“Ask a Student” – Advice from students, for students

Please note: These are real student voices, and the contents of this blog are solely the responsibility of the authors. While all student authors must abide by National University’s Code of Conduct, any statements made are strictly those of these students, and are not endorsed by National University.

While our NU student leaders are wonderful resources, requirements and services differ by program and advice offered here may not apply to you. Students should always contact their academic advisor (advisor@nu.edu) for the most up-to-date information regarding program requirements. Please go to https://www.nu.edu/ for more information.

Read on for advice from our students on succeeding as a long-distance learner, continuing your education with kids, what it takes to be a middle-school teacher, and much more!

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“I want to become a Special Ed teacher. How can I start working towards this goal? 

The best way to get started on this goal is
to take the California Basic Educational Skills Test (CBEST) and California Subject Examination for Teachers (CSET). The CBEST allows you to work as a substitute teacher in special and general education classrooms. You gain invaluable experience from working with a variety of age groups and a variety of levels for special needs students. This experience can help you decide what your concentration will be in the special ed. credentialing program; for example, you may focus on mild/moderate or moderate/severe. In addition, working as a substitute teacher will help you make professional connections. This is important because in the credentialing program you will be asked to complete assignments in the field. For example, if you need to interview a special education teacher and you know one, it will be easier to arrange meetings.

Next, I would take the CSET. Even though some programs don’t require this test before you can enroll, I highly recommend taking the test prior to enrolling in a credential program. This way, you can fully focus on your classes and not be at risk for having to stop in case you didn’t pass the test the first time. Next, I would make sure to make an appointment with an academic advisor because education requirements can change and an advisor will be able to tell you exactly what courses you need to take to achieve your goal – contact the Credentialing Department to discuss the sequence of your classes and student teaching/internships. Most importantly, always ask questions!!

Anja Jones, MS Special Education, NU Scholar April 2018 Cohort

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“I live far away from California. How can I connect with my professors and classmates?” 

I attend National University while living in Texas, so I know that communication is essential to be a successful distance learner. Find a preferred virtual meeting space such as Zoom or Skype. Meet with your classmates frequently and develop a scheduled time for meeting weekly. Reach out to your instructors and to the other resources National University offers such as career services and the math/writing centers. National University also hosts many clubs that you can join and take part in via social media groups. These are an excellent way to connect with the National University community and find support groups.

Branson Hutchens, BS Cybersecurity, NU Scholar July 2018 Cohort

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“Id like to become a school psychologist. What program at National do I need to enroll in? And do you have any advice for how to do well, or things to keep an eye out for?” 

The program that you will need to enroll in at National is the School Psychology program. This program is a master’s level program requiring a bachelor’s degree. Upon completion of the program you will also receive a Pupil Personnel Service Credential, which will allow you to work in schools. This program gives you the knowledge and tools you need to succeed as a school psychologist. To succeed in this program, I would advise you to stay on top of all of your readings for the week, ask questions anytime you don’t understand something, and build rapport with your classmates and instructors. It is important to connect with classmates because the materials you will need to master can be complicated and dry at times. Having a person you can study with and ask questions, and who understands everything you’re going through, makes things a little bit easier. Building rapport with your instructors gives you an advantage after graduation, because you will need to reach out to them for professional advice or recommendations later on.

Brittnei Price, MS School Psychology, NU Scholar April 2018 Cohort

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“Im military and active duty, and I just enrolled in class at National, starting next month. Ive always been proud of my self-discipline, motivation, and drive, but Im wondering if this is really a good idea. Can I do this?” 

Fellow Military colleague,

You have already listed the attributes that will not only make you successful here at National, but in life as well. You can definitely do this, as you already are skilled at multi-tasking and prioritizing. Being active duty myself I completely understand the apprehension you have right now. Don’t worry, as National’s administration is familiar with how to support the adult learner such as yourself- many National University students are going through the same struggles to prioritize school, as they remain active in their careers as well. This support from student services and your professors will help you through. You’ve got this and if you ever need assistance, please connect with me on Portfolium at https://portfolium.com/TerrenceTLawson.

Good Luck and Continued Success.

Tre Lawson, Master of Public Health, NU Scholar January 2018 Cohort

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“You might think that Im crazy, but I absolutely love middle school-aged kids and I would love to become a middle-school teacher. Whats your advice for me? What program at National do I need to enroll in?”  

As a middle school science teacher, I think it’s great that you can recognize that these kids are fantastic! If you find their candid, unwarranted comments refreshing and hilarious, then this is probably a good path for you. So, my best advice to you is to find a local middle school and ask to observe several teachers in action. Middle school is a wild time for students, so it is important to actually experience a real middle school classroom to make sure that this is something you could picture yourself doing. Additionally, I would advise you to chat with a middle school teacher about working with this age group. Most teachers are very receptive to these conversations.

Once you have some experience, and are feeling confident that this is the age group for you, then National University’s Single Subject teaching credential is your next step! Contact your adviser, and they will be able to answer any administrative and financial questions you might have. The awesome thing with National University is they offer classes starting every month, so there is never a bad time to get started.

Katy August, Master of Education, Inspired Teaching and Learning with Single Subject Credential, NU Scholar July 2018 Cohort

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“Im an online-only adult learner, and I feel lonely and isolated. I thought that college would be a time to connect with other people, but maybe not for me.”  

Hello student!

I am an online-only adult learner as well, and faced the same issue of being alone and isolated when I became an online student. I highly recommend reaching out to your advisor, because there are so many opportunities for online and in-person events through National University. Many classes also use Blackboard Collaborate, Zoom, or other online video conference tools; many classes meet weekly or bi-weekly this way, and use these tools for group discussions and group projects. Through these video chats, I have met so many people who have helped me through my program and become my friends. So please remember that you are not alone with feeling like this, and that there are so many opportunities for you to connect with other people. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me or any other NU Scholar or Portfolium or LinkedIn. Thank you, and I hope this helps!

Lauren Powell, Master of Education, Inspired Teaching and Learning with Single Subject Credential, NU Scholar July 2018 Cohort

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“Im thinking about enrolling in one of NUs single subject teaching credential programs. Whats your advice? What program at National do I need to enroll in?” 

Congratulations on taking the first step towards being part of an incredible journey in education. There are so many options to choose from within the Sanford College of Education, which is the college you would apply to for a single subject credential. It is important to talk to an advisor at NU to really narrow down what you need so that you can get into the program that best fits your needs. My BIGGEST advice would be: Get your CBEST and CSET tests done before you enroll in your credential program, and it will save you a world of trouble and time. The CBEST is a multiple subject test including math, English, and reading comprehension. The CSET is content specific, so if you wanted to teach Social Studies, you would take the Social Sciences CSET. However, if you haven’t taken these tests that doesn’t mean you can’t get accepted into the program so don’t let that stop you! You can still be accepted into your program, and National gives you time to get those tests done, but this should be your first priority aside from applying to the program.

If you do not have a bachelor’s degree yet, you can look for the bachelor’s degree program with a single subject credential in the content area that you are most interested in. If you already have your bachelor’s degree, then you can apply to the Inspired Teaching and Learning (ITL) program, which is the program that I am currently completing. You can also couple this program with your Master of Education, if you would like to go that route. If you have a chance to obtain your master’s degree along with your teaching credential, take it. Having a master’s degree as well as your teaching credential can make all the difference. Just find out what you want for yourself specifically and I am sure that National University has the right program for you.

Osvaldo Albarran, Master of Education, Inspired Teaching and Learning with Single Subject Credential, NU Scholar April 2018 Cohort

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“Ive just had a baby/My spouse/partner just had a baby. Can I continue in my program?” 

Yes! One of the wonderful things about National University is that you can still have a life while going to school. I am a nursing student and became pregnant in the middle of my program. I delivered my baby and continued without delay. Every pregnancy and postpartum period is different, so work with your professors and advisors to create a plan that best suits you and your family’s needs. A strong support system at home is extremely important to help you through school while you are pregnant, and afterwards. At the end of the day, the health of you, your spouse, and your baby is the most important thing, so there is nothing wrong with taking a break from school if you need to – NU will still be there when you return, and there are special policies to help pregnant or post-partum students take breaks.

The best advice I can give is to sit down with your family and write out a Plan A and a Plan B; circumstances can change, and our plans can change with them. Communication is key, and NU is motivated to help you reach your goals. I am proud to share that I am the creator and president of Families United at National University. The club’s goal is to provide support and resources for parents who attend NU, and we would love to hear from you. Please visit us for more information or if you would like to talk about ways that you could be involved with the club.

Pam Tran, BS Nursing, NU Scholar January 2018 Cohort

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Ive always wanted to become a Kindergarten teacher. Whats your advice on this career path? What program at National do I need to enroll in? 

Congratulations on taking the next steps towards a career in education, it is extremely rewarding! National is an amazing place to start your journey on this career path. To begin this journey, you will want to enroll in the Multiple Subject Credential program. If a master’s degree in education is of interest. I would also highly advise enrolling in the dual credential/master’s program, as this will streamline the process. It is important to note that there are a few requirements that need to be fulfilled prior to being eligible to take specific courses within the program. Your National University advisor can talk you through the details of these requirements; however, a few key ones include passing the CBEST exam and getting a TB test. Although there is a lot of work involved in the program, as well as in the profession, the various resources National has to offer ensure that you will always have the guidance and resources that you need to be successful.

Rachel Wexler, Master of Education, NU Scholar January 2018 Cohort

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Im thinking about enrolling in one of NUs single subject teaching credential programs. Whats your advice? What program at National do I need to enroll in? 

First and foremost, welcome to the greatest profession in the universe; you are needed!  When I started my single-subject credential program, I enrolled in our standard teacher education program.  After completing my first course, I was informed by my advisor of a new program called the Inspired Teaching and Learning program. This blended master’s/credential program satisfies the requirements for teacher credentialing, but also integrates a Master of Education with a specialization in English Language Learner education. The knowledge I’ve gained from this program so far has proven to be invaluable in the classroom, and definitely makes me a more effective teacher. I would definitely suggest looking into integrated programs such as the ITL program, since it adds another dimension to your teaching skill set.  Good luck!

Ricky Flores, Master of Education, Inspired Teaching and Learning with Single Subject Credential, NU Scholar April 2018 Cohort

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“Ive decided that Id like to pursue a career in digital media design. Is there a program at National for that? Id love any advice that you have!” 

That is wonderful!! Thankfully, National University does have a program for digital media design, and it is a program that is completely online. I have attended NU for over a year, during which time I completed all of my general education and elective courses, and have only recently started taking the digital media courses. I was somewhat wary of a program that was completely online, as I have almost no knowledge of digital media design, but this program started out with a really helpful introduction, so even a novice like myself could succeed. The main professor that you will be instructed by is Prof. Scott Campbell, and he has made the program so enjoyable with his content, engaging virtual classroom, and thoughtfulness towards students. Overall, I am very pleased with my decision to take this program with National University, and would highly recommend the digital media design program at NU.

Trey George, BA Digital Media Design, NU Scholar July 2018 Cohort

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“I just transferred in from a community college to NU’s nursing program- What can I expect? What is my first nursing course going to be like? I’m especially worried about the two Med-Surg classes – how am I going to make it through this?” 

Congratulations on taking this big step to further your education goals! For me, the transition of transferring from a community college to NU was made easy by my academic advisors. The nursing program requires certain pre-requisites, and the academic advisors will evaluate whether or not you have met these requirements. If you do not meet the requirements to apply to the nursing program right away, you will be set up with a schedule of the classes and other requirements that will prepare you to apply. During this time, it is crucial that you study for the TEAS (Test of Essential Academic Skills) and set a test date: Remember, your grades in your prerequisite classes and your score on the TEAS are factored into your admission to the nursing program. Once you are accepted into the nursing program (congratulations!), your first class will be Nursing Theory. This class gives you an overall foundation of the history of nursing and the theories that have shaped today’s nursing practice. Later on in the program, Med Surg I & II Nursing courses are some of the most challenging in the program. To succeed in these tough classes, it is key to form a study group (even if it is just with one other person), set aside designated study time (the NU library at Spectrum Campus is a great resource and is always quiet), and not to be afraid to ask questions! Because the nursing program is accelerated, it is important that you stay organized and reach out to NU staff right away if you feel like you are falling behind or do not understand a concept. This will be a challenging journey, and will be just the first step in your nursing career!

Macashion Grogan, BS Nursing, NU Scholar April 2018 Cohort