Planning Beats Panicking : 4 Keys to Academic Success

keytosuccessWhew!  The first two weeks of the semester are in the books… only fourteen more to go!

While the first week can be overwhelming, it is usually the easiest!  All your instructors ask of you is to show up, buy your textbooks and supplies, and get started.  It is a few weeks later when your world might feel shaky.

The fifth week of classes is usually when your first paper might be due, your first large tests take place, or when major projects might be assigned or due.  All this… AT THE SAME TIME.  We teachers see major panic starting to occur as “the rubber hits the road”.  Students who were successful before they came to college are cool, calm, and collected.  Those who struggled in the past, or are not used to being completely responsible for their own success, are freaking out!  So what can you do to keep from freaking out under the weight of tests, projects, and papers, plus possible jobs and family responsibilities?

4 Tips for Success All Semester Long!

  1. DO YOUR HOMEWORK. That’s right.  Sometimes simply doing the work assigned can help you be more successful!  Think about something: we instructors love our subject matter and want to share our knowledge, but first, you need some background information.  If you read the chapters you are assigned, the class will be more interesting because you will not simply be reviewing the book material, but you will be going deeper into the subject matter with an instructor who has extensive knowledge and experience in his or her field!
  2. SHOW UP. Not only in class, but also in your instructors’ offices.  I know.  It seems crazy, but coming to class can go a long way to being successful.  When you skip class, you miss important information and activities.  When you come to class, but you still don’t understand the material, show up in our offices.  We are here to help.  We want to help.  We are cheering for you.  Let us help you.  Come in and talk.  See us when you are confused about an assignment, a lecture, a reading, or a class discussion.
  3. PARTICIPATE. Be a part of the class discussion.  Actually, those who participate wholly in the class activities or discussions usually fare better on their assignments and tests.  Why?  Because they are interacting with the material, and they begin to feel more comfortable working with that material.  They are sharing ideas with each other and with their instructors.  These students are more likely to ask questions when they are confused, and to having conversations with the material.  That is right.  Students who participate are figuring out how they connect to the class material to predict where it is leading them, and to translate the material to their other classes.  That is a WIN, WIN for everyone!!
  4. KNOW YOUR RESOURCES. I know, I know.  I just said to show up in our offices, but where else can you show up?  Easy peasy lemon squeezy!  There are many services at Ridgewater dedicated to helping students who “show up.”

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Top 10 Reasons to Make Costa Rica Your Spring Classroom

Costa Rica 2016 graphicIf nice days make you wish your instructor would move learning outdoors, study abroad in Costa Rica during spring semester 2016 might be the ticket for you!

Ridgewater College is a partner with Education for Global Learning (EGL) and the Instituto de Culturo y Lengua Costarricense (ICLC). Together, they are broadening experiences and perspectives for students seeking a larger view of the world.

Ridgewater’s own science instructor Lori Anderson took the Costa Rica plunge and narrowed down her top reasons she’d recommend the experience to others.

  1. Beautiful beaches, lush cloud forests, sunshine and warm weather are the norm!
  2. The families students stay with are generous, loving and supportive. They take care of all of your room and board needs and become your second family.
  3. Being immersed in the Spanish culture and speaking the language in daily life is the best way to learn a second language.
  4. Former students enjoyed the experience so much they keep in contact with their Costa Rican friends and family.
  5. The food is fantastic!! There are fresh fruit stands everywhere you travel and farmers’ markets that have the best of the local foods for you to sample.
  6. Weekend adventure opportunities are numerous, such as: zip-lining in the cloud forest canopy, ATV trails, rock climbing, white-water rafting, deep-sea fishing, and many more!
  7. You will see amazing wildlife like crocodiles, iguanas, monkeys (a big favorite with everyone!) and a wide variety of beautiful birds.
  8. Costa Rica has eight national parks with a wide variety of beautiful ecosystems: beaches, volcanos, lowland dry forests, rainforests, and cloud forests. Their love of the environment and their desire to protect biodiversity is something that will surely be passed on to you!
  9. ICLC’s classrooms are all outside so you can enjoy the beautiful scenery as you learn.
  10. ICLC’s Spanish instructors are native to Costa Rica and are able to share their love for their country and their traditions along with teaching students to become more fluent Spanish speakers.

Learn more at www.ridgewater/edu/costarica .
IMG_0096 IMG_0301 pura vida

Earn a Business Degree at Ridgewater – What Are You Waiting For?

business partnership graphic
You could be among the first to earn a Bachelor of Arts Business degree at Ridgewater College, thanks a new partnership with Concordia University, St. Paul. (Did I read that right? A bachelor’s degree at Ridgewater College in Willmar and Hutchinson?)

That’s right. Get your four-year Business degree at Ridgewater College. How’s that for convenient? But how do you know if it’s for you? If you connect with one of these scenarios, take advantage of this new partnership and degree:

  1. You’re a Ridgewater student or alumni with credits you’d like to work for you as you build upon your two-year liberal arts OR technical degree – $2,000 scholarships are available for you!
  2. You’re an employed worker who wasn’t ready for the academic challenges of a bachelor’s degree when you were younger, but the strings to your dream of earning a BA degree cling to you daily – opportunity is knocking at the RIGHT time this time for you!
  3. You’re a parent with children at home so you don’t see commuting to a university as feasible, but you could commit to one night a week at nearby Ridgewater College – the door to your future is just outside your back door!
  4. You’re a high school senior and you have academic dreams that involve more than two years of college – great things come in small packages, you just have to open them!
  5. You’re simply someone who is curious – lucky you, because information open houses are set for 4:30-7:00 p.m. June 10 on the Willmar campus and June 11 on the Hutchinson campus.

Ready to launch your future with a business degree at Ridgewater College? Let’s find out!

For more info:


Student Show-and-Tell at Ridgewater Today

Show-and-Tell for students at Ridgewater’s Hutchinson Campus won’t include bunnies or lizards, but it will include computer-generated animations, Pickles the local cable TV star, electronic designer portfolios, 3D drafted and machined projects, mobile apps, marketing plans, art projects, strategies for raising great kids, and other cool stuff.

Meet students who are changing their lives at Ridgewater in the Hutchinson Commons between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.

Race you to the refreshments! #RidgewaterColl


Meet Ukraine Scholar Visiting Ridgewater Today and Monday

Global news keeps getting closer and closer to home when you can watch so much on TV and the Internet.

It’s closer than ever today in Hutchinson and on Monday in Willmar as Ridgewater College welcomes Ukrainian Fulbright Scholar and author Dr. Nataliia Borysenko.

Expand your vision of the world and its international relations, culture, politics, economics and history. #RidgewaterColl


4 Steps to Apply for College Financial Aid – Without Pulling Out Your Hair!

FAFSANights2015Yay! You’ve decided to go to college! Now it’s time to figure out how to pay for it without eating just cheesy noodles day and night. Maybe your mom or dad saved some money for you. Maybe you worked summer jobs and saved just enough for the newest phone. Or maybe you’re working…a lot… but all your money goes for grownup bills for you and your family.

Regardless of your age or situation, the majority of college students could benefit from financial aid for college. Four simple tips can get on the right track without losing all your hair!

  1. Regardless of what college you plan to attend, come to Ridgewater’s Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) workshop. Pick your session! Both help sessions will be from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. (come-and-go format).
    1. Willmar on Wed., April 22
    2. Hutchinson on Thurs., April 23
  2. Then register for that free help session by contacting Megan Field at
    320-222-5264 or .
  3. Bring the following with you:
    Note: Students will need their parents’ information unless they are 24 years or older OR married OR have been legally emancipated from their guardians.
    I. Parents’ and student’s W2 forms
    II. Parents’ and student’s 2014 tax returns
    III. Social Security cards or Alien ID#
    IV. Student that are reapplying should bring their and their parents’ 4-digit FAFSA PIN
  4. Show up and let us help you complete – then click submit!

“Colleges have many students who wait until the last minute to complete their FAFSA, causing additional struggles when it’s time to pay tuition and buy textbooks,” said Megan Field, Ridgewater Student Success Coordinator and FAFSA event organizer. A late FAFSA submission may also cause students to miss out on opportunities to work on campus through the Federal Work-Study program. Campus supervisors can be so flexible and the jobs provide great work experience. “It is my hope that we can help students (and/or parents) by getting FAFSAs done with them ASAP.”

If you have more questions or want more information regarding financial aid, contact the Financial Aid Office at .

College Visits 101: Plan Ahead


Deciding what college to attend can be the most important decision a person will make that can affect an entire life. It can determine potential majors, professional connections, BFFs, and perspectives on education, careers and life.

It’s not just about whether you’ll be a Warrior, Dragon, Gopher or other spirited fan –     this is a BIG, exciting decision about cool, life-changing experiences ahead!

Web sites make it easy for prospective students to research colleges, but many will agree: setting foot on a campus is the best way to determine a good fit.

So what makes a college visit SUCCESSFUL? “Plan ahead,” says Jill Traut, Ridgewater College admissions representative. “Start thinking about college before you are a senior.”
– Research possibilities.
– Visit with college representatives who visit your high school.
– Visit with your school counselor.
– Narrow the list of colleges you will visit.

Or if you are an adult, think about college months in advance of reinvesting in yourself. Many colleges have special event days for group visits. Knowing dates early for your top college choices helps families schedule visits around school or work days off and activities. Like this Wednesday, March 25, the Hutchinson campus will host a Discover Ridgewater visit day. Then on Thursday, March 26, the Willmar campus will do that same.
– Meet faculty and students
– See program areas
– Learn about financial aid and the admissions process
– Experience student life with lunch and a comedian

A great experience can create pitter-pats of excitement for a more directed future!

Want a more informal experience? Call the college admissions office about two weeks prior to your anticipated visit day. Share your visit goals and interests. Then staff can make arrangements with faculty, coaches or activity advisors.

Tips for Students
+ Visit more than one college. It’s about perspective.
+ Avoid scheduling two visits in the same day. Can you say information overload?
+ Decide who will join you. Parents? Great. Friends? Possibly distracting.
+ If you bring friends truly interested in the college, consider scheduling separate tours if your majors differ.
+ Ask lots of questions – tuition, housing, activities, part-time jobs and placement.
+ Explore the community –  your potential new “home”. Continue reading

Seeing is Believing: Discover Ridgewater College

Not many people go to a movie without first seeing a movie trailer. Actors, action and scripts tantalize the potential audience to take the plunge and enjoy the whole movie experience.

Discover Ridgewater is a chance for potential students of all ages to visit our campus “sets” in Hutchinson and Willmar to check out the leading faculty and students, witness intriguing career actions, and ponder life-changing scripts to help future audiences take the plunge and enjoy the whole Ridgewater experience.

Registration is now open online for Wed., March 25 in Hutchinson and Thurs., March 26 in Willmar at .

Each “showing” will run 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. Plot components will include:

  • Campus tours
  • Interaction with faculty and students
  • Technical program visits
  • Explanation of general education/liberal arts and the transfer process to four-year universities
  • Exploration of Post-Secondary Enrollment Options (PSEO)
  • Financial aid and scholarships nuts, bolts and upcoming deadlines

That’s right – it’s a 3-D show and goodies on us – with no special glasses to wear!

You might not smell popcorn, but if you love the smell of automotive shops, sawdust or hair salons, you’re going to want to be in Willmar!

You might not see Hunger Game challenges, but if you are fascinated with 3-D animation, sound effects or working with children, you’re going to want to be in Hutchinson!

If you’re intrigued by the writing of movies or their reviews, marketing that sells movies or accounting that calculates the blockbuster success, you can take in Discover Ridgewater at either campus! There’s lots more, but you get the idea.

Register today for your free spring showing of Discover Ridgewater and bring a friend and/or parent!

Learn more at .IMG_4039


Loud, rumbling BOOMS

September 17, 2013

On my way to the market this morning, I heard them in the distance–loud, rumbling booms that I had been warned about.  Not thunder, though thunder would have been plausible during this most unusual rainy stretch.  Instead, I heard Soviet-era bombs, left over from the Cold War, detonating just southwest of Pereyaslav.  Every Tuesday, this ritual commences and subsides in about an hour’s time, like clockwork, I have been told.  Now that the distant rumbling is gone,, only the sounds of everyday life here remain: dogs bantering back and forth, a goat negotiating loudly his way to high grasses, women chattering away on the corner, workers pounding water pipes in a nearby trench, my heart beating in rhythm with this country so far removed from my home.

S’more news from Ukraine!

September 10, 2013

I introduced Ukrainian students to s’mores today:

One of my host professors, Petro (Pete), asked me to join his class today to explain the American tradition of roasting marshmallows because he was planning a field trip to a nearby park to let students roast their own marshmallows.  He sent some students to buy small bags of marshmallows (slightly different from US marshmallows) from the local modern grocery store, EkoMarket, and I brought along one of the bags of marshmallows that I had brought with me. I also brought along a box of graham crackers and a package of Hershey’s chocolate bars.  Pete had not known about the s’more tradition, so he was delighted that I had brought the extra ingredients.  We built a fire in the woods and smashed marshmallows onto the ends of fresh twigs gathered by the first-year English grammar students while the fire grew.  Students were skeptical at first…but finished off all the marshmallows, crackers, and chocolate!  “So sticky!” they exclaimed, “but delicious!”

One professor has asked me to correct the textbook she uses and to differentiate between the British and American English examples included in the text.  She also had me practice some useful Ukranian phrases that mean “I’m lost” (zahu bylasia) and “Can you help me please?” (do po mo zhit, budlaska?).  They will be useful when I go to Kyiv, I am sure.  The traditional Ukranian sentence pattern is the same as American English: Subject + Verb + Object.  That makes communicating a little bit easier for me, thanks to the handy dandy little phrase book a friend gave me, but I still stumble through the constructions.  Thank goodness everyone is patient!  I am convinced I give many workers plenty to talk about with friends!  Every day I learn something new to say.