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Instructor Blog: Tips for Succeeding in English Courses

Some students may feel as if they need to just simply survive English courses. As an instructor who teaches four different English courses at Bryant & Stratton, I wanted to share some tips for not just passing, but thriving in courses essential to your life-long learning and professional development.   Most assignments in your English courses are focused on research and writing. This means that, to succeed, you will need to communicate an idea clearly and support it with research.  Thinking about how you can improve in those areas will help you in each English course.

One common error I see is students not proofreading carefully.  Almost all assignments in your English courses include a category in the rubric for grammar, including discussion. Taking the time to not only run spell-check (even in discussion) but proofread can be the difference between an “A” and a “B.” Creating even short assignments such as the initial posts for discussion and reflections in Word can ensure that you meet the word count requirement and have the opportunity to proofread carefully. Read More…

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Instructor Blog: Citing for Success

Plagiarism can seem like a scary word, and it can be difficult to understand everything that is considered plagiarism. Most students would never intentionally steal work from another student or the internet. However, plagiarism also includes:

  • submitting the same document for more than one assignment
  • using a quote or idea from an outside source, such as a website, with no in-text citation and/or reference page listing

While citation can seem involved and complicated, it’s important to remember the purpose of citation. Citing a source shows the reader what information is from an outside source.  When presenting an argument or proposal, you want to show the source that supports your argument. Introducing a source helps orient the reader. For example, let’s say you are creating a proposal to implement a specific kind of software. Your in-text citation might look like this:

 

According to the Journal of Medical Software, “Software X decreases errors and increases efficiency by 73% through streamlining all patient information” (Hernandez, 2013, p.4).

 

The reader gains helpful information from this introduction. The name of the publication is listed, which saves the reader from having to scroll to the reference page. Also, the year is part of the in-text citation, which shows the currency of the information. For direct quotes, the page or paragraph number is required.

 

With the above source, let’s look at examples of plagiarism: Read More…

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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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Three Reasons To Be Excited to Go Back to School as an Adult

Back to school used to mean new notebooks, a new set of crayons and maybe a new back pack. But for the 37 million Americans with some credit but no degree, going back to school can mean anxiety, fear and worry. Adults are filling out applications for college at a growing rate for a lot of reasons and many of them are finding there’s no reason to fear hitting the books. Plus, there are a number of payoffs to finally earning that degree.

That’s not to say college is all happy times and stress-free living. Anyone who is going back to school needs to seriously consider the financial and time investment school takes. Thinking about the decision to go back to school and how it will affect your (and your family’s) life is important. Yet, there are a lot of benefits to going back to schools as an adult. Read More…

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First Day: 5 Tips to Make the Most of Day 1

Even though you’re not showing up in person, how you approach your first day of online learning will set the tone for the semester and your class experience. Here’s what you need to know to put your best virtual foot forward from day one.

Complete Your Orientation

Here’s your starting point. Your online orientation will cover all of the basic information you need to be ready for your first day. It will introduce Blackboard, the system your online learning will be based on. You’ll learn about the online bookstore, the library, how to find scholarly documents and more on setting yourself up for success. This should take roughly an hour to an hour and a half. Once you’ve completed orientation, you’ll be ready to log in. Read More…

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Tips on Transferring Colleges without Losing Credits

Transferring colleges requires meticulous attention on the part of the student to ensure every possible credit will transfer. In addition to reducing the amount of time you spend making up coursework, transferring your maximum credit potential can save you thousands of dollars in tuition expenses. There are specific steps you can take to ensure your new college accepts most, if not all, credits from previous educational institutions. When in doubt, contact the admissions office of your new campus to get personal assistance reviewing former transcripts, course requirements, and syllabi from your previous school(s).

Here are five tips for transferring colleges without losing credits: Read More…

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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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Study Tips from Academic Advising

Study Tips from Academic Advising

Good study skills can help with even the most difficult classes. See what tips and techniques our advising staff has to offer and try to utilize them this fall!

Go into your Introductory Folders for each of your classes and thoroughly read, print and post all of the course document information. The Supplemental Syllabus, Course Policy, Tracking Calendar and Rubrics include a plethora of information that students must be aware of and understand to be successful in their courses. If there is something that you don’t understand, ask!”     -Lynn Bala, FYE & Orientation Instructor

Make a weekly plan for yourself as to when you can work on assignments. Also, post your discussions as early as possible so you have more time to concentrate on discussion responses and other assignments.”

Read More…

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Tracking Time for Better Results

Going back to school can be quite overwhelming. One of the biggest obstacles new college students face is managing their time appropriately. Time Management can be particularly tricky for online students because although you have the flexibility of logging into your courses at any time, many of you will be working full-time jobs and have family obligations that you must fit your schoolwork around.

So how do you get into the groove of being a new online student? It all starts with making a conscious effort to use your time wisely. It can be as simple as placing Post-it notes around the house so that you are consistently forcing yourself to be conscious of time. Another option is to keep a journal to log what you are doing with your time throughout the day.

Keeping a time journal can be very eye-opening. You might find that the time you spend on the sofa watching television each night adds up to over 12 hours each week! Or you might find out you spend too much time on Facebook, playing Xbox, surfing the web, playing FarmVille or even sleeping. Don’t panic- I am not saying to give any of these things up. I am trying to help you be more conscious of how you are spending your time, so you can manage it better and also keep up with your schoolwork.

There is nothing worse, or easier, than procrastination. Admit it. You have been there at some point in in your life. The evening is dwindling away; your assignment is due at midnight and you are thinking of all the other times that you could have (and should have) been getting your assignments done. By making an effort to be aware of how you are spending your time, you will be more likely to plan ahead so you don’t end up a victim of procrastination.

It is important to remember that to be successful at managing your time, you will need to reward yourself. Set your boundaries and make sure that for so every so many hours you spend being productive, you also allow yourself an hour to do something you truly enjoy. I hope this helps you get on the right path to being more productive and having less stress in your life.

Please add any additional questions, comments or tips that you have about time management in the comment section below.

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Online School Supply List with Tips to start off the Semester Right

It’s that time of the year again where the nights are getting shorter and colder. Parents and college kids alike are running to the store to get their last minute school supply shopping done, since fall has finally arrived.  A new semester offers a chance for some to start over and for some a chance to get their life back in order. To start the semester off the right way, I wanted to come up with a list of supplies and tips for online students. This way when you are running around grabbing all of the crayons, highlighters, pencils, paper, and folders for your kids, you will have a list for yourself to make sure you are prepared for the long semester haul.

The first thing you need to take care of is your study space. Make sure you have a quiet work space that you enjoy being in. If you surround yourself with a positive environment, you are more likely to be able to accomplish your work. One idea that I have always liked is having pictures of your supporting cast, maybe you are going back to school to help out your family, friends, or even yourself. Having pictures of your family and friends will allow you to always remember what you are working for. It could also help you get through those late night assignments. It isn’t a bad idea to have a picture of your favorite vacation spot or a dream vacation spot, just something that can maybe take your mind off of your homework and allow you to reset your brain. If you have kids, it isn’t a bad idea to try and do your homework while they are at school themselves or once they are asleep.

Now it’s time to go back to basics. While taking online classes it is always a good idea to have the same supplies a traditional college student has. Whether you like to drink coffee, soda, or of course energy drinks, caffeine becomes one of the most important food groups for many college students! Many college students, including myself, owe thanks to the great people at Starbucks and AMP Energy drinks for helping us get through those late night assignments.

Of course you need the good old basics like paper and pencils, but with online classes the list varies at this point. We all know it is mandatory to have a computer and internet. You can also find a list of other mandatory computer components on our technology requirements page. The most important on that list is a printer. Printing copies of homework assignments, papers you have written and lectures is a great way to stay organized and on top of your school work. Make sure you have a binder or folder to keep all of your paper work in order. It‘s not a bad idea to have a filing cabinet or a filing box in your workspace either. Other computer essentials are speakers, a webcam, a microphone, a flash drive, ink, and printer paper. These are all required or highly recommended to stay on top of your assignments.

When I sat down to write this I said that I wanted to make sure I made your life a little easier by giving you a last minute school supply shopping list. Hopefully with these supplies, you are now in the position to succeed and turn over a new leaf.  Here is your shopping list; now it is just up to you to find the time to do some shopping.

Pens
Paper
Binder
Folders
Books
Book bag
Filling Cabinet or Box
Laptop Tray
Ink
Copy Paper
Flash Drive
Printer
Webcam
Speakers
Microphone

Feel free to add additional items in the comment section of items you think are important for online students.

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