Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Let Us Not Talk Falsely Now

So Barack Obama was absolutely born in Africa, which is why he's tried to ban the national anthem at sporting events . . .

And Donald Trump, who was endorsed by Pope Francis, actually won the popular vote in the 2016 Presidential election. . . .

And when she's not killing FBI agents, Hillary Clinton runs an international child exploitation ring headquartered in a Washington D.C. pizzeria.

Believe any of this stuff?

Hope not--because it's ALL NONSENSE, not even remotely close to reality.  Poppycock to be polite. Horse droppings to be more graphic.

Yet you can find all of this misinformation (a.k.a. LIES) online, often on bottom feeder news sites, on websites claiming to tell you the inside dope (a most appropriate word here), and--yeah--even on the pages of popular social media platforms (are you listening, Facebook?).  Though more reputable news organizations are less likely to fall victim to fake news, they too stumble at times, often when trying to be first with a scoop or simply when someone decides to play loose with the facts. 

Fake news isn't new, of course.  Journalism has always had its share of people who bent the facts to suit their own needs or--when that failed--simply made up things to sway opinion and sell newspapers.  Our history has no shortage of fabricated news, from far-fetched pieces about miracle cures and colonies on the Moon to made-up stories about war atrocities. Some people, like Mark Twain, made up stories to make mischief with readers; others, like publishing magnate William Randolph Hearst, had darker ends, distorting (and sometimes inventing) facts to drum up support for a war.

But motivations aside, selling swill has often been profitable for those with a printing press or (more recently) a website.  The challenge, for readers, is ferreting out the truth--a difficult thing, especially in confusing times.

And it's especially hard right now, when we're greeted each day with a tsunami of information from bloggers, websites, online publications, and aggregate news sites, some of whose content wouldn't meet anyone's standards for accuracy or integrity.

So how should a person who's eager to stay informed about the world navigate the misinformation highway?

For starters, some old-school advice: Don't believe everything you read or hear, at least at first blush. Just because somebody's saying something--in a book, in a newspaper, on a website, in a blog, on television, on a podcast or news broadcast--doesn't mean it's entirely (or even partially) accurate. People sometimes misstate things.  They sometimes omit important facts.  They sometimes out and out lie.

Second, when you come upon news that seems kind of out there, see what's being reported elsewhere.  Are other reporters and/or news outlets talking about the same thing?  Are their facts consistent (at least more or less) with your source's?  Be suspicious if no else appears to be reporting this red-hot news item.  And if you're curious about the source of some juicy news, google a key word and see what comes up.

Third, know the politics and reputation of the site/source you're reading.  Almost every news site has a little bias, even those that try their best to be objective.  But others are decidedly pushing an agenda, be it liberal or conservative or whatever.  And be especially careful about zealots, some of whom masquerade as reasonable middle-of-the-roaders when they're anything but.  If you're unsure about the politics of an individual or group or site whose news flashes make your jaw drop, poke around the net and see what you can learn about your source's reputation. Others' impressions may put what you're reading in perspective. 

This is a challenging time for those of us trying to make sense out of what we're reading and hearing. But no matter what your politics, you need to think carefully and critically about what you're encountering online, in print, or on the tube.  Don't dismiss bold claims out of hand, but don't accept them as absolute truth either.

For when you're trying to sort out fact from fantasy, you can't afford to put your brain on hold.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Becoming Nicole: The Transformation of an American Family - Amy Ellis Nutt, Author Visit

The First Year Experience Committee,
together with
The Office of Student Activities, The NCC Foundation,
Amy Ellis Nutt
who will speak about
Becoming Nicole:
The Transformation of an
American Family,
a non-fiction book
identity and transgender issues.
Wednesday, November 16
CCBMulti-purpose Room (1st floor)
11AM and 2PM

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Being Your Own Best Friend

Is there anybody on this campus who isn't just a little tired and worn out these days?

Bet not.

Not only are many of you looking weary in class, you're dozing in the College Center, the Library, and pretty much anywhere else there's a soft seat.

I shouldn't be surprised.  It's November: the weather's getting chilly, the days are growing short, the novelty of college has worn off, and papers, tests, and projects are piling up.  To top things off, chances are you're starting to be pretty pooped from juggling a job and classes these past two months.

But now's not the time to give up (just in case anyone's thinking about that option). It's not the time to stop going to that math class you've been clawing your way through or to give up on that English essay that needs yet another revision. You've fewer than seven weeks, including a short week for Thanksgiving, to the end of the fall semester. You can do it.

But a word of advice: Between now and December 23, be your own best friend. And listen to that friend's advice about taking care of yourself and handling the busy weeks ahead.

For starters, cut back on work over the next few weeks.  I know the money's good and all, but school's important.  Leave enough time to give your classes your best shot. You want to do more than just muddle through the semester, after all.

Also, get more sleep (though not in your classes!).  Even "invincible" eighteen-year-olds need to rest their bodies and minds regularly.  Setting aside extra time each week for some zzzs (don't let anyone tell you naps aren't good!) will be especially helpful during the final weeks of the semester.  As scores of dead-on-their-feet college students have discovered throughout the ages, you have to rest to be at your best.

Finally, when it's a choice between a "Must Study Night" and an evening with friends--including boyfriends and girlfriends--have the smarts and the wisdom to do the right thing.  It's never easy passing up a night out, but finishing strong and having a semester you can be proud of will make these sacrifices worthwhile. 

The bottom line: Be good to yourself in the weeks ahead.  Make smart choices.  And be your own best friend.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Midterms – How to Bound Back

Now that the first round of midterms is almost completed, you’ve probably started to get your first midterm grades back.  If you didn’t do as well as you expected on an exam, don’t be discouraged!  Taking college exams is not an easy task, especially if you’ve never taken one before.  Some helpful ideas to stay on track for the rest of the semester…
Here are some tips that I have found helpful after getting a disappointing grade on a midterm.

Talk to your instructor

Stop by office hours and go over your exam with the instructor.  This is really helpful because you’ll be able to go over your mistakes and find out why your answers were incorrect.  Make sure to ask questions and always ask to clarify a topic that you do not completely understand. Don’t be afraid to reach out to them!

Develop new study habits

In high school, you probably didn’t have to study much for midterms.  In college, studying may require hours at Library, memorizing pages of notes and study guides.  This is not always the most effective way to study the material.  It’s not about how long you study, but rather how well you study.

Make use of the resources on campus

Check out the campus tutoring centers (if you haven’t already) for help with subjects that many students study in their first year.

Hold yourself accountable

We need to be the one to take responsibility for the disappointing grade.  If you do get a bad grade, it’s okay to be upset about it, but then try to find ways to improve yourself.  The best way to deal with a bad grade is to put in the effort to do things differently and to strive even harder the next time for the grade you feel like you deserve.

Stay motivated

Getting your first bad grade on an exam can make you rethink a lot of things in life: your major, your career choice.  Everyone struggles with staying motivated at one time or another.  The most successful students are the ones who ask for help when they need it!  Don’t be afraid to ask for help and support.  Stay positive, work hard and make it happen!

Monday, October 17, 2016

Albert, Bob, and Buster

One's a famous physicist, winner of the 1921 Nobel Prize in physics and the author of the theory of relativity, considered the most important scientific breakthrough in modern times.

Another's a famous songwriter, this year's Nobel prize winner in literature, and a figure whose songs and lyrics not only shaped his generation's identity but changed folk music forever.

A third's a famous athlete, a catcher for Major League Baseball's San Francisco Giants, at 29 regarded as among the best ever to play the game.  No Nobel prize to his credit, at least not yet, but plenty of other honors (Rookie of the Year, MVP, batting titles, and so on)--and more to come.

Could Albert Einstein, Bob Dylan, and Buster Posey, each representing a different generation, each with a different talent and passion, possibly have anything in common?


Talent, for starters.  A serious commitment to their work too.  Mostly, a willingness to try harder than others around them.

"It's not that I'm so smart. It's just that I stay with problems longer," Einstein once said about himself and his work.  Truth be told, Einstein was smart. a genius in fact, but also someone with a tenacity that helped him remain focused on problems that had stumped others.

Ditto for Dylan. Those who think his songwriting was effortless need only listen to Dylan describe his commitment to his craft.  "For three or four years, all I listened to were folk standards," he said in a 2015 speech.  "I went to sleep singing folk songs." As Washington Post writer Joel Achenbach commented recently, Dylan may indeed be a genius, but there's more to it. "The secret of geniuses is that they work harder than everyone else."

And Posey? Lauded for his intelligence and dedication as well as his athleticism, he has impressed every coach he's ever played for.  Florida State baseball coach Robert Martin, who coached Posey in college, said his "work ethic and discipline [was] unmatched, the best I've ever seen."  It's this quality that's helped Posey excel in the big leagues, emerge as his team's leader, and even overcome adversity, including a serious leg injury sustained in a nasty home-plate collision in 2011. 

Is there a lesson for us in their stories? Definitely.  

While most of us will never win a Nobel prize, sell out a Madison Square Garden concert, or hit clean-up for our favorite team, we'll all do something--actually several somethings (college, career, family, friendships, etc. etc.)--that will challenge us to try our best.  Chances are the harder we try, the more successful and satisfied we'll be. 

And even if things don't always work out exactly as we'd like, there's satisfaction in knowing we didn't shortchange ourselves. 

Effort matters. Hard work matters. Being your best matters. 

Just ask Albert, Bob, and Buster.    

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

What? You're Not Planning to Vote?

In the College Center Building the other day I heard a student tell a friend she wasn't planning to vote in the Presidential election because she didn't know much about the candidates and "it didn't really matter who got in anyway."

Her friend nodded and said that she too was sitting the election out. She added that she hadn't paid any attention to what the candidates stood for, though she thought Donald Trump was a jerk and had heard Hillary Clinton couldn't be trusted.

So both were letting others decide their future for them.

This isn't a pitch for a specific candidate (though I can say for sure it DOES INDEED MATTER who becomes President).  Nor is it one of those "voting-is-your-civic-responsibility" lectures that you've probably heard before and that doesn't seem to resonate these days even though there are tons of people on this planet who would give anything to have a say in who runs their country.

But it is about engagement and knowledge and interest, none of which seemed to matter much to the two students whose conversation I overheard.

It's also, in a curious kind of way, about personal pride. Neither student seemed at all embarrassed that she hadn't bothered to learn about the candidates or their views on issues that will most certainly affect everyone's life.  Both seemed content to be ignorant and indifferent, as if making an intelligent and informed decision about the next President was on par with deciding what Netflix film to watch on Friday night.

Happily, there are students on campus who pay attention to the world, including the words and ideas of those seeking to succeed Barack Obama, and who will get to the polls on Election Day and cast a vote for the candidate of their choice.  To those I say Bravo, no matter what their politics.

But to those who know nothing--and who see nothing wrong with knowing nothing--it's time to step up and start paying attention. There's too much at stake on Election Day (and beyond) for anyone to be mentally missing in action.  What's more, your life is too important to leave its quality and direction to others, not all of whom (trust me on this) have your best interests at heart.

So take these next few weeks to get registered (here's how--https://www.elections.ny.gov/) and get informed.  And on Election Day, get to the polls and vote.  

Because your voice and your vote matter. . . . 

Monday, September 19, 2016

NCC Campus Life

Welcome Back!
Welcome back to your first day of classes of your college career....for the second time.  You have one semester down and have three more to go. Enjoy it because believe me, it flies by!

You are now role models to over 2,000 new incoming freshmen status students to NCC.  Like you last semester, this experience at NCC is all new to them.  So if you meet one of these students, guide them in the right direction to class, show them around campus, or anything that could help them transition into life at NCC.

If you did not get the opportunity to get involved last semester, Thursday September 29, 2016 during club hour, the Office of Student Activities is sponsoring a Student Activity Fair.  There will be numerous number of student organizations attending this event and I’m positive they are interested in meeting and talking to each and every one of you!

100+ clubs, twenty sports teams, a cool art gallery, a great theater program, a 24/7 radio station, parties, concerts, speakers, trips--campus life rocks at NCC.  And you owe it to yourself to be part of it.

Here's how to get started.

1.  Get to know the Student Activities Office (College Center, Rm. 150).  The Student Activities Office is the center of campus life at NCC and the place to go to begin making contacts.  Drop by and pick up a copy of its Directory of Student Clubs and Organizations, a neat publication with descriptions of all active clubs on campus.  If you're interested in a specific club, ask someone in the office when and where it meets and take yourself to a meeting (no invitation required!). Or leave a note in a club mailbox--every club has one in the Activities Office--requesting a call or text about upcoming meetings. And if you have a special interest, ask how you can start your own club.

2.  Get into the Game.  If watching and/or playing sports is your thing, the Phys Ed Complex--aka the Gym--is the place to be.  You can pick up team schedules (no charge for admission to games) and find out about NCC's ever popular Intramurals program, which gives you a chance to play everything from flag football and co-ed volleyball to dodgeball and three-on-three b-ball. You don't have to be a super athlete to take part in Intramural activities--just somebody who likes competing and who doesn't mind working up a sweat. And speaking of sweat, you can lift, swim, work out, shoot hoops, and keep in shape during the Gym's open rec period, times when facilities are open to all students.

3.  Get on "Stage."  Want to be in the NCC choir or a campus theatre production? Head on over to the Music Department (Building H) or the Theatre Department (nearby) and ask about audition dates.  Want to have your own radio show?  Drop by the radio station (Building H) and see what's available. Interested in writing for the campus newspaper? Visit the Vignette office (College Center, Rm. 347) and introduce yourself. NCC is always on the lookout for students willing to display their talents, be it in the literary magazine, the campus art gallery, the annual student fashion show, or someplace else. No shortage of opportunities for those wanting to make their presence known. . .

4.  Get to the Activities Fair. If you want to get a quick "feel" for campus life, stop by the Activities Fair on Tuesday, Sept. 29 at club hour (11:30 a.m.) in front of the College Center. The Activities Fair is a kind of club flea market--tables everywhere you look, each staffed by a different student group. You can browse, chat with club reps, ask questions, and make connections with a group (or two--or more) that seems interesting. Going to the Activities Fair--or even signing up to be contacted about meetings--doesn't obligate you to join something. But it's a good way to get started. There are also good snacks at the Activities Fair, along with some cool giveaways!

Notice how all of these suggestions involve doing something: visiting an office, checking out possibilities, showing up at the Activities Fair, etc. etc.?  The key to getting involved in college is taking those first steps: making that phone call, knocking on someone's door, walking into that club meeting and introducing yourself.  If you're not used to doing these things, there's no better time than now to learn. Just about everybody you meet will be glad to meet you.

Hope you have a blast at NCC!

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Beware the UW!

So if you've been on top of all your classes this spring and expect to finish each with a good grade (or even a pretty good grade), CONGRATULATIONS on a job well done! You can stop reading this post and get back to wrapping up your semester.

But if somewhere along the way this term you stopped attending a credit class--and never got around to withdrawing officially from that class--you absolutely need to listen up.  Unless you take some action soon, your grade-point average could be headed for a disaster, courtesy of Nassau's UW policy.

What's UW?

UW (Unofficial Withdrawal) is a fairly new grade at Nassau, introduced a few years ago.  It's assigned when you stop attending a credit course but never officially withdraw.  The nasty thing about a UW is that it counts as an F in your grade-point average, which means that receiving even one of these grades can mess up your semester big time.

To avoid a UW, here's what you can do:

Go to the registrar's office (Cluster C, first floor) and pick up a Drop form. When filling it out, make sure you include the number, CRN, and section of the course you're withdrawing from (you can find this info on your class schedule on the MyNCC system).  Then catch up with your professor and ask him or her to sign the form.  Once you've gotten the signature, turn the form in at the registrar's office before the last class meeting.  You'll then receive a grade of W (Withdrawal), which at the very least will keep your average from getting clobbered.

A good solution? Absolutely, especially if it's clear there's no way you can complete the course successfully and receive credit.  But remember that you have to do all this before the last class meeting. That doesn't leave much time, especially since most professors aren't on campus every day. 

So don't delay!  Get the Drop form and go talk to your professor.  Faculty aren't required to sign the form, but many will anyway--so it's definitely worth a try.  Your transcript will thank you!