Believe it or not, we were once college students too. We made great friendships, stayed up too late, and ate entirely too much pizza. We didn’t always know what we were doing though, and sometimes we struggled, when we didn’t need to. I wish I had known how many folks on campus were happy to point me in the right direction.
In this month’s blog post of Library HELP!: a monthly blog to help you student, the library crew answers, “What I wish I had known as a student:”
All of these images came to you from the PSC Archive. Pay the archive a visit if you would like to see more fun images and learn more about PSC history. Simply contact Alex Altan, College Archivist, at (708) 709-3553 or email@example.com.
If you are nearing the end of your time at PSC, congratulations! During this tough time in the semester, it can be easy to lose sight of this accomplishment. For some of you, this means looking for a job (an adventure of its own), and for others transferring out to a four-year university. Today’s post is for those who are transferring out to other institutions. We have a few different places you can get information, which are detailed below.
PSC has a Transfer Counselor, Sarah Hein, who specifically helps students who will need to transfer to complete a four-year degree. This is a process, which is why we have someone available to help you. If you would like to learn more, the library and Transfer Counselor are co-hosting a couple of upcoming events. Join us for some snacks, beverages, and information:
Snacks Session with the Transfer Counselor
Wednesday, April 13th and 20th 10:30 – 11:30 AM
The library also has a research guide, which walks you through the transfer process. How do you find a place where you fit in and feel safe? Do scholarships just fall from the sky? How do you craft a well-written admissions essay? And how important is that essay anyway? This guide can help you reason through all of those pieces and steer you towards a college program that is just right for you.
Lastly, the library’s current book display features books on the college application process. You can consult our faculty newsletter for a partial list, but will need to visit the library for a full display. Everything on display can be either checked out, or accessed as an ebook.
Your future is just that- your future. This can be scary, but it is also an opportunity for you to shape it how you see fit. Talk with Sarah Hein about what kind of college you would like to attend. Take a look at some of the resources in our research guide to create a plan to get there. Consult our display too. Remember that we want you to finish PSC strong, and continue your educational journey, no matter where that takes you.
Let’s talk about money I remember being a broke college student, barely able to gas up my car, or buy groceries. To do a load of laundry, I once moved washers and dryers to collect the quarters others had dropped. Years later, tuition is more expensive than ever. We know money causes students a lot of stress, and rightly so! Let’s talk about money.
This blog post isn’t going to be a shame-based lecture on why you should skip Starbucks or Dunkin’. We don’t want to wag our finger at you; enjoy that coffee! It will cover working with the financial aid office. More than 50% of PSC students receive financial aid, and students all over the U.S. are able to attend school with a combination of grants, scholarships, and loans. Read on, you might be surprised to learn that you qualify.
I spoke with Assistant Director of Financial Aid Yvette McGhee about what she wished students knew about her office and their services. Here is a summary of our discussion.
-Your first step should be to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid or The The FAFSA application determines eligibility for various types of financial aid, including federal and state grants as well as Direct subsidized and unsubsidized loans. The FAFSA is free to complete at studentaid.gov and opens on October 1st for the next school year. Complete the application, even if you don’t think you will qualify for grants. Any forms, in addition to the FAFSA, requested by the Financial Aid office should be filled out sooner rather than later to get assistance in a timely manner.
-The Foundation office has an online database of scholarships https://prairiestate.academicworks.com/. They can assist you in finding ones that fit your needs and unique abilities. Sarah Hein, Counselor, and Transfer Coordinator, recorded this webinar on scholarships that you might find useful. While it can take some time and energy to apply for scholarships, remember that this is money that won’t need to be paid back, unlike loans.
-Pay close attention to the disbursement calendar to see when you will receive your refund. Bear in mind that financial aid funds are transmitted on a two-week cycle. This means there may be a lag between when financial aid is awarded and when a balance disappears from your account.
-If you are struggling in a class, contact Financial Aid before withdrawing (dropping) the course. (Also contact your instructor; they want you to do well.) Depending on when you drop a class in the semester, you could wind up owing a balance, and that would be a bad surprise. If you do decide to withdraw, make sure you do so officially, instead of skipping class.
-Remember to check your student email. You can also have your student email forwarded to your personal email address, if that is easier. Financial Aid regularly sends reminders about deadlines, as well as other sources of funding. You can also sign up for PSC Alerts, which may contact you about payment deadlines, in addition to more exciting things- like snow days! Imagine missing this email:
-Finally, take out loans as a last resort, after looking at grants and scholarships first. PSC offers Direct subsidized and unsubsidized loans. We caution you to borrow conservatively while enrolled in PSC to ensure you have remaining loan funding once you transfer to the college or university of your choice.
To wrap it up; if you think college is expensive, you are correct. The price of tuition has increased dramatically in a brief period of time. The Financial Aid Office is here to help fund your education. Be sure and stay in communication with the college so that you don’t miss any funding opportunities. Fill out the FAFSA, and while loans may be necessary, look into other options first. Lastly, if you are struggling, reach out and ask for help from the Financial Aid Office, and your professor before withdrawing.
There will come a day when you need help to complete an assignment or pass a class. It happens to everyone. There is a problem set you can’t solve, a writing assignment that is giving you writer’s block, or a chemical equation you can’t balance. Your problem may be less concrete, or even emotional.
Struggling is common, and so is asking for help. We went into education (and librarianship) because we want to serve others. PSC is not a big school. Our small size means that we are able to get to know our students as individuals and provide personalized time and attention. Detailed below are some hints that you need help, and where to find it.
How do you know you need help?
• There is a wide range of normal, but if you find that it takes you much longer than your classmates to complete assignments, you might need additional support.
• If doing your work makes you want to run away, or leaves you in tears, some tutoring is a good idea.
• If you find yourself stuck and unable to do any work, having help would be wise.
• If you are trying your best, but aren’t passing, then one-on-one help would go a long way.
• If you are thinking about your problem(s) all the time and it is bothering you so much you can’t eat, sleep, or do things you enjoy, then some counseling sessions would be beneficial.
• If you are spending more than an hour a day on your emotional problem or rearranging your life to avoid it, then you should talk to someone.
• And finally…if you need someone to talk to, the counseling center can help. Where can you go for help?
Here are some of the services we provide to help.
The Student Success Center offers tutoring for a wide variety of subjects, including math, science, business, Spanish, and information technology, to name a few. If you need a personal tutor, please email Lisa Hansen. Provide your name, course subject, and availability and she will connect you with a tutor.
The library can help with the research process, point you towards resources, or help with citations. Our Ask a Librarian Page has links to get in touch. We are open in person from 8:00 AM – 4:30 PM and have chat available until 8:00 PM.
The Writing Center provides one-on-one help with writing. They can assist with grammar and syntax, as well as setting up a writing schedule. Check out their webpage to set up an appointment in person or online.
TRIO is a holistic support system that allows networking opportunities as well as additional institutional support. TRIO goals are to assist, retain, and graduate participants each year. The program includes much of the above programs, but in one place:
• Academic advising
• Career and personal support
• Computer study area in the SSS office
• Cultural activities and events
• Financial aid and financial literacy assistance
• Transfer advising
• Tutoring and study groups
• Informational workshops
You need to apply to be a part of TRIO. To apply call (708) 709-7945, or make an appointment on QLess. Personal Counseling If you are struggling with something less concrete than homework, PSC has counselors. People ask for help for all kinds of problems, and whatever you are struggling with, you don’t need to go at it alone. Our counselors are trained professionals who have heard it all. Remember that if you are in immediate danger, go to the emergency room.
PSC is here with personalized help when you need it. We want you to succeed, even during these strange and difficult times. You aren’t bothering the librarian with your research question; we love this stuff! The math tutor just wants you to love quadratic equations half as much as they do. (I Googled that!) The writing tutor will help you create the perfect turn of phrase. We are here; all you have to do is ask.
As you move through your program, you will complete assignments along the way. Your schoolwork—your scholarship —is all part of the ongoing conversation in your discipline and profession. Even if you don’t have your degree yet, you are contributing to the body of work with your assignments.
In academic terms, Kenneth Burke called this the “Unending Conversation.” The Burkean Parlor is a metaphor used to help us understand our place in our disciplines. Burke asks us to imagine entering a parlor, a party, a conference, or a café. The people you see are having an intense conversation, and they’re so passionate they can’t fill you in on what has already been said. So, you listen for a while, understand what the different positions and ideas are, and feel comfortable jumping in. Throughout this time, Some people join the conversation; others leave. Eventually you get tired, and you too depart. The conversation continues.
Your time at PSC helps you enter that Unending Conversation, or Burkean Parlor. Participating in your courses is the most important way to understand the discipline; and there are many other opportunities that strengthen your position. Check out these additional ideas below, and share with us your suggestions in the comments below for building connections in your profession.
Join a student group Prairie State College has a number of student organizations, tailored for different interests. Examples include Nursing Club, Pioneer Newspaper, and STEM Club to name a few. You’ll get the chance to bond with students and PSC faculty who have similar interests and meet others outside of your classes. These groups can also serve as a support group. Who else knows what you are going through than those in your cohort?
You can learn more about these clubs on Student Life’s Clubs Page. It is okay if there isn’t a club that perfectly aligns with your major. Clubs that tangentially fit interests and hobbies also offer an opportunity for comradery. For example, your coursework as an English Major is plenty applicable to the newspaper. Drama Club can teach you to think on your feet, which is invaluable in a number of (seemingly) unrelated fields. Don’t see a club you care to join? The above web page lists instructions to start your own.
Join a professional organization You don’t need a degree to join a professional organization, and many offer student rates for memberships. For example, I joined the Special Libraries Association at the student rate while I was still in school for my library science degree. I was able to attend all events, including networking ones where I made professional contacts. I also joined a great group of people who have been nothing but supportive as I went from student, to job hunter, to working librarian. Bear in mind that many organizations are meeting remotely, so if there isn’t a chapter close to home, that may not be a barrier to entry.
The best option is to meet with the Career Services Office to talk through potential careers and their accompanying professional organizations. They can also help you find a career if you are unsure what is next.
Publish You don’t need a degree or to be a famous author to publish. In fact, there are many publications specifically for undergraduate research and writing! For example, Queen City Writers showcases research from English classes—and some of our own PSC graduates have had their Composition II essays published here. MarSci publishes undergraduate research focused on marine and aquatic sciences, just like you might complete in a Biology class at PSC. Other opportunities include presenting papers, or posters. A poster session is a presentation of original research that can fit on a large poster. Many academic conferences have poster sessions for students, like the LOEX Conference Poster Sessions, which is for library science students. If you’re proud of your academic work and are interested in sharing it with a broader audience, chat with your professors and your librarians. We’re happy to strategize together.
Find a work study or other job that relates to your major (even if tangentially) Not every job will fit into a career arc, and sometimes you just need a paycheck. Every so often, though, you’ll have the chance to work in your field even before a degree.
Work study Did you know you can get a paying position on campus that accommodates your schedule? Paid positions are available as part of the work-study program through the Financial Aid office. A work study position is part of the Federal Work-Study Program and is a part-time position on campus for students with financial need. Read more about the different forms of Financial Aid- which include Work-Study on the Financial Aid Department’s website. It will include steps to obtain a position.
Finding transferable skills Wherever you currently work, you will gain transferable skills. Everyone starts somewhere, and that’s okay. While you are a student, take a look at some job postings for your dream job. It doesn’t matter if you are qualified for it or not, since the goal isn’t to apply for the position, but to see what skills are desirable. Make a list of the ones you can reasonably learn in any position.
If you are currently working, then make a list of all of the tasks that translate into necessary skills for your dream job. If you aren’t working, look at postings for your dream job, and then search for jobs that meet your current qualifications and allow you to build those skills, even if in a different industry. The Career Services Office can help you with this process too.
While still in school I looked at librarian job descriptions to see what skills were desirable. Then I looked for student friendly jobs that incorporated those exact skills. Remember, it doesn’t matter if you have the qualifications for these job postings while you peruse. This is a chance to see what skills can get you to a position like this one.
Wrapping it up My years of retail work prepared me for the customer service portion of my job. Your time at a bakery can help show how detail oriented you are. Learning to work with difficult customers can demonstrate your empathy and patience. Your work on an assembly line helped you better understand how one production process fits into a larger whole. Take these experiences and fit them into the larger story of your career. Your current paid work and scholarship will make you a whole person and even better prepared for the ongoing conversation of your career.
You’ve finished your exams, turned in your papers, but now what? Finals are stressful and how do you unwind after running on fumes so that you aren’t exhausted when the next semester starts?
First, take care of your basic needs- Have you been getting enough sleep? Eating enough? Drinking water? Take care of your most basic needs, which for many of you will probably start with getting a good night’s sleep. It sounds silly, but you’ll be in a better headspace once you do and contrary to popular belief- you can’t sleep when you are dead.
Do all of those things for your health you put off. For example, have you gotten your COVID-19 vaccine or booster? Have you been to the dentist lately? Take a few minutes and schedule these appointments so that you know they will get done.
Treat Yourself– It is a pandemic, so we don’t encourage you to go to a club, held in a poorly ventilated basement, with 100 of your friends. Your celebration may need to be more low-key, and that’s okay. You can celebrate by baking. It can be watching hours and hours of Netflix until you get this message:
It could be taking a hot bath. Insert any activity you love but haven’t had time to do during the semester.
These are simple, and frankly, cheap ways to exhale and celebrate a job well done. Actually put the time on your calendar, or pay for a reservation to hold your slot for your haircut, massage, or anything else to ensure that you don’t skip this celebration. You’ve worked hard.
Don’t worry about your grade, but do thank your professors- Professors are really touched when students reach out to say thank you. A quick email is plenty and will make their week.
To reiterate: take care of your basic needs, find time for celebration, send a thank you note, and rest up because the spring semester is coming!
The semester is flying by. Can you believe it is the middle of November? Where did the time go? Speaking of time- you probably have some looming deadlines. Some students do their work right at the end, staying up into the wee hours of the morning. This can’t always be helped and life happens. However, if you have the ability to gradually work ahead, you’ll be better rested overall, and probably get a better grade.
If your paper is due on December 13th, (or any other date), how do you know when to start working? How do you know when you should be researching? Revising? I can help you with that. There are online calculators that can help you to break down the research and writing process based on both today’s date and your due date.
I created a list of a few different types of calculators that do just this. Each is slightly different, so take a look and see which calculator works best for you.
This second calculator comes from the University of Minnesota and can help you set up a schedule for a research paper, a lab report, or a speech. This one will allow you to add the different steps directly to your Google Calendar: https://www.lib.umn.edu/services/ac
All of these calculators essentially do the same thing- they help you to break down a big daunting task, like writing a research paper, into multiple steps that can be accomplished gradually over time. I wanted to give you different choices; your mileage may vary. Just like any other task, the more times you do this, the easier it will get. You’ve got this!
If you need help with writing, the PSC Writing Center can be of assistance. We are always happy to help with the research process; all you have to do is Ask a Librarian.
Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About College, but Were Afraid to Ask
College can be daunting. (For one thing, your librarian uses words like “daunting,” but you can always look up the definition.) It can be daunting whether you are coming directly from high school, or returning after a long time. In some ways college is like high school- you have classes, classmates, teachers, and homework, but in many ways it is different. You have much more control over your schedule, which is a double-edged sword. You should come to class, but nobody will tell your parents if you don’t. You control what classes you take, and to some extent which professors you have. You pick your major. Having so much freedom can be wonderful, but can also feel overwhelming, so we have answers to common questions.
Question: Do all classes start on the same date? Answer: They don’t, which can lead to confusion. The majority of classes are 16 weeks, but they can also be 8, 12, or 14 weeks. The course’s listing will show the start and end date.
Question: Are my classes on campus? Answer: Your classes might be in person, online, or both, which is called a hybrid class. The class’s name and code can give you some hints. If you are not sure if you will be meeting on campus, email your instructor.
For example, this one has a lecture on Tuesdays and it meets for 16 weeks from 8/24 to 12/14.
This one has meets for 14 weeks from 9/17 to 12/16.
This one is only online.
Question: How should I contact my instructors? Answer: You should always use your PSC (Prairie State College) student email when contacting staff or instructors at the college. Important information is sent to your email regularly, so be sure to check it at least once a day.
Question: How do I access my student email? Answer: You should have received an email to your personal account with login information. If you did not, please email firstname.lastname@example.org for assistance.
Question: How do I find my schedule? Answer: If you know how to log in to your PSC email, you can log in to WebAdvisor on the PSC homepage. Your schedule will be under the link “My Class Schedule.” Choose “FA21” for the Fall 2021 term.
Question: How do I access my online courses? Answer: Your courses will live on a platform called Desire 2 Learn, or D2L for short. If you know how to log in to your PSC email, you can log in to D2L on the PSC homepage using the same login. You should see all your courses there. Click on the course you want.
Question: What if my course’s time and date has TBD? Answer: This means the course doesn’t meet at a scheduled time, or put another way- is fully asynchronous. You can work on your courses at any time that is convenient for you as long as you meet the instructor’s deadlines. You will need to log in to Desire to Learn (D2L) for your courses. You can check this in your schedule on WebAdvisor. Even if the course is asynchronous, your instructor might also hold optional course meetings, which are usually recorded for students who can’t attend.
Question: What is a meeting pattern? Answer: Meeting Pattern (or MP) will be in the course section number for classes that are online and require attendance at a certain time on a certain day, just like an in-person course. These are called synchronous classes. Your D2L shell should have information about how to join class meetings. (For example, Col 101-INMPF will have a virtual class meeting on Mondays and Wednesdays at 8:30-9:20a). You can check this in your schedule on WebAdvisor.
Question: Where can I buy my textbooks? Answer: Once you have access to D2L, look for the syllabus for your course. It will have information about textbooks. In some cases, faculty might be using an open-source web-based textbook. (You might hear these called open access as well, or OA for short, but all three mean the same thing.) These are scholarly ebooks that are freely available on the web.
Others you may have to purchase or rent through either PSC’s bookstore or other textbook sellers. The library won’t have copies of textbooks.
Question: What are books on reserve? Answer: In the above answer, we said that the library won’t have copies of your textbooks. This is true, but sometimes your professor will leave a book, model, or something else on reserve at the library’s circulation desk. You can check it out for two hours at a time and need to keep it in the library. Ask your instructor if your course materials are on reserve—and if they’re not, ask them to consider it.
Question: How do I find out about financial aid? Answer: If you know how to log in to your PSC email, you can log in to WebAdvisor on the PSC homepage. Click Students and look for the link on the left side of the screen that says “Financial Aid Checklist, Awards & Status”. The Financial Aid office will help answer your questions about the process.
Question: How do I drop/change/add a class? Answer: Contact your advisor. (If you do not know who this is, email Lee Helbert at email@example.com.) Before dropping a class, it’s always a good idea to talk to your instructor first.
Question: What if all my courses are not in D2L yet? Answer: Check your course start dates. Not all classes start at the same time. The start dates can be found in your schedule on WebAdvisor. If the class has already started and is not on D2L, email your instructor to check in.
Question: Where can I get a student ID? Answer: The Office of Enrollment Services ID Center issues identification cards to all students, faculty, and staff. Apply in Room 1101, ID Center. There is no charge for the first card and replacements are available for $5.
Question: What are office hours? Answer: Think about office hours as student hours! Office hours are times professors set aside for you to ask questions, troubleshoot problems, get feedback on an assignment, prepare for a quiz, talk about majoring in the discipline, or just say hi. These can often be done in person, or over Google Meet. PSC professors really enjoy meeting with students during office hours. If you can’t attend at the time they identified, ask if you can meet another time.
Question: Why do I need to read the syllabus? Answer: The syllabus is your key to success! It includes all kinds of useful information, like your assignments, due dates, how to seek accommodations for students with disabilities, policies on late work- and more. You’ll get a broad overview of the class by reading this document. Your class syllabus will be on D2L, and possibly handed out on the first day of class.
Question: How much time should I expect to spend on classwork each week? Answer: That depends, but there are some useful guides to help you. Most instructors suggest spending about 2-3 hours outside of class per credit hour. For an in-person 3-credit hour class you’re really skilled at, that might be 6 hours a week. For an online class you find more challenging, it can be more like 12 hours a week. It also depends on how long your term is (16, 14, 12, or 8 weeks)—8 week classes require double the amount of time per week! Rice University has a coursework calculator to help you figure out how much time you will need to set aside to complete different kinds of assignments. This template schedule is from Professor Nastal, and can help you to find time to dedicate to your schoolwork.