Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Making Your Life Extraordinary

Chances are at least some people reading this have seen "Dead Poets' Society" somewhere along the way.  But since the film has been out more than twenty years (and since you probably watch a lot of movies), there's a good chance you've forgotten one of the DPS's best scenes. 

It takes place near the beginning of the film, where John Keating (Robin Williams), a new teacher at a buttoned-up prep school, gives his students a lesson they weren't expecting.  Here's the clip:

Funny, eh?  But also thoughtful.  For as Keating points out, life is fleeting.  Time passes.   Dreams  wither if not nurtured. 

What does Keating's meditation on life--his advice to his students to seize the day (Carpe Diem)--have to do with starting college?  


No matter where you are in life--just graduated from high school, recently out of the military, heading back to the classroom after years away--Nassau represents a new start.  That's a cliche, of course, but there's truth here too.  College represents a chance to begin again, to consider possibilities, to chase dreams, even to re-invent yourself.

But all of this will happen only if you recognize--and take seriously--the moment at hand. Your dreams will  materialize only if you actively pursue them, even if in doing so you take risks that might have once seemed out of the question.  

Translation: Try your very best to make your life extraordinary (however you define the word).  And don't be afraid to seize the day.

So listen up: no going through the motions in college!  You've an education to get and a life to live--no time to be anything less than enthusiastic about both. 

Monday, July 29, 2013

Good Sports

At Nassau, there's almost always somebody playing games. . . . .

Football, volleyball, men's and women's soccer, tennis, and cross country in the fall.  Wrestling, bowling, track, men's and women's basketball in the winter.  Baseball, softball, golf, tennis, track and field, and men's and women's lacrosse in the spring.

And you thought only four-year schools had big sports programs!

Not only does Nassau offer a full menu of intercollegiate sports, its teams routinely excel.  NCC's football team has had winning seasons, including several undefeated ones, going back more than two decades.  Men's lacrosse has won more than 20 national titles and is a regular in NJCAA title games.   The wrestling team has not only won NJCAA championships the past two years but produced a ton of All Americans in different weight classes.  

A sports fan's delight?  You bet.

But that's not all. 

For students into playing sports (as opposed to just watching), Nassau's intramurals program offers an array of athletic activities.  A typical semester features flag football, dodgeball, and three-on-three basketball, along with a host of co-ed team sports--volleyball, tennis, racquetball, soccer, and handball. There are also individual competitions, such as fast pitch, three point, and slam dunk contests, open to the entire student body.

Most intramural activities take place in the Phys Ed Complex during club hours  (11:30 a.m.-12:45 p.m.) on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  It doesn't cost anything to participate, and you don't have to be a super athlete--just someone interested in fun, fitness, and friendship.

You can find out more about both intercollegiate and intramural sports, including schedules and start times, on the NCC homepage ( under "Athletics" and "Intramural Sports." The action gets going early--first week of September in most cases--so don't miss out.  

Whether you're a diehard fan, a gym rat, or somebody who just likes to work up a sweat now and then, you'll find a home in NCC's Phys Ed Complex.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Making a Better World

"Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world."
                                                                                                                --Nelson Mandela

Mandela got it right:  More than anything, education IS indeed our most powerful tool for altering individual lives as well as the overall landscape of the planet.

Education brings dreams to life.  It allows us to imagine possibilities for ourselves and those around us  And it gives us the skills and resources and confidence to turn these what-ifs into concrete realities.

It was with these thoughts in mind that NCC's Office of Student Activities launched its "Making a Better World" essay competition several years ago.  The competition asks incoming Nassau students to reflect on how they would like to use their education at Nassau (and beyond) to make the world better. 

"Making a Better World" invites students to respond one of the following questions:

1.        Journalist Tom Brokaw once observed, “It’s easy to make a buck.  It’s a lot tougher to make a difference.”  In 300-700 words, tell us how you would like to make a difference.  How would you like to change the world, society, or even individual lives for the better?  What role will your college education play in your desire to make a positive impact?  


2.        Most of us know at least one person—a family member, a neighbor, a teacher, a coach, a friend, or someone else—who has made a difference in the lives of others.  In 300-700 words, tell us about this person’s contribution.  Explain what he or she has done to make a positive impact on your life, on the lives of people around you, or on your school, community, and/or the world at large. 
Most competitions award prizes to winning entries, and "Making a Better World" is no exception.  Students whose writings stand out will receive a range of prizes--bookstore gift cards ($$ for texts!), Nassau T-shirts and sweatshirts (fun stuff to have), and other NCC items. 

But more than that: Participation is a good way to put your smarts to work, to make your voice heard on campus--and to think seriously about some big questions: How do you want to change the fabric of the world?  How can your education help you make a difference?  Who in your world has already made a difference and what did that person do to make life better?  

You can submit your writing either online, as a word attachment to (subject line: Making a Better World), or through snail mail: Richard Conway, Nassau Community College, One Education Drive, College Center, Rm. 150 Garden City, N.Y. 11530.  Either way, make sure you include your name, address, and phone number. 

And make sure we hear from you by the deadline: Monday, August 26!

Talk to us!  Tell us your dreams, plans, and goals--and NCC's role in realizing them.

P.S. For more details about "Making a Better World," visit NCC's New Student Orientation page: and click Essay Contest.

Friday, July 19, 2013

The Inside Track

Success in college isn't a matter of luck.  It's not a game of chance whose outcome depends upon being dealt the right cards or having the right combination of numbers come up or being in the right place at the right time. 

Nor is it a matter of simply showing up to class and hoping for the best.  Though good attendance always helps, just being in a classroom isn't enough to ensure that you'll do well in your classes and that college will be everything you want it to be. 

So what's the "formula" for having a successful college experience?

Not an easy question to answer in a few words--but taking NCC 101: The College Experience is definitely a good place to begin.

NCC 101 is Nassau's college success course.  Its basic goal is to help you get off to a good start in college, succeed in your classes, and make the most of your time at Nassau. 

The course provides lots of useful information about NCC, teaches practical skills (like how to manage your time, take good class notes, and prepare for tests), and offers thoughtful advice on navigating college--everything from strategies for getting along with your professors and tips on using campus services to the ins and outs of clubs and campus life.  

All this in a one-credit course. 

One of the best things about NCC 101 is its faculty. The course is taught by professors who know how college works and who are committed to helping you get settled in school.   They're people you can call on no matter what your concern--managing your time, finding a major or career, getting a handle on academics, meeting people on campus, whatever.  Taking NCC 101 is a little like having a friend at Nassau, somebody whose door you can knock on if you have questions, need advice, or even find yourself in a jam.

It's a cool way--and a smart way--to start your college career.

You can find out more info about NCC 101 by calling 516.572.8030.  Don't worry If you've have already registered for your other classes for the fall semester.  Someone will answer your questions and help you add the course.

NCC 101 isn't the only way to get started at Nassau, but if you're looking for straight talk about college success, you can't go wrong by making it part of your fall schedule.  It's the ultimate inside track.

And at a big college like Nassau, the inside track can help you start and finish strong.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

"Major" Dilemmas

Want to be wowed?  Take a look at the almost endless list of degree options at NCC.

Liberal Arts, Business, Nursing, Criminal Justice, Marketing, Hospitality, Engineering, Digital Art, Communications, Accounting, Computer Science, Paralegal Studies, Allied Health Sciences, Human Services, Music, Fashion Buying, Speech Pathology, Interior Design, etc. etc.--something for practically every taste and interest!

Cool, huh?  But maybe also a little confusing and overwhelming, especially if you're among the thousands of new college students still figuring out their interests and career paths. 

Before you stress too much about your area of study (a.k.a. your major), keep in mind the following:

1.  While your area of study/major is important, it's hardly a life or death matter.  College majors aren't prison sentences.  If a major isn't for you, you can always pursue something else.   What's more, plenty of successful people have done well in careers unrelated to their college major.

2.  Your skills and overall knowledge--not your area of study--will influence your career prospectsIn recent stories in the Wall Street Journal and New York Times, employers reported that they valued people who, regardless of major, could read, write, and speak well, think clearly and critically, find creative solutions to problems, and work well with others.  Skills and smarts count. and

3.  A great way to prepare for a career (and the rest of your life) is to take courses that will improve your overall literacy skills--reading, writing, speaking, and thinkingClasses in composition, reading, public speaking, library skills, and critical thinking will all help. So will courses in ethics and problem solving (the stuff of math and business courses).  And outside the classroom, don't overlook the value of clubs and campus and community service projects; participation will boost your interpersonal skills.

4.  The key to discovering the "right" area of study is finding something that really interests you--and throwing yourself into it.  You'll get far more out of college (and be better prepared for any career) if you study something you're passionate about.  It doesn't matter what you concentrate on, says Richard Arum, a professor at New York University, so long as you "focus on it in a rigorous way."

So how do you find your passion?  

Though there's no magic formula, you can improve your chances by being open to almost everything Nassau has to offer.  Search the catalog for interesting courses.  Go to campus lectures on topics you're curious about.  Attend career workshops, especially those aimed at helping you match your interests to majors.  And, of course, pay attention in all of your classes: you never know when something you're studying will energize you.

And along the way, work on becoming the most educated person possible. There can be no more useful--or rewarding--area of study.