As parents and students look at the rising costs of higher education, many have debated whether attending a private university in California is worth the expense. Here are some factors to consider:
Fact or Fiction?
Public Universities + Grants + Loans = Affordable Opportunities
Community colleges are seen as opportunities for immediate career placement, story or cost-saving measures for students with ambitions to transfer to a four-year institution. The total average cost of completing an AA degree in two years at a California community college was estimated to be $5,000. Students see this as an affordable opportunity to achieve a meaningful income.
For undergraduates considering the CSU or UC system, there is a wide-spread belief that they save on cost in the long-run versus a private education. Publicized access to grants and loans coupled with projected overall cost of attendance by the CSU and UC systems creates this expectation.
What are the financial risks of enrolling in a public institution?
Public colleges and universities are frequently targets for state cost cutting. California has seen a $1.5 billion cut to higher education between 2007-2008 and 2011-2012.
These cuts are significant and:
- Impact ability to offer merit scholarships to students
- Increase tuition rates on students, both in-state and out-of-state
- Reduce the size of faculty
- Create a shortage of class offerings year-round
- Generate large class sizes
- Result in longer delays to graduation
Students in public institutions are acquiring more risk and debt than anticipated.
Theoretically, students attending a community college should be able to complete their degree or transfer in as little as two to three years.
According to EdSource.org, only 52% of students in the California community college system seeking a degree, certificate or transfer, succeed after SIX years (spending an additional average $15,000 or more).
Some reports show completion rates taking as long as EIGHT years.
The National Center for Education Statistics shows an average matriculation rate for students starting at a four-year public institution is 72 months (six years) from first year of enrollment.
Aside from delays in graduation, students must work harder to be their own skilled advocate and find the external support they need to attain their degree goals. This includes ongoing access to information and advising on financial aid procedures and career mentoring. Transfer students also must keep up with changing admission standards for four-year colleges to acquire the necessary prerequisites to transfer (i.e. specific class units or an AA degree). This can sometimes be the biggest challenge. Many transfer students find that not all their coursework credits from their community college are equal to the coursework credits of the four-year public school counterpart. Private colleges have more flexibility on transferable coursework than the UC’s or CSU’s do.
Fact or Fiction?
Private Universities + Grants + Loans = Costly Opportunities
Publicized access to grants and loans coupled with projected overall cost of attendance at private universities often creates “sticker shock”. Although the initial shock gives the impression private education is too costly, it may be the more affordable option.
Oftentimes the published rates are rarely what students end up paying. According to the Council of Independent Colleges:
“Independent colleges and universities give students more than six times as much grant aid as does the federal government”.
Private universities are constantly working to find the best incentives for their students. They want to create lasting relationships. Whether you are a first-generation student, a top achiever or a high-need student, private universities invest time and resources to get to know you and to ensure that hard work outside the classroom is equally acknowledged when awarding scholarships.
The key to getting the most for your money is to inquire with the private universities about scholarships, grants and discounts available to you. Search outside scholarships.
Most private universities have the flexibility of offering an average tuition discount rate of 45% (sometimes more) to help offset the cost of your private education.
As a result, nearly one-third of bachelor’s students were able to graduate without any educational debt in 2012.
At the graduate level, the average student loan debt accrued is $22,380 – about $4,000 less than the national student debt level quoted by the Obama administration.
What are the risks with enrolling in a private institution?
Private universities may at times change their discount rates for various reasons, they do not however, run into the same issues that public institutions often face with state cost-cutting measures. Be sure to inquire with the Financial Aid Office for opportunities available to you.
Fewer years of paying tuition often means a quicker start at earning a salary.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the average graduation time for students in private universities is 50 months (4.2 years) from start to finish.
When calculating the true cost of college, it is important to consider the opportunity cost of delayed income in addition to the potential expense of an extra semester or year.
How private universities benefit the student:
- Getting into classes = finishing sooner
- Relevant majors + internships = great jobs
- Small class sizes = personal attention
- Guaranteed one-on-one advising = quality education
Consider if you graduated in four years instead of six, you could potentially be making $40,000/year, times two years, and be $80,000 ahead!
Note to Transfer Students:
Private universities each have their own transfer crediting methods. Some universities don’t require an AA degree completion to start classes, others may not allow you to retain all the credits earned at the community college level.
Check with an admissions counselor to ensure your classes are transferable. Click below to set up an appointment.
Want a career where people are interested in what you have to say and offer? How about a job that is in demand while making good money? Do you want the flexibility to be self employed, work for a government organization or a large corporation?
Accounting is more than just crunching numbers these days and can actually be an interesting and lucrative career. Here are five popular career paths for accountants:
- International Accountant: Accounting isn’t all about office work. International accountants get to travel to faraway places and work with people all over the globe.
- Forensic Accountant: Forensic accountants go wherever the money takes them, investigating financial crimes and insurance fraud on behalf of companies and public law enforcement agencies.
- IRS Criminal Investigation Special Agent: Embezzlement, extortion and even murder are just a few of the crimes that IRS criminal investigation special agents uncover as a result of their scrutiny, according to the agency’s website.
- Comptrollers: Sometimes called controllers, they are in charge of an organization’s or governments purse strings, and closely watch all outgoing and incoming finances. Chief accountant is another way to describe the position. It’s a big responsibility to have, not to mention a pretty cool one as well.
- Chief Financial Officer: Forget about CEOs. As far as Wall Street is concerned, CFOs are the real kings of corporate America. CFOs are responsible for a company’s financial goals and budgets. In a publicly traded company, they are accountable for the organization’s financial reporting. The possibilities are endless!
Make sure you check out the Bachelor of Science in Accounting at Notre Dame de Namur University to help provide you with a strong foundation in business, highly valued by business employers. A major in accounting will allow you to meet the necessary academic requirements needed to take the professional Certified Public Accounting (CPA) examination.
Updated on October 24, 2018
There has been a lot of discussion and research lately about the demand for organizational workers and leaders in the nonprofit sector. But, did you know that the nonprofit sector also grew faster — in terms of employees and wages — than both business and government combined?
Approximately 2.3 million nonprofit organizations currently operate in the United States, representing the third largest workforce of U.S. industry. In 2012 alone, public charities reported over $1.65 trillion in total revenues and $1.57 trillion in total expenses, accounting for 5.5% of the nation’s total GDP.
Figure 5: Anticipated Job Growth in Specific Areas by Year
Approximately one-third of nonprofits surveyed anticipate growth in the area of direct services (36%), program management/support (31%), and fundraising/development (31%) in 2013. As seen in figure 5, the percentage of organizations anticipating job growth increased from a year ago – and dramatically from two years ago – in all areas, with one exception, marketing/ communications/ public relations. Source: http://www.nonprofithr.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/2013-Employment-Trends-Survey-Report.pdf
Figure 2: Plans to Create New Positions and Eliminate Positions and/or Gradually Reduce Staff in 2013 by Organization Type
This graph illustrates which fields anticipate the greatest increase in positions. Over half of health (62%), environment and animals (56%), education (53%), and faith-based (53%) organizations surveyed indicated that they plan to create new positions this year. In their projections to 2020, the Bureau of Labor Statistics findings support the increase in health care positions; they predict that employment in the health care and social assistance sectors will generate the largest number of jobs at an annual rate of 3%, which is the largest rate of all major employment sectors. Source: http://www.nonprofithr.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/2013-Employment-Trends-Survey-Report.pdf
Exceptional leaders are in demand in the nonprofit sector.
According to Nonprofit HR Solutions, clients respond to the significant economic changes of the recent three to four years by maximizing efficiencies in infrastructure and operations and putting an even greater focus on the direct services work that influences resource development strategies. In this regard, all areas of nonprofit business that resonate with funders have greater opportunity to be highlighted and funded for further growth. That said, continued organizational growth and mission advancement requires a proportionate response in terms of infrastructure and operational support.
Job outlook by role.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, many of the roles Master’s of Public Administration (MPA) graduates pursue will see double-digit growth in employment between 2010 and 2020.
- Human Resources Manager – 14%
- Social Scientists and Related Workers – 18%
- Urban and Regional Planners – 16%
- Social and Community Service Managers – 27%
- Medical and Health Services Manager – 22%
- Public Relations Managers and Specialists – 21%
- Management Analysts – 22%
- Business and Financial Operations – 17%
- Training and Development Managers – 15%
- Operations Research Analysts – 15%
Learn how a Masters in Public Administration gets you the job.
According to the nonprofits that participated in the survey conducted by the Nonprofit Finance Fund, highly-trained organizational leaders are needed, now more than ever, in order to meet the growing demand for services and implement a wide range of goals: most importantly long-term financial sustainability.
This broad, yet flexible degree, allows you to instantly pursue many promising and well-paying job opportunities in a number of high demand and growth fields.
Fortunately there are programs to choose from to obtain an MPA, either with and online or an onground program through Notre Dame de Namur University (NDNU). A Master of Public Administration (MPA) degree from (NDNU) can help advance your career by preparing you for a wide variety of job opportunities across multiple industries, including government and private sectors.
Founded in 1851 by the Sisters of Notre Dame (originally from Namur, Belgium), Notre Dame de Namur University (NDNU) is an accredited Catholic, not-for-profit university in the San Francisco Bay Area in Silicon Valley. The University offers a welcoming, accessible learning environment anchored by dedicated professors who are committed to guide students both in their academic pursuits and career development.
“If we’re going to out-innovate and out-educate the rest of the world, we’ve got to open doors for everyone. We need all hands on deck, and that means clearing hurdles for women and girls as they navigate careers in science, technology, engineering, and math.”
- STEM grads have a lower unemployment rate than non-STEM grads (see She Geeks infographic)
- The growth in STEM jobs in the past 10 years was three times greater than that of non-STEM jobs (see Edutopia infographic)
- And that growth isn’t stopping: STEM jobs are projected to grow 17 percent from 2008-2018; non-STEM jobs are only projected to grow 9.8 percent
- The payoff for STEM jobs is greater: STEM majors who go on to work in STEM jobs earn 20 percent more than non-STEM majors in non-STEM jobs (read report)
But another hot topic is gender inequality in the workplace, and the story is no different in STEM fields. According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, while women make up almost half of the workforce in the United States, they have less than 25 percent of STEM jobs, despite the fact that more college-educated women have joined the workforce. However, women with STEM jobs earn 33 percent more than women in non-STEM jobs, and gap between compensation for men and women in STEM fields is less than in other areas.
With all the potential that is available to women in STEM, why aren’t there as many women pursuing STEM careers? In “Women in STEM: A Gender Gap To Innovation,” gender stereotyping and a lack of female role models are cited as a couple of the reasons for the discrepancy.
At Notre Dame de Namur University, there’s no shortage of female role models within our Department of Natural Sciences. We caught up with Natural Sciences faculty Melissa McAlexander, Ph.D., and Rachel Shellabarger, MS, to get their perspective on women in science.
Why did you pursue science?
MM: I was the kid who always loved science – it seemed like fun. My high school biology teacher had a particularly strong influence on me. She really encouraged me, and probably helped me understand for the first time that I could pursue science as a career.
RS: I think the case for myself and a lot of my colleagues was that we found topics we liked and stuck with them because we were passionate about them. As a more general trend, however, I think the scientific process is a way of thinking that works in all realms of life, and perhaps those of us that end up in scientific fields really appreciate that process.
Why is it important for women to work in science?
RS: It’s important for people to go into fields they are interested in and passionate about, regardless of their background/demographic. Science thrives on a range of diverse opinions, and we want the scientific field to be representative of our population as a whole. As with many other fields, there has been a history of excluding women (and other groups) from various parts of science, so we of course want to move toward a future where no group is excluded from a field because of demographics.
MM: In any field, having women as part of the team increases the diversity of ideas and experiences at the table. The process of science benefits when different perspectives are represented in the approaches we take. No gender or ethnicity (or any other way of classifying people) does science “better” than another. But the more we engage the whole of the population in science, the better science gets.
What advice would you give to a student who wants to pursue science?
RS: A career in science requires lots of hard work to understand course material, research protocols/findings, and the broader impact of science on society. Every individual’s background prepares them for scientific inquiry in different ways, and it’s important to understand the skills you bring with you, as well as the skills you need to work to improve.
MM: Go for it, if it is a fit with your interests, skills, and passion. You need to love the process of doing science, of gaining new understandings about the world, and/or of making something beneficial to society. There’s loads of fascinating questions being asked in laboratories in all fields these days – find an area you’re passionate for learning about, and dive in deep. Be ready to be challenged – to try something no one has ever done before, to learn new techniques, and to repeat something challenging until you perfect it.
Science: Where Can You Go and How Do You Get There?
When it comes to science-related job opportunities, the sky’s the limit. There are a number of jobs in clinical or research laboratories that do not necessarily require graduate degrees. Scientists in these positions are trying to answer many different questions that can have a direct impact on our lives. But not all scientists work in the lab — many companies are looking for knowledgeable employees to help with product development or provide technical customer service. These opportunities are available in a variety of fields, including molecular biology, biochemistry, health care and environmental science.
You may find working in science education may be more your speed. From university professor to grade school teacher to after-school science programs and museum education programs, there are many ways you can help pass on knowledge to the next generation of inquiring minds. Melissa McAlexander worked at The Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose before coming to Notre Dame de Namur University. “It was a fabulous way of thinking about how to engage the public with science,” says McAlexander. “And man, was it fun!”
There are a number of scholarships available for women interested in studying science in college; here are a couple of web resources to get you started on your search:
Notre Dame de Namur University offers undergraduate degrees within the natural sciences — biochemistry, biology and kinesiology — as well as minors in biology, biochemistry, chemistry and environmental justice. A Bachelor of Science from NDNU will prepare you for the many exciting opportunities in science.
There is a growing need for people in a variety of helping professions.
Individuals who recognize the importance of working with people, visit this serving them and meeting their needs are often drawn to human services to enhance their abilities to help others, take management roles in organizations or even start their own nonprofit. Although many jobs are in the nonprofit sector, generic often in well-paid positions, employee and human services positions in private and government organizations are also in demand.
Did you know that social and human services are among the most rapidly growing occupations?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, job opportunities for social and human service employees are expected to grow much faster than average for all occupations, particularly for applicants with appropriate postsecondary education. The number of social and human service assistants is projected to grow by nearly 23% for all occupations between 2008 and 2018. Approximately 80,000 new jobs are expected to be created during the next decade. Many additional job opportunities will arise from the need to replace workers who advance into new positions, retire, or leave the workforce for other reasons. Employment in private agencies will grow as state and local governments continue to contract out services to the private sector in an effort to cut costs. Demand for social services will expand with the growing elderly population, who are more likely to need these services.
What can I do with a Human Services Degree?
The leadership skills developed makes Human Services graduates valuable contributors in non-profit organizations, government agencies, and corporations.
Examples include careers in:
- counseling and social work
- human resources or employee relations (profit and nonprofit)
- health care
- community advocacy
- law enforcement and other public safety fields
- employee relations
These jobs include working with:
- children and families
- the elderly
- people with disabilities
- people with addictions
- people with mental illnesses
- homeless and displaced people
What does a Human Services degree offer?
As one of the more versatile degrees, a Bachelor of Science in Human Services prepares you for work in a variety of fields and settings depending on your interests. Prerequisites for this degree generally require introductory knowledge of psychology and sociology.
Students often learn to develop skills in communication, advanced professional writing and how to apply and demonstrate problem-solving techniques to areas in Financial Management, Social Responsibility and Ethics. At Notre Dame de Namur University, students often enhance their career goals by focusing on one of three specialized areas:
A Bachelor’s of Science in Human Services can be a stepping-stone to a post graduate degree for professionals to advance their careers in management; many students continue their studies with a master’s in public administration, business administration, social services or psychology.
“Being in this program has truly changed my life as an individual, as a student, and as an employee. It has helped me gain better understanding of others in a realistic way and has inspired me even more to help and make a difference. The support of the advisers and teachers within the program makes an extreme difference. It is not easy to come back to school, but they are very supportive. They aren’t just there assisting in class, but are available to help at your convenience and sometimes where it is convenient for you. I can’t think of anywhere else in my education where I have had that much support and encouragement.” Read more student feedback.
Learn more about our accelerated evening Bachelor’s of Science in Human Services.
Updated on October 24, 2018
If you want a career in teaching, now is the time!
The State of California is currently experiencing a teacher shortage in a variety of areas. With many teachers currently retiring or nearing retirement age, doctor the state needs 20, troche 000 new teachers a year. At the same time, the number of new teaching credentials granted annually in California is roughly 11,500, leading to a critical shortage and many opportunities. (Read more)
Teaching jobs are becoming available again
A recent report from the Learning Policy Institute showed that 75% of California school districts surveyed were experiencing teacher shortages. The vast majority of these districts reported that their shortfall was growing.
What subject areas are in highest demand?
In addition to the number of teachers needed, many school districts have a particularly strong demand for qualified teachers in mathematics, science, bilingual education and special education.
How do I get started?
Only a few universities in California now offer blended programs for undergraduates to complete a bachelor’s and a credential in as little as four years. Notre Dame de Namur University (NDNU) is one of the few colleges in California with this option, with a strong reputation for excellence in teacher education programs.
If you already have a bachelor’s degree and are interested in a credential, you can start a program as early as May 2017 to complete by fall 2018.
If you are just getting started, an accelerated blended Liberal Studies program offered through NDNU is designed for students to finish a BA and credential in as little as four years. Providing early fieldwork experiences in education, the program’s structured advising allows for successful job placement by graduation.
That saves an additional year or two of classes and gives first-year students an opportunity to gain fieldwork experience right away.
New single-subject credential program in biological sciences
NDNU is about to roll out a new four-year program that leads to a bachelor’s degree and a single-subject teaching credential for biology. The program, offered in conjunction with the San Mateo County Community College District, prepares students for classroom teaching in middle schools or high schools with four years of study. Students can complete the first two years of the curriculum either at NDNU or at a community college, allowing for significant time and cost savings over many other teaching credential programs. NDNU will begin accepting applications for the program in fall 2017, for fall 2018 admission.
Financial aid opportunities
There are special grants and financial aid available for students going into teaching. NDNU admissions and financial aid counselors can help you identify and apply for these funding opportunities.
Teaching as a second career
Many professionals are finding that after a career in business, the military or other sectors, they are looking for a work path that allows them to pass on knowledge and opportunities to the next generation. NDNU’s teaching credential programs are ideal for second-career teachers. Class start times are designed for working adults. The campus is centrally located for San Francisco-Silicon Valley workplaces and/or residences. Classes are small in size, and there is a strong collaborative spirit that supports returning students.
Extensive Alumni Network
Notre Dame de Namur has a long history in the field of teacher education. NDNU alumni work as administrators, principals and teachers throughout the Bay Area and California. This network provides a valuable resource for those seeking teaching jobs and student teacher placements.
Request Information on Notre Dame de Namur University Teaching Credential Programs
There are special grants and financial aid available for students going into teaching, so make sure to explore these opportunities for assistance in paying for college.
One of the most challenging things college students face is living with their first roommate. You’re moving in with someone you’ve never met before and you’re expected to get along for a whole year. How things turn out between you and your roommate is probably going to be one of those stories you tell when you go home. So, whatever your story, here are some tips about first roommates to make the transition a little easier.
“You never what?!!!”
The first month living with my freshman year roommate, we said that a lot. My roommate and I grew up on opposite sides of California (me from North, she from the South) and the cultural differences were a shock to us both. She didn’t know what an It’s-It was and I’d never been to a Ralph’s. We went to an ice cream social together and she’d never heard Mac Dre, E-40, or any of the other Bay Area artists whose songs were playing. She also didn’t understand my Northern California slang, like “hecka” or “hella.”
But living with her was not hard at all because, although we are different, we got along well. Rooming with someone you’ve never met before and who comes from a different background than you is a great opportunity to expand your knowledge about a world you never knew or thought about. My SoCal roommate taught me a lot about skin care routines, for instance.
“I’m not moving out, you are!”
I’ve seen it so many times, when two roommates don’t get along. The conflict could be that one stinks up the room with old In-N-Out Burger bags, or one basically has their girlfriend living with them. My advice for this is to talk to your roommate as soon as issues arise and then come to a compromise. Waiting until you’re completely fed up will end with unwanted drama and with your saying things you never wanted to say.
But if the issue can’t be resolved, and the dispute is big enough for the housing office to permit one person to move out, the process of separating as roommates will be less awkward and smooth if you’re both civil.
“Will you be one of my bridesmaids?”
Although you’re living with a stranger in the beginning, roommates can become close and turn into lifelong friends. Long nights staying up talking about the events of the day and sharing new experiences can quickly build a special bond. Your roommate can easily become the person you want to take to Coachella or ask to be your future bridesmaid. Don’t push away the idea of getting too close to your roommate. Even if you already have good friends when starting college, your roommate can be another. I actually recommend that you don’t live with your best friend from high school, and instead stay open to new friendships and experiences.
Joscelyn Q. Pardo is a student worker in Marketing and Communications at Notre Dame de Namur University and a sophomore majoring in psychology, and an RA in a residence hall.
For more information on applying to Notre Dame de Namur University (NDNU), please visit the admissions page.
Posted on October 11, 2018
Whenever someone speaks about the “charism” of a religious community, it refers to the original intention of the congregation and the spirit behind its foundation. In the case of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, that original intention dates back to the stormy days of the early 19th century.
St. Julie Billiart began the Congregation of the Sisters of Notre Dame in 1804 in Amiens, France, at a tumultuous time. It was the period at the end of the French Revolution. Thousands of men had been killed during the many attempts of other governments to rescue the French monarchy. Once Napoleon took over the government in 1799, the Napoleonic Wars were fought at nearly every border of the country. Those conflicts also took an enormous toll.
Thousands of women died of tuberculosis or starvation during the French Revolution, leaving many thousands of their children orphans. For ten years, schools led by religious men or religious women were closed. Those closings resulted in thousands of orphans and other children being deprived of the free schools staffed by members of religious orders.
During the Reign of Terror, the revolutionary government in France targeted clergy and the church and attempted to eliminate all traces of Christianity. St. Julie longed to help bring back the Catholic faith to France after ten years of persecution of its members. She wanted to reach out to poor children, many of whom were homeless, to teach them that God loved them and that they had dignity.
St. Julie’s message is carried on the cross worn by members of her congregation: “How Good is the Good God.” That message is the hallmark of her congregation. That simple phrase identifies her “charism.” It also motivates her members to bring the message of God’s love for His people to all those served by her sisters. She admonished her sisters, saying, “You cannot just talk about the love of God to the children, you much show them if they are to believe you.” It is a noble ideal and an awesome challenge to all the members of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur.
Sister Roseanne Murphy is a professor emerita of Notre Dame de Namur University and a member of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur. The Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur founded NDNU.
For more information on applying to Notre Dame de Namur University (NDNU), please visit the admissions page.
Updated on September 19, 2018
Throughout my years as a college student, I’ve heard the term “the full college experience.” Most often this simply means living on campus for four consecutive years at least 100 miles from your hometown. And the farther the better. As if there was one and only one magnificent college experience that a select few students ever get to have. I know plenty of people who chose to go to a four-year university right out of high school strictly because they wanted that traditional student “full college experience.”
Now, while I think living on campus in a new place can be a wonderful and exciting experience, it is not the only college experience. For a long time, I felt like I was missing out by attending College of San Mateo, my local community college, while working as a restaurant server in the evening. By the time I transferred to Notre Dame de Namur University (NDNU), I was really not the traditional student—I was a twenty-three-year-old college sophomore.
I couldn’t shake the thought that I should have graduated already and started a career, but I didn’t even know yet what I wanted to do with my life. All I knew was that I wanted to graduate soon. Correction: I needed to graduate soon.
When I transferred, my plan was to get in and get out as fast as possible. I had no idea then that NDNU would be the place where I would not only obtain my degree, but where I would find myself and achieve my own version of the “full college experience.” After a year at NDNU, I changed my mind about wanting to get in and out. I discovered passions that were buried deep inside me and was given the opportunity to allow them to bloom.
It wasn’t until I came to NDNU that I finally got the chance to find the interests close to my heart. What changed? I was encouraged to face my fears of failure in an atmosphere where even if I stumbled, there was something I could learn.
There’s no one correct path in college during what is arguably the best time of our lives. The “full college experience” should refer to so much more than simply living on campus and walking away with a piece of paper after four years. For me, NDNU is the place where I not only achieved my dream of graduating college, but gained the skills and found the confidence to pursue my next dreams.
Andrea Rosewicz graduated summa cum laude from Notre Dame de Namur University in 2018 with a bachelor’s degree.
For more information on applying to Notre Dame de Namur University (NDNU), please visit the admissions page.
Updated on September 10, 2018
Psychologist and educator John Dewey once said, “We do not learn from experience…we learn by reflecting upon experience.” I’ll begin by reflecting on an experience from my own education.
It’s 1982 and I’m an eighth grader at St. Joan of Arc Catholic School in St. Louis. It’s my good fortune to have as a teacher Mrs. Marilyn Hummel. She shares that she’s turning 40 and that no student has ever figured out her birthday. Turning 40 seems like a really big deal, and never having a party feels wrong! So, how can I pull this off? There’s no Google or internet. It dawns on me: if I get Mrs. Hummel to reveal her maiden name, I can search the St. Louis phone book and call her mother, who would surely remember her own daughter’s birthday, right? My plan works. And here I am, on the phone with Mrs. Hummel’s mother. With audible emotion, her mother responds, “You really love my daughter, don’t you?” Her mother’s empathy in naming my experience teaches me to understand my experience, which feels magical. She shares the coveted birth date and I throw the party. I’ll always remember the look on Mrs. Hummel’s face.
Upon reflection, I feel this story illuminates the transformative power of education. Our relationships and experiences matter. Joy, fun, love, and connection are profound teachers. The alchemy between an influential, loving, and talented educator, and a receptive student who feels loved and respected—that matters.
Fast forward to college. Experiences that were not necessarily “big” remain in my memory: returning home at Thanksgiving as a freshman—feeling independent and homesick; discovering with my roommate that gummy bears really do stick to dorm ceilings; asking my professor, as a sophomore, to take his Intro to Clinical Psychology class for seniors—facing my fear of rejection or failure paid off: he became my most important mentor; the fun, long conversations at The Chez coffee house; taking classes that were not required like The Creative Process. Was I wasting time and money? They turned out to be my most memorable courses! And lastly—OK…this one was a big moment: meeting my husband at a happy hour. We didn’t stop talking till 4:00 a.m.
I have heard countless stories of choices made during college:
- The classmate who did not get caught cheating—who got the best grade? He did. But many years later a board denied him from progressing professionally after discovering he had lied about his credentials.
- The friend whose mother ranted to the administration, demanding special treatment, including changing her daughter’s failing grade. This student came to see how always being treated as special was destructive. She wound up creating a profitable college tutoring service.
- The graduate who now enjoys his marriage, children, and career? His archenemy in the dorm responded with empathy by taking away his car keys when he was intoxicated.
Artist and poet Brian Andreas expressed: “Anyone can slay a dragon…but try waking up every morning & loving the world all over again. That’s what takes a real hero….”
When I began college, my dad shared: “If you want to get something done, give it to the busiest person you know.” He also admonished me in every phone call to “be good.” I returned home last December to be with my dad in his final days of life. Most people from my childhood were long gone. On returning to St. Joan of Arc parish for his funeral, any guesses who was at my side, providing me moral support and love?
Yes, Mrs. Hummel. Experiences and relationships in education are unique, and can forever change the fabric of our lives, if we are receptive.
Dare to experience. Dare to open yourself to the goodness. Dare to be vulnerable enough to develop life-changing relationships and experiences.
In the words of philosopher Henri-Frédéric Amiel: “Life is short and we have never too much time for gladdening the hearts of those who are traveling the dark journey with us. Oh, be swift to love, make haste to be kind.”
May your college journey be full: rich with presence and reflected-upon experiences; marked by meaningful relationships; filled with kindness and love…and yes, be sure to throw a party or two!
Professor Helen Marlo directs the Clinical Psychology program at Notre Dame de Namur University. This blog is adapted from the speech she gave at NDNU’s Convocation at the start of fall 2018 semester as part of her accepting the Keller Teaching Excellence Award.