10 Tips You Need to Know to Get Quicker, Better Advising Help

Posted Tuesday, April 29, 2014

When you first apply to college, the idea seems simple. You are ready to take the required classes, write papers, pass your exams and eventually earn a college degree. But then the anxiety sets in: What is this academic evaluation? How do I read it? What classes am I supposed to take? How do I register? General education courseswhat are those???

You don’t have to figure all of this out on your own; academic advising can guide you through your college experience, interpret your academic evaluation and help you select courses and programs of study – everything you’ll need to get you to graduation day. Empowering you to take charge of your academic career is their number one goal. So, to get the most out of academic advising, here are 10 must-read tips from advisors that will help you save time and confusion (and probably, a handful of HelpDesk tickets and Expressline phone calls).

Tip #1: Always have your academic evaluation in front of you for each advising appointment.
Your academic evaluation is a rolling document, meaning it will always be updated with your previously earned credit, and shows you what courses you have left to take. Before any advising appointments, read it over and jot down a few notes and questions so you’re more than prepared. Your academic evaluation is an invaluable planning tool when talking to your advisor and key to developing an effective degree plan.

Tip #2: There is no such thing as an “easy course.”
College isn’t easy; it takes a lot of hard work and determination to succeed. But if you are interested and passionate about a subject, take a course on that topic. It can only contribute to a better experience for you.

Tip #3: Become familiar with the codes found at the bottom of your academic evaluation.
For every course you take, or plan to take, a code will be designated to identify the status of that requirement. By understanding the codes found at the bottom of your academic evaluation, you will be able to infer if a sub-area of your degree requirements have been completed or are in-progress, or if you are preregistered (PR) for a course or plan to take it (PL). When you become familiar with the codes, your evaluation will be much easier to read when they appear again in other places throughout your assessment.

Tip #4: Pay attention to course code descriptions so you do not duplicate a course.
By nature, names of courses will change. However, their course code descriptions, the unique identifier number that begins with a three-letter departmental code followed by three numbers to signify the course level, do not. Take a look at these codes when choosing your classes; if a course title is different, but the course code description remains the same as a course you have already taken, you can save yourself the trouble of repeating it again.

Tip #5: Bookmark or favorite a page on the College website so you can easily access it later.
If you’ve found yourself returning to the same page on the College website, forgetting its location and then trying to find it all over again, bookmark or add the page as a favorite within your Internet browser. Repeatedly looking for those general education requirements? Forgot what page your advisor told you to check out? Imagine how easily you will be able to find the page again in just one click.

Tip #6: If you could teach the course, then you may be a good candidate for Prior Learning Assessment.
Are you an expert in a certain field? Believe you could teach an entire course on that subject? If you have the appropriate background and knowledge, and the skills to articulate that, then Prior Learning Assessment may be a viable option for you to earn credit. Jot this option down, and speak with your advisor about the PLA process and how it can apply to your degree.

Tip #7: Schedule appointments based upon how much time you will need to talk to your advisor.
If you only have one or two questions, then sending an email or calling the Advisement Expressline might be your best option to get a quick answer. For questions that require more in-depth degree planning, enrolled students can schedule a half-hour appointment with the advising office. But if you are really confused (and we mean really), then it could be in your best interest to book two, back-to-back time slots to speak with an advisor. However, as long as you are prepared (see Tip #1), most appointments take just under 30 minutes to complete.

Tip #8: Include your College ID# in all of your correspondence.
Have a common name like John Smith? Or change your last name recently? Regardless the reason, your College ID# is unique to you and will never change. Include your ID# in any emails or messages to the advising office, which can help save time in pulling and reviewing your academic records. It may help you receive a faster response too, instead of waiting for your advisor to sift through all those other John Smiths, trying to determine which one you are.

Tip #9: Eliminate any and all distractions during your advising appointments, including driving.
Give your advising appointment your full attention; more than likely, you will need to write some things down, visit a few pages on the website or look at your academic evaluation. Conducting other activities, like driving, even with a hands-free set, would only be a disservice to you. Schedule an appointment with an advisor at a time that works for you, when outside distractions won’t be an issue. If your typical times are already booked up, or do not fit into your schedule, you can always send an email with your questions and concerns via the HelpDesk.

Tip #10: Be in front of a computer when you speak with your advisor.
When you speak with your advisor, especially during the degree planning process, you will be directed to helpful links on the College’s website. This may include the courses most applicable to your degree program, how to register for courses, where to find your academic evaluation, and much, much more. By saving this information, you can quickly and easily find everything you discussed with your advisor when you need it later.

Tags: Academic Evaluation , Advising , Majors and Degree Programs , Prior Learning Assessment and Portfolio , Student Services , Taking Courses

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The Ultimate Cheat Sheet for Finding Military Financial Aid and Scholarships

Posted Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Whether its preparing for a civilian career, frequent deployments, advancing your rank, earning your degree while serving your country, figuring out your GI Bill benefits or navigating the challenges of having a family member on active duty… there’s a lot to handle if you are a member of the United States military, a military spouse or veteran. This leaves you little or no time to identify scholarships or financial assistance.

Getting the financial aid you deserve can prove tricky to find, but there are an increasing number of scholarship opportunities and support available to service members, veterans and their families. For instance, did you know there are scholarships available for grandchildren of military members? Even specialized scholarships for each branch of the United States military?

So, if you are ready to further your education and reach your goals, read on to discover 17 resources and organizations that support veterans, military members and/or their families with the financial aid and scholarships that commitment and service to our Nation deserves:

The American Legion offers scholarships to children of members of the armed forces who are looking to pursue a college degree. In addition, the American Legion offers general, nonmilitary-based scholarships for students pursuing nursing degrees, students involved in outside organizations like the Boy Scouts of America, and more.

AMVETS (American Veterans) has scholarships available for active duty and guard/reserves military members and veterans. Children and grandchildren are eligible to apply for scholarships distinctive from those available for service members themselves.

Disabled American Veterans provides aid and financial assistance to disabled veterans and their families. Scholarships and grant opportunities are available to those who qualify.

Paralyzed Veterans of America assists military members and veterans who have become paralyzed, as well as spouses or children under the age of 24, who are dependent upon a paralyzed veteran.

Veterans of Foreign Wars conducts an annual, audio-essay college scholarship contest entitled “Voice of Democracy” for high school students.

Todaysmilitary.com connects military members with the Military Tuition Assistance Program, which covers a majority, if not all, of a service member’s degree and tuition expenses.

USAA Educational Foundation offers multiple scholarship and financial aid opportunities, as well as financial aid planning, for those who have served, continue to serve and their families.

American Red Cross supports America’s military families each and every day by offering financial assistance and aid through donations and funds collected by the organization.

USA Cares exists to provide financial support and stability for service members by offering grants to help with financial needs during a financial crisis.
ThanksUSA has awarded more than $10 million in scholarships to deserving and hardworking members of the armed forces and their dependents through funds donated to their scholarship program.

Health Professions Scholarship Program through the U.S. Army offers qualifying students full tuition for any accredited medical program, plus a generous monthly stipend of more than $2,000.

Military.com Scholarship Finder offers a comprehensive, user-friendly search engine to narrow down thousands of scholarship opportunities that match your qualifications.

National Military Family Association awards scholarships for military spouses of all uniformed service members. Scholarship winners can use the funds towards professional certifications, undergraduate and graduate degrees, licensure fees, tuition and more, so that they can better contribute to their family’s financial security.

Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation provides several need-based scholarships in honor of Marines and Navy Corpsmen from all conflicts and wars by educating their children.

Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society offers financial assistance for children and spouses of active duty and retired sailors and marines who are pursuing an undergraduate degree in the teaching profession or a medical-related field.

Fleet Reserve Association (FRA) Education Foundation supports Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard personnel and their families with scholarships to afford service members and veterans the opportunity to attend accredited colleges and universities as full-time students.

Air Force Association provides degree-focused scholarships and grants for U.S. Air Force personnel and their spouses to pursue associate/bachelor undergraduate or graduate/postgraduate degrees. Recipients are selected based upon academic standards, good character, financial need and field of study.

There are many scholarships that recognize the service and sacrifice of active duty service members, veterans and their families. An additional resource is Scholarship and Financial Aid Explorer, which contains unbiased, comprehensive information to help you identify local and regional financial aid opportunities that best fit your personal educational goals.

For more information and sources on military scholarships, applications and eligibility requirements, visit the College’s Military Scholarships page.

Tags: Going Back to College , Military , Scholarships and Financial Aid , Veterans , Work-Life Balance

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9 Deadly Habits Every Student Should Avoid

Posted Tuesday, April 15, 2014

While there are an infinite number of strategies and tactics that can drive a student’s success, there are only a handful of reasons that may lead a student to crash in failure. But those reasons are MAJOR. And, oftentimes, hard to avoid. But not impossible.

By understanding the pitfalls that often plague students, you can better prepare for your own college success. Whether you are just learning how to navigate a work/life balance, or searching for a reason why going back to college is so much harder than you thought it would be, kick these 9 habits to the curb and give yourself a degree tune-up:

1. Poor Time Management
Work is calling. The kids are crying. Dishes are piling up in the sink. You miss a course deadline… or two… or three… We get it. Life gets busy. You can’t plan for everything. But you can plan for something.

The Fix: Set aside a few hours each day to do school work, uninterrupted, that will allow for your total focus on the task at hand. By planning your day or week in advance, and writing it down in a notebook, planner or on a post-it stuck to the fridge, will help you visualize what needs to be accomplished. Then you can make adjustments and arrangements as needed.

2. Not Keeping Up
We’re all guilty of procrastination. Putting off tasks until another day is going to happen in some way, shape or form while you pursue your degree. Telling yourself that you will just “do it later” will only hurt you in the long run. Getting totally lost in a course is a problem that happens far too often.

The Fix: Set personal deadlines that come before your course deadlines so you can assure that the work gets done in a timely manner. You may need that extra day or two to polish your work, or recap something you read earlier on. By staying on pace with your courses, even studying will come much easier to you; cramming for your courses is one thing you can leave behind.

3. Not Getting Enough Sleep
Ah, sleep. We can’t get enough of it, literally. With the hustle and bustle of balancing work, school and family, where is sleep supposed to fit in? But not getting enough sleep can hurt your test taking, studying and writing performance.

The Fix: Getting a good night sleep can actually improve your grades over pulling an all-nighter, help you to retain more information and much more. Find the balance that works for you so you’re refreshed and recharged to take on the day ahead, the right way.

4. Not Discussing Your Plans or Questions With Your Advisor
Not discussing your degree plans with your advisor could adversely affect the courses you take; who knew you didn’t need to take that class again?! Your advisor certainly did! Your advisor is the one that can offer the guidance and advice you need to finish your degree on time and as efficiently as possible.

The Fix: Your advisor is an invaluable resource. When in doubt, ask. As a Thomas Edison State College student, when you are in doubt, you can make an advising appointment through myEdison® 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Or, you can call the College’s Advisement Expressline to reach an academic advisor quickly without the need for a formal appointment, especially for questions that typically take less than 10 minutes for an advisor to answer. Remember, there is no such thing as a stupid question. Every question is important because it applies to you.

5. Not Having the Right Supplies, Materials or Equipment
You wouldn’t take a test without studying, right? And you really wouldn’t take that test if you didn’t even have the book to study from, right? It is crucial to obtain your course materials in a timely manner so you can engage properly at the very beginning.

The Fix: Plan to purchase your materials, test out your equipment and review the syllabus before the course begins so you can understand what’s required of you. And don’t forget to test out your technology; be sure to have a reliable computer with the programs you’ll need and a dependable Internet connection to actively participate in courses.

6. Using Google and Wikipedia as Credible Research Sources
Sure, Google can be a great resource to help you develop ideas, but it should never be the only source you use to look for information. And neither should Wikipedia. Simply put, these sites are not credible sources in an academic paper.

The Fix: Public libraries, online journal databases, and credible online websites (typically those whose web addresses that end in .org, .gov, .edu, etc.) are the most reliable places to gather research information. As a Thomas Edison State College student, you do have access to the New Jersey State Library and its special databases, articles, books, journals and more that can help you nail that next research paper.

7. Taking On More Than You Realize
“Biting off more than you can chew,” as they say, can be detrimental to your success in any course you take. When you begin as a new student, ready and eager to get started as quickly as possible, it may seem tempting to take two or three courses at a time, and underestimate the time commitment required. Falling behind then becomes all too easy.

The Fix: Speak to your advisor and get their insight into what they think may be an appropriate course load for your first term. Keep in mind any job, family or outside commitments, and consider how much time in a week you will be able to dedicate to school. This will help you assess the right amount of courses to take without sacrificing your grades.

8. Not Participating
In any course, class participation is key. Whether you are raising your hand in a traditional classroom, or posting a reply to a discussion thread, your presence is noted. And assessed. And graded. If you don’t participate as required, not only are you putting your grade in danger, but you won’t get the most out of your course. Which, at the end of the day, is the whole reason you’ve chosen to pursue your degree.

The Fix: Actively participate with quality responses, and be sure to answer emails promptly and efficiently. Sure, your mentor is watching, but your classmates are also hoping to learn from you, as you are from them.

9. Not Writing Down Due Dates and Assignments
If you don’t have a planner, get one, stat! It will be your fail-safe throughout your academic career. Notating your course assignments and deadlines is fundamental to your time management skills, and will help you plan your life accordingly to stay on track.

The Fix: Whether it be a planner, a Google Calendar or a mobile calendar and reminder app, find the planning tool that works for you. Include the due dates of all your assignments, exams and readings. Being able to quickly and easily reference your commitments is the easiest way to stay organized and on top of everything.


Are you guilty of any of these habits? How have you overcome them?

Tags: Advising , Going Back to College , Online Tools and Resources , Student Services , Study Tips , Taking Courses , Time Management , Work-Life Balance

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Do You Have the Skills Necessary for Your Dream Career?

Posted Tuesday, April 08, 2014

By Roxanne L. Globis
Director of Alumni Affairs

Whether you’re looking to start, change or advance your career, career planning can get complicated.

And time consuming.

And confusing.

And a thousand other challenges.

However, if you create a plan, the more effective you will be in your job search. Let that plan help you research, discover and cultivate the skills you’ll need for your chosen career, and you can ensure success for the future you. Here are five online tools and career resources that can guide you every step of the way, from before you graduate to earning your degree, and beyond.

If you're looking to network with people at a specific company, industry or location, the LinkedIn Alumni tool makes finding (and connecting) with Thomas Edison State College alumni easy. Want more? Join the conversation and become a member of the College's student and alumni group.

You can build your pathway to career success with this robust tool that offers tips for job searching and links to national, state and local resources. It also includes the Military-to-Civilian Job Search tool where veterans and service members can search for jobs based on the skills and experiences gained in the military.

American Corporate Partners (ACP)
In a new partnership created earlier this year, Thomas Edison State College military students can utilize the services of this nonprofit organization dedicated to assisting service members in their transition from the military to the private sector. With the help of business professionals nationwide, ACP offers veterans tools for long-term career development through mentoring, career counseling and networking opportunities.

mySkills myFuture
This tools helps you find new occupations to explore. You can identify occupations that require skills and knowledge similar to your current or previous job, learn more about these suggested matches, locate local training programs and/or apply for jobs.

My Next Move
Explore your career options with this interactive tool that includes the tasks, skills, salary information and more for over 900 different careers.

What online career resources have worked well for you? Let us know in the comments!


Find more career resources by visiting www.tesc.edu/AlumniCareers.

Tags: Alumni , Career , Military , Student Services , Veterans

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Scared of Math? 5 Considerations to Overcome Math Anxiety

Posted Thursday, April 03, 2014

By Todd Siben, Assistant Director
Prior Learning/Portfolio Assessment

Concerned about the math requirements in your degree? Perhaps it’s been 20 years - or more - since you studied math. Depending on your degree program, fulfilling your math requirement may not be as difficult as you think.

Consider Fit
First consider the degree you have chosen and the math requirement for that degree. Ask yourself, "Have I chosen a degree appropriate for my own ability?" For example, since you haven't studied math in almost 20 years, your math skills may be rusty. Perhaps the last math you studied was algebra, and you passed, but barely. Now you've chosen a degree that requires calculus I and II.

Taking that calculus course may require that you first refresh your algebra skills. Then you'll be better prepared to take the next logical sequence of courses. Math is taught in logical sequences, with concepts built upon previously learned concepts.

Consider Your Comfort Level
According to College mentors Ildy and Csaba Boer, "it is better to start with a lower-level math course even if it doesn't fulfill your degree needs. Students who lack basics often do not succeed when taking a course above their level. Instead of dropping down to a lower-level course, they repeat the higher-level course again, unsuccessfully, wasting both their money and time."

Consider Your Assets
As a self-directed, mature student, perhaps you are better prepared to study math now than you were years ago. You are more analytical, more disciplined and more driven toward degree completion. So, why be threatened by a math requirement?

Consider Your Degree
Some institutions require algebra for all degrees. Thomas Edison State College offers alternatives. If you have selected a liberal arts or human services degree, the math requirement can usually be satisfied with an "entry level" math such as MAT-105 Applied Liberal Arts Math. Although MAT-105 is a reasonable option, students often choose intermediate or college-level algebra because they've heard the word "algebra" before, so it seems more familiar than a course called "Applied Liberal Arts Math." This fear-of-the-unknown can result in the incorrect choice.

Perhaps you are pursuing a business degree that requires MAT-119 Quantitative Business Analysis. If you wait until the last few courses to complete this requirement, then find you are unable to pass the course and switch to a liberal arts degree with a lower math requirement, you may find that you now need additional credits to earn the new degree. This situation can often be avoided with a bit of advanced planning.

(Cue your advisor…)

Consider Your Options
Along with the many online math courses available to you, credit-by-exam programs such as CLEP and DANTES (DSST) standardized tests in math and statistics. Some investigate math courses by distance from other schools. Some students just prefer to take math as a classroom course at a local college whenever possible. Also consider that a statistics course can satisfy your math requirement for some degree programs.

Before you jump ahead and register for a math course, discuss the options with your advisor. In most cases, there are choices that will be a better fit for you, your learning style and your level of capability in math.

Ultimately the choice will not only have an impact on your success but on the amount of antacid and aspirin required to successfully complete the course. Choose wisely!

Tags: Credit by Exam , Majors and Degree Programs , Prior Learning Assessment and Portfolio , Taking Courses

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