December 04, 2013
The Internet is certainly a wonderful thing. It has allowed us to stay informed about the political upheavals of countries thousands of miles away, stay connected with friends and family across oceans, take part in the latest viral dance craze, and of course, lets students from around the world obtain a degree by removing barriers like time and place. Because of the availability of resources at our disposal, we can find information on any topic, in any language, from any time, with the tap of a button through the 634 million websites available.
But like all good things, it can be misused. The sheer volume of accessible and free sources at our fingertips has provided for increased confusion and error, giving even greater rise to plagiarism than ever before. Plagiarism is considered the unattributed use of intellectual property protected under U.S. law (you can read more about that here). And while colleges and universities have serious disciplinary action policies regarding plagiarism, the practice can also prevent you from developing key writing skills.
Whether intentional or accidental, plagiarism can be avoided by simply including citations and acknowledging any borrowed content. Here are 5 essential tools to help you avoid plagiarism and ensure your work is original and accurate:
An online plagiarism detector, TurnitIn.com provides an originality report identifying any feedback or information that alludes to non-original work, even if the text has been reworded or reformatted. Typically a paid service, it is accessible for free to enrolled Thomas Edison State College students taking online courses. TurnitIn.com allows you to not only see your slip-ups and clean them up on your own, but the final originality report can also be submitted to your mentor as evidence of your efforts.
Another online tutorial service, Thomas Edison State College students registered in courses can use this tool for free. Live, expert educators are available to provide you writing assistance and personalized feedback on your work. To allow for the live nature of this resource, submit your drafts at least 48 hours in advance to receive your review.
Similar to the previous two tools, WriteCheck.com is another fee-based plagiarism checker, offering an analysis of your content, citations and sources cross-referenced with other works. The service also offers a grammar check to ensure a proper writing style, as well as professional tutoring services to critique your submissions.
More an option than a tool, Thomas Edison State College’s Request for Course Extension form can be obtained through your mentor if you require more time to complete an assignment because of an illness, financial difficulty or military deployment. You can use the 8-week extension time valuably to review and edit your paper on your own by conducting a Google search on select passages.
A resource that provides more how-to’s and explanations than services, Plagiarism.org describes different citation styles and a glossary of terms, while also providing guides on how to cite your resources, paraphrase, use quotes and more. If you are unsure about a source, plagiarism.org can give you a definitive answer.
Whether you are answering a question on a discussion board, or submitting a lengthy, footnoted research paper, you should be proud of what you have written; it is a reflection of you. Using the resources available to you to help critique your work can be an immense confidence booster when that final grade comes in. Ultimately, every writing assignment will help you develop and sharpen the writing skills necessary to lead you on the educational and professional paths of success that you have already begun by becoming a college student.
November 08, 2013
Undoubtedly, Thomas Jefferson had many great achievements and a brilliant mind, but when the two came together, the result was none so recognizable and significant as the Declaration of Independence. His words are the backbone for which this great experiment, the United States of America, was founded; “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
Consider the words of our country’s foremost document, and by extension, the foundation for our Constitution; the pursuit of happiness is not a privilege or a luxury – it is a RIGHT. Unfortunately, while we all want to be happy, most of us don’t know how to actually pursue it. Enter National Pursuit of Happiness Week, beginning on November 8th through the 14th, a little-known, weeklong observance that reminds us to be a little more introspective. Obviously, the best way to celebrate this week is to examine what is really important in your life and what your life is for. To find your path to happiness, start by asking yourself these 10 questions:
Did you get the answers you wanted? What can you do to change those answers?
Begin with a plan. Write down where you are right now (your beginning) and where you want to be (your end). Fill in with what you need to do to get from your beginning to your end, by using the answers you wished you gave for the questions above as your guide. Happiness is a choice, and you make the decisions. And whenever you are in doubt, look at the paper you just created. Turns out, a blueprint for happiness exists after all.
Tags: tips and advice
November 05, 2013
Are you new to research? Haven't used a research library in 5, 10 or 20 years? Received your first written assignment and unsure where to begin?
Research is not a complicated process. There are many resources, services and online tools available to help students find the research materials – books, articles, journals, databases and more – necessary to begin writing. Librarians can help you track down difficult-to-find items in print or electronic collections and assist with research.
Take the mystery out of conducting research by following this simple, 6-step plan:
For more information on conducting research, watch the New Jersey State Library's pre-recorded webinar "Research Made Simple: Resources and Services of the NJ State Library," here.
October 29, 2013
Transitioning from a teenager to an adult is never easy. Compound the pressures and demands of time, family and jobs, financial resources and an inadequate preparation for the amount of academic work. Perhaps then it doesn’t seem so unbelievable that nearly half of the students who began college at a traditional four-year institution at 18-years-old didn’t graduate. Sound familiar?
Missteps happen. Life intervenes. However, now you are older, wiser, and more experienced in the world. You fully understand the importance of an education, and feel you are ready and motivated to finish the degree you started all those years ago. But, like with any new endeavor, you are anxious. This time, you want to succeed and earn your degree. Today, adult learners like you have more resources and tools available to help you reach your goal that go way beyond online courses and taking classes at night or on weekends. As you begin the road to your degree, consider these five tips to help ensure that you find success:
Pursue a passion. Select an area of study that interests you. What you learn should be your choice, as it is a reflection of you. If you are passionate about what you are learning, your curiosity and fascination will likely give you more drive you to succeed. Learning is not about getting the highest grade or score on an exam. As you progress in your career, no one will ever ask you for a report card. But they will assess your motivation and ambition. The best way to develop these qualities is to love what you do.
Set goals and accomplish them. Envision your goal, finishing your degree, and keep working towards it. Even if it takes one step at a time. “Each day, each class, you’re closer to your goal,” posted Linda Wells on Facebook. “Once you get there, no one can take it away. Do it!” Every step, no matter how small, will eventually take you to where you need to be. “Just begin. Take the first step. Time is your friend, not your enemy,” posted Michael Burns on LinkedIn. “Right now you just need to focus on the beginning, not the end. At a later point in time, when you look up, you will see that you have completed more classes than you have remaining. At that point you will be inspired…. You will know that you will finish.”
Recognize your time commitments to school, work and family. Assess your obligations and realize how you will be able to fit school in. You might do well at a college that understands your commitment to family and career, and offers flexibility offers flexibility for motivated adult learners through programs that do not require traditional classroom attendance. “It first takes determination and desire,” posted Robert Scott Gardner on LinkedIn. “Make a schedule and stick to it!” Also, consider schools that accept a wide variety of transfer credits and those that let you take a break from course work for personal or professional reasons without any academic or financial penalties.
Understand the resources available to you. At this point in your life, you should have realized the type of learner you are. Think about your needs as a busy adult. Do you prefer interaction with other classmates or would you rather work independently? Does the program work around your schedule? What course formats and learning options are available, in addition to a traditional classroom setting? As an adult learner, there are many more course options to choose from that not only fit into your lifestyle, but also your learning style.
Also, remember that you have different needs today than you had when you were a fresh-faced teen who just graduated from high school. You may have earned college credits at another institution or acquired college-level knowledge that can be applied as college transfer credit toward a degree. Will the school you are considering accept previously earned credits from other institutions? How many credits will you have to repeat?
There are a variety of ways to earn college credit that do not require sitting in a classroom or even taking a formal course. If you already possess specialized expertise, you may be able to earn additional credit for demonstrating you possess that college-level knowledge. You may also be able to earn credit for any licenses and certificates, or training programs you completed through your profession. Before you select a school, ask the admissions office what prior learning assessment programs they offer.
Talk to your family. Sit down and discuss with your family why you are pursuing this goal, and why it is important to you. Make sure they realize the commitment you are making and the potential role they can play in helping you. Their encouragement can prove essential as you complete your degree. “Surround yourself with a good support system, “ posted Mark De Luca on Facebook. “So you have others helping you get through the times when you think you [want to] give up!” Discuss with your family what you are learning. Including your family in this facet of your life will help strengthen the support system you have.
And remember, that when you finally do earn that degree, you will have received a lot more than a piece of paper that hangs on a wall. “Keep in mind that when you take risks, go outside your comfort zone,” Aura Rose posted on Facebook. “Wonderful things start to happen – horizons expand [and] the world opens for you.” For Wayne Sos, “Going back to school not only improved my critical thinking and earned me a degree,” he posted on LinkedIn. “It also set an example for my children that focus, commitment, and goals are needed to improve your life.”
There is always time and opportunity to try again. After all, it took Thomas Edison 10,000 tries to come up with a light bulb that worked. “Our greatest weakness lies in giving up,” said Edison. “The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.” And he will always be right.
October 11, 2013
By Roxanne L. Globis
Director of Alumni Affairs
How many times do you say to yourself that you need to network with more people to advance your career? You have great skills and talents, and networking might help the right people discover you. In today’s marketplace, achieving your professional goals relies more on networking than ever before. Networking sounds like a great idea, but for many it can be intimidating.
If you are ready to meet new people face-to-face, there are numerous networking events related to your industry, interests and career. To find one to attend, do a simple Google search. Some are in amazing places that lend to incredible experiences, like the upcoming Thomas Edison State College student and alumni events in Manhattan and San Francisco.
If you would rather not attend an event in person, LinkedIn is a great, free tool to connect on a more personal level and grow your network in an easy-to-use, online format. If you're looking to expand your network or looking for a job at a specific company, in a particular industry or in a certain location — or are just curious about where Thomas Edison State College alumni are now working—the LinkedIn Alumni Tool makes finding those people easy.
Here's how it works:
Navigate to www.linkedin.com/alumni to start. If Thomas Edison State College is listed in your LinkedIn profile, it will automatically be selected.
At the top of your Alumni Page you'll see three subheads: "Where they live," "Where they work," and "What they do." Click the arrow to the right to view additional categories, which include "Where they studied," "What they're skilled at" and "How you are connected."
All the graphs are interactive: Click any of the blue bars to drill down and refine your search. Clicking "Greater New York City Area," for example, will display the names of alumni living in New York City below the graph, and update the top lists detailing the companies they work for and the fields in which alumni work.
If you're job hunting and know you want to work for Google, for example, use the Alumni Tool to find alumni—and with your major—who work there now.
If the company doesn't appear in your top five list, click the magnifying glass icon to search for it. Then, select the field of work to narrow the pool.
So now that you have found the alumni you are looking for – what do you do with that information? Or, now you are at an actual networking event, but have no idea how to start chatting? Sparking up a conversation can be easy, if you ask the right questions. Try ones that lead to further communication, open up new views and lend to valuable advice, like:
How did you get started in your career/industry/field?
What do you enjoy most about what you do?
What advice may you have for someone interested in a similar path?
Of course, there are no set guidelines when it comes to career networking; it is what you make of it. But having confidence and a willingness to learn can get you far. Whether you are a student just beginning to look at what the industry can offer, or a high-powered executive looking to find the next great idea, networking is the key to success.
Do you have any tips or advice on networking with alumni at events or on LinkedIn? Share them in the comments below or on the LinkedIn Thomas Edison State College Student and Alumni Group.
Featuring stories and information about Thomas Edison State College and going back to college as a busy adult.