Thursday, December 18, 2014

Got Grades? Got Questions? Get Answers . . .

So if you're new to Nassau--completing your first semester--you're on the verge of getting your first set of final grades.  Excited to see how you did?  You can find out over the next few days by logging on to the MyNCC portal.  Chances are your grades won't all appear at the same time, but over the course of a week or so they should all be there.

Since your college grades will follow you for life, it's important you know how the grading "system" at NCC works.

By far the most complete discussion of grades and grading policies can be found in the "Policies and Procedures" section of the NCC catalog, which you can access online through the College's homepage (  Look under "Grading System" in that section and you'll find pretty much everything you need to know.

But if you don't have time to review that entire section just now, here's a quick list of some grade "facts" worth filing away:

Grades (Credit and Noncredit Courses)
  • NCC's grading system is similar to that of many other colleges.  For credit courses: A = Excellent; B =Very Good; C = Satisfactory; D = Minimum Passing; F = Failure.  For noncredit courses: S = Satisfactory; U = Unsatisfactory.  
  • You can earn a final grade of A in a credit course at NCC, but you can't get an A+ (no such grade).  You can, however, get a B+, a C+ or a D+. 
  • You can get a minus grade (A-, B-, etc.) on a test, paper, or project, but not as a final grade. 
Withdrawals, Incompletes, Never Attended, and Repeated Courses
  • A W grade appears on your transcript (your official academic record--a list of the courses you've taken and the grades you've received in them) if you have officially withdrawn from a credit course.  To officially withdraw, you need to file a "Drop" form with the registrar's office.  Depending upon when you start the withdrawal process, you may need your professor's signature. 
  • A UW grade appears on your transcript if you stop attending a credit course but never officially withdraw.  A UW counts in your grade-point average (your academic average) as an F.
  • If you register for a course but never attend, you'll receive a grade of NA ("Never Attended") on your transcript.
  • If you repeat a course that you have already taken, the second grade replaces the first in your grade-point average.  But both grades stay on your transcript.
  • If you request and receive an Incomplete (INC) (a temporary grade granting you an extension to finish work in a credit course), you have until the end of the following semester to complete the missing work.  If the incomplete isn't made up by that date, it changes to an F,
  • If you stop attending a noncredit course, you'll receive a grade of UU.  
Transcripts and Grade-Point Averages
  • All of the courses you've taken at NCC, along with the grades you've received in them, are listed on your NCC transcript--your official academic record. 
  • Credits you have transferred from other colleges are also listed on your transcript.
  • Besides courses and grades, your transcript contains your grade-point average (aka GPA), the numerical average of the grades you have received at Nassau. 
  • The grade-point average is cumulative, which means that it reflects changes each time you earn new grades during a semester--or whenever else (summer or winterim) you enroll in courses.
You can find more details about grades in the catalog as well as in the daily planner, which also illustrates how a grade-point average is calculated.  But no matter where you get your information, it's important that you know what's what in the grade department.  This is, after all, your transcript--and your future! 

Friday, November 28, 2014

Hunger Pains, Even on Thanksgiving

Not everybody on Long Island ate like kings and queens yesterday.

In fact, for thousands of Long Islanders, including kids and senior citizens, Thanksgiving was just another day of uncertainty in the food department.

Surprised by this?  If so, you're not alone.

In an affluent place like Long Island, it's easy to forget that many of our neighbors rely on local pantries, kitchens, churches, and shelters for emergency food supplies each week.  Many of these organizations themselves depend upon food banks, such as Long Island Cares and Island Harvest, as their primary source of food.  And many food banks, in turn, depend upon individuals--people like us--to keep their shelves stocked.

If you're a data guy, here are some numbers about hunger (from Long Island Cares) worth pondering:
  • Almost 65,000 Long Islanders take advantage of emergency food services each week. 
  • Children under 18, people with almost no control over their lives or futures, make up the largest single population of Long Island's hungry (39%).  
  • Roughly half (48%) of those receiving regular food assistance on L.I. are employed, with 63% having incomes falling below the federal poverty level.  
But hunger is not just about numbers.  Hunger has human consequences.  Hungry kids are more likely to struggle in school than kids who are well fed.  Hungry adults are more susceptible to illness, which translates into increased absenteeism if they're employed, which makes escaping poverty that much more difficult.  Hungry seniors (no shortage of them either) face increased incidences of depression, anxiety, malnutrition, and disease, including some that are life-threatening.

Combating hunger--and poverty in general--is indeed a tough task, one that involves coming to grips with a host of economic, political, social, and human factors.  But the complexity of the problem doesn't mean we should turn a blind eye to those for whom the most basic of human needs--eating--is a daily question mark. 

What can you do?

Taking part in one of NCC's many campus food drives, launching a hunger awareness project on campus or in your community, volunteering at a local food bank, or lobbying for legislation that affords people the diet and dignity they deserve--all are important. They won't solve our (yes, OUR) hunger problem overnight, but they'll help. They'll certainly beat hand-wringing or--worse--pretending the problem is somebody else's.

Because it's not. 

If you enjoyed your Thanksgiving dinner yesterday (as I did), great.  If you went to bed last night with a full belly, even better.  But until everyone in our midst can make the same claim, not only on Thanksgiving but every other day, we've all got serious work to do.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

A Family Affair

In the food court yesterday I overheard a student complaining about her class having to go a campus talk on domestic violence.

"Why do I have to listen to this?" she asked a friend.  "I know it's a problem, but it's depressing."

She's right, of course.  Relationship violence isn't a cheerful subject.  Nor is sex trafficking, genocide, racism, bullying, or anything else involving the exploitation (or worse) of human beings, either individually or collectively.

But because these actions are so terrible--and because they happen so often--we have an obligation to pay attention to them.  For they involve members of the human family, which we're all a part of.

Don't mean to sound sappy or sentimenal here, but in fact, we are all connected.  And we're also responsible for each other, more than we might want to admit.  I'm hardly the first (and hopefully not the last) to think this, but in a world that sometimes seems to be "majoring" in self-absorption, it's important to be reminded that others in our midst matter.

This isn't necessarily a call to action but rather to awareness: of human rights violations, whatever form they take, wherever they occur. There's no shortage of them on this planet in 2014, some taking place on the other side of the world, others on the other side of town.  We may not be able to solve all of these problems overnight, but knowledge is a good first step.

Which is why all of us (including the complaining student in the food court) need to take ourselves to programs that raise awareness.

Like tomorrow's Women's Resource Center symposium on sex trafficking (Nov. 19, 9:30 a.m.-3:15 p.m., College Center). 

Or next Monday's program on the medical atrocities of the Holocaust (Nov. 24, 10 am, College Center).

Or the talk on American sports culture and domestic violence (Dec. 3, 12:30 p.m., College Center).

Or next spring's workshops on bullying and sexual harassment (check back for the time and place). 

These aren't exactly happy subjects, but they're important for all of us to know about and understand.  For whether we realize it or not, they touch members of the human family--people just like us.   

Friday, November 14, 2014

Think Winterim at NCC!

No, that's not a typo in the title: There really is a WinterIM here at NCC.  And if you're eager to make every minute count at Nassau, it's something you definitely need to know about.

The Winterim is a three-week session scheduled between the end of the fall semester in December and the start of the spring term in January.  It gives you a chance to earn credits that will count toward your Nassau degree and move you one step closer to graduation.

Winterim classes are short.  They're also intense.  They meet Monday to Friday during this three-week session for (on the average) three hours a day.  They cover the same curriculum in three weeks as in a regular semester, but at a much faster pace.  For this reason, Nassau limits you to one course during the Winterim, which, trust me, will keep you pretty busy.

Winterim classes aren't for everybody.  If you want to relax a lot between the fall and spring semesters, if you're planning to work extra hours during these weeks, or if you expect to be away in January, think twice before registering for this session.  Winterim classes aren't impossible, but they do require you to get to class every day and keep up.  In a short session, you can't afford to fall behind.

But Winterim classes are also great opportunities to pick up the pace of your studies, complete a prerequisite, get a requirement out of the way, or even retake a course that didn't go so well the first time around.  A Winterim class also gives you something to do in early January, which--let's face it--isn't the liveliest and most festive time of the year.

This year's Winterim session starts on Monday, Dec. 29 and runs through Friday, January 16.  There are no classes on New Year's Eve or New Year's Day (so you can celebrate the arrival of 2015!), but they meet the rest of the time.  You can take classes during the day or evening (your choice); both sessions involve the same amount of class time. And there are more than 40 different classes to choose from--lots of possibilities.

Winterim classes fill up fast, so if you think a Winterim class is for you, check out the schedule, see what's available, and go chat with an advisor.  Even if you're not scheduled to register for the spring semester until later this month, you can sign up for a Winterim class right now. 

Think Winterim.  Think credits.  Think graduation.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Didn't vote? For shame

So how many of you actually voted on Election Day?

Hard to know for sure, but if my conversations around campus this week were any indication, not many, I'd say.  Regrettably, most of you apparently decided to sit this election out.

Your reasons?

"Too busy."

"Didn't know anything about who was running."

"One vote doesn't really count."  

"Doesn't matter who's elected--they're all the same."

I guess when you feel powerless, it's easy to convince yourself that your voice and your vote aren't important because no one's really listening to you anyway.  And I suppose when you're pretty clueless about what's happening in the country, you can say--and genuinely believe--that it doesn't matter who's in charge.

But let me tell you otherwise.  

Make no mistake: the people who get elected to office--be it in Washington, Albany, New York City or Mineola--have a big say in your life.  They arrive with views and values that often translate into laws and policies that can impact your education, your finances, your health, your freedom, and your future.

Let me also point out--in case you haven't noticed--that there are some people holding office in this country who don't exactly have your best interests in mind.  I'm not naming names here (that's for you to figure out), but let's just say that not everybody in government sees students--or young people in general--as deserving of the same rights, privileges, and benefits as others.  In fact, some see nothing wrong with shortchanging your generation, especially if they think you're not going to notice or speak up about it. 

Distressing? Yeah.  Hopeless? Hardly.

For you still have the right to vote, a privilege some people on this planet would die for.  And contrary to what the cynics in the crowd might say, your vote does count--even more so if enough of you get yourselves to the polls. 

Before the next election rolls around, start paying more attention to the world beyond your Facebook page and learn who's on your side and who isn't (trust me, there are some in each category). I guarantee you'll be astonished by what you discover.  

And come next Election Day, vote as if your future depends upon it.

Because it does--now maybe more than ever. 

Here's to Democracy . . . 

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Get Ready for Ernest!

"I have never liked reading in my life.  I would read books [in school] because I had to, but never just to enjoy reading.  The other day in class my teacher started to talk about a book named "Ready Player One" by Ernest Cline.  That was the only book I read in my entire life that I loved from cover to cover.  I'd read the book about a year ago by myself.  I was bored and I decided to read it.  When I read the book it didn't hit me like it was college material.  I thought it was a kid's book, until my teacher told me that it was the common text for first years.  That opened my eyes and made me think that if that was the book I loved reading, what other literature is out there that will excite me like this one did?"
                                                                                                                     Dennis, NCC student

Talk about a book having an impact!  Ernest Cline's "Ready Player One," NCC's common text for 2014-2015, touches something in people--even those who don't consider themselves big readers. 

Maybe it's the book's futuristic setting (the novel takes place in 2044), quirky characters, great pop cultural references (cool read if you love the 80s), or portrait of a virtual utopia that offers adventure and relief from the dreary reality of planet Earth. 

Maybe it's the main character's quest to solve the puzzles hidden within the OASIS or his duels with corporate villains who have no qualms about stepping on people to get their way (sound familiar?).

Maybe it's the novel's conclusion (won't spoil it by giving too much away), which in its own way winds up pretty life-afffirming, something good books often try to be.

Whatever its individual appeal, "Ready Player One" speaks to a range of readers, including some for whom reading is not on their Top Ten List of Fun Activities.  Even if you're not big into reading, pick this book up anyway.  Maybe, like Dennis, you'll be inspired to read more.

And this Wednesday, November 5,  stop by the College Center's Multipurpose Room, where Ernest Cline, the author, will be talking about his book and the cyberworld that has become so much a part of ours.  He'll speak three times--9:30 a.m., 11 a.m., and 2 p.m. in the Multipurpose Room of the College Center.  He'll also be on hand to sign books, chat with students, pose for some selfies, and talk your ear off about the 80s.

Come on over to the CCB this Wednesday and hear all about "Ready Player One"--directly from the man who imagined it all and who has given us a novel for our time.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Bauman and Berger: Inspiration for All

What could 27-year-old Jeff Bauman and 87-year-old Stephen Berger possibly have in common?

Different generations, different backgrounds, different lives--the two seem worlds apart.

But if you take yourself to the College Center to hear Bauman's talk on Monday, Nov. 3 (11 a.m.) and Berger's talk on Wednesday, Nov. 12 (2 p.m.), you'll discover why they're alike--and why their stories, while harrowing, are also inspirational.

Despite their outward differences, both men share a unique experience: they have looked into the face of evil and refused to be intimidated and defeated.

Jeff Bauman was an ordinary 27-year old who'd shown up to watch the Boston Marathon in April 2013.  As he stood near the finish line, cheering on his girlfriend, two terrorist bombs exploded, killing several spectators and seriously wounding many others.  Bauman was among those injured, losing both his legs, his life changed forever.

But despite the severity of his injury, he was able to share a description of one of the bombers--information that proved critical in authorities' efforts to track down those responsible. And after undergoing several operations, he has become an inspiration to thousands, the author of a book ("Stronger") about his experiences and a voice for the spirit of determination and for a positive approach to life.

Stephen Berger was 16 years old when he was deported by the Nazis from his native Hungary to a forced labor camp in Vienna. Until the end of World War II, he lived from day to day, witnessing atrocities, brutality, starvation, and death.  He himself had several close calls, escaping death sometimes merely by chance or the intervention of another.

Though more than twenty members of Berger's family perished in the Holocaust, Berger refused to remain a victim.  Immediately following the war, he helped survivors relocate. And for more than half a century, he's spoken to people of all ages, including students, about not only the evil of the Holocaust but the importance of remembering the lessons of the past.

"I worry a lot," he told a group of high school students last year, "because the Holocaust isn't unique in human history and genocides are happening today while we speak."

In troubled times, we often need people to inspire us, to reassure us, to teach us about courage, and to encourage us to be guided by our better angels.  Bauman and Berger do all of these things. Though their experiences are different, separated by time and place and circumstance, they remind us that there are still good people in the world and that we are all in this life together.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Sorting Things Out

So it's late October and you're still trying to sort all of this college stuff out.  You like Nassau okay and you're happy for the most part with your classes and professors, but you have lots of questions: about your major, your career, your identity, your life--serious business all around.  In the short term, you know that registration is coming up in November but you really don't know what to take. You feel it would be good if you could talk to someone about school (and maybe a few other things going on), but you don't know where to go or whom to see or even how to start.  It's all pretty confusing . . . .

Any of this sound familiar?  It should.  LOTS of students feel this way midway through their first semester, give or take a few weeks.  The newness of college has worn off, work is piling up, pressures of all kinds are mounting, and school and life sometimes seem like that pathless wood in Robert Frost's "Birches" (good poem if you haven't read it).

Moments like this are made for a network.  I'm not talking about computers or television here, but instead about people--a network of professors, advisors, counselors, tutors, and others on campus whom you can call upon for help, information, ideas, or even just a sympathetic ear. 

Nassau has plenty of people who care about students and who are willing to listen and talk.  Chances are you already know some: that professor who seems friendly and approachable; the academic advisor who helped you pick fall classes and who told you to come back if you had questions; the faculty member or dean who spoke to your group at orientation (and who may have even given out a business card); your NCC 101 instructor, always a helpful resource--and somebody you see every week.

But you have to get over your awkwardness and take that first step.  For some people, knocking on somebody's door or scheduling an appointment is a challenge.  If you didn't talk much to teachers and counselors in high school, you may feel weird doing so now.  Part of you may also think that you're wasting people's time with your questions or concerns and that you should figure out all of this school and life stuff on your own. 

Problem is, the "I'll-go-it-alone" approach doesn't work all that well: everybody--no exceptions--needs some help/advice/reassurances now and then.  And the sooner you realize that and connect with people who can help you make sense of things, the more manageable college will seem and the more content you'll be.  Meeting with an advisor or counselor or chatting with a friendly professor probably won't answer all of your questions on the spot, but it will help.  It will also make starting the next conversation that much easier.

Students who network--who talk with professors, advisors, counselors, and others--learn the value of such relationships early on. They know that going to class, keeping up, and taking their education seriously is still their responsibility--no substitute for that--but they also know that no matter what their concern, help and advice are available.  

If you have questions or need to talk with someone, no time to waste.  Time to begin, also, to build that network of people whose offices you can visit when the moment calls for it.  Like the rest of life, college can be confusing and stressful at times.  But know that you're not in this alone.      

Sunday, October 12, 2014

The Dollars and Sense of Class Attendance

Meet "Mike," a Nassau student who every so often opens his wallet, takes out $10 or $20 bills (sometimes several at a time), and throws them away.

Over the course of a typical semester, he may toss a hundred dollars--maybe more. It's money Mike will never see again, no matter how hard he may (later) wish he had the bucks back.

Is Mike crazy?  Dumb?  Oblivious to the value of money?  Not at all.  He's simply behaving like countless other college students (including some at NCC) who cut class--and in the process throw dollars down the drain.

Missing classes has more serious consequences than lost benjamins, of course.  It goes without saying that the more you're in class (no matter what the course), the more you're likely to learn.  And the more you know, the more successful you'll be--in college, in your career, probably in your life. While a good attendance record in itself won't guarantee straight A's and a bright future, you can't go wrong by attending class regularly.

But apart from all of these very important outcomes, class attendance is also a matter of dollars and cents. When you pay your tuition every semester, you're paying to be taught by your professors. Just as you would pay for a doctor's or dentist's services, you're paying for a professor's expertise, in the form of instruction, in college.  And when you miss class, even now and then, you're missing out on that instruction--and wasting money.

How much does a missed class cost? Let's use round numbers to figure it out.

Suppose, for instance, you're taking fifteen credits--five three-credit courses--this semester.  And suppose each course meets twice a week for fifteen weeks (the length of a semester) for a total of thirty class sessions. Multiplied by five, that's 150 class meetings in all (thirty class sessions x five courses).

Now let's divide a typical student's tuition at Nassau--$2117--by 150. The answer: $14.11--fourteen if you want to round it off.  So EACH class session costs roughly $14, money you've paid at the door, so to speak, prior to the start of the semester.

Money you waste by not going to class.

While this computation may not be the same for every person (lots of factors influence the tuition students actually pay), there's no denying the fact that missing class, even occasionally, costs money.  While you might argue that $14 isn't anything to sweat over, think about the long term costs of missing, say, ten class meetings (all classes together) a semester.  Or twenty or thirty over the course of a year.  Being absent regularly can be expensive.

Adults--parents, teachers, advisers, counselors, and everyone else (including bloggers!) in the mix--are forever going on about the importance of regular class attendance.  And as noted earlier, with good reason: showing up to class is an essential part of becoming an educated--and successful--human being (the reason most students attend college).

But on a different level, class attendance also has a financial dimension.  When you don't get to class, you miss out on instruction you've already paid for.  And if you miss enough classes, you wind up like Mike, opening and emptying your wallet for nothing.

There may be some reasons to be like Mike, but this clearly isn't one of them.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Click the Link

I've never been one for making predictions, but today I'll make an exception: Come the end of this semester, someone reading this post will be in academic trouble--seriously behind in a class, hopelessly confused by a course's content, and overwhelmed by readings and papers assigned back when the weather was warm.

Here's another prediction: The student who'll be agonizing over these problems in December knows about them RIGHT NOW.  The signs are already there: a bad first test grade, a lab that's not making sense, a textbook that grows more intimidating each time it's opened, papers and assignments that are already late (and maybe haven't been started).

Sound familiar?  Hope not.  But if the person in these "predictions" is you, it's time you did something to avert a disaster.  Simply hoping things will turn out okay on their own probably won't work.  In fact, a manageable problem in early October is likely to become a monstrous one later on--unless you act.

What can you do?

If you attended Orientation or are enrolled in NCC 101, you've probably heard that there's no shortage of academic services at Nassau.  A writing center, several math help services, tutoring in a range of academic subjects (Biology, Accounting, Marketing, Nursing, Foreign Languages, Physical Sciences, and so on)--they're all available.  So are your professors, who can offer help or make suggestions that will increase your chances of getting a handle on that troublesome class.

But you have to take that first step and ask for help. You're the one who has to visit that writing or math center (or other academic service) and explain what you don't understand.  If you think a conference  with a professor would help, it's up to you to schedule that appointment.  And if you're behind in readings or assignments, you need to push yourself to catch up, even if it means changing your routine a bit.

Notice all of the references to "You" in the previous paragraph? That's because you're the key player here, the one who has to decide what's going to happen in your classes this semester and what--ultimately--your December is going to be like. Such  decisions are all yours, no one else's.

And contrary to what you may have heard somewhere along the way, the decision to get extra help in a class isn't at all a sign of personal weakness or deficiency.  Just the opposite, really: the smartest, wisest, and most savvy students on campus get help when they need it.  They take full advantage of what's available.  

If your courses are going well this semester, awesome!  But if something in one of your classes doesn't feel right--or if a class is getting away from you--time to act.  Information about NCC's many free academic services is a simple click away: 

If you think I'm kidding, click the link and see for yourself.  Bet there's a service on campus that's just what you need and that will make the semester seem all right again. 

So go ahead: click the link.  Now.  No time to waste.  December's coming.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Read a Banned Book Today

Though National Banned Books Week officially ended yesterday, there's still time to thumb your nose at the censors and read a "taboo" text.  

Something like Mark Twain's "Adventures of Huckleberry Finn," Harper Lee's "To Kill a Mockingbird," or Kurt Vonnegut's "Slaughter-House Five" will do just fine.

So will John Steinbeck's "Of Mice and Men," J.D. Salinger's "Catcher in the Rye," Alice Walker's "The Color Purple," and Maya Angelou's "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings."

And don't forget Robert Cormier's "The Chocolate War," Stephen Chbosky's "The Perks of Being a Wallflower," Marjane Satrapi's graphic gem, "Persepolis," or even Dav Pilkey's "Captain Underpants" comic series.  

All are among the most frequently banned literary works in America.  All are routinely removed from school reading lists and library shelves because their ideas, words, images, and actions are thought to be inappropriate for young readers--and sometimes older ones as well.  

Crazy, isn't it?  In a country founded on freedom and on the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, some people see nothing wrong with depriving others of the right to read what they want. Censors sometimes justify their actions by insisting they're "protecting" people from disturbing ideas and images. But it's hard to imagine a more disturbing image than an adult (or group of adults) yanking a book out of a kid's hands.  Talk about scary.   

Literary censorship isn't new, sad to say, but even sadder, it shows no signs of abating.  In fact, the American Library Association (ALA), which monitors censorship activities across the country, reports that book banning in schools and elsewhere continues to be a thriving industry.  Though the censors' explanations for their actions are often preposterous, that doesn't seem to stop them.  

But you can.  If every college student picked up (and read) banned books regularly, they would make a powerful statement about the right to read.  And if every student spoke out against literary censorship, they'd quickly get the attention of the media and the adult world.  They might even make the censors think twice before locking a work away.

So find a banned book and read it today!  The ALA maintains a long list of literary works under attack --there's plenty to choose from. Chances are you'll like what you read.  

But even if you don't, it will be YOU deciding to close the cover--not somebody else. And that makes all the difference.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Get Ready for the Activities Fair!

Run--don't walk!--to the front of the College Center Building this Tuesday, Sept. 23 at 11:30 a.m.

Bring your appetite--there'll be goodies galore--and come ready to meet some of the coolest students on campus (all eager to convince you that their club is the best at NCC).

It's the Activities Fair, one of the highlights of campus life at Nassau.  And it's a great opportunity for you to get a feel for the 100+ clubs that are active at NCC.  Most clubs will be staffing tables and putting on their best face through photos, banners, artwork, short videos, and--let's not forget--giveaways (snacks, pens, key chains, hats, buttons, and other neat club stuff).  Most will also have sign-up sheets handy for students wanting to get a text or a call about a club's upcoming meeting.

You can browse to your heart's content on Tuesday, chat with club members, and sign up for as many clubs as you want--or none at all. There's no pressure to join something or even to attend a meeting if you do sign up.  You can simply look things over and decide afterward what's for you.

Given everything else you have going on in your life, you may be wondering why you should join a club.  

Some reasons: to pursue a specific personal interest (jazz, anime, science fiction, knitting, gaming, computer graphics, etc.); to learn more about a specific career (Marketing, Nursing, Finance, Education, Fashion Buying, Accounting, Hospitality, Journalism, Criminal Justice, Interior Design, Paralegal, Surgical Technology); to get involved in political and social issues (NYPIRG, PeaceWork, InterAct, Amnesty International, Make a Difference); to cultivate your creative side (singing, performing, creative writing, photography, dancing, etc.); to stay active (Ski Club, Concrete Canoe Club, Outing Club, Fit for Life Club), to learn more about a particular academic subject (astronomy, philosophy, psychology, biology, earth science); or to celebrate your culture or religion (Newman Club, Jewish Student Organization, Gaelic Society, Student Organization of Latinos, Haraya, Turkish-American Club, Muslim Student Association, etc.).

Whatever your reason for joining something, you get one other benefit as well: a sense of community, a chance to get to know a group of people (including a faculty member) you might never have met if you hadn't gone to that club meeting.  Community is important.  It helps you to connect with people.  It helps you develop as a person.  It makes college seem like more than just classes.  It adds that extra "flourish" to your college experience.  And it makes Nassau more intimate and--yeah-- less anonymous. 

So come Tuesday, come on over to the Activities Fair and check out another side of NCC.  Don't be shy.  Remember that all of these people at club tables were not so long ago just like you: looking for a way to make their college experience more interesting and more fun.  They've found their sense of community.  Now it's your turn.  Join a club.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Enjoy September, but . . .

September is a great month for new NCC students.  Nice weather, new friends, a cool campus, almost nonstop social activities (parties, tournaments, club fairs, rallies, games, etc. etc.)--who could ask for a better start to college?

And classes?  Not a problem.  Required readings, tests, quizzes, papers, projects, and research assignments (all probably listed on course outlines) seem light years away.  Nothing to sweat about--plenty of time to get serious later on. . . .

Fast forward to December.  Those new college students, many now pretty stressed out (and maybe pretty behind), are scrambling to finish papers, catch up on readings, pass exams, and salvage their semester.  Asked the most important lesson they've learned about college, most say they need to start working earlier.  Many admit they spent too much of September--and even October--having fun and putting off studying.

This isn't a sermon on the evils of enjoying college life.   Socializing should definitely be an important part of your college experience.  And what better time to sample that experience than the first weeks of the fall semester, a time of promise and possibilities?  That new club, that interesting new girl or guy, that upcoming party or pep rally--all are intriguing.  And all "happen," more or less, this month.

But so do your classes.  For many new students, the biggest challenge of starting college is finding ways to be involved in not just the life of their campus but that of their classes as well. Striking this balance is tough--just ask students who've lived it up too much in September and paid later on--but essential.  And it involves more just going to class.  It means keeping up, paying attention, being mentally engaged, and--when you've work to do--telling friends you can't hang out and will see them later.

Formidable tasks for sure, especially given all of the sweet temptations of September.  But consider the alternative: waking up in the middle of the semester and realizing you're heading over the cliff academically.

Enjoy September, a month with lots to recommend it.  But also remember why you're in college--and where you want to be come December.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Campus Driving 101

So it's your first week of college and you're eager to get to your classes at NCC on time. You don't really know your way around campus just yet, but you know you have an 8:30 a.m. class and are in a hurry to get there. 

Trouble is, so are a lot of other people, including some drivers who, unfortunately, will do some not-so-smart things: park in nonexistent spots, drive the wrong way on one-way streets, blow off stop signs, roar past pedestrians, and go way too fast.

Don't be one of these folks. 

On a big campus with cars constantly coming and going, drivers need to exercise good judgment and common sense.  Even if you manage to avoid colliding with another car (which occasionally does happen), driving carelessly can add unnecessary stress to those around you.

What's more, by ignoring parking and traffic signs on campus, you increase your chances of getting a ticket, if not right away, then before long.  And tickets are serious money, often $90 and up.

Here are a few tips to keep the commute from ruining your day.

  • Register your car before school starts.  No matter what you're driving to campus (car, SUV, motorcycle, etc.), you'll need to register your vehicle with Public Safety (  Otherwise you risk getting a ticket, which can wind up costing plenty.

  • Leave enough time to park.  Don't arrive five minutes before the start of your first class and expect to find a space next to your classroom building.  Instead, leave at least 45 minutes to park, get your bearings, and walk to class.  NCC may be big, but it's not an impossible place to navigate on foot. 

  • Scout out parking in advance.  Finding a space will be easier if you know where to look.  If you're entering campus from Endo Boulevard via Stewart Avenue, there's the East lot (the largest on campus).  If you're coming from Earle Ovington Blvd. via Hempstead Turnpike or Charles Lindbergh Blvd., there's the West lot, which also has plenty of spaces.  There's also parking behind Clusters A-D as well as near Building H, on the western part of the campus.  P.S.  If these directions seem confusing, you can download a campus map that shows the parking fields ( and click "Map and Directions") and how to reach them.

  • Read signs carefully.  Most parking on campus is available to students, but some spaces are reserved for employees and people with disabilities.  Park in one of these spots and you're likely to get a ticket--again a costly mistake.

  • Pay attention to campus speed limits (and traffic signs).  The Nassau campus is a busy place--no shortage of traffic and pedestrians at times.  Speed limits and traffic signs try to ensure safety, yours and others'.  Be smart here.

  • Be careful coming in and out of campus.  Nassau County's red light cameras dot the roads around NCC.  They pick up drivers who run lights or fail to stop on a red before turning.  You may not get pulled over on the spot if you're careless, but you could find a County ticket in your mailbox a few weeks later.

  • Whatever you do, don't text and drive.  Is there anything more that needs to be said about this issue? Texting and driving can be a lethal combination not only on college campuses but everywhere else your car is in motion.  In a word, don't.

Is commuting to Nassau always stress free?  No.  At certain times of the day, the campus is busy, with a good number of people either looking for a parking space or trying to leave one.  But if you plan ahead--and use your head!--driving (and parking) on campus doesn't have to be a hassle. 

Thursday, August 21, 2014

No Excuses: Come to Orientation

It never fails.  Every year about this time a handful of students call our office and say, "I just received my invitation to Orientation. Do I really have to come?" 

The question makes me cringe.  

Here's what I want to say: "You're kidding, right?  You're starting college next month and you're thinking of not attending your orientation?  Is this any way to begin the next part of your life?" 

Let's get serious: If you miss Orientation, you're missing something vital.

At Nassau, Orientation is where your college experience begins to take shape.  It's where you meet other students, get a feel for the campus, catch a glimpse of college life, meet some friendly faculty, and go home with some tips about handling the first few weeks of classes.

Orientation is about learning to make connections--through your classes, clubs, sports, campus services, community service projects, and other experiences that will help you feel welcome and at home here.  These connections matter.  They'll play an important role in your overall happiness and success in school.  They may sometimes even lay the groundwork for life beyond Nassau.

What's more, Orientation introduces students to the promises and possibilities of college. Orientation's basic message: "Here's your chance to see what the world of higher ed is all about, to discover (or rediscover) yourself, to be whatever you want, and to pursue dreams and goals that once seemed out of reach."

All this happens at Orientation--which is why you ABSOLUTELY have to attend.    

So no excuses: come to Orientation.

See you next week.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

S-t-r-e-t-c-h-i-n-g Yourself

Okay all of you soon-to-be-Nassau students: Time for some advice on stretching.

I'm not talking about calisthenics here, but about a different kind of stretching--the kind that will broaden your understanding of yourself and others, help you discover a talent you didn't know existed, teach you something important about the world, and maybe help you see life's big picture.  

Your professors will do their best in class to stretch you, of course, but you can also stretch yourself (in ways you've never imagined) outside the classroom walls.  Being part of campus life--joining a club, attending a lecture, seeing a theatre production, being part of a campus/community service project, even going to a social event--can make your college experience richer and more interesting. Participation can also make you feel more connected to Nassau (an important thing at a large school) and expose you to people and ideas you might not have otherwise encountered.

And if that's not enough, involvement in campus life can be FUN, a word you might not associate with college right now, but one that--trust me--is definitely important.

You might be thinking that between your classes and the rest of life (work, family, etc.), you probably won't have a whole lot of free time for anything else this fall.   Understood.  But remember: no one's asking you to join every club at NCC or attend every campus program.  Nor is anybody suggesting you spend every waking minute on campus, ignoring job, family, and classes.  Balance is important.  Making all of the pieces fit is critical to your success in college.

But somewhere during the fall semester, find at least a little time to see what campus life at NCC is all about.  Be selective--choose something that interests you or that at least looks promising.  Check out NCC's 100+ clubs at the Activities Fair in September; drop by the Firehouse Art Gallery to see your classmates' work; enter the chess tournament or the Edgar Allan Poe contest sponsored by the Office of Student Activities; listen to Ernest Cline, author of "Ready Player One" (NCC's common reading for 2014-2015), talk about the potential and perils of the digital age; drop in on the Halloween Film Festival in the College Center in October; write a poem or short story for Luna, NCC's student literary magazine; or peer at the heavens through the Physical Sciences Department's high-powered telescope on Astronomy Night.

Nothing here grabs you?  Keep searching; there are plenty more campus activities taking place at NCC this fall. 

But whatever you do, avoid racing for the parking lot or bus stop immediately after your last class every day.  Don't shortchange yourself by walking around campus with your head down, bypassing opportunities to widen your world and make your life more inspired. There's a great education--and a great time--to be had outside the classroom at NCC, provided you're open to it.

September's almost here. Get ready to stretch.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Making Your Voice Heard

Like journalism?  Interested in politics?  Want to make your voice heard at NCC?

If so, the Vignette and the Student Government Association (SGA) want to meet you--and soon.

The Vignette (pronounced Vin-Yet) is NCC's official student newspaper.  It offers members--students like you--opportunities to be involved in every aspect of publication work, from story development and writing to editing and layout and design.  It also gives you the chance to learn photography, gain experience in advertising and business, and see how a newspaper comes together.

Maybe best of all, the Vignette provides a forum for you and other students to express your views on issues (campus and off-campus) that matter.  Besides reporting the news, the Vignette encourages students to speak their minds.  The paper is not the only student voice at NCC, but it's definitely one of the most influential.

So too is the Student Government Association, an organization that oversees student life at NCC and that also speaks up on behalf of students.  SGA members serve on campus committees and other groups--NCC's Board of Trustees, for example--where the student perspective is essential.

If you join SGA, you'll gain practical experience in budgeting (the group manages a student fee budget of more than a million dollars) as well as a host of organizational skills--committee work, conflict resolution, and campus outreach.  It's the place to be if you're interested in a career in politics or public service.

Though the Vignette and the SGA differ in their work (and sometimes in their views on things!), both have students' best interests in mind.  They're similar in another way too: both need interested and energetic members, students who have ideas and who are willing to work, speak up, and make life better for their classmates.

If that's you, come look them up when school starts!  You can find Vignette editors in Room 347 of the College Center and the SGA leadership just down the hall in Room 341.  Stop by, introduce yourself, and see what's cooking.  Find out how you can get involved and how you can make a difference.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Before September Arrives . . .

I know what you're thinking: Why's this guy talking about September already?  Isn't there still a month of summer left?

Of course there is.  And there's no need to rush August (a great month) away or to act like school is starting any minute and you're already behind.

But in fact, there are some NCC things you'd be smart to handle before the curtain rises on the fall semester.  None will gobble up all of your time, but they're better taken care of sooner than later.

Sometime over the next few weeks . . .

. . . get your NCC 1D.  You'll need an ID to use some campus services, enter the library (and take out books), and get into NCC concerts and other events.  You can get an ID, which is free, from the Public Safety office.

. . . register your car.  It doesn't matter what you're driving to Nassau (car, SUV, motorcycle, etc)--you'll need to register it through Public Safety.  There's a fee (sorry), but it beats getting a County ticket (which can run into serious money) for parking an unregistered vehicle.  You can register your car online at

. . . check out NICE. NICE (Nassau Inter-County Express) buses make regular stops on campus.  If you're traveling to Nassau by bus, download a schedule from 

. . . get to know NCC's campus. Though you'll get a good tour of the campus at Orientation, there's no law against visiting NCC on your own and getting a feel for the whereabouts of things.  If you can't visit in person, take a virtual tour at

. . . keep up with us on Facebook and Twitter.  Both Nassau's Facebook page and Twitter page will help you stay on top of life at NCC.  And while you're exploring, visit NCC's First-Year Experience link for info about "Conversations About College" workshops, our common reading (Ernest Cline's Ready Player One), our Day of Service, and other interesting campus happenings. 

See?  There really is some NCC "business" to think about between now and New Student Orientation later this month.  And while you can still have a great rest of August, definitely give some attention to these things in the weeks ahead.  Summer's still got some life in it . . . . but September's coming.    

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Get Your Nassau Sports Here!

Say this about Nassau CC: there's never a shortage of games going on here.

Football, volleyball, men's and women's soccer, tennis, cross country, wrestling, bowling, indoor track, men's and women's basketball, baseball, softball, golf, spring track and field, men's and women's lacrosse--NCC's sports program rivals that of most four-year schools. 

And the teams are almost always good. 

NCC's football team has had winning seasons, including several undefeated ones, for 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 two NJCAA championships in recent years but produced several All Americans in different weight classes.  And just last year, the men's basketball team won a division title while the men's tennis team won a national championship.  

That's not all.

Nassau's intramural sports program offers an array of athletic activities, beginning in September and running through May.  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 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 world class 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, at under "Athletics" and "Intramural Sports."  The action gets going early (the first weeks of September in most cases)--so don't miss out.

Whether you're a diehard fan, a gym rat, or just somebody who likes to stay active, you'll find a home in NCC's Phys Ed Complex.  Chances are you'll also make some good friends there, students who enjoy competition and whose idea of a good time is to work up a sweat. 

Saturday, July 26, 2014

You're Older. You're Starting College. No Need to Stress!

Starting a new school is always a jittery experience, but it's especially so when you've been out of the classroom for what seems like a lifetime.  If that's your situation, know that you've plenty of company.  In fact, you're part of a pretty large student population here at NCC--people who've decided at 25, 35, 45, or whatever age to see what college is all about.

Regardless of the date on your birth certificate, the fact that you've decided to continue your education is what matters.  Starting college at any age is an important step, but for older students it's often the ultimate life changer, a turning point like no other.  So before that thrilling (and terrifying!) first day of classes arrives, here are some tips on making your college experience a memorable one.

1.   Get over the age thing.  Most NCC students don't care a lick about the age of the people sitting next to them in class.  As long as their classmates are interested, serious, respectful, and approachable, it's all cool.  About the only time age becomes an issue is when someone gives off an "I'm-older-and-I-know-it-all" attitude, which sometimes implies disdain for younger students.  Don't be self conscious about your age.  Be genuine and you'll hit it off with students from 17 to 75.

2.   Be open to school.  You'll get out of college what you put into it.  If you approach school with the right attitude, you'll definitely be satisfied more often than not.  View each of your classes as a chance to stretch and grow, and try to focus on what you can take away from every experience (both in and out the classroom). There's a lot to learn in college, not only about the world but about yourself.  Stay on your toes.

3.  Use your help. Whether it's working with a Writing Center tutor on a paper, asking a librarian for help with a research question, or taking part in a Career Center workshop, you owe it to yourself to get the most out of NCC's many tutoring, counseling, and other support services (  You'll learn about services at the Adult Student Orientation on Wed., August 27 (call 572.7141 for details). And be sure to get acquainted the Adult Resource Center (a must for older students!) in Nassau Hall.

4.  Be smart (and realistic) about time.  Managing classes, a job, a social life, and family responsibilities isn't impossible, but it definitely requires you to be organized, to keep your priorities straight, and to make your minutes count. The challenge is to strike a balance between school and the other parts of your life, all of which deserve your attention.  If you need advice on making everything fit, try our time management workshops ( or chat with your NCC 101 instructor (  Both will help.

5.  Connect with the campus.  No matter how busy you are, don't let college become a solitary experience.  Talk to students in your classes. Join a study group (a good way to get a better handle on what you're studying AND to get to know your classmates).  If your department or program schedules a speaker or some other event, attend. Also, join a club: there are more than a hundred at NCC, all offering chances to meet people.  And, of course, get to know your professors, most of whom will be eager to speak with you about your coursework and offer thoughtful advice about college.

Still nervous about starting Nassau?  Don't be. You're beginning a great new chapter in your life, one that will be interesting and rewarding and exciting.  And even if you hit a few bumps in the road along the way (everyone does), keep this advice in mind and your college journey will be awesome.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Who's Up for a Summer Workshop?

So now that high school is in your rearview mirror, you're probably starting to think about what lies ahead, including, of course, the next "chapter" of your life--Nassau.

Some good news: You don't have to wait until classes start to get a glimpse of college. Attend one of our free summer workshops scheduled over the next four Wednesdays (July 23 and 30 and August 6 and 13) and you'll come away with a ton of useful and valuable information about NCC.

Workshops (twelve in all) will cover a range of topics--academic skills (time management, note-taking, and test-taking), campus life (clubs, sports, etc.), online courses, career services, the campus Library, NCC's "extras" (campus jobs, scholarships, internships, international study, etc.), campus volunteer opportunities--pretty much everything you need to know to get off to a good start in September.  Each workshop runs a single hour and each addresses a specific topic.

You can attend as many workshops as you please--there's no limit and no RSVP needed!  All you have to do is show up (all workshops are held in the College Center, Rm. 251), have a seat, help yourself to a snack, and take it all in.

Why attend?  Why not wait until September to get a handle on college?  Two reasons: 1) College is very different from high school (don't expect a rerun of your senior year); and 2) Nassau is a BIG college--more varied and interesting than high school certainly--but also more complex than any school you've attended to this point.  Being familiar with NCC's landscape in advance can only help.

Besides, we're talking about only a few hours out of your entire summer--a small investment of time that will pay big dividends just down the road.  Trust me.   

Here's a list of workshop topics.  For descriptions (along with other info), scroll down the "Summer Workshops" page that's part of our Orientation link.  If you have questions, you can call us, Monday through Thursday, at 516.572.7148.

Hope to see you . . . .

July 23

10 a.m.   NCConline
11 a.m.   Quick Tips on Academics
12 noon  Ask a Librarian

July 30  

10 a.m.   NCConline
11 a.m.   Finding Your 'Dream' Career
12 noon  Want to Make a Difference?

August 6  

10 a.m.   Want to Make a Difference?
11 a.m.   Life Outside the Classroom at NCC
12 noon  NCConline

August 13  

10 a.m.   Life Outside the Classroom at NCC
11 a.m.   What to Expect in Your Classes at NCC
12 noon  Making NCC Work for You