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Tips for Transitioning from the Military to College

by South University
September 21, 2018
A photo of South University faculty member teaching a college course.

After leaving the military, earning a degree is a strategic way to prepare you for your next career move. Of course, any transition this big involves a lot of questions and decisions, so we’ve compiled a few tips that can help along the way.

1. Pick a program and learning style that’s right for you.

Look for a program that matches your interests and strengths while also preparing you to achieve your professional goals. If you're considering multiple programs, reflect on what you liked most about your military career. What civilian careers offer those same aspects? To help you decide, ask schools for details on program curriculum and outcomes.

If you need to balance school with family and work obligations, choose a program where that’s possible—whether that means learning 100% online, taking evening classes on campus, or perhaps mixing both online and campus-based learning. Whatever you do, remember that your military benefits are limited. Make the most of them by choosing a program you’ll stick with.

2. Discuss your military benefits with financial aid representatives.

Once you’ve researched schools and programs, be sure you understand your military education benefits and the availability of any additional military scholarships.

At South University, our financial aid officers will guide you through the financial aid process and exploring your options. When discussing your benefits, ask questions and pay attention to the details, including payment limitations and timing. If a school isn’t experienced in working with military students and veterans or their military benefits, then that school may not be right for you.

A photo of South University student studying at a computer.3. Ask about transfer and experience credits.

Veterans bring invaluable experience to the classroom and your school should recognize that. Look for a university that will evaluate your Joint Service Transcript or corresponding official service transcript to determine if you can receive college level credit for your prior learning and military training courses. South University also recognizes credit from non-traditional educational sources such as College-Level Examination Program (CLEP) and DANTES (Defense Activity for Non-Traditional Education Support) Subject Standardized Tests (DSST) exams. Taking advantage of such opportunities can save you time and money.

4. Create a plan for your success.

You’re used to direction and structure from the military, and now you need to create that structure for yourself. Give yourself deadlines for making progress on course assignments and follow a regular schedule for studying and doing coursework. Success starts with making a plan and sticking to it.

5. Get help when you need it.

In the military, you knew you could count on the people around you. You were part of a team working together with one goal. The same is true in school. Your success is the mission, and, at South University, you’ll be surrounded by people ready to support you, from tutoring to academic advising to helping you navigate library resources in person or online. As you approach graduation, career services can also to help you find and pursue positions that match your goals.

Remember, learning in the classroom, online or in person, will be a different experience than learning in the military. That’s okay. No one expects you to excel at everything or go at it alone. Help is available; all you have to do is ask.

6. Don't neglect your physical and mental health.

Leaving the military is a challenging transition, no matter what you're planning to do next. To minimize your stress levels as a student, always leave room in your daily routine for taking care of yourself! Getting enough sleep, exercising, and eating right will help you stay at the top of your game in and outside of the classroom. We also encourage all veterans to explore the mental health resources available through their local Department of Veteran Affairs.

A photo of South University student studying at a computer.7. Connect with others who’ve been in your shoes.

Look for and get to know other veterans at your school from the start. The Student Veterans of America is also a great resource. In both instances, you’ll find other veterans who understand your struggles and successes and who may have advice to help with the transition. Whether you attend South University classes online or on campus, know that you’ll have many ways to connect with classmates with shared interests and talk outside the classroom.

8. Get involved with student life.

Student veteran organizations are a great place to start, but don’t stop there. Even if you’re nervous you might not belong, push yourself to join student groups and participate in school activities. Soon, you’ll realize how many people also feel out of their comfort zone. At South University, our diverse student body includes many adult learners, with a variety of life experiences, who are going to college for the first time or returning after many years away. Befriending your college peers can give you a sense of community, and you'll gain more people to check in on you, encourage you, and talk to about your schoolwork or your goals.

To talk with the military admissions specialists at South University, call 1-800-688-0932 or request information online.

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Practical Study Tips for College Students from South University Faculty & Staff

by South University
September 7, 2018
A photo of South University medical assisting student studying at a computer.

When you start classes, it’s normal to be nervous about how to study for a test or fit coursework into your daily life. Whether you’ve been out of school for years or you’re just unsure about beginning a new program, we’re here for you. To help you build good study habits, we’ve compiled our favorite study tips for college classes provided by South University faculty and staff, including:

  • Mark Fabbri, PhD, Online Programs, Psychology Chair
  • Alexandra Young, Academic Manager
  • Rachel Mitchell, MLIS, Director of Online Library Services

A photo of South University, Online Programs student studying at a computer. 1. Carve out time for studying in your day.

Mark Fabbri, our Online Programs Psychology Chair explains, "Finding time can be the greatest challenge to studying. We all have busy lives and sometimes putting studying on top of the list is difficult."

To address this problem, use a journal to track how you spend your day, noting when you’re doing something valuable versus simply passing time—but don’t count all down time as wasted. For example, Fabbri prioritizes playing Minecraft in the evenings because it’s his way to relax.

"I also have a grandchild to watch, parents to care for, my daughter's new novel to proofread, and I need to somewhere find the time to work and exercise," says Fabbri, who is currently working on adding another degree to his extensive credentials. "By looking at what I do daily, I was able to block out 1 to 2 hours a day to read and study early in the morning when I first get up. That also seems to be when I am most alert for studying. Everyone is different, but the key is finding the best time to study for your own schedule."

2. Be smart about the places you study.

Fabbri asserts that where you study is equally as important as when. "Removing distractions so you can focus on reading your text or articles needs to be a priority," he says.

Don't study in front of the TV or somewhere your children or housemates will distract you. Quiet libraries are often among the best places to study, as are coffee shops. If you study at home, play white noise or classical music (some of the best music for studying) to drown out distracting noises.

3. Make your study habits routine.

"Consistency is critical to success," says Alexandra Young, an Academic Manager at South University. "Do your school work at the same time and in the same place every day to start forming good study habits."

To stay on track, set regular reminders through South University"s online learning platform Brightspace or mark time off for repeat tasks on a physical calendar or agenda. Just remember—creating a routine isn’t easy. If you slip up, don’t feel guilty. Recommit to your routine the very next day. “It can take months for good study habits to stick," Young says.

A photo of South University, Online Programs student studying at a computer. 4. Study in short bursts.

Cramming in all your studying at once is not effective. "You will learn the material for your assignment then forget it,” says Young. It’s also not the best way to study for a test, as you might forget what you studied by the time the test is in front of you.

Young advises studying for 20 to 30 minutes at a time and then taking a 5-minute break, repeating this process 1 to 2 hours a day. "Set a timer for studying. Stay focused and don’t check your phone. If you struggle with getting distracted, use software or apps to block extraneous websites for set times," says Young. "During your break, stand up, walk away, and give your mind a chance to rest."

5. Plan ahead and start early.

Planning ahead leaves room for surprises, says Director of Online Library Services, Rachel Mitchell. "Waiting until the last minute depletes any margin you might need due to technical issues or unexpected circumstances," she says. "It's possible you'll need clarification on an assignment or reading. When you procrastinate, there's no time left to hear back from an instructor, colleague, or tutor."

Mitchell suggests noting important course dates in your calendar and setting deadlines for yourself ahead of those dates to give yourself that extra wiggle room. She also likes psychologist Tamar Chansky's recommendation to "set up the launch pad and walk away." The idea is that if you set yourself up for a task beforehand, you're less likely to procrastinate later. "Before your study session, get out your computer, pen, paper, whatever you need," says Mitchell. "Take a quick break and then come back to everything all set up and ready to go."

6. Ask for help.

Admitting you don't know something can feel intimidating, but South University makes so many resources available to you--including tutoring, the library, instructors, and writing centers.

"As soon as you have a question, reach out! Asking saves you time and energy," says Mitchell.

"If you’re unsure about an assignment, contact your instructor right away. Anytime you need help with research, citations, or finding information on a topic, contact the library. We are here to help!"

Young agrees, adding that Admissions Representatives and Academic Counselors can also help with questions about how to study in college. "If your graduation team knows your concerns, they will be better equipped to point you in the right direction."

Get moving on your academic success!

Students can find contact information in the Campus Common for their Admissions and Academic support teams, instructors, campus or online libraries, and other resources that can help you build your college study skills.

If you’re interested in learning about South University and our programs, request information or call 1.800.688.0932 today!

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Networking 101: 6 Tips on How to Build Your Network

by South University
August 21, 2018
A photo of two professional talking together.

When it comes to career advancement, who you know is important. Many jobs are never listed before the right candidate is found, interviewed, and hired. So how do you meet the right people who can help you get in the right place at the right time to grow your career? The answer is by continually meeting new people and building your network.

Networking could be the key to landing you the interview at the company you’ve been trying to get into for years, or give you a chance to secure a job that few other people know exists. Networking can also help you connect with a mentor or a like-minded colleague who can offer an understanding ear, helpful resources, and even valuable advice as you navigate the day-to-day challenges and stresses of the professional environment.

If you’re new to networking, here are six tips to get you started.

1. Get to know your classmates and colleagues

Start talking with more people in your South University classes. If they’re in your program, they’ll share some of your interests, and you can start by asking about their career aspirations and past professional experiences. For now, you might wind up with a study buddy. In the future, this new connection could prove helpful for one or both of your careers.

Outside of school, find ways to connect with your current colleagues. Are their people you pass every day in the hall or say hello to, but who you don't know well? Ask them for coffee and a chat, or join them for lunch whenever you get a chance.

2. Think outside the workplace

Find new connections close to home by getting to know your neighbors. Drop by with a simple gift and introduce yourself, or invite them to your place the next time you see them outside. While your instinct might be to grow your network by connecting only with people in your field, it’s impossible to predict which connection could lead to your next career move. Plus, it’s nice to know your neighbors!

Similarly, let your friends and family know what you’re studying in school and your desired career path. When the people around you know about your goals, they’re better able to introduce you to people who might be able to help.

3. Refine your LinkedIn profile

A current and complete LinkedIn profile is essential for people finding you online and helping new connections understand who you are. For a profile photo, choose a simple headshot of you alone in front of a plain background. Add a headline about what you do now and what you hope to do in the future. Then, use the summary section to share more about your professional strengths and goals. Fill in the Experience section (including accomplishments at each job), along Education, Volunteer Experience, Accomplishments, and Skills.

4. Be an active LinkedIn member

Once your profile is complete, connect with your instructors, classmates (new and old), work colleagues, family, and friends. Share professional articles you think might interest or benefit others, adding commentary on why you do or don’t like the article. Comment on other people’s posts where it makes sense. Join industry-specific groups to ask for advice and get to know others with similar interests. By taking these steps to stay active on LinkedIn, you can stay top-of-mind for your connections—and meet some new people along the way.

5. Volunteer in your community

Volunteering is a great way to give back and support your community. At the same time, volunteering can get to know other people in your area and maybe gain relevant industry or leadership experience. With a little searching, you might even find volunteer organizations related to your professional strengths or goals.

6. Join industry organizations and professional events

MeetUps, student groups, networking events, professional seminars and conferences—these are all great ways to build your network. When you attend, be confident in approaching and getting to know other people and be ready to summarize your goals, strengths, and interests in one to two minutes. (If needed, you can always practice this with classmates, friends, family, or even in front of the mirror.) Bring business cards to the event with your name, email, and phone number. These cards can either feature your job title or show that you’re a student (for example, Jane Doe, MBA Student).

After the event, connect on LinkedIn with anyone you met and send a note saying you enjoyed talking. Consider planning a future meeting for coffee to continue your discussions.

Want to know more about how South University can help you with preparing for your next career move?

Contact us to learn about how our degree programs are designed to help you go from classroom to career, and how our Career Services team and other dedicated staff can support you along the way.

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Information Systems & Technology Students Gain Experience with Advanced Industry Software

by South University
August 16, 2018
a photo of an two information technology professions working at a computer.

At South University, input from industry professionals and subject matter experts plays a critical role in our course and program development. Their insights help us to ensure that our students graduate with experience and understanding of career- and industry-specific tools and technology. This is especially crucial for our Information Systems and Technology students, as they prepare to enter a field full of constantly evolving tech.

Over the last several years at South University, Tampa, our Master of Science in Information Systems (MSIS) students have received valuable hands-on experience with software applications and tools used in the professional field of business intelligence and analytics. These opportunities for our student to gain applied knowledge have included:

  • In the Decision Support Systems class, students build their own data warehouse on IBM’s DB2 Warehouse Edition software and populate it with real data provided by IBM. They also learn how to design business intelligence models utilizing the Cognos Analytics platform and build the type of dashboards that allow business analysts to identify and better understand business trends. Such platforms and models can serve as key tools for informing organizational decision-making among upper management and executives.
  • Information Systems students are provided with the opportunity to learn about cognitive computing by using IBM Watson Analytics—an intelligent data analysis and visualization service that makes it easier to discover patterns and meaning in data. By using IBM Watson Analytics' guided data discovery, automated predictive analytics, and cognitive capabilities such as natural language dialogue, our students are learning how to use artificial intelligence tools to augment their own skills and better meet the demands of today's fast-paced, data-intensive corporate environment.

South University is pleased to be working with the IBM Academic Initiative to provide Information Systems and Technology students with such important hands-on experiences and expose them to these new technologies in cognitive computing, artificial intelligence, data science and analytics, and the cloud. We look forward to seeing how our graduates will put these new skills to work for their employers and uncover meaningful insights and information that will undoubtedly help the evolution of their organizations.

Want to know more? Learn why businesses need information systems and technology professionals and how our MSIS program was built around that demand. If you’re interested in gaining skills and knowledge related to Information Systems, our MSIS program is available online and at multiple campus locations. Start planning for tomorrow today!

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What to Expect as an Online Student at South University

by South University
August 7, 2018
a photo of an online student working at a computer.

As an online student at South University, you’ll receive both the online tools and the individualized support you need to help you realize your academic, personal, and professional goals. Learn more below about what you can expect as a member of our online student community.

1. The Campus Common will serve as your go-to resource.

When you take our online classes, much of what you’ll need will be found inside the Campus Common. The Campus Common is an easy-to-use online portal, packed full of resources that can support your academic and professional success and help you get connected to your fellow students. From here, you can

  • Log into your classes
  • Find your key contacts, including technical support
  • Catch up on school news and updates
  • Access academic and student support services
  • Join Connections to participate in online student groups
  • And so much more!

2. You’ll have a network of people to help you succeed.

From your first day at South University, we’re here to support you. Your Admissions Representative, Student Finance Counselor, and Academic Counselor will share valuable knowledge and guidance to help you with things like completing your online orientation, getting ready for your first class, selecting financial options that work for you, determining your course schedule, and creating a plan for time management.

In addition to asking your instructors questions in class, you’ll be able to engage our online tutors anytime for writing feedback or help understanding any challenging course material. You can also schedule in-person or phone consultations with certified counselors to work through any personal issues you may be experiencing.

3. You’ll interact frequently with your faculty and peers.

Our interactive online classroom and mobile app let you learn when and where you want and feature anytime access to your course content as well as lively discussion boards. In your classes, your instructors will provide personalized responses to your assignments and be available to answer questions via instant messaging, email, and phone.

You’ll also have access to Connections, an exclusive online social network for our students and faculty. Here, you can join student chapters of professional organizations as well as groups organized by other students or the Student Affairs team.

4. Our comprehensive academic resources will help you learn.

Even when you’re not logged into our online classroom, you’ll have a variety resources to help you grow. Within our Online Library, you’ll find 60+ databases and 50,000+ ebooks, video clips, images, and full-text dissertations. We also offer on-demand tutoring, subject-specific research guides, Virtual Library Workshops, and a number of online events to expand on your classroom learning.

5. We can help get you ready for the workplace.

We’re committed to preparing for what’s next after earning your degree. Within the Campus Common, you’ll discover a variety of career resources available at no extra charge, including career advice and tools for interview prep, finding job openings, and more. As you approach graduation, our career services professionals can also provide personalized guidance throughout your job search and application process—from cover letter and resume writing workshops through to helping you expand your professional network.

Ready to get started? Talk to an Admissions Representative at 1.800.688.0932 or request information today and we’ll be in touch soon.

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