Canary in the Coal Mine

Image result for early warning comicAny good Mountaineer understands the significance of a canary in the coal mine…the canary portends danger or failure.

In other words…it takes one for the team.

So Chickens, there’s something you and I can learn from these wee warblers…these sentinel saviors…

Pay attention to early warning signs!!!!

As a matter of fact…we have just such a system in place here @ WVNCC in the form of an email and phone call you’ll receive if someone detects toxic or subversive signs emanating from your ‘general direction.’

So if you:

  • Miss class(es), even one…especially at the beginning of a semester (yes…you can be absent in online courses too!)…I mean, this is bottom rung stuff…’just showing up’ is like ‘just having one’ cookie, potato chip, whatever…IT IS NOT ENOUGH.
  • Miss assignments…ahem…I repeat…does no good to show up if you don’t do any work. BUZZKILL=we do not learn by osmosis.

I think we can agree these are, like, no-brainers. But (and this is where your canary can really sing) be in tune with yourself and your environment (I promise, your professor is):

  • Are you engaging? Are you able to listen and concentrate in class? Are you finding something…anything…about your coursework interesting?
  • Are you motivating yourself? Are you regularly snuggling up with why you’re doing what you’re doing?
  • Have you incorporated “student” into your identity? Are you able to prioritize and balance it with the many competing commitments for your time, attention and affection?

So we have our canaries in place, Chickens, but you too, must have your own. Build your personal capital (i.e. self-awareness and reflection). Check in with yourself Chickens…listen for sounds of distress, look for red flags, ask for support…don’t go all “Trump-et” on us.

How sublime the subtleties of learning! It is not all found in a book…Ms. Maya A. and I know why the caged bird sings!

We’re on your team…we’ll sound off in warning if need be…so we can, ultimately, sing songs of your success.Image result for canary singing

It’s All About the Benjamin’s, Baby

5 Things To Do After Filing Your FAFSA

Congratulations! You finished filling out the 2017-2018 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)! Now what?

1. Look Out For Your Student Aid Report

FAFSA LOGOAfter you submit your FAFSA, you’ll get a Student Aid Report (SAR). Your SAR is a paper or electronic document that gives you some basic information about your eligibility for federal student aid as well as listing your answers to the questions on your FAFSA.

Any student with a Federal Student Aid PIN can view and print his or her SAR by logging in to and clicking on the appropriate school year. This is also where you can check the status of your application if you have not received your SAR yet. Once you get your SAR, you should review it carefully to make sure it’s correct and complete. If you made a mistake, make sure you go in and correct or update your FAFSA.

2. Locate Your EFC

Found your SAR? Awesome! You may want to start by looking for your Expected Family Contribution (EFC). Your EFC can be found in the box at the top of the first page of your SAR, under your social security number.

Your EFC is a measure of your family’s financial strength and is calculated according to a formula established by law. Its formula considers your family’s taxed and untaxed income, assets, and benefits (such as unemployment or Social Security) as well as your family size and the number of family members who will attend college during the year.

Schools use your EFC to determine your federal student aid eligibility and your financial aid award. However, it’s important to remember that your EFC is not the amount of money your family will have to pay for college nor is it the amount of federal student aid you will receive. It is a number used by your school to calculate how much financial aid you are eligible to receive. Contact your school’s financial aid office if you have any questions about how they calculate financial aid.

3. Make Corrections If You Need To

It’s important to make sure that everything on your FAFSA is correct and complete, as your school may ask you to verify some of the information.

Did you fill out FAFSA before your 2013 tax information was complete? Do you need to update any information? Did you find a mistake? Don’t worry! It’s easy to make corrections online at Log in and click “Make FAFSA Corrections.” You’ll need to enter your Federal Student Aid PIN to make any corrections. Corrections should be processed in 3-5 days and you should receive a revised SAR.

4. Review Your Financial Aid History Information

The last page of your SAR includes information about your financial aid history, specifically the loans you have taken out. It can be complicated and confusing to keep track of all of your loans and interest rates, but it is very important. Reviewing the financial aid history in your SAR will help you be aware of how much you are borrowing and how much you’ll owe later.

Remember: You can access your financial aid history information anytime by logging into with your Federal Student Aid PIN.

5. Double-Check With Your Schools

Lastly, make sure that you double-check with the financial aid offices at the schools you applied to.  Sometimes schools need additional paperwork or have other deadlines. You never want to leave money on the table!

Rachel Connolly is freshman at The University of Michigan and virtual intern in ED’s office of Federal Student Aid.

Department of Education Homeroom Blog

All Hail Ceasar

Image result for roman new yearWho knew we (sort of) have Julius Caesar to thank for the tradition of New Year’s resolutions?

Well, Caesar and that two-faced Roman god Janus…one face looking back and one gazing forward. It’s in this pagan spirit we show off our two faces each January and it is with this esprit de corps that I’ve shaped, for you, a list of resolutions.

No…no…no need to thank me, Chickens…I’m a giver (as part of my own resolutions)…giving is just what I do (until mid-month when my resolutions shrivel like mail-order fruitcake)…

Without further adieu…ahem…my list of New Year’s resolutions for you:

 1. Get healthy.

I know, totally lame…how cliche…but ya’ gotta do it, Chickens. So pull up your yoga pants and head down to CentreTown Fitness…’cause, um, yeah…you can work out there for FREE. GRATIS, Chickens!

I’ll be right there with ‘ya…paying for my sweet-tooth sins and emo-eating escapes…ahem…let me direct your attention to item #2 in this month’s edition of OnTrack highlighting successful habits…

Bottom line…no excuses.

2. Get serious.

And by this I mean…hic manebimus optime…to Northern you have come and at Northern you will stay until your coursework is complete and your degree is conferred.Despite. Any. Obstacle.

Despite. Any. Obstacle.

REPEAT: I am one with Northern and Northern is one with me. (see Rogue One: A Star Wars Story-Chirrut Imwe)

3. Get organized.

So yesterday, Chickens, I met with my son’s middle school dean…she reports that my son does not have any sense of, let alone system for, organization (you know…like I haven’t lived with him for 13 1/2 years)…any-who…if you haven’t yet…find your laser focus:

  • Write down notes/reminders immediately (don’t wait or they will go the way of parachute pants)
  • Make daily/weekly to-do lists
  • Simplify – find things to eliminate or forego while you’re in college (the Romans made sacrifices to Janus, after all…)
  • Pay attention to time – how long do things take, how much time is wasted, say ‘no,’ put a schedule in writing and stick to it, show up and, when necessary, leave on time

And if you’re in need of an ‘organizational support’…buzz me…I’ve got someone in mind.

4. Get real.

Life is hard sometimes…no doubt about it…but Chickens…there is also no doubt about the fact that the world doesn’t stop spinning. Sometimes we’ve got to manage loss and hurt and temptation and dislocation and chaos while we get up, buckle up, catch a ride…and let our work lend itself to balancing opportunity with obstacle. Let the ‘something’ that brought you here “put the beatdown” on the ‘something’ that’s trying to pull you away.

Education is the thing, Chickens. It is the real deal.


I do not wish to sit across from you this semester lamenting “Et tu, Brute.

So be two-faced… learn from your mistakes and envision your success. Don’t play fast and loose with possibility…

Related imageLet me add that raucous parties were also paramount to the Roman new year…like… partizzles spilling from one week into the next…who says history is boring???

You’re welcome.