Saturday, February 27, 2016

Who Needs Money, Anyway?

Crazy question, huh?  Unless your circle of friends includes people with names like Gates, Zuckerberg, and LeBron, you absolutely need money--and probably the more the better. With the cost of just about everything (including, alas, college tuition) going up, it's a rare person who can say no to dollars.

That's why you need to check out the MANY scholarships available to NCC students each year. Given the more than 150 scholarships begging to be awarded, chances are there's one for you.

In case you're wondering: You don't need to be a straight A student to receive a scholarship at Nassau. While good grades are always a plus, students with respectable academic records (but not  necessarily a perfect GPA) can still be in the running for an award. A student with decent grades who's been active in campus life (clubs, sports, or campus service), for example, can qualify for a scholarship.  So can students who are enrolled in specific academic programs or who have specific career interests.  There are also scholarships for military veterans enrolled at NCC, part-time students, residents of Nassau County, students who are active in their communities, and students who are heading for a four-year college after Nassau. The list of possibilities is practically endless. 

Awards range from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars. Some scholarships are based on financial need, but most are awarded just on qualifications. There are no limits on the number of scholarships you can apply for or receive.  So you could walk away with several awards--money you can use to cover next semester's textbooks, next year's tuition, or some other expense.

Winning a scholarship won't put you on easy street, but you'll definitely be better off with a scholarship than without one.  Besides, being awarded a scholarship is an honor--a recognition of your good work, in and out of the classroom. It's something to be proud of, and of course, something to put on a college application or a resume.

Most scholarship applications are due in early to mid March, which means that the deadline is rapidly approaching. But you've still time to see what's available and still time to apply (most applications must be filed online). 

So don't delay.  Somebody's going to receive each of the awards listed on the NCC Scholarships page. Somebody's going to be a few dollars richer as a result, and somebody's going to have his or her work at NCC acknowledged.

Why shouldn't you be that somebody?

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Heard any "scary" talk lately?

You know the kind I mean: conversations about racism, gun violence, abortion, immigration, sexual assault, LGBT issues, terrorism--topics likely to provoke discussion and debate and maybe make people squirm a little.

Those conversations are happening pretty much everywhere these days, in newspapers, on television, on the Internet, in college classrooms, even on the Presidential campaign trail.  And why not?  The issues are more important than ever, way too critical to ignore.

Yet many students seem to be trying their best to do just that.  In the food court the other day I overheard two students complaining about a discussion in their English class about white privilege. One student said the topic made her nervous and she didn't "want to think about it." The other said she couldn't understand why people kept "bringing it up," for talking about it wouldn't change anything.

It wasn't the first time I'd seen students resist discussions of "hot" topics, especially when hearing views and ideas that challenged their own beliefs.  Rather than jumping into the conversation and explaining their own take on the issue at hand, they too often fall silent, refusing to speak up and--worst of all--usually tuning out the other side's point of view.

College isn't supposed to be like this.  In fact, at its best, college invites you to browse the marketplace of ideas, to see what others have to say, to examine or re-examine your own beliefs, and in the end to make up your own mind.  It's an important part of your college experience and good preparation for the rest of life, where you're going to hear views that may seem pretty out there at times but that may also contain something important to think about. Being part of these conversations in college is a valuable lesson in thinking and reasoning.

A recent column in The New York Times was critical of students who not only avoid conversations about topics they find upsetting but try to persuade their schools to not even talk about them. The columnist, Judith Shulevitz, wrote, "...while keeping college-level discussions 'safe' may feel good to the hypersensitive, it's bad for them and everyone else. People ought to go to college to sharpen their wits and broaden their field of vision."

I'll second that. You obviously don't have to agree with everything you read or hear in college. But listening with an open mind won't hurt.  Nor will taking part in exchanges of ideas (after all, nobody ever died from being exposed to one!).  If anything, such moments will make you more equipped for the conversations to follow, better informed about those issues practically everyone around you is talking about.

So listen, think, and speak up.  No need to be scared or silent......

Monday, February 15, 2016

Be Not Invisible

So how many of you reading this are still hanging out only with friends from high school, still eating lunch alone in your car, and still heading straight for the parking lot the minute your classes end each day?

How many of you have yet to take part in a class discussion, talk to a professor, meet with an advisor, check out a campus service, go to something fun on campus, or even chat with a classmate?

Not many, I hope.

But if by some chance you recognize yourself here, time to ask yourself why.

Time to ask why you're doing your best to be invisible at NCC, why you're not having more fun in college--and why you're shortchanging your education by failing to make connections with your campus.

I know, I know: Nassau's big and sprawling and maybe overwhelming and confusing at times. All of that traffic, people coming and going in every direction, a sea of unfamiliar faces, can make NCC seem very different from high school, where life was pretty predictable.

But new situations aren't automatically to be feared and avoided.  And life, including college after all, is often about adjusting to new circumstances. For students willing to make those adjustments--to speak up in class, to visit a professor during office hours, to see an advisor if they've questions, to go to a club meeting, to get to know people in their classes--Nassau is anything but scary or anonymous. It can be pretty warm and friendly, in fact.  Nurturing too: a network of professors, classmates, and others can make students feel right at home.

We all know that successful college students make school a priority, go to class regularly, keep up with assignments, prepare in advance for exams, and--in short--take their education seriously.  Along the way, they also make connections--academic, social, and personal--with people in their midst. They get to know professors, advisors, and classmates. They join clubs and go to campus events. They work with a tutor if they need extra help in a class. They see a counselor if they need information or advice or even just a sympathetic ear.

Invisible they're not.

Don't you be either.