Reminders for Break

By Dr. Eileen Wirth

This blog will be short and sweet, like the week ahead – a couple of quick reminders and best wishes as we head for Thanksgiving break.

•If you’re going home, travel safely and ENJOY! You’ve earned this short but good break. Connect with old friends but don’t be surprised if you miss your new Creighton friends and realize how much you’ve changed.

•Before you leave campus, check your syllabi so you don’t forget to study for a test early next week or to work on a paper that’s due right after you return. I’m sure I’m not the only professor who is either giving a test or has assigned a paper. With finals looming, we have no other choice.

•On Thursday, say a prayer of thanks for your blessings. I’ll be thanking God for all of you who bless our Creighton community.

There’s no substitute for going home but if you can’t, join us early Wednesday evening at lower St. John’s Church for the annual Thanksgiving dinner our parish throws for you. The food is great (turkey and all the trimmings) and it’s loads of fun. The 9 a.m. Thanksgiving Mass at St. John’s is beautiful and a reminder of what we are celebrating

Have a great Thanksgiving!

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Registration Insights

By Dr. Eileen Wirth

Since you can’t come trekking into my office, here are some of the registration insights that I share with my 35 official advisees every semester.

Complete Core First

You can’t graduate until you complete Core.  The new Magis core is smaller and more flexible than the old core but you still have to complete all requirements.  Since all other students have to complete the same requirements, take high demand courses as soon as you can. Don’t leave anything until your final semester if you can possibly avoid it.

Declare a Major by Spring of Your Sophomore Year

Most majors take at least two years to complete, frequently more. Allow plenty of time to fulfill all major requirements because major classes also close and a key requirement may not be offered during the final semester when you have to have it. Major advisors might be able to substitute one course for another but there’s no guarantee.

Study Abroad Junior Year

Junior year works best for studying abroad because freshman year focuses on core, sophomore year on getting established in a major and senior year on completing wrapping up everything. Tell your major advisor as soon as you declare that you need to complete all major requirements in fewer semesters. Assume that most courses elsewhere will be electives.  Who wants to spend a semester in Italy taking classes you could get on campus?

Assume that Your Freshman Four Year Plan will Change

View your freshman four- year plan as an outline not an exact road map. Nothing ever works out exactly like you thought it would so trust that a good major advisor will help you figure out how to graduate in four years despite closed courses, requirements offered at conflicting times and all the other roadblocks that can seem so daunting.

Chill

Finally, chill. Focus on the essentials and remember Creighton is on the four- year plan. We want you to graduate on time and the odds are very high you will. Good luck!

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Do You Need a Minor?

Here’s a “minor” question for you to consider as your register:

            •Do I need a minor?

Creighton’s old core was so large that many students couldn’t minor in anything if they wanted to graduate in four years. In fact many minors failed to attract a single student – ever. But today’s smaller Magis core is changing this. There are several “major” benefits to completing a minor.

UTILITARIAN

You want to get a good job after you graduate but can’t see majoring in something like accounting or business so minor in one of them instead. Or maybe you’re considering law school and want something more concrete than your history or philosophy major to fall back on. Select a minor with a clear career path.  A utilitarian minor can give you enough practical courses to head confidently into the job market. Plus your parents will be happy!

SKILL BUILDING

Minor in a foreign language and pair it with any major. You can’t lose. Or enhance your applied writing skills by minoring in journalism.  Two sciences or social sciences might make good major-minor combinations, especially if one is more theoretical and the other more applied.  New programs such as digital humanities can boost your data skills and open many avenues if you’re majoring in a humanities field such as classics or theology.

LIFE ENHANCEMENT

If you major in something practical like business or journalism, treat yourself to a minor that feeds your soul like creative writing or one of the fine arts. Choose a minor that you would enjoy majoring in if you thought it would take you where you want to go in life. Your minor will make you a better-rounded person and the courses will be some of your favorites.  I’ve benefitted lifelong from my history and English minors.

Unlike random electives, minors appear on your transcript and you can list them on your resume. They can help future employers gain an immediate sense of who you are and what you can do.         There’s nothing minor about that! Good luck!!!!

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Non-verbal Messages to Professors

     You’re pouring into your seats for class, unconsciously sending your professors important non-verbal messages. Here’s some of what you might not realize you are telling us, but your signals can have a big impact on how we see you.

            •You’re never late, sit up front, smile and act interested.

I want to get to know you better. Need help? My door is wide open.

•You dash into class because your previous class was at the opposite end of campus. You’ve told me you’re trying to make it on time.

Good kid. We all remember getting our undergrad workouts this way.

•You inform me about family or health issues that might affect your attendance or force you to leave class.

My heart goes out to you. If you might need to leave class for a health reason, please sit near the door and leave quietly.        

You mosey in late day after day, disrupting the class as you settle in. Then you unwrap a snack.

Will you be this rude to your boss in a couple of years? What can I say when a reference asks about your punctuality?

•You study notes from another class, work on a computer when no one else is taking notes, text on your cell phone, sport ear buds to a digital device or leave class for no obvious reason.

Are you kidding? Don’t you think I notice? You’re paying Creighton tuition to behave like this? If you aren’t interested in my class, please drop it or stay home.

Most faculty members are passionate about our fields, having spent at least four or five years in graduate school just to be here. We connect with students who at least try in our classes. Students who are obviously indifferent or worse turn us off.

This isn’t high school. We expect you to behave like adults without being told. Nor is it mega-State U where we don’t know who you are, for better or worse.  Think about the non-verbal messages you may be sending and if need be, change while there’s time.

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Registration: As Many “Treats” as “Tricks”

Registration for spring is upon us, coinciding with Halloween and maybe scarier than the holiday. It might seem more like a “trick” than a “treat” but consider the following:

The Core

If you’re a freshman, you might wish you could take classes in your proposed major rather than core classes. However Creighton’s focus on the core has a huge benefit. Because every Magis core class counts even if you change majors or undergraduate colleges as so many students do, it’s almost impossible to waste your freshman year. Think of the focus on core as your ticket to graduating in four years.

Also, core classes can introduce you to new fields such as philosophy or astronomy. Use core classes to help select your major and minor or to discover a new passion.

Advising

At my big state university, my roommate and I used to sign our registration forms for each other without wasting time seeing our advisors. No one knew or cared about our forgeries. I became, in effect, my own advisor, not the wisest policy. Now with information posted online, students should have even less need for advising. Right?

WRONG!!!!

Personal advising is one of the best services Creighton offers students – a chance to establish bonds with faculty members who can guide you smoothly through your college career.  We know things you don’t like which classes take more time and which won’t be offered next fall because the professor will be on sabbatical etc.  Take advantage of us. We can be even more helpful than Ratemyprofessor.com

Tricks

Okay, it’s no treat to be at the bottom of the registration heap facing closed courses. GRRR! But time and more hours will help. At least you aren’t standing in lines for classes that close just before it’s your turn to register like former generations.

Good luck everyone!!! Despite frustrations, you’ll survive.

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Surviving Midterms

Fall break is so close we can almost but first we all have to climb that obstacle wall known as midterms. Yes, even faculty.

You can feel the tension as you walk around campus and see students red-eyed from fatigue. It’s bad enough to have to study for tests or turn in projects in most courses but then you still have to go to class. In that sense, midterms are worse than finals.

Couple of survival tips;

•Don’t study all night and risk getting so tired that you blank out during a test or worse still, oversleep an early exam. Sleep deprivation also increases the risk of getting sick when you can least afford it.

•Exercise to gain energy rather than getting over-caffeinated.

•Ask your professor for as much specific information as possible about your midterm and think what he or she has emphasized in class. Focus on the major ideas and concepts in addition to obsessing over details so you can make more informed guesses.

Lots of students do poorly on midterms, especially if they haven’t had an exam from the professor. After you return from fall break, ask professors in classes where you are struggling for extra help.

And don’t be too discouraged if your midterm grades aren’t what you are hoping for. Many professors use them as a wake up call for improvement. Ask your professor what you need to do to raise your final grade then follow the advice. If you do well, rejoice! You’re on a great trajectory for the second half of the semester.

And freshmen, think of what an enormous adjustment you’ve made in just a few weeks and how different you already are than when you arrived. That’s a huge accomplishment. Most students raise their grades as they move through college and become more accustomed to the demands. You’ll be fine.

Good luck!

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Declare Your Major Now

Declare Your Major NOW

By Dr. Eileen Wirth

 

Yesterday we added another major to our roster, officially anyhow, although she’s been in our department for more than six months. Now that I’m her advisor, I can access her records and will get her PIN for registering for spring classes.  She was so happy that she forwarded my email welcoming her to the department to her parents.

WHEW! One of the major decisions of college finally taken care of in time to have a major advisor before spring class registration!

I urge the rest of you who have been procrastinating about declaring your major and getting a new advisor to follow suit.  Sophomores, especially, need major advisors to help them plot their major courses for the rest of college.

RSP advisors don’t know the ins and outs of other departments such as which courses work best together or when a required course may not be offered because a professor will be on sabbatical. They’ll be the first to urge you to declare a major even if you aren’t 100 percent sure about it because you can always change your mind.

Unlike a lot of universities, Creighton takes advising very seriously. Faculty form ties with their advisees that often last for years. Those bonds pay off when you need letters of recommendation or job references. I often get such requests years after students have graduated and it helps a lot if I remember you well.

A couple of other points:

•Sophomores will finish with the old core that they started with even if they have transferred from one CU college to another. The new Magis core has no impact on them.

•Declaring your major is easy. Just go online to your college website, find the major declaration link and answer a couple of questions.

•If you want a particular advisor, ask for him or her. As a chair that assigns advisors, I try to honor such preferences. However if you get someone else, it might be because Popular Advisor A is overloaded while an equally good advisor has openings. Again, if you like, you can always ask for a chnge

So if you are a sophomore still seeking a major and an advisor, bite the bullet and declare. Fall break will be a lot more relaxing if you’ve done this.

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What’s Best About Creighton?

Congratulations, students!

You objected to some commercials that most of you didn’t like and Creighton has pulled them. Your voices count along with those of alumni and faculty.

And now I challenge you to help Creighton, including you freshmen who are still getting the ropes of college.

What WOULD you like commercials about Creighton to say? We need to tell the University what values and experiences we want to project, not just complain about a portrait that many of us couldn’t identify with.

Maybe you should ask your RSP advisors to discuss this in class since it is such an important issue. I’ll start the ball rolling but just to get you thinking:

•I love drop-in visits from alums like one the other day from a guy who graduated in 1993.  I’d only seen him once or twice since but we reconnected instantly and I teased him about several things I remembered about his student days. That wouldn’t happen at mega-state U even if he is an important journalist as he is.

•I’m honored that students trust faculty enough to talk about issues in their lives or concerns about the future, not just come to our offices for signatures on overrides.

•It’s cool to get emails of thanks because, “I got the job!” or “I start my new internship next week.” All those calls and notes on behalf of students really DO make a difference in their lives.

At CU Sunday today, my fellow Arts & Sciences faculty panelists and I talked about the individual attention we give students and the extraordinary research and academic opportunities our students enjoy.  Visitors said later this isn’t something they have heard at other schools. Would this be a commercial that we would resonate to?

But think about what makes YOUR Creighton special and share your thoughts with the fine staff of Marketing and Communication and CSU. It’s time to speak up. Creighton is listening.

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Returning the Investment

A year ago the Heider College of Business had billboards all over Omaha touting the R.O.I. (return on investment) of a Creighton education. National rating services agree. Cool! You will eventually reap the financial rewards of the cost of going here.

But don’t just think of R.O.I. selfishly. Follow the example of some extremely successful alumni honored at this weekend’s reunion banquet. Their Creighton “R.O.I” might better be called “Returning on Investment.”

They included a doctor in California who has provided health care to migrant workers, a Seattle lawyer who has  not only been a White House fellow and U.S. Attorney  but  works for social justice and the poor and a Business College alum who has set up a network to help youth in Denver.

They are giving back – returning to society and other people on the investment their parents and Creighton made in them. In the videos saluting them, all spoke of the importance of Jesuit values in their lives.

We talk a lot “women and men for others” and other Jesuit values but living these mantras starts by deciding NOW that you can’t measure the success of your investment Creighton educational investment strictly in dollars and cents.

College is for discovering who you are and what you wish to be when you are 40 or 60. It’s for getting outside your comfort zone to test possible paths for the future.  It’s for thinking about big ideas in your liberal arts core classes then reflecting on what they mean to you.

This fall a record number of students will go on fall break service trips. They are already “returning” something to other people on their investment in Creighton.  What about you?

After four years here, will a six-figure income, a big house and a fancy car satisfy your notion of a successful life? Or will your “R.O.I” include “Returning” not just ”Return?”

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The Cross of First Assignments

At Saturday evening Mass at St. John’s, Greg Carlson S.J began his excellent homily by noting that many of his students could relate to Jesus’ suffering on the cross as they received their first grades
We laughed but the suffering Fr. Carlson alluded to is real, especially for freshmen.
Most of you who are freshmen probably got A’s in high school without much difficulty. Now you may be seeing the first C’s of your life and are waking up to the fact that almost everyone here is smart.
What can you tell your parents when they ask how things are going? What does this do to your image of yourself?
I’ll tell you a secret. I got a C on my first freshman English paper and learned a life lesson from it People do recover – especially at Creighton where we believe that the cross leads to redemption. Start working on your own academic redemption.
First, read all that red ink CAREFULLY. You ARE smart but the standards and demands here are a lot stiffer. Many of us use first assignments to communicate our expectations to students; now we judge your response. If we see significant improvement on future papers, we tend to minimize the grade damage from the first.
Take advantage of all the help that Creighton offers. Ask your professor how to do better. This always impresses us.
See assistance on papers from the Writing Center. Make a math tutor your new BFF. Seek informal help from fellow students who are doing well. I even encourage my students to submit drafts of papers for a pre-grading review. That’s probably not the norm but seek advice BEFORE you submit your next paper.
If Creighton were easy, good students like you wouldn’t have come. Remember it’s not the “cross” of that first paper that counts but how you rise to the challenge of future assignments.
Good luck!

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