often consume a large amount of our waking hours. So, wouldn’t you rather be doing something that feels fulfilling and fits your personality?

Selecting the right career path for yourself has to do with many factors. Salary and growth opportunities are a couple of ways to decide on a career but making them your only decision makers could put on you a career path where you are ultimately unhappy. In addition to financial reasons, try thinking about what you do well, your passions and your own personality.

To help with your career management, below are four career fields and common characteristics of people who work in each area.

Read More…

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