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Honoring the Silent Ranks on Military Spouse Appreciation Day

We know there has been a lot of appreciation floating around the nation lately (teachers, nurses), but today is just as important: Military Spouse Appreciation Day!

This day holds special meaning because military spouses play such a huge role in supporting our dedicated men and women in the Armed Forces. They often have little control over things like their location and/or must take on additional responsibilities within the household, which could mean putting their own education and career dreams on hold. They do it willingly, supporting their spouses wherever their military life takes them. It’s an admirable quality, and one we here at Northcentral University admire so much.

Today, we thank YOU for your service.

If you’ve never read the poem The Silent Ranks (some people say the author is unknown, some say it was written by Shiela Gault), we’ve posted it below. It’s a great testament to military spouses and the role they play in the armed forces. Please substitute husband/wife, he/she, his/her, and man/woman as appropriate for your spouse (be advised it won’t rhyme quite the same)!

The Silent Ranks

I wear no uniforms, no blues or army greens.
But, I am in the military, in the ranks rarely seen.
I have no rank upon my shoulders. Salutes I do not give.
But the military world is the place where I live.
I’m not in the chain of command, orders I do not get.
But my husband is the one who does, this I can not forget.
I’m not the one who fires the weapon, who puts my life on the line.
But my job is just as tough. I’m the one that’s left behind.
My husband is a patriot, a brave and prideful man.
And the call to serve his country not all can understand.
Behind the lines I see the things needed to keep this country free.
My husband makes the sacrifice, but so do our kids and me.
I love the man I married. Soldiering is his life.
But I stand among the silent ranks known as the Military Wife.

Happening Now: Trends in K-12 Education

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, enrollment at post-secondary, degree-granting institutions in the United States hit 21 million students in 2010. Millions of students, from hundreds of cities, thousands of school districts, and countless different schools all with one common goal: the desire to better themselves with higher education.

Right now, you’re wondering what this has to do with K-12 education, and the answer is simple – everything. The foundation for a successful educational career is laid in the halls and classrooms of every K-12 school across the country. In order for that foundation to be as strong as possible, standardization of the years of education spent in preparation for success in higher education – and life in general – is a must.

With this in mind, we took the time to gain insight in to the U.S. Department of Education’s Common Core Standards Initiative from course designer, successful author, and Northcentral University faculty member, Dr. Casey Reason.

Q: What is the Common Core Standards Initiative?
A: Put simply, the Common Core Standards is a national standard for math and language arts performance that allows every state to work in a way that allows every student to be competitive. The goal of this initiative is to bring into alignment the curriculum expectations for the United States.

Q: What makes this superior to previous efforts for standardization in K-12 education across the United States?
A: In the past, we resisted offering a sense of clarity about exactly what educators were supposed to be teaching and how. The Common Core Standards are far more explicit and even go so far as to describe how to get to the articulated standards. This is unprecedented.

Q: Northcentral University’s School of Education has focused its efforts on properly preparing teachers for success in the classroom. In your opinion, how will Common Core Standards impact teacher education?
A: The Common Core Standards will improve our ability to prepare teachers. These standards give us the ability to give teachers the specific tools they need to be successful in the classroom. In addition, Common Core Standards level the playing field between schools, districts and states, giving us the consistency that will make preparing teachers much easier.

Q: What changes, if any, can parents expect?
A: The biggest change for parents will be overcoming the notion that their children are being taught in a manner which is not consistent with the way they were taught as children. Schools who are implementing the Common Core Standards Initiative have to work overtime to let parents know that the approach will be different. Some schools, for example, are asking parents to take classes in the Common Core Standards Initiative so that they are of greater assistance in helping with homework. It will undoubtedly result in some bumpy transitions along the way, but I truly believe that this is progress and we will be better off for it.

Tips for Building a Positive Relationship with Your Online Academic Advisor

Asking for help is not always easy. Online learners tend to be (or at least need to be to some degree) more independent learners. However, this does not negate the importance of forming connections with your fellow online students and faculty members in your field of interest who can serve as great sources for networking and support during your academic program.

However, there’s another person who also plays an important supportive role in your academic journey: your academic advisor.

For online students, academic advisors may help with scheduling, provide insight on faculty, courses and university policy, and serve as a point of communication within the university. While you may think it’s easier just look up a policy in the catalog, or try contacting someone higher up on the food chain to get your issue heard, the reality is that you may be doing yourself a disservice by not reaching out to your academic advisor, whose job it is to help you in these ways.

“A positive working relationship is achieved by both of us (the advisor and the student) communicating on a regular basis with one another,” notes Northcentral University Academic Advisor Donna Bellina. “Sometimes advising is just words of encouragement when the student is struggling. Sometimes it’s giving the student a better understanding of policy, and sometimes it’s going to bat for them to find resolution when they are having issues with their instructor, their course accessibility or just life in general.”

In an online learning environment, it’s easy to get caught up in weekly assignments, without ever thinking that you may find yourself in a situation where you could use the support of an academic advisor. But if you’re the type of person who likes to be prepared, one of the best things you can do is to start building a solid working relationship with your academic advisor right out of the gate.

Try these three tips to help you get started:

  • Reach out early with any concerns regarding your course experience.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions.
  • Communicate things that are going on in your personal life that may hinder your academic progress.

Working through Graduate School Burnout

You’ve started your master’s or doctoral degree program and you’re ready for the challenge! All you can think about is how great your new degree will look on your resume, all the doors it will open for you, and how it’s so awesome you can do it all from your own home.

You put the pedal to the metal for your first three courses, running on a potent mixture of adrenaline, passion for new knowledge, and encouragement from friends and family. You’ve earned a pristine 4.0 GPA to date, and you’re preparing for your next course.

Then you hit it. Your wheels are spinning, but you’re going nowhere.  You never saw it coming, and that brick wall is hard! Welcome to your next challenge – finding a way to break through the wall and emerge on the other side as a graduate.

The proverbial brick wall has the ability to crush any unsuspecting student, but those who prepare for it will prevail. So, take a few mental notes from these quick tips and file them away for when that wall suddenly pops up for you, whether it’s during your coursework, while working on your dissertation, or simply trying to balance your life responsibilities with school.

Mix Up Your Study Style

While the study nook in the corner of your living room may have played host to some of your greatest academic achievements to date, the brick wall has moved in and is cramping your style! Take your studies to the park, the library, or even just try a new corner. The change in scenery might just inspire you.

Slow Down, Enjoy the Ride

Your degree program is a marathon, not a sprint. Try taking a step back, focusing on one assignment at a time, and rewarding yourself each time you click the ‘Submit’ button. Breaking it down in to manageable goals gives you small celebrations to enjoy along the way.

Start the Countdown

Remember the feeling you got in high school when your summer vacation countdown finally hit zero? Bring that emotion back by starting a countdown to graduation. Count down courses, assignments, weeks, or days – whatever motivates you. As your number gets smaller, you’ll find yourself accelerating toward the finish line.

What You Need to Know about the Doctoral Dissertation Milestones

Have you heard the statistic that says only about 50 percent of doctoral students in the U.S. actually finish? I’m going to go out on a limb and say it’s not by choice. While a select few may be satisfied with passing their Doctoral Comprehensive Examination and joining the ABD Club (all but dissertation), most are committed to beginning the dissertation writing process with the goal of conducting research and defending their dissertation to earn a coveted doctoral degree.

With that in mind, we touched base with Dr. Eve Mika, assistant dean of The Graduate School at Northcentral University, to help shed some light on each of the doctoral dissertation milestones and what you can expect from the process.

Concept Paper (CP)

The Concept Paper is the first dissertation milestone document and is basically a “pre-proposal.” “The CP gives students the opportunity to obtain feedback about the feasibility and worthiness of their dissertation topic,” explains Dr. Mika. “Students are expected to highlight the scholarly research that has been published on the topic to-date, document a research-worthy problem based on this literature base, and then outline a basic methodology for data collection and analysis.” Depending on whether you are pursuing an applied doctorate or PhD, your topic should make either a theoretical (PhD) or practical (applied) contribution to your field.

Dissertation Proposal (DP)

“The Dissertation Proposal builds on the initial concept,” continues Mika, “and it is here that students explain the methodology and design they plan to use to implement their study in greater detail.”  In other words, the DP is the basis of your actual research and demonstrates your research design in a way that anyone who reads it would be able to replicate your study.

Institutional Review Board (IRB) Application and Approval

Upon final approval of the DP, the candidate applies to the Institutional Review Board (IRB). All research endeavors involving human subjects must be approved by an IRB committee to ensure the study is ethical. “This process is designed to protect researchers and their affiliated institutions from undue risk and ensure the safety, welfare, rights and dignity of all research participants,” she notes. No data may be collected until IRB approval is obtained.

Dissertation Manuscript (DM)

“Once IRB approval is obtained, students can begin collecting data,” reveals Mika. “It is this data and the analysis of the data that helps make up the final elements of the Dissertation Manuscript (the bulk of chapters 1-3 is from the DP).” The DM includes the study findings and the student’s recommendation for future research as well as practical applications. 

Oral Defense/Presentation

The oral defense (presentation for applied doctorates) is the final formal step prior to completion of the doctorate. “The student presents to their doctoral committee the highlights of the study, key findings and limitations,” she explains. “The student must demonstrate expertise on their dissertation topic and research design, and field questions from their committee. The committee then decides whether the student has sufficiently completed the requirements for a doctorate.”

It’s important to keep in mind that while dissertations are a staple for doctoral programs, each college or university more than likely has its own requirements for different portions of the dissertation, including length, review, research methods and committee assignments. The best thing you can do as you’re preparing to begin the dissertation process is find out everything you can about your institution’s requirements and don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it.

Active Reading Strategies Can Improve Reading Comprehension and Retention

How do you most enjoy reading? Maybe you would prefer to be stretched out on a sunny beach or curled up on the couch with a book. However, when it comes to reading that takes serious focus, you need a different approach

Before tackling any textbook or dense academic material, it’s important to know where to start, how to grab the main points, and delve more deeply into the text. Rather than just diving in, first consider using strategies to develop a critical reading process. Critical reading involves actively engaging with the reading material.

Simon Lei, lead author of “Strategies for Improving Reading Comprehension among College Students,” notes that, “Students can get overwhelmed easily with text-based material.” However, “There are many strategies, both in class and at home, to improve reading comprehension.”

One formalized approach for active reading is called the Know, Will/Want, Learned (KWL) method. KWL is a great tactic for individual or group study. With this method, before you begin reading, make a list of what you already know about the topic. This exercise lets you see what background information is available to you now. Next, look at the table of contents, charts, graphs and diagrams of the reading material to get an overview of the material; write down what you will or want to learn from the text. Last, while you read the text, list out what new information you are learning, either section by section or after you’ve completed the entire assigned reading.

Similar to the KWL method, the SQ3R technique also involves pre-reading and asking questions before jumping straight into the text. SQ3R stands for survey, question, read, recite and review.

  • Surveying the text involves quickly skimming through the headings to understand the main points.
  • Ask questions as you survey the material to create an active reading approach to learn more from the material.
  • Once you begin reading, search for answers to the questions you had asked when surveying the topic.
  • After reading the material, close the book and try to recite the answers to the questions. If you don’t quite have the information memorized, open the book and the text again.
  • Finally, review the content to determine whether you memorized the main point and made connections with the overall subject matter.

Although we would probably all prefer to read under a beach umbrella, passive reading is not the best approach for dense academic material. These strategies to become a more active reader can help improve your understanding of the text and aid information retention. Consider giving one of these examples a try and see if it works for you!

NCU Graduation 2013 – The Official Trailer

At Northcentral University, graduation is the highlight of our year! Join us on June 8 as we celebrate the diverse men and women who have taken their careers to a higher degree.


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