Welcome from our CCBC Family

Thanks for joining us!

It is our privilege to introduce our new CCBC Parent & Supporter Newsletter to all of those who support our CCBC students in their academic journeys on campus. It is our intent that this newsletter and digital reference tool will provide you with insights and information that will enable you to be a strong advocate for your student, and support them as they encounter the ups and downs of their collegiate experience. Be sure to be on the lookout for updates about important dates and deadlines, resources available to students, special upcoming events on campus, and tips and tricks to help students achieve their academic, professional and personal goals.

If there are ideas or areas that you would like for us to cover here, be sure to click the Contact button at the top of the page to share that important feedback with our team working on this project. And if you would like, you can sign up to receive an automatic email update at the bottom of the page whenever something is published here.  We thank you for all that you do to support our students during their time at CCBC!

Sincerely,


Dr. Shelly Moore, Provost
Ms. Jan Kaminski, Vice President for Student Affairs and Enrollment

Don't Get Left Out in the Cold… Spring & Winterim Registration is Open!

The fall term is winding down, but things are heating up for the Spring semester! Enrollment is open for our full 15-week Spring semester, as well as our seven-week and ten-week mini-mesters and Winterim offerings. If your student has not completed their Spring registration process yet, our CCBC Counselors and the professionals on our Admissions and Registration Team in the Student Services Center are ready to help them chart a course for success in 2020 at CCBC. But the spring will be here before you know it — (classes start on January 13) so the sooner they enroll the more likely they are to make sure they are in the classes they need to continue on the path to a degree!

Our winter semester (December 17- January 9) offers 11 online-only courses in a unique, condensed three-week time-span. The session offers a great opportunity to make up, catch up, or get ahead! The credits earned over the winter break can then be applied to a degree or certificate at CCBC or transferred to another college or university, which makes them perfect for both CCBC students and visiting students who are enrolled at other institutions but are home for the holidays and want to take advantage of our quality education at an incredibly affordable price point. For more information on the Winterim session and how to register, students (or prospective students!) should visit www.ccbc.edu/winterim, or contact the Admissions and Registration team at 724-480-3504 .

Keys For Helping Students Manage Final Exams Week

We are coming to the end of the semester, and final exams are right around the corner here at CCBC (December 9-14, to be exact). It can be an incredibly stressful time for our students, and can be a sizable adjustment for those who are completing their first semesters on campus. When you add some of the stresses that come with the holiday season to the mix, our students can be faced with a matrix of challenges that overlap in unimaginable ways. While it is ultimately up to our students to be effective time managers and find ways to handle stress-inducing elements, there are ways that family and friends can be supportive of students as they strive to reach their academic goals.

Remind Students of Campus Resources

One simple, but effective way to support students can be to reinforce the range of resources that are available to them through CCBC, both on -campus and digitally. From the Academic Coaches in the Student Success Center, and the Supportive Services staff, to BrainFuse online tutoring and the tools that are part of Cengage’s textbook solutions, there are numerous outlets for students to access that can help them on their path to exam success. We also highly recommend that you encourage them to engage with their faculty outside of the classroom, as evidence has indicated that students who meet with faculty to discuss course-related topics often have higher exam success rates than peers who do not. But the resources are not limited to academic success. Students can stop by the Counseling Office if they are in need of some mental health and personal well-being assistance, or the Student Activities Center if they need to take some time to unwind and get their minds away from their coursework for a bit.

Provide Positive Encouragement and Reinforcement

As students encounter challenges and stumbling blocks on their journey, they are often in need of reassurances that they are on the right path, and that their efforts are worth it, even if the results are not perfectly what they aimed for. While keeping a focus on academic success in terms of GPA and scores are critical, putting too much emphasis on that can be a significant hindrance to progress for students’ development. Whether it’s an unexpected text message, sending a card (it may seem a bit hokey, but you’d be surprised the impact), or just taking a minute during a meal to ask how things are going and tell them that you’re proud of them and that you believe in them, being engaged and showing that you care can make a difference. But also don’t be shocked if students may withdraw a bit — they need to be able to sustain their focus on their work as best they can, and that may mean not being as chatty as normal. Don’t let them drift too far away, but having an appreciation for distance is key.

Model Keeping Your Health in Focus: Sleep, Nutrition, Activity

When deadlines loom and stresses mount, sometimes we forget to make sure that we’re keeping our health at the forefront. But it is a critical aspect of both our ability to learn, and our overall well-being. With that being said, three of the most often overlooked aspects of successful exam periods are maintaining healthy sleep, nutrition and activity patterns. Trying to pull all-nighters (or even getting six hours of sleep a night for a sustained period) can lead to heightened stress and less focus for students, so encourage them to keep to a realistic sleep schedule and try to help make that possible in ways that you can. Being active is another important element to mental clarity, Researchers at the NIH have found that being physically active, with particular focus on exercise, can help improve both cognitive function and neuroplasticity — and those are two key elements that can help students maximize their ability to succeed in exam settings. And if students can keep away from the junk food, they can more than avoid the freshman 15. Balancing diet and including antioxidants, proper hydration and limiting excessive caffeine intake can be productive toward students’ mental acuity. Finding ways to remind them of these things, or modeling consumption or behavior patterns in the home, can be a significant point for supporting students.

Support Their Mental Health Needs…..

When students encounter high-stress moments, it is often our nature to do all we can to support them through the process. And that is the correct instinct. When it comes to mental health, we always want to be aware of some of the tell-tale signs that there may be something bigger happening. If you see a significant change in behavior or attitudes, it may make sense to recommend they go to the CCBC Counseling Center and seek help there, but if students are just feeling overwhelmed, it’s a great opportunity to engage them and help them organize their thinking and approach. If you have the chance, ask them questions about how things are going and if there are parts of their lives that they may need assistance with that you can provide. And if there are small things that you can do to help them from the family perspective, those are appropriate things to offer (i.e. absolving them from certain duties in the home if feasible, or helping them take care of things for the holidays that are on their lists). But be certain to keep yourself from telling them to do any particular thing, and encourage them to use the relationships and resources that they have developed through campus. One of the most important parts of students’ development through the college experience is their ability to make their own decisions and take their own actions while absorbing the best advice from those who support them.

While Remembering Stress Can Be Useful

On the other hand, stress is something that can actually be beneficial, if harnessed in the correct dosages. While it can be a detriment to all of us, The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) reminds us that stress can trigger survival functions in the body, such as a quickening pulse, faster breathing, muscles tensing, and the brain using more oxygen and increasing activity. It can provide that sense of urgency to meet deadlines, and reminds us that what we are working toward achieving is important. Otherwise, our bodies wouldn’t react the way that they do. Help them to find creative ways to manage their stress, including taking breaks from studying now and then to keep their minds fresh (using the PARSA study method is a very effective way to maximize learning and maintain balance), celebrating achieving goals or completing assignments, and intentionally making time for things they enjoy. For students, having the guidance and support to dive into their work and the reminders that balance is important can help take stress from overwhelming to motivating.

Knowing that academic success is important is a key for students to remember. But if we can provide them positive encouragement, perspective, and balance, it can mean the difference between a burnt-out finals week that leaves students wondering what-if, and a highly successful week that propels them on in their academic journey.

Who Are the People in Our Neighborhood? Meet CCBC’s Student Life Office

Through our CCBC Parent News platform, the varied departments of CCBC will be taking the opportunity to introduce themselves and what they do on campus. We are thrilled to have so many wonderfully dedicated professionals who are committed to the success of CCBC students, and are excited to have them share their backgrounds and stories with you.

Department of Student Life

Mission: CCBC’s Department of Student Life will enhance the experiences of 21st century community college students by driving engagement through the use of high-impact practices and student-centric programming, services, and resources, focusing on students’ holistic development, and maximizing their abilities to bring positive change to the campus, the community and the workplace.

Values: At the Community College of Beaver County, we RAISE the bar. Within Student Life, we remind our students what it means when we say I Am A Titan.

Institutional Values:

Respect | Accountability | Integrity | Students First | Excellence

Departmental Values:

Inclusiveness

Ambition| Mindfulness

Autonomy

Trust | Innovation| Thankfulness | Acceptance | Neighborly

Staff Assistant for Student Activities – Melody Kimbrough (Far L)

Where are you from?

I am a Monaca native, and am Beaver County through and through.

How long have you been working in Higher Education?

I have been working here at CCBC for more than 16 years. I started in Student Records, spent many years in Workforce Development, and now enjoy spending my days in Student Life, engaging and interacting with students through activities and events.

What’s your favorite thing about your job?

Working closely with the students! Seeing them be successful, and grow during their time here is a wonderful reminder of why we do what we do, and why we enjoy putting the work in to provide a quality experience. When a student goes out of their way to tell you that they passed an exam, earned their driver’s license, or had some other personal or academic success, it is a wonderful highlight of a day.

What’s your favorite CCBC memory?

My personal favorite has to be when a student that I worked closely with for two years during her career was the opening student speaker at Commencement the year she graduated. I was so very proud of her when she made that speech, and am still proud of her to this day as she pursues her bachelor’s degree!

What’s your quote to live by?

Everything happens for a reason!

What are three words that your colleagues would use to describe you?

Wow…this one’s tough. But I hope they’d say that I am hard-working, organized, and creative.

… thius is the

Director of Student Life Colin Sisk (Far L)

Where are you from? 

Center Township! I grew up less than a mile from CCBC’s Campus, and I still live in the community now!

How long have you been working in Higher Education?

 I have been working with students since 2015, both at the university level (two-and-a-half years) and now the community college level (here at CCBC since August of 2018).

What’s your favorite thing about your job?

Being able to have a part in a broad range of our students’ experiences on campus, from their first day at New Student Orientation to their Commencement ceremony and everything in between.

What’s your favorite CCBC memory?

It hasn’t been that long here yet! But if I had to pick one I would say seeing the students process out of the dome after Commencement was an incredible moment – knowing that our work helped memorialize their achievements was pretty awesome.

What’s your quote to live by?

Professionally?: “Never forget that the decisions that we make impact the lives of other people’s children” – Andy Geiger (former Director of Athletics at Ohio State University) via Heather Lyke (Current Director of Athletics at the University of Pittsburgh).

Personally? :”There are three ways to ultimate success: The first way is to be kind. The second way is to be kind. The third way is to be kind.” – Fred Rogers.

What are three words that your colleagues would use to describe you?

I would hope that they would think of me as loyal, dedicated, and easy-going.

Going to School is Going to School, Right? Unpacking the Differences Between High School and College Norms and Expectations

Some folks may think that things don’t substantively change when a student makes the transition from high school to courses at a community college. Students may still be living at home, and may be working to support their education, sometimes at jobs they may have been working during their high school careers. However, there are many substantive differences between what is expected of students, and what environments students will find themselves in on our campus here at CCBC. While we are all here to support them on their journey, they will be challenged along the way. Below, we highlight some of the key differences, and the challenges they may pose.

  • Schedule Structures Are Drastically Different
    • Course schedules in a college setting tend to be far less structured, with more variation between courses. Some classes do meet every day as students are used to. However, others may only meet twice per week, once in the evenings, or may have a structure where online time is required alongside in-classroom sessions.
  • In person class sessions can be longer (or shorter), and are almost always more intense
    • Students are more than likely to spend less time in the classroom for any one course than they would have in high school. At the same time, they are traditionally expected to engage with the material in a more meaningful way, seeking deeper knowledge and analysis than was expected of them in high school. The sample chart below shows just how varied the time demands can be for one course. Multiplying that by the number of courses your student is taking – that can be significant.
Course Total Number of Course MeetingsMinutes per each class session Total Time in Classroom Setting
CCBC HIST 111 (US History 1, until 1865) 45 (Monday, Wednesday, Friday) 55 2,475 minutes (41.25 Hours)
High School US History 1 180 (Classes meet for the entire year on a traditional schedule) 40 7,200 minutes (120 Hours)
High School US History 1 90 (Classes meet for half the year on a “Block” Schedule 70 6,300 minutes (105 Hours)
  • More Work at a Larger Volume is Expected
    • While there is less time in the classroom for a specific course, students are often expected to have covered more material before class than before, and are also likely to have larger assignments due. It Is expected that students dedicate between 1.5 and 3 hours of out of class work for each hour spent in the classroom setting to ensure that they are independently learning the material.
  • The Course Syllabus is a Fundamental key
    • What may not have been something students encountered in high school, the syllabus for each course is the bedrock document that will provide students with the roadmap to their courses. Deadlines are provided in the document, as well as when course materials should be read by, what is to be expected for attendance policies, and other critical information about deadlines and procedures. Professors may not directly refer to all of the details with regularity, but they expect that students will refer to the syllabus.
  • Being on Campus means More than Just Going to Class
    • While attendance is one of the most crucial predictors of success in a class, and is a good reason to be on campus, it is not the only reason to be on campus. While many aspects of high school were bound to the limits of the school day, the college experience is tied to a living campus that exists in the moments when classes do not.  So much of a student’s development during college, both in their academic pursuits and in their personal growth, comes from enhancing their abilities to connect with, work with, and understand their peers in new and different settings. Being on campus beyond class time allows for students to have the space to connect with their peers, spend time with their faculty beyond class, access key resources on campus to support their academic pursuits, and take advantage of the social activities and programs put together by student organizations and college departments to grow as leaders and whole people.

There are obviously many important differences between the norms, expectations and opportunities for students when they arrive on a college campus. With those in mind, it is best to take a proactive role in assisting your student (s) with the right tools and frameworks for everyone to work from as they embark on this journey. It may mean allowing for more flexibility in their schedule to empower them to spend time growing on campus after class. Another tactic may be respecting their needs for additional time at home to engage in the key out-of-classroom work that is required to achieve academically. It can also mean helping students develop their own rhythms and schedules to make the most of the downtime they have, balancing their needs for intellectual growth, academic study, and self-care and social growth. The changes can seem daunting at first, but if students are supported they are far more likely to take those big first steps toward comfort and success on campus.

Don’t Let Your Student Miss Out – the FAFSA for 2020-2021 is OPEN!

Graduation Cap with Money, symbolizing financial aid.

It’s hard to believe, but it’s already time for students to think about the 2020-2021 academic year! The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is officially available for students to complete and submit to the US Department of Education. For those who may not be familiar, the FAFSA is the key to unlocking access to significant financial aid resources, and programs like Federal Work-Study and Pell Grants.

To apply for federal student aid, such as federal grants, work-study, and loans, students need to complete the FAFSA. Completing and submitting the FAFSA is free and easier than ever, and it gives you access to the largest source of financial aid to pay for college or career school. Pennsylvania also utilizes FAFSA data in order to determine student eligibility for a variety of grant programs, including the PHEAA State Grant Program.

To complete the FAFSA, students will need access to the following information. If they are dependent students, this information is required from their parent(s)

  • Social Security Number
  • Alien Registration Number (if you are not a U.S. citizen)
  • Federal income tax returns, W-2s, and other records of money earned. (Note: You may be able to transfer your federal tax return information into your FAFSA using the IRS Data Retrieval Tool.)
  • Bank statements and records of investments (if applicable)
  • Records of untaxed income (if applicable)
  • An FSA ID to sign electronically.

Filling out and submitting the FAFSA is totally free, and students should take full advantage of the tool, not skip it. While the process may seem intimidating, the resources it opens access to are significant. In years past, students across the U.S. have left as much as $2.3 billion (yep, with a “b”) in student aid on the table by neglecting to fill out their financial information. The earlier that students complete the FAFSA (and in Pennsylvania, the PA State Grant Form, which appears as a link once the FAFSA is submitted and the FAFSA Confirmation page appears), the more monies they will likely be able to be eligible for.

IMPORTANT COMPLETION DEADLINES:

October 1, 2019……………………………………………………………… FAFSA Open for Students to Complete

May 1, 2020 …………………………………………………………………. Pennsylvania Deadline for FAFSA Completion

June 30, 2020 ……………………………………………………………….. Federal Deadline for FAFSA Completion

The tip-sheet below from the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency has some important information and resources available for students and families regarding the FAFSA.

A Print Copy of the FAFSA can be located here: https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/sites/default/files/2020-21-fafsa.pdf

The FAFSA can be accessed online here: https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/fafsa

“What Do You Mean I Can’t Get My Students’ Grades?” An introduction to the Family Educational Records and Privacy Act (FERPA)

In high school, when teachers and administrators needed to share critical information about a student’s progress or behavior, they knew their first phone call would be to that student’s parents, or other guardians. While parents and other key family supporters have always held important roles, the scope of how you can be involved as your student enters higher education does change.

In 1974, Congress passed the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, otherwise known as FERPA (or the Buckley Amendment), to specifically address how students’ personal information is managed by institutions of higher education. The act states that institutions of higher education cannot provide information about student attendance, grades, academic progress, or participation in the institution’s activities or programming to anyone outside of the institution without the express written consent of the student in question. That means that parents or supporters of students are not able to contact their students’ institutions directly and request information about how their student is performing in class, or whether or not they are attending sessions.

This provision does not preclude some institutions from disclosing certain basic identifying information (a student’s name, enrollment status, other non-invasive data points, etc.) in public settings. As per the CCBC Academic Catalog and Student Handbook, and consistent with the requirements of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA), students are annually notified that the College has designated the following student information as directory information that may be disclosed for any purpose without student consent:

  • Name
  • Major Field of study
  • Dates of attendance
  • Degrees and awards received
  • Previous institution(s) attended
  • Participation in officially recognized sports and activities
  • Weight and height of members of athletic teams

For a student to file to withhold disclosure of information listed above, a written request must be received by the Information and Registration Center (IRC). This request must be made each term the student is enrolled. Forms requesting the withholding of information are available in the Information and Registration Center (IRC).

While the intention of the statute is to protect the rights of the young adults pursuing their educations, it can create tension between the rights of the student, and the interests of family members or other supporters who may hold genuine concern for the well-being and performance of the students, notwithstanding any financial support those individuals may be providing. Consent and honest communication between supporters/family members and students is essential to understanding how the flow of information works regarding students’ academic progress.

As mentioned, students have the autonomy to manage their records as they see fit, which includes the ability to designate who has access to their academic records at CCBC. More information about how students can make those designations can be found at my.ccbc.edu.

If you or your student have any questions about how FERPA works at CCBC, or would like any additional information, you can visit www.ccbc.edu/FERPA, or contact the Admissions and Registration Center at 724-480-3504.

Facing The Music of Midterm Exams – Not the Last Dance

As the calendar turns to November, we are in the midst of Midterm Season, which can often mean significant exams and/or projects across our campus. For many students, it may be their first time facing a large exam in a college course, with midterm exams and projects often making up a considerable chunk of their grade for a course. With competing deadlines and broad scopes of assignments and assessments on top of a student’s commitments outside of their studies, it can be an incredibly stressful time. However, there are many ways that supporters of CCBC students can help them navigate the rocky waters and come out the other side ready to continue making forward progress on their journeys.

1) Have the Expectations Conversation

If this is the first time that your student has experienced a major college exam, it may be a shock to their system. There is a chance that they may not perform the way that they had become accustomed to in high school. But this is not the only exam that they will ever take. It is the first. The first time we try anything is a learning experience, and this should be much the same. College is a new level of study, and exams are often measuring new and deeper levels of comprehension and analysis. Help remind them that they shouldn’t walk into the exam expecting it to be perfect – but they should expect that they prepared as best they could. Afterward, take the opportunity to help them assess what was helpful and not helpful in their preparation, so they can use resources and time differently to raise their expectations and results!

2) Talk Less, Listen More.

One of the best ways you are able to make sure your student is engaged in learning throughout the semester is to ask them about their academic habits and engagement regularly. Many of us who support students do that often. However, when it comes to these high-pressure, deadline-driven timeframes, what we may think is helpful may do more harm than good. Your student may not want to share how they’re getting ready for every exam, or talk about what they’re writing their paper on at length. They may just need to be able to vent for a bit about how much work they have to do, or the challenging nature of the assignments. If they are open to sharing let them, but if they are in the zone or need the space, allow for that as well.

3) Remind them of Campus Resources

As their exams approach, this is a wonderful opportunity for students to utilize many of the academic support resources that are available on campus. As students are gearing up for the exam (we aren’t talking about in the days immediately before here…), make sure to prod them about seeing Academic Coaches in the Library for assistance with study skills and course content. Remind them that there are tools in Cengage, like Brainfuse, that can help them with immersive study techniques. Encourage them to work with their peers to prepare for the exam in study groups. And if they are dealing with significant stress, our Counselors are ready to help them cope with the stresses and come out ready for success.

4) Lighten the Commitment Burden

Our students often have many commitments beyond their academic work, whether at home, in their broader family life, or in their work lives. Where it is appropriate, these are opportune times to help lighten their loads. If you’re able to help manage and distribute a few additional roles that they would usually play at home within the family unit, the couple of hours that it will save them can be the difference between that C- grade and that solid B. Students feel the stress of the multiple commitments that they have – if you are able to alleviate some of that stress in the immediacy of now, it may make all the difference.

5) Help Keep Perspective                

Seeing that one exam may make up nearly a third of the grade for a class can be paralyzing for students. But just because it may be a significant section of their class, it does not mean that the grade that they earn is either their saving grace or their death knell. We who support students are well served by reminding them that they will likely not fail a course based on one exam. Even if the score is not what they expected, any exam is a learning opportunity for students. This is the best time to take stock of what tools are available, how they have balanced their time across the demands of their life, and how they honestly feel that they are doing with the pace of college. But it is not the time to panic. Regardless of the outcome, once the exam is over encourage your student to take a deep breath, control what they can control, and see the broader forest for the trees that currently make it harder to see.