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Congratulations, graduates!

It is one of my favorite times of the year, Graduation week at Rock Valley College.  This is a great time to look back at where we started and orient ourselves to where are going next.  First off, congratulations to all of our greater Rockford area graduates!  It is at these times that we stop and thank all of those who have helped us reach this milestone; family, friends, instructors, and many others.  Second, graduation is really not the end, but rather the beginning of putting to use all of the good work we have just spent the last several years completing. So what’s next?  It may be time to review, reset, and recalibrate a series of new goals that we want to accomplish.  For some, you will head off toward the next academic goal.  Others will begin searching for that elusive new job and head down your career pathway.  A few others will simply spend some time with family and friends and just relax a bit.  For those beginning to make plans to go to college, one of the first things to do is to recall how you have achieved your previous goals, be they academic, career, or personal.  Those lessons serve us well in setting future goals.  In setting college goals, it all starts with making a commitment to yourself to finish what you start and commit to completing your degree or certificate.  Most of us need a lot of help and support along the way to complete a degree, but if you can commit to do everything in your power to make it happen, others will join you in your effort. So graduation really is the beginning!  Good luck and...

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RVC Alums: Please Raise Your Hand!

It never ceases to amaze me at the number of people I meet in the community who share that they are alums of Rock Valley College and the overwhelmingly positive stories they share. In retrospect, that really should not be a surprise at all considering that RVC serves 8,000 degree or certificate-seeking students and provides some aspect of education/training to over 25,000 people every year! Traditionally, individuals have not thought of their local community college as their alma mater. Several of us on campus and others in the profession have contemplated the reasons for this and have not yet landed on the definitive answer. Could it be that some only planned to take a few courses here before going on for their baccalaureate degree, or perhaps that some received a certificate or credential versus a degree? Or what about those who took a few classes to move up at their place of employment? Perhaps the disconnect in thinking of oneself as an alum is somehow driven by the fact that many believe a degree is the defining factor of being an alum. The reality, however, is that no matter the reason you attended Rock Valley College, the organization has had a pivotal role in your life. Therefore, from our perspective, you are an alumnus. Congratulations! You see, I view life as a journey. There are many steps that I have taken to be the person that I am, both personally and professionally. Many factors have played an instrumental role in providing a solid foundation and providing the tools necessary for success. All of those experiences and the relationships that were formed, whether with individuals or organizations, are a part of the person that I am and the person I continue to become. I now ask you to take a moment to reflect on your life’s journey. What do you see as you look back? Do you remember a particular class or exceptional instructor who inspired you or affected your journey? If you are like the great many individuals who tell me about their experience at RVC, the answer is a resounding “yes”! If so, I ask you to “Raise Your Hand” so all can see that RVC made a difference in your life. You may have noticed that RVC is embarking on an exciting initiative to create the RVC alumni network. We hope to build a pool of stories and testimonials to share as we begin planning for our 50th anniversary celebration to share with the community. We invite all alumni to proudly “Raise Your Hand” and share your story by going to the website. In addition, “like” us on facebook and begin connecting to the thousands of other alums in the region and beyond. The ultimate goal is to create a renewed synergy among our alumni and to provide opportunities for you to interact with others, attend social and educational events, mentor current students, inspire others to follow your footsteps, and so much more. Together you can have tremendous influence over others today by inspiring them to take even one step now, to make the smart choice by looking at RVC to enrich their lives, too. “Raise Your Hand” all RVC...

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College Students Get More Out of Extra-Curricular Activities than Résumé Booster

College students around the nation have a lot going on.  Most importantly, they are enrolled in classes leading to their desired goal.  If enrolled full-time, they are likely to spend 40 hours or more per week attending classes and studying.  Many college students also have jobs that require them to work around their classes and study time.  Depending on the job, college students may spend 60-80 hours per week engaging in school or work functions. But, for some, it doesn’t stop there.  College students also have the opportunity to participate in various extra-curricular activities such as student government, clubs, organizations, or athletics. Time commitments range from one to ten or more hours per week. Higher education professionals know the value-added that students who participate in these types of activities will gain.  From understanding group dynamics to developing good communication and leadership skills, college students who engage in extra-curricular activities learn how to work in groups to achieve a common goal such as identifying and solving problems. In the world of work these skills are highly sought and require some practice to develop proficiency. In order for students to benefit, they first must join a club or group and then actively participate. Given their hectic schedules, this may seem an unlikely choice or priority.  However, national research on college student engagement suggests that students who participate in at least one “out-of-classroom” activity are more likely to persist in college and will feel more positive about their college experience.  In addition, college students who participate in activities outside of their classes will develop relationships with college staff who can speak to their transferrable skills (i.e., leadership, problem-solving, communication, negotiation, critical-thinking, etc.) in the form of a letter of recommendation or reference for transfer or a job. So, if given the chance to engage a new college student in conversation, don’t simply ask them what they are majoring in – also ask them what extra-curricular activities are offered at their college.  If they don’t know, refer them to the Student Life department.  And, if they don’t realize why they should participate, now you can tell them about the benefits beyond building their...

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Meet the RVC Presidential Finalists

At the College we hear daily about the importance of our contributions and our impact on the region. We agree. The students we serve today are tomorrow’s employees, leaders, parents, and citizens. The person who will be selected as our new president will be asked to lead the College as it grows and evolves to meet the needs of our community. Whoever that person will be, he or she would welcome the opportunity to hear from you. We invite you to meet our remaining finalists on March 20 and March 26 from 6-8pm at community forums open to the public. See you soon! Meet the...

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Spring fever? Think summer and fall!

The warmth of spring has many of us thinking about planning vacations and spending time outside. I would like to invite you to also consider spending some time thinking about and planning your own education. Rock Valley College has a lot going on right now to help you explore your interests and your educational options. On April 22 and 23, we invite you to ‘Explore RVC’. Stop by to learn about our degree programs and the variety of student support services available to make your experience successful. You can also get tips for starting and completing your Financial Aid paperwork, tour our beautiful campus, and meet with college staff ready to assist you in completing all the necessary enrollment paperwork. Please call 815-921-4250 for more information and/or to schedule a group or individual tour. If you are ready to complete, or already have completed, the enrollment form and need some help figuring out how to get started selecting and registering for courses, please schedule an Educational Planning Session. These sessions are offered daily and are designed to introduce new students to all of our degree and course options and to assist you in selecting courses for your first semester. Registering is easy at 815-921-4094 or at our website. Finally, to ensure that your college experience gets off to a good start, most colleges and universities offer their students and first year student seminar course. At RVC, that course is Student Development 100 or STU100. This one credit hour course introduces our newest students to all of the tools and resources you will need to be a successful RVC student. Small class sizes and conversations designed to answer all the questions about college that everyone thinks about, but no one wants to ask. So, while you’re thinking spring go ahead and think summer and fall course registration while you’re at...

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The value of skills, and more skills

Community colleges are often expected to be all things to all people. They are designed to be nimble – adjusting quickly to the needs of the regions they serve. Economic and employment trends often drive these changes, and at Rock Valley College we are called to the table to discuss how we can help address issues in the community. We say it often: it’s our mission, and it’s our privilege. Last fall Inside Higher Ed published a piece based on a study by Northeastern University that discusses the “soft skills” sought by employers, regardless of the industry. Rock Valley College’s own Dr. Tom Lombardo, professor of Engineering and Technology, recently wrote a compelling article with a very similar perspective. Check it out here. For the past few years there has been a great deal of discussion both regionally and nationally about the value of liberal arts education and the need for a skilled workforce. It can be easily argued that our region needs both. The misconception is that the two are mutually exclusive.  ...

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RVC Student Filmmakers Honored

Our students impress in many ways . . .things they do in the classroom, and then sometimes after they leave us. It’s a joy when we see their accomplishments and have the chance to share them broadly. We have recently had the privilege of two students – one current and one former – who achieved great success with their films. First, Rock Valley College Mass Communication student Tom Doherty’s film, The White Room, was selected for the Beloit International Film Festival. The White Room is a powerful, emotional, psychological drama that follows a young man who awakens trapped and confused in a mysterious room with no idea of how he came to be there. The events of the film play out in an unforeseeable direction. The White Room, was also named Best of Festival Winner for the Broadcast Education Association (BEA) Festival of Media Arts in the Two Year/Small Colleges Category. The BEA Festival of Media Arts is an international exhibition of award-winning student works chosen in the following competitions: audio, documentary, interactive multimedia, two-year/small colleges, news, scriptwriting, sports, and video. Winners receive recognition and exhibition of their works during BEA’s annual convention in Las Vegas, April 6-9, 2014. Best of Festival individual winners also will receive a $1,000 cash award from the Charles and Lucille King Family Foundation. Exhibition rules prohibit us sharing the film at this time, but the BEA Facebook page provides good information. Former RVC Running Start student, Julia Moore’s film Overcomer is a documentary that tells the story of a family attempting to overcome drug addiction through the organization Overcomers Anonymous. Moore, 2013 RVC graduate, has won the Intercollegiate National Religious Broadcasters First Place Award in the Long Film Category. View Overcomer now on Vimeo. “These awards clearly demonstrate the talent and commitment of students in the RVC Mass Communication program,” said Brian Shelton, professor and academic chair of the program. “We have such pride in their work even after they leave us, as they continue to grow and develop as filmmakers.” RVC hosts student film screenings often. The next student screening will feature documentaries on Friday, April 11, at 6:00 p.m. in the Performing Arts Room at Rock Valley College. Please join...

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