Monday, September 30, 2013

Getting All Emotional

You've just gotten your English essay back and--boy--are you mad!  Not only did your professor not like your writing very much, he seems (in your opinion) to have completely missed the point of your paper. 

One part of you says you should march right up after class and demand to know how he could have given such a crummy grade to such an awesome piece of writing.  But another part says maybe it's best not to bring this up while you're so angry and to wait until you've calmed down before talking to him about your grade.

Which voice will you listen to?

Depends on how emotionally intelligent you are.

Though definitions vary, emotional intelligence (EI for short) refers to the ability to control and manage feelings at critical moments.  Emotionally smart people, researchers say, are able to handle a range of important human tasks--calming themselves down, controlling their impulses, managing their anger, and sensing others' feelings.  They're also able to be at ease socially, a skill that serves them well in school and elsewhere.

People who aren't so emotionally intelligent often let their feelings get the better of them.  They botch friendships, antagonize professors and bosses, and blunder badly in social situations.  They often have a tough time managing anger and impulses--like the desire to quarrel publicly with their English professor about a grade--and are forever (or so it seems) digging themselves out of awkward situations.  
For those who'd like to handle things better, the good news is that emotional intelligence skills can be learned and improved, even while students are in college.  Just as people can learn to be better readers of textbooks, for example, they can also become better readers of themselves and those around them. 

Which brings us to this Wednesday's workshop, "The S Factor: Social and Emotional IQ and Your College Success" (Oct. 2, 9:30 a.m., Cluster F, Rm. 237).  It will offer a thoughtful look at Emotional IQ and suggest ways that students can strengthen their EI skills.  

When we talk about intelligence, we often think of it in traditional ways--as reading, problem solving, and so on.  These are obviously critical skills, but no more so than the ability to be emotionally smart. If you think you could use some practice in this department, find a seat at Wednesday's workshop and see what emotional intelligence is all about.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

$cholarship Season

Unless you're as rich as Trump, Gates, and Zuckerberg, you'll want to read this.

Each fall and spring NCC gives out a ton of scholarships, everything from awards of several hundred dollars to some carrying several thousand.  Some scholarships are earmarked for students who are about to graduate from NCC; others are awarded to people who have earned some credits but who still have a semester or two to go before graduation. 

Do you have to be a super student to qualify for a scholarship?  Not really.  Each scholarship has its own criteria, academic and other.  While having a good grade-point average never hurts, you don't need straight A's to be in the running for most awards. 

What you do need, however, is a willingness to look over the field of scholarships, identify some possibilities, and fill out the applications.  This takes time, but it isn't as complicated as it sounds.  In fact, completing most scholarship applications is pretty simple and straightforward. 

A good place to start is with NCC's Scholarships page, which can be found at  There's a link on that page that will take you to the actual list of awards, including descriptions, amounts, and application details.  The deadline for applying is October 16, so if you see something that looks promising, get working--no time to delay.

And by the way, if you don't see anything for now, remember that NCC will offer more scholarships--a larger number in fact--in spring 2014.  The application deadline for those awards will be sometime in February, so keep checking the Scholarships page.

Winning a scholarship or two (that's right--you can win more than one) won't make you set for life, but it will ease next year's tuition bill a bit.  It will also remind you that college, along with the rest of the world out there, recognizes achievements and accomplishments.  Dollars aren't the only reward for doing well in school, of course, but they're an immediate reminder that putting time and effort into your education pays off.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The Freedom to Read . . .

Imagine an America without the freedom to read.

Imagine an America where "dangerous" books are banned from libraries and classrooms, newspapers with "controversial" ideas are shut down, and certain words and thoughts are considered too "hot" to be read or voiced--by anyone, anywhere.

Impossible?  Unconstitutional?  Un-American? 

Don't be so sure.

In communities across the U.S., including some in our own backyards, censorship is alive and thriving. Books considered inappropriate for high school students are removed from curriculums and libraries, often at the direction of school boards and community groups.  In high schools and colleges, student newspaper editors are told they cannot print stories that will embarrass their school or express opinions likely to offend readers.  Those who resist often find themselves admonished, demoted, transferred, or even fired.

If the right to read what you choose strikes you as important--and clearly it should--you'll want to get to the NCC Library next week and take part in the Library's "Stand with the Banned: Celebrating the Freedom to Read!" program.  There'll be a host of great events, all aimed at examining this complex but critical issue.

On Tuesday, Sept. 24, you can stop by the Library and read a few lines aloud from your favorite banned book (no bleeped out words here).  For the selfie-lovers in the crowd (and we know you're out there), you can also take your picture at the "Stand with the Banned" photo booth. 

On Wednesday, Sept. 25, you can hear (at 11 a.m.) a panel of NCC faculty share their takes on campus speech (a hot topic at many schools, including NCC) and listen (at 12:30 p.m.) to a talk on censorship and First Amendment rights and a debate on book bans.

That's not all.  Throughout the day on Thursday, Sept. 26, the Library will be showing the film "Hunger Games," based on the novel (a banned book as well!) of the same title. 

"Stand with the Banned" is a celebration of Democracy at its best: a chance to discuss, debate, and air out views on the right to read and think--an issue vital to all of us.  No matter where you stand on such topics as campus speech, censorship, national security, the First Amendment, and freedom of expression, it's important that your voice be heard.   

So come be a part of the campus discussion next week!  You may not like or agree with everything you'll hear, but then again, that's sort of the point.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Getting Out of Your Zone

Ready to take some risks?

Ready to stand up in class and voice your opinions, strike up a conversation with a guy or girl you've just met, or walk into a club meeting and announce to the strangers in your midst that you want to join their group?

Hey--this is college, where if you really want to squeeze the most out of your education, you'll need to get out of your comfort zone. . . . . 

                                            *                        *                        *

Don't get me wrong: Comfort isn't necessarily a bad thing.  In fact, when you're trying to get used to new situations (like college), being comfortable is often important.  At first, you may be more at ease listening quietly in class than speaking up and feeling like the center of attention.  And when you're trying to get a handle on your first semester's classes, you may prefer to spend club hours reviewing your notes instead of heading for that campus party or Student Government meeting. 

But over the long haul, it's in your interest to make your presence felt at NCC.  Constantly sitting on the "sidelines"--be it in the classroom or on campus--can shortchange your education big time.  It can rob you of some valuable learning experiences, the kind that result from interacting with professors and students, from sharing your views with others (and hearing others' opinions as well), from taking courses that offer a different perspective on life, from tackling unique tasks (like producing a student newspaper, organizing a campus fundraiser, or learning the art of debate), or from just being spontaneous.

Do all of these activities involve a bit of risk?  Yeah.  Can you tell for sure where all will lead?  No.  But chances are almost all will be an essential part of your college experience.

So get yourself out of your comfort zone this semester and see what happens.  Speak up in class.  Talk to people.  Take part in campus life at NCC.  Don't be afraid to make mistakes.  You may hit some sour notes from time to time, but you'll also have some terrific moments, ones you'll remember long after your time at Nassau has passed.