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Nine Essential Tips for Non-Traditional Students (for National Non-Traditional Student Week!)

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There are as many iterations of a non-traditional student as there are students themselves. Even ‘normal’ students these days have jobs and commitments that make their schedules far removed from idyllic full-time-student status in every sense of the word.

I know this for a fact because my own “non-trad post-grad” college career has lasted almost as long as it has taken two of my children to earn their bachelor’s degrees. Having listened to their kvetching during that time made me see that trads and non-trads endure many of the same burdens: quirky professors, toppling stacks of copies, bedspreads stained with the blooms of highlighters with lost lids and classmates at shared tables eating offensive foods (e.g.: gruesome-looking green smoothies, Chipotle burrito bowls, bologna eaten methodically slice by slice, without the bread.)

So we deserve Non Traditional Student Week, a national celebration held each year by ANTSHE, the Association of Nontraditional Students in Higher Education, and held this year from November 2-8.  It is promoted locally on our campus by Villanova University’s College of Professional Studies, including the Offices of both Part-Time and Continuing Studies, who will be awarding one outstanding non-traditional student leader. For it to come to my personal attention now is rather coincidental. I am coming to the end of my own non-traditional student journey next Saturday, as I’ll be sitting for the comprehensive exams in graduate communication studies.

How to best prepare best for a 5-hour behemoth exam while balancing a full time job, training a puppy, planning a Thanksgiving feast for 30 and keeping up with the new season of Top Chef?  Well, I think a lot of the same strategies I’ll be implementing for the next two weeks are the same ones that have gotten me through the last [too embarrassed to admit] years! I’ll share some of my favorites below. Please add your own to our comments section!

NON-TRADITIONAL STUDENT TOOLKIT:

PuppyFirst of all, don’t get a puppy. Not now. Even if he’s a gift and the cutest thing you’ve ever laid eyes on. I’m speaking from experience. Save it for your graduation gift.

Get a crockpot instead. Liquid + Onions + Meat = go.

Save your vacation time. I know it’s completely a depressing thought to use precious time away from the office on your couch with your nose buried in a George Herbert Mead treatise, but it is better than the stress you’ll feel if you don’t take the time you need to study. Stress makes you ugly, turns you into a potty mouth behind the wheel, and makes you lower your standards when it comes to choosing candy! How else can I explain the Wonka Everlasting Gobstoppers I’ve put on Amazon auto-delivery?

Become best friends with a subject librarian and/or a “good places to start” librarian. First of all, it’s easy to become friends with our librarians because they are all totes adorbs. But, we realize it’s difficult for non-trads to visit the Library during the day. Fortunately, the Library has set up a myriad of ways to consult with our librarians whether you’re on the road, at your desk, or even still in your pajamas. You’ll still get the same great service – and I can’t stress enough to get acquainted with your subject librarian and Falvey’s “great places to start” librarian, Sue Ottignon. They luuuurve to dig and are most likely already familiar with the project or information that your professor is asking for. Hardly anyone ever leaves a consult without kicking themselves for not having done it sooner. That’s a fact – folks are always kicking themselves around here! It’s like Cirque du Soliel!

Become best friends with the folks in Access Services. Another brilliant crowd – and the one that holds the keys to ACCESS, get it? Access?  The verb and noun, actually, that means to get? Not only can they help you retrieve the zillion or so items that Falvey holds, they will help you get the other zillion or two you’re bound to want as well from libraries around the world with our amazing ILL and E-Z Borrow services. And somehow, they always manage to do it with a smile fully intact. Don’t know how they do it.

Stewie-Mom-MommaHide from your family. Who knew your old Hide ‘n Seek gaming skills would come in handy during college? They do. Learn how to hide. Put up a CLOSED sign. No cooking, no cleaning, no putting out the darn dog. When it’s time to study, study. Let the family know to not bother you. Set time limits. Go to Trader Joe’s, load the freezer with Orange Chicken and Mac ‘N Cheese, point them to the microwave and close the den door. Better yet, come to the Library where they can’t find you. We have great 24/7 spaces, including a spectacular Reading Room in Falvey Hall that shares quiet study with a fascinating public conservation of a massive Baroque masterpiece.

Decide how you’re going to address your professors – then own it. You may find yourself being the same age as, or even older than your professor on occasion. This will be awkward. They may make it easy on you and say, “Hey, call me Bob!” If not, use the same strategy I used for my in-laws: catch their eye and talk to them once they’re looking at you. You may have to drop your notebook or wave your arms wildly first, but then you’ll be over that awkward patch. Always, always, always address them via their appropriate title (Dr./Prof.) in emails, though.

Consider an independent study. Some majors offer opportunities for you to spend a class or two in an independent study. Not only a perfect way to save on gas or commuting time, it’s a great way to tailor your studies to combine getting credits with a work project that you have always wanted to do or with a skill that you’ve wanted to devote more time to learning. I was able to combine visual culture theory, my interest in art and learning Bootstrap into a class I and my professor customized. Looking for ways to kill two or even three birds with one stone is a great strategy to not only save time, but to create amazing opportunities for yourself with mentorship you can’t always get in real life.

The start of a new hoops season! Photo by Molly Quinn, Class of '15.

The start of a new hoops season! Photo by Molly Quinn, Class of ’15.

You are a ‘Cat! You may keep non-traditional hours, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy all the traditional fun of being a student at Villanova University! Go to sporting events, trash talk to St. Joe’s folks, get a beer at Kelly’s or Flip’s, hit the clearance rack at the bookstore for bargains on Nova hoodies and most of all, bleed blue with the rest of us! It’s your week, Non-traditional student! Congrats and have fun!

 


Joanne Quinn is the team leader for Communication and Service Promotion search

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Social Media Roundup

We know it’s a busy time of year and keeping up with news, events and internet chatter doesn’t always take priority, so we’re giving you a roundup of the latest Falvey Memorial Library posts on social media.


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Find the link on Facebook and on the library blog. There’s still time to enter the Research Challenge Quiz!

 

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Did you see our tweet about Open Access Week, October 20-24? Two events held that week featured Villanova librarians and visiting speakers from a law firm, Griesing Law, and from the Center for Statistics Education.

 

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This photo on Instagram links to news of the October 23rd Hispanic Cultural Heritage Month event, co-sponsored by Falvey Memorial Library, the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures, Sigma Delta Pi and the Hispanic Honor Society, and which featured Agnes Moncy, PhD.

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The grand opening of the CAVE automatic virtual environment took place on October 2 and included opening remarks by the Rev. Peter M. Donohue, OSA, PhD, ’75 CLAS, Frank Klassner, PhD, associate professor of computing sciences and director of the University’s Center of Excellence in Enterprise Technology (CEET), Adele Lindenmeyr, PhD, dean of Graduate Studies in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and Darren Poley, former interim director of Falvey Memorial Library.

We also have accounts on Pinterest, Goodreads, Google+ and RebelMouse.

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The Villanova CAVE—What’s in it for You?

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What’s in it for you? Find out! Come to the Falvey Hall lobby and Reading Room this Thursday, Oct. 2 for the grand opening of the Villanova CAVE.

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The Highlighter: You Are Going to Love Falvey’s Website Upgrade

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Just a single search in Falvey’s catalog now yields not only books, media and articles but also Falvey-website items and books from other libraries—all on one page (Enable Closed Captioning for silent viewing):

For additional “How to” videos, click the “Help” button on Falvey’s homepage.

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Great Study Spaces on Campus

Looking for a place to study away from the dorm rooms and dining halls? The Library has a wide variety of study spaces for quiet individual study, group study and overnight study. The Villanova campus also provides great study areas you might not know about.

Group study room largeIn addition to its open seating areas on the first, second, third and fourth floors, Falvey Memorial Library has six group-study rooms on the upper floors. Groups of two or more students can check out group study rooms at the front desk.

The Griffin Room on the first floor and the two large meeting rooms, 204 and 205, on the second floor can also be used for studying when they aren’t booked for events. The lab and meeting rooms require a Wildcard for access.

24/7 study space is available in the first floor Holy Grounds @ Falvey lounge and in the Falvey Hall lobby and reading room. A swipe of your Wildcard will gain you entrance to these late night study areas.

Driscoll Hall has a student study area with tables, chairs, soft seating, and private carrels on its second floor—the room is predominantly for nursing students, but is also open to non-nursing students.

The Center for Engineering Excellence and Research (CEER) has a graduate study lounge on the first floor for the use of graduate engineering students. CEER also has tables and chairs in several corridors, available to all Villanova students.

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Liberal Arts & Sciences graduate student lounge

A study lounge for the exclusive use of graduate students in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences is on Falvey Hall’s third floor.

Bartley Hall has two quiet study rooms on the 2nd floor; one with a large table and one with a few private carrels.

The Villanova School of Law has quiet study areas available to any Villanova student. Its private study rooms are for Law students only.

Can you add any great study spaces to this list? (Then again, maybe you don’t want everyone to descend on your top secret study space.)

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Catalog Week: How to Add Comments to an Item

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Did you know you can add a comment to an item’s catalog record? This video shows how to add comments to an item right from within the catalog (Enable Closed Captioning for silent viewing.)

For additional “How to” videos, click the “Help” button on Falvey’s homepage.

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‘Cat in the Stacks: Healthy Minds

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 I’m Michelle Callaghan, a first-year graduate student at Villanova University. This is our new column, ‘Cat in the Stacks.’ I’m the ‘cat.’ Falvey Memorial Library is the stacks. I’ll be posting about living that scholarly life, from research to study habits to embracing your inner-geek, and how the library community might aid you in all of it.

“Mens sana in corpore sano” is a Latin aphorism typically translated as “a sound mind in a sound body.”

As we finish off the second week of the semester, your brain might be feeling a little fuzzy. Your feet might be dragging. You might be marking up your fall calendar with all of the projects, due dates, readings and lectures noted within your looming pile of syllabi. You’re thinking, hey, is teleportation a thing yet? Or maybe you’re considering replicating Hermione Granger’s Time-Turner because there just isn’t enough time in a day for all of these commitments in your life.

I feel you. I have been known to madly tailor my daily agenda in desperate search of an hour to breathe, and just for the sake of saving time I sometimes skip that trip to the gym or sacrifice sleep or eat a fast grab-n-go meal instead of a healthy dinner.

Don’t do that.  As you can guess, it’s not a good idea.

When it comes to education, physical and mental health can define your success. Study skills and research tools are fantastic, but they can only go so far when the gray, lumpy organ in your skull is in no mood to cooperate. We all have heard how to stay healthy – eat well, sleep well, get exercise, take mental health breaks – but when our schedules fill up, these goals might be the first to slide down the priority list. We think we’re saving time by skipping these healthy habits to work and work and work some more, but by skipping them, we are in effect making our reading, writing and research hours less efficient, and losing more time overall.

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In order to realize our potential as scholars, we have to try to maintain sound minds in sound bodies. Although intense study sessions and long hours in front of a computer can make you feel like an amorphous brain floating around, bodiless, in some unreality far beyond your chair, you are not. All of your knowledge, education and skills are bundled up inside your actual physical head in your actual physical body, and that actual physical body needs to be maintained. Only when the body is healthy can the brain work at full capacity.

hiding face bookI throw down the gauntlet. Move around. Eat some leafy food. Avoid sleep debt. Meditate. Be gentle with yourself. Then, next time you delve into a thick article for class, you might not have to reread the opening sentence twelve times before it sinks into your sleep-deprived mind (been there, done that).

Mens sana in corpore sano.

We can do this.

 


Resources:

Student Health Center, which also houses the University Counseling Center

Fitness Centers on campus

 


Article by Michelle Callaghan, graduate assistant on the Communication and Service Promotion team. She is currently pursuing her MA in English at Villanova University.

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Catalog Week: How to Tag Items in the Library’s Catalog

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Do you ever think an item should have a search term or category associated with it, but it doesn’t? This video shows how to make items easy to find by adding a tag. (Enable Closed Captioning for silent viewing.)

For additional “How to” videos, click the “Help” button on Falvey’s homepage.

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Catalog Week: How to Save Your Search

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Did you know Falvey’s catalog can help you save a whole search-results list? This video shows how to save a whole search-results list right from within the catalog. (Enable Closed Captioning for silent viewing.)

For additional “How to” videos, click the “Help” button on Falvey’s homepage.

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VITAL Resources for New & Continuing Faculty!

The Villanova Institute for Teaching and Learning (VITAL) sponsored a new-faculty orientation program on August 18 and 19 in several locations across campus. As part of this program, new faculty were welcomed to Falvey Memorial Library on Tuesday, August 19, for a breakfast meet and greet. Interim Director Robert DeVos, PhD, welcomed librarians, and Jutta Seibert, team leader for Academic Integration as well as the coordinator of the liaison team to the departments of history, sociology and criminal justice, eagerly introduced librarians and staff to new faculty. New faculty members also had the opportunity to gather according to disciplines for informal discussions with liaison librarians in their subject areas. The event provided new faculty a strong sense of what services the Library has to offer the Villanova Community!

Gabriele BauerFollowing the event, I (Gina Duffy) interviewed Gabriele Bauer, PhD, director of the Villanova Institute for Teaching and Learning (VITAL), to discover more about the new faculty orientation program as well as VITAL’s activities and general campus mission.

RD: How many new faculty members did you welcome to Villanova this year during the new-faculty orientation program?

GB: VITAL, in co-sponsorship with the Office of Academic Affairs, welcomed 33 faculty colleagues at the new faculty program held August 18 and 19. While many colleagues are new to Villanova, some are (also) new to their full-time instructional roles. With over 40 presenters from across Villanova on hand, faculty were offered context for their central role in helping to support, inform, and advance Villanova’s mission, vision, and future direction. Among the program topics addressed were professional development support, students’ expectations, academic support services, instructional policies and resources, and teaching in the inspiration of St. Augustine. Attendees represented 22 departments across colleges: Accountancy, Augustine and Culture Seminar Program, Biology, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Computing Sciences, Economics, Ethics, Finance, Geography and the Environment, History, Human Resource Development, Marketing and Business Law, Mathematics and Statistics, Naval Science, Nursing, Political Science, Psychology, Romance Languages and Literatures, Sociology, Theatre, and Theology and Religious Studies.

RD: What are the highlights of the new faculty program?

GB: Given the comprehensive program, it’s challenging to identify just a few highlights. Based on feedback, the sessions that provide faculty with personalized insights into their teaching and scholarly roles at Villanova seem to be most appreciated. Among these sessions were the sessions addressing our students, academic support services, and the roundtable discussions with Falvey Memorial Library’s departmental liaisons. A faculty panel discussion on the subject, “What I wished I had known in my first year at Villanova” elicited vital advice for our colleagues.  Key examples included creating a folder of all teaching records–such as unsolicited student emails, peer observations, CATS reports, syllabi, assignments, and advising activities—as a repository of material for the annual and three-year review; the importance of being patient when adjusting to a new professional environment, new courses, and new colleagues; setting realistic goals; accepting that things will not always go as planned; and viewing mistakes as opportunities for learning and growth.

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New faculty orientation

RD: Do you have any insider tips or advice for “newbies” on campus?

GB: Being a “newbie” myself last year, I would suggest taking the time to listen, engage in conversation with colleagues, staff, and students in your department. Don’t be reluctant to ask questions or ask for clarification of procedures and conventions that might differ from those at your former institution (that may be more difficult to do for some of us introverts).

Yes, the Villanova website provides extensive, detailed information, yet how long will it take us to find the one kernel that we are looking for? I have discovered that reaching out to colleagues by phone not only expedites the process but helps me meet new colleagues, learn about their work and deepen my understanding and appreciation for the Villanova culture and context. Plus I have found it most enjoyable to talk with colleagues-such conversations add a human touch to our mainly digital work world.

Try and venture out of your department, participate in campus events that interest you or resonate with your values and passion. Take advantage of the many cultural offerings, such as superb theater performances that are offered free to faculty and staff on Tuesdays, or participate in an exercise class.

RD: Can you describe VITAL’s main role on campus?

GB: VITAL provides and coordinates services and resources for faculty members from all disciplines who are interested in helping their students become more effective learners. We collaborate with departments and University offices to identify and support student learning needs and help advance instructional goals. We offer opportunities to meet and learn from nationally known experts and serve as a clearinghouse for higher education materials.

RD: What services that VITAL offers do you believe are the most valuable to Villanova faculty (both new and continuing)?

GB: We provide a range of services that are designed to support faculty at various stages in their careers. Among the services we offer are confidential instructional consultations with individuals, departments or other groups; confidential classroom observations with constructive feedback; tailored sessions to meet departmental needs; mini-grants to support innovative teaching, learning, e-Learning and assessment of student learning; topical workshop sessions and campus-wide events that provide opportunities to engage with colleagues across the University.

RD: Anything else you would like to mention to new and continuing faculty?

GB: We are delighted to bring to faculty members’ attention three teaching resources: Teaching Professor, monthly online newsletter that offers evidence-based, nuts-and-bolts teaching practices for all disciplines; IF-AT, a multiple-choice tool for group feedback, testing of students’ comprehension and ability to apply, and differentiate concepts; and Faculty Online Café to keep your teaching fresh, discuss current topics, exchange teaching experiences and practices with colleagues. To access the Faculty Café, go to elearning.villanova.edu, select the university seal to sign in, and click “Faculty Online Café.”

We wish all of our faculty colleagues—both new and continuing—a fulfilling and productive new academic year and look forward to supporting them. You will always find a free cup of coffee or tea at the VITAL office, 106 Vasey Hall.

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Last Modified: September 2, 2014