February 2012 e-Parent Newsletter

We hope your Spring is going well. This newsletter will focus on timely information about career experiences, financial aid, and the housing process for next year. Although we’ve had a mild winter at IWU, we also want to make sure your sons and daughters are navigating the winter blues.

Features:


 

Laurie Laurie Diekhoff 
Assistant Director/Internship Coordinator
Hart Career Center
diekhoff@iwu.edu

It’s time to GET PRACTICAL ……practical experience, that is!

It’s easy for students to get caught up in enjoying – or merely surviving – student life, without giving much thought to the future. But students who are most successful at transitioning out of college and into a full-time job or graduate/professional school are the ones who spent time getting practical, or career-relevant, experiences during their college years.

It’s never to late (or too early) to get started. Practical experiences not only look great on a resume, they might actually help students to clarify what direction they want to take their life and they can be a stepping stone for more competitive positions in the future.

What’s considered practical experience?

Shadowing – short-term time spent in a work environment of interest; great way to learn more about a career field. For the health professions, it’s a must!

Volunteering – often first opportunity to get a foot in the door of an organization; can be done individually or as part of a team or club; ongoing opportunities or single events provide flexibility for busy students.

Undergraduate Research – collaborative research with university faculty at Illinois Wesleyan University or other research universities or institutions; strongly recommended for students considering graduate or professional school.

Part-time or Summer Jobs – the skills and responsibility gained by work experiences, are often important ways to gain exposure to an industry. All jobs are helpful, but if a student can line up their job with their major – even better (i.e. camp counselor for education majors; bank teller for finance majors; blog writer for English majors).

Involvement and Leadership – Employers view involved students favorably, and leadership and teamwork skills are highly valued as easily transferable skills for the workplace. Career-related clubs are important, but involvement in athletic teams, service or religious organizations, the campus newspaper or radio station, and the Greek system can also provide valuable experiences.

Internships – pre-professional work experiences in a student’s major field or career interest area; can be paid or unpaid, full-time or part-time, for credit or not-for-credit, over summer or during the academic year. Summer is the most popular time for our students to intern, with almost 200 IWU students reporting internships in summer 2011. They worked in businesses (AT&T, Amazon.com, State Farm Insurance, PricewaterhouseCoopers), service organizations (American Red Cross, Habitat for Humanity, Women Employed), government (U.S. Securities and Exchange, Illinois State Police forensics lab, U.S. and state Senators, Representatives, and Congress), medical facilities, educational institutions, museums and theatres. They worked throughout Illinois, but IWU was also represented in ten other U.S. states and eight countries across the world.

Now is the time for students to line up their summer experiences. The Hart Career Center (www.iwu.edu/ccenter) can help point students to practical opportunities and resources for their specific career interest areas.

Please encourage your son or daughter to GET PRACTICAL this summer!


 

Scott Scott Seibring
Director of Financial Aid

iwufaid@iwu.edu

Spring Financial Aid News

I realize that February does not automatically conjure up warm images of financial aid applications and award letters but February is Financial Aid Awareness Month. I would like to take this opportunity to bring awareness to financial aid and recognize the importance it plays in many students’ lives whether it is scholarships, grants, loans, or student employment. In fact, 95% of our students benefit from one or more of these sources.

Financial aid has experienced many changes in the past five years and this year is no exception. On a federal level, the Department of Education continues to debate the value of simplifying the process versus having enough information to determine a fair calculation of the family’s ability to receive financial aid. With a new relationship between the IRS and the Department of Education, it will be easier to populate most of the income questions by retrieving data from the IRS.

Beginning Feb. 1, 2012, the IRS Data Retrieval option was made available to students to utilize as they are completing their 2012-13 FAFSA. It is strongly recommended that parents and students select this option during the initial filing or when subsequent corrections are made to their FAFSA. This option will streamline and expedite the processing of the financial aid application.

Financial aid applicants may use estimated income information on the initial FAFSA after indicating the tax return filing status as “will file.” When the tax returns have been filed, the applicant will eventually need to change that status to “Completed.” Once the filing status is listed as “Completed”, the applicant will be able to use the IRS Data Retrieval process approximately two weeks after tax returns are e-filed or eight weeks after paper returns are mailed to the IRS.

Find more information about the IRS Data Retrieval process.

Another change to financial aid this year is that we have moved the preferential deadline to file the FAFSA and IWU Financial Aid Application from March 31 to March 15 for our returning students. While we still don’t plan to send proposals until June, we felt it was important to move up the deadline to enhance our students’ chances for limited government funds. It is perfectly acceptable for families to estimate income figures on the FAFSA to meet the deadline and correct them at a later date as described above.

The last change I would like to discuss took place last year, so we are in the second year of this process that allows students to review their missing financial aid documents and view their award letters through their MyIWU account. This is the same portal where students send and retrieve emails, register for classes, and check on grades. In regards to missing documents, we are encouraging students to check this site every two to three weeks in the spring and summer to see what required information is missing. A flyer on that process was enclosed with your February bill. It is still our plan to notify students of their initial award with a paper proposal beginning in June, but we are encouraging them to accept their award electronically and review any necessary adjustments in the same way.

As always, we encourage our students and parents to go to our website at www.iwu.edu/finaid/ or contact us by phone or email if you should have any questions. We want to continue to help make an Illinois Wesleyan University education affordable. While the state, federal, and private grants help with this goal, we realize that 85% of the grants a student receives are IWU grants and scholarships. With this in mind, we are very appreciative for the gifts made to the University from alumni, friends, and parents that allow us to help our students.

 


 

As a parent, what do I need to know about the Housing Lottery?

As a part of IWU’s residential liberal arts mission, students are expected to live in Illinois Wesleyan residence halls or fraternity and sorority houses for at least four semesters, and many remain on campus throughout their time as a student. As February concludes and March commences, many students, especially sophomores, will be talking about “the housing lottery” and choosing a room for Fall 2012.

The Housing Lottery is a shorthand way of describing IWU’s three-part Residence Hall Housing and Registration Process. The “lottery” itself refers to the final phase of the process and provides students with a room selection order. There are three distinct processes: Housing Registration, Early Applications, and the Housing Lottery.

Housing Registration. Between Jan. 27 – Feb. 24, students receive an email titled: Housing Registration and Notification. Students are asked to use the enclosed link to log on and indicate their Fall 2012 housing plans—even those not planning on living in the residence halls in the fall. The collection of this information will allow IWU offices, faculty and staff to make contact with students as they move to new housing units or even off-campus. In addition, students are able to select a fall meal plan on this survey. Find detailed information and links to our registration materials.

Early Applications. The early application process was created to reduce stress during the housing lottery nights. By applying early, students are informed of their ability to secure a special room in advance of the housing lottery nights. Applications are available for: Single/Super-Singles; Suites; Squatter’s Rights; Triples and Quads; and Theme Communities.

Students have the option of completing an application from a web link or through the housing registration survey. Students who do not request an early placement, or those who are not able to secure a placement, will participate in housing lottery nights. Find more information and access to the early applications.

Housing Lottery. Students attending the housing lottery nights choose rooms in an order determined by the number of class units earned, assuring that senior students have the opportunity for the best campus placements. This is because some of our facilities are more highly desirable than others. Using an ordered process gives all students at a similar class and credit-hour level the same chance at each type of housing available on campus.

Students sign up for rooms at individually specified times over the span of up to four evenings. The first day is Monday, March 26 and selection will continue until all registered students have had an opportunity to participate. In 10-minute time intervals, from 3 p.m. - 8 p.m. daily, students will be allotted time to select from available, gender appropriate spaces. Find a detailed description of the housing lottery.

A few additional links:


 

Navigating the Winter Blues

Seasonal Affective Disorder, also known as the Winter Blues, effects 2-10% of our population (1.4% of Florida residents and 9.7% of residents in New Hampshire). What contributes to the variance between these states? In part, it’s the presence or absence of the sun. A number of college students, who are normally active and social, struggle when the weather turns cold, the days get shorter and they are forced to spend more time indoors.

Symptoms typically are: difficulty waking up in the morning, feeling sick in the morning, a tendency to oversleep and overeat — especially a craving for carbohydrates, which can lead to weight gain. Other symptoms may include a lack of energy, difficulty concentrating, withdrawing from friends or family and social activities.

There are many things your son or daughter can do if you suspect they are struggling with the winter blues:

1. Exercise. If we keep moving in the winter, we stay in shape and maintain our weight, but exercise is also an excellent stress reliever. After working out, we have more energy and the benefits continue as endorphins are released in our bodies.

2. Eat Healthy. Making healthy food choices is more challenging in the winter, but incorporating complex carbohydrates (whole wheat grains, veggies and fruit) and drinking plenty of water can provide our bodies with necessary nutrients and help stabilize blood sugar and energy levels.

3. Get Enough Sleep. Recent reports suggest only 11% of college students report getting the necessary 7-8 hours of sleep regularly. Sleep deprivation during the week followed by 10-12 hour periods of “sleeping in” on the weekends typically results in feeling more tired. Maintaining regular sleep patterns leads to increased energy and increased ability to concentrate

4. Get Sun. Making sure we are spending some time outdoors can make a difference. Keeping shades or blinds up during the day to let more sunlight in can make a significant difference. Full spectrum light bulbs can mimic natural light and exposure to these bulbs can result in the release of healthy neurotransmitters in our brains.

5. Avoid Alcohol and other Drugs. These substances are depressants, so when feeling down to begin with, these substances may amplify depressive symptoms.

6. Take care of yourself. Having something to look forward to, whether it be a concert, reconnecting with old friends, buying a book for pleasure, seeing a movie, attending a sporting event, getting a manicure or scheduling a relaxing massage ... these events elevate our mood!

7. Get Support. Connecting with family, friends and neighbors in the residence halls helps students feel connected. Don’t forget about the numerous resources on campus — registered student organizations, residence hall staff, student activities and late night programming, Counseling & Consultation Services, Academic Advising — we are all here to support our students and help them succeed.