Sunday, April 28, 2013

And the Correct Answer is . . .

Taken a multiple choice test lately?  Find the experience stressful?  Frustrating?

For what it's worth, you've plenty of company.

Multiple choice exams are big in college, especially in the sciences (bio, chem, etc.), the social sciences (psych, soc, econ), business, criminal justice, nursing, and other fields that tend to be theoretical and quantitative.  

As you've probably already discovered, MC tests aren't easy.  Many contain tricky questions.  Some questions appear to have several possible answers--all listed as choices.  And the exams themselves can seem endless: fifty or more questions. 

But multiple choice tests aren't impossible.  True, you won't do well if you haven't reviewed your notes and kept up with assigned readings (no substitute for preparation).  And you definitely have to read test questions carefully, for some are subtle.  

But you can help yourself (and save time) on MC exams by practicing some simple strategies:

1.  Try to answer questions before reviewing the choices.  If you think you know the answer to a question, look for it.

2.  If you're not sure of an answer, eliminate choices that can't possibly be right.  Then try to see which one of the remaining answers is most likely correct.
3.  Be careful about answers containing the words "only," "always," or "never" or phrases such as "None of the Above."  These aren't always wrong, but they often are.

4.  If you see two or more answers that are clearly correct, look for "All of the Above"  as a choice.  There's a good chance that's the right answer.

5.  If a question asks you to find the answer that is "most correct," look for the best possible fit (keeping in mind that you may be choosing from several good answers).     

6.  Answer every question, even if in the end you have to guess.  P.S.  If you run out of time and have no choice but to guess, fill in the remaining blanks (hopefully not too many) with a single letter--B, for example.  It's a shot in the dark, but your random guesswork may net you a few right answers. 

These strategies won't make MC tests a snap (remember that you still have to keep on top of the material), but they will definitely help.  Next time you have a multiple choice exam, try them out. 

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Some Sobering Thoughts

Unless you have just parachuted to earth from another planet, you've probably heard plenty of lectures by now (from family members, teachers, counselors, coaches, and others) about the bad things that can result from drinking too much alcohol. 

Chances are you've also heard a lot about binge drinking: how if you're a guy who downs five or more drinks quickly--four or more if you're a woman--you're on the road to nowhere good.

You've probably also heard that heavy drinking increases your chances of having accidents, getting into fights, being sexually assaulted (or assaulting someone else), getting an STD, screwing up in school, having unhealthy children, damaging your own health, and even shortening your life.

But what you probably haven't heard that much about--or if you have, it hasn't really registered--is something more immediate: how people LOOK when they're wasted. 

Think about people you know who have partied too hard.   Even if they didn't do anything disastrous, (like falling down stairs or trying to drive), I'll bet they looked pretty awful, especially as the night went on.  Slurred speech, boozy breath, stained or torn clothes, that disoriented zombie look--could anything be more unattractive?

If you're wondering why I'm going on about this, look at the calendar.  It's April--Alcohol Awareness Month--a moment to ponder the power of alcohol to alter lives.  And with summer parties (where alcohol often flows freely) coming on, it's also a time for people to think before they drink.  

But if you're still skeptical about what too much beer or too many shots can do to a person, check out these short clips, which offer a different take on drinking.  You may never look at a beer the same way again. 


Thursday, April 18, 2013

Here's to Learning

Congratulations to all those NCC students who have received (or will receive) awards this spring: Who's Who, SUNY Chancellor's awards, scholarships, honors, prizes in tournaments and competitions, and so on.  Take a bow for having done such good work! 

Being able to recognize students' achievements has always been one of the best parts of being a college professor.  But it's especially satisying now, when higher ed is taking heat--in the media and elsewhere--for a host of alleged shortcomings (too expensive, too time-consuming, etc.) and when some critics are even questioning the overall value of college.  It would have been easy for you to have bought into this negative rhetoric and become indifferent or cynical.

But you didn't.  Instead, you took your education seriously and excelled.  And the fact that others have noticed--well, that only adds to the luster of your accomplishments. 

So pat yourself on the back for doing well . . . and for giving a thumbs up to the power and value of learning. 

Sunday, April 14, 2013

It's Summer!

Well, not quite yet--though we're definitely getting there (a huge relief after a long cold winter!). 

But while we won't be "officially" in summer for a few months, NCC is already gearing up for summer classes (   In fact, registration for summer sessions starts this week.

If you're just out of high school, you may associate summer classes with prison sentences of sorts-- courses that had to be repeated because of failing grades, bad attendance, and the rest of it. 

Not so in college. While some students do use the summer to re-take courses and improve their grades, most see summer study as a chance to tackle tough courses (best taken by themselves), lighten their course loads for the year ahead, and/or just get closer to graduation.  Taking a summer course isn't something to be ashamed of or feel sheepish about.  It's a smart move.

What's more, the summer schedule doesn't require you to be in class all summer long (unless you choose to).  Take a class in the first summer session and you finish by late June.  Take a course in Summer Session II and you have August free.  You can take classes in the morning, as early as 8 a.m., or if you have work or other things going on during the day, as late as 8:35 p.m.  There are also weekend and online classes.

But a word of caution: Summer classes move quickly and they cover the same amount of material  as during the regular semester.  Most summer classes meet four times a week for two hours a session.  Summer Sessions I and II are five weeks each.  Then there's Summer Session III, which is lightning fast--roughly 2 1/2 weeks, five days a week, three hours of classtime per day. 

So no matter what session(s) you opt for, you have to work hard and keep up.  There's no getting behind.

But remember the benefits: credits earned, prerequisites finished, a little lighter fall and spring schedule.

Go summer!  

Summer Session I: May 28-June 27
Summer Session II: July 1-August 1
Summer Session III: August 5-21
Summer Distance Ed (Online): May 28-August 1
Summer Weekend College: June 1-August 11

Monday, April 8, 2013

Finding Your "Dream" Job . . .

Whatever else you do this week, make sure you get to NCC's Job Fair on Thursday, April 11 (10:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m.) in the Phys Ed Complex.  Even if you've just started college and aren't looking for a full-time job right now, you'll still learn a lot from attending this important event.

For one thing, the Job Fair attracts a diverse group of employers.  Among the companies and organizations scheduled to be on campus this Thursday are Nine West, the Nassau County Police Department, the Garden City Hotel, Winthrop University Hospital, TD Bank, Catholic Charities, the Gap, Verizon Wireless, John Hancock, American Eagle, Cablevision, the U.S. Air Force, Victoria's Secret, Best Buy, U.S. Customs and Border Control, and the New York Sports Club.  Browsing the fair and chatting with company reps can give you an idea of the kinds of career opportunities available and the education and experience you'll need to be in the running.

At least some of the companies visiting campus this Thursday will probably be in the market for interns, for either the summer or next year.  An internship can be a great way to gain work experience and to "try out" a career (sometimes for college credit) while you're still in school.  Many successful people have gotten their start as interns, where they've made contacts that led to a job down the road.  If you find a company that interests you, ask about the possibility of interning there.  If internships aren't in the picture, find out about summer jobs or part-time positions.

But maybe the greatest benefit of attending the Job Fair is simply the opportunity to talk to people in professional settings.  Carrying on conversations--knowing how to present yourself and ask and answer questions, for example--isn't something that comes naturally to most people.  It takes practice.  Thursday's event can give you the chance to talk to people and to work on these skills in a low-pressure setting.  Think of it as a dress rehearsal for later on.

And speaking of dress: It would be smart to dress as if you're job hunting right now (even if that's not completely the case).   First impressions, whenever they're formed, are important.  You never know when you will find a company or organization that seems just right for you.  You'll want to be at your best when that happens.  Don't spoil the moment by looking sloppy.

So put the Job Fair on your "Must-Do" list this week.  And look sharp and bring a resume. You might find yourself a career--and a future employer--all in the same day.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Good Stuff Ahead

No more breaks, no more holidays, (hopefully) no more snow days--it's seven straight weeks of school from now until mid May.

But before you get in an end-of-the-semester funk, remember all the interesting things happening on campus throughout April.    

Like politics?  Come hear what George P. Bush (son of Jeb, nephew of W.) has to say about the future of the Republican Party (Wednesday, April 10, 2 p.m.--College Center Building (CCB for short), Rms. 252-253).  You can also get former Congressman Mickey Edwards's take on how to make Congress less ornery and more collegial (Monday, April 22, 12:30 p.m.--CCB, Rms. 252-253).

April also brings discussions of very serious issues, including ones that everyone should know about.  The Women's Resource Center's annual symposium on Wednesday, April 17 includes a film, "The Invisible War" (9:30 a.m., CCB, Multipurpose Room), on the subject of sexual assault in the military. Though not an easy film to watch, it's definitely an important one.

The next day, Thursday, April 18, New York State Assemblywoman Michele Schimel will address another serious issue--reducing gun violence (10 a.m., Tower, 11th floor).   Gun control, one of the most pressing issues of our time, will also be the focus of Congressman Patrick Kennedy's talk, "Mental Health Policy and the Gun Control Debate," on Monday, April 29 (11 a.m., CCB, Rms. 252-253).  Be a part of both discussions.

Looking for something lighter?  Check out the Caribbean Students Organization's "A Taste of the Caribbean" program on Thursday, April 11 (11:30 a.m.--CCB, Upper Atrium).   Or catch former "Harper's Bazaar" editor Kate Betts's talk (see below) on the global style appeal of Michelle Obama on Wednesday, April 24 (11 a.m., CCB, Rms. 252-253).

And don't forget about the Programming Board's annual Springfest celebration on Tuesday, April 30 (10 a.m.-2:30 p.m.) on the Quad (that large patch of grass in front of Nassau Hall).  There'll be free food, a band, games, prizes--a great way to close out April and welcome May.  

So yeah, there's lots of studying and hard work ahead.  But don't turn your back on campus life completely.  Otherwise you'll miss something educational or enlightening or inspiring. . . or just plain fun. 

                                            Interview with Kate Betts, author of Everyday Icon:
                                            Michelle Obama and the Power of Style.