Thursday, November 28, 2013

So it's Thanksgiving . . .

. . . and a lot of people in America have done some serious eating.  If you're among them, great.  You can't beat full bellies: the world would be better off if everyone had one.

But not everybody does, which is something that should concern all of us--and not just today. Millions of people, worldwide, routinely struggle to feed themselves and their families.  This includes Americans, as many as 1 in 6 by some estimates.  

Many of the hungry in America are children; others are middle-aged; many are elderly.  Some live in cities, some in suburbs, some in rural out-of-the-way places.  Though their situations and circumstances vary, all share a common plight. 

Hunger is a complex issue, one not easily understood or solved.  But while individuals may not be able to remedy the economics, psychology, and (yes) politics of poverty, they can respond to the needs of those for whom decent food is a luxury.

In your travels around campus lately, you've probably seen signs about food drives and fundraisers for the hungry in our midst.  The drives are sponsored by campus groups, including the Newman Club, the Student Organization of Latinos, and the Programming Board. Donations will go to local food banks and homeless shelters, which--sadly--are doing more "business" these days than they'd like to. 

These groups need your help.

You may think that a single donation--a can of food, for instance--won't make a dent in the world's hunger problem.  But such gestures count far more than you realize. They will most definitely make somebody's life better, even if for only a short while.  And they'll also be a statement, on your part, of our responsibility to each other.  We are all in this life together, something worth remembering on this Thanksgiving Day.

Friday, November 22, 2013

November 22, 1963: A Look Back

Most remember tears--theirs and others'.

One person recalls her teachers crying, upon hearing the news, in the hallway of her elementary school.   

Another remembers his mother--"a diehard liberal Democrat"--weeping in the family's living room.

A third remembers breaking into tears herself when "Walter Cronkite removed his glasses and solemnly said that the President had died."

The poignant recollections of these and other members of the campus community are part of an NCC Library exhibit, "November 22, 1963: A Look Back," marking the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

The exhibit features photos, newspapers, books, and most moving of all, an array of memories, each unique, yet all connected to the tragic events of a half century ago.  

One faculty member recalls being escorted by her elementary school teacher from school to a nearby church, where she and her classmates prayed for the President's recovery.  Another remembers "being called [by teachers] to meditation and prayer."  A third notes the irony of talking with a co-worker, just before learning of the assassination, about what nice weather the President had gotten for his trip to Dallas.

Others recall specific sights and sounds of the day: a group of people kneeling in impromptu prayer on a New York street corner, a collective gasp among those gathered around a dormitory television, a usually gruff shop teacher talking softly to eighth grade boys about the destructivenes of hate, a television newsman weeping on the air.

Still others reflect on the painful days that followed--the procession through the Capitol, the shooting of Lee Harvey Oswald, a young son's salute, the funeral, the loss of a President so young ("he had a wife and young children"), the sense of grief and futility.  One writes of trying to understand the meaning of the riderless horse, the eternal flame, a grief-stricken family walking instead of riding in a  limousine.   What did all of these things mean? 

For many, memories of the confusion and chaos of November 22 loom large.

"All I kept thinking was, 'Will anything ever be the same?'" one faculty member writes. 

"It was unfathomable to a young child," recalls another, "how anyone would want to kill the President, especially one who was loved and admired by so many people."

For some, the political and personal meanings of the Kennedy assassination would become truly clear afterward.

"It was the end of Camelot, the beginning of the real world, and the start of our generation's struggle to regain hope," one faculty member recalls.

"I lived it," another person writes. "November 22, 1963 was my first day IN history."   

And one remembers an especially emotional moment a year later, at the 1964 Democratic National Convention, when Jacqueline Kennedy was introduced: "People stood on chairs with tears streaming down their faces.  Hard to describe the sound they made, but I wouldn't call it cheering."

Even if you're not old enough to remember November 22, 1963, go see this exhibit anyway. You'll learn about  an important time in our history, and you'll experience the moment through the words of those who were there--and who remember.     

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

A Speech for the Ages

It was short, just under three hundred words, and it was delivered in just two minutes by a President who was not even the occasion's featured speaker.  Yet for all its brevity, President Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, delivered 150 years ago today at the dedication of Soldiers' National Cemetery in Gettysburg, proved to be a speech for the ages.  

Noting the anniversary of the Gettysburg Address might seem a bit out of place in a blog devoted to the here and now of college success.  But the (amateur) historian in me thinks that part of becoming an educated person is connecting to moments that define our country, culture, and humanity. Lincoln's address, which paid homage to the thousands of Americans who had fought and died that July in Gettysburg, is one such link to our collective past.  So it seems right to note both the address (below) and its anniversary:

"Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

"Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure.  We are met on a great battle-field of that war.  We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who gave their lives that this nation might live.  It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

"But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate--we can not consecrate--we can not hallow--this ground.  The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract.  The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here.  It is for us, the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced.  It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us--that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion--that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain--that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom--and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."
                                                                                                                             -November 19, 1863 

Friday, November 15, 2013

Got a Registration Game Plan?

Registration already?

Yup.  Those signs you've been seeing around campus about spring registration are for real. Registration has begun.  Time to sit down with your advisor and talk about next semester.

But first, develop a registration game plan for yourself.  Think about

--what courses you want to take next semester;
--how many classes you should take;
--when you want to come to school;
--what professors you would like to study with.

All are important.

If you're not sure what to take this spring, find your curriculum in NCC's online catalog. You can access the catalog from the homepage--  (see "College Catalog") --and you can find your specific curriculum by clicking the "Programs of Study" link.  It's all there; you just have to look.

As for the number of courses/credits you should take, ask yourself how busy (with jobs, family stuff, etc.) you expect to be next semester.  Be honest.  Can you handle a full-time program? If so, should you take four courses? Five? More?

What's the best time of day to take classes? Do you like getting up early?  Are you at your best in the morning? Or are you not really "on" until the sun is halfway across the sky?  P.S. No matter what time you're starting school, a) avoid scheduling too many classes back to back (a formula for being mentally MIA by your last class) and b) remember your commute, especially if you're starting early and have a long trip from home.  You may not want to be on the road or at a bus stop at 6:30 a.m. in January.  

Should professors figure into your registration decisions?  Absolutely. A professor can make the difference between a great classroom experience and a so-so one.  Ask friends and classmates for recommendations.  Find out about teaching styles, workload (papers, exams, etc.), grading policies, and whatever else is important.  But above all, look for profs with good reps. 

Lots of important decisions here, some easier than others (and some you may want to make after talking with your advisor).  But think about these questions now--no time like the  present.  And be sure to register early!  If you hibernate until January, you may not like the choices you have at that point. 

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

It's Winterim Time

Short on credits this semester?   

Got a requirement you want to complete?   

Want to make up that course you had to drop?

Think Winterim.  

For those who don't know, the Winterim is NCC's "mini" semester--a roughly three-week session between the end of the fall semester and the start of the spring.  It's a chance to complete a course and get one step closer to graduation.

Winterim classes are intense.  They start right after Christmas (December 26) and run through January 15.  Most meet three hours a day (or evening) Monday through Friday, with breaks only for New Year's Eve and New Year's Day.  Because classes move at a fast pace, you DEFINITELY have to keep up.  But since that's the only course you're taking (NCC will let you do only one) during that time, it's not impossible.  

Is the Winterim for you?  It depends.  Some students like the month off between the fall and spring semesters.  Some don't like the pressure of coming to class for three hours a day, five days a week, with assigned readings, papers, projects, and exams happening almost nonstop.  Some people work extra hours during this time, which makes squeezing in a course pretty tough, maybe impossible. 

But if you're eager to earn credits--and have the time (and energy) to give to school in late December/early January--the Winterim can be a good option.  You can choose courses from more than twenty departments, including English, Psychology, History, Business, Health, Phys Ed, Music, Physical Sciences, Sociology, Criminal Justice, Marketing, and Math (see the full schedule on Banner under "Winterim 2014").  You can fulfill a requirement, pick up an elective, even complete a prereq for a future course.  

Taking a class that's over and done in three weeks will probably require some changes in your schedule, but the trade-off could be worth it.  Having three additional credits under your belt means that somewhere along the way--next semester or next summer--life will be easier. 

Registration for Winterim classes starts on November 14.  Even if you can't register for the spring semester until a week or two later, you can get into a Winterim class right away--no waiting.  Nor should you wait: Winterim courses fill fast.  Seems like lots of students are eager to put their January to good use.