Excelling in School as a Non-Traditional Student

It’s never too late to further your education. For people who are getting back into school after taking a break, though, the experience can be overwhelming. Our team wants to help non-traditional students succeed in achieving their educational goals.

To make things easier, we’re compiling some of our top tips for nontraditional student success.

Set a Routine

If you’ve been out of school for a while, it can be difficult to get back into the swing of things. A lot of non-traditional students have to juggle work, family, and school, which can be taxing.

To prepare for this, sit down before your classes start and work out what a typical week will look like for you. Of course, things will change from time to time, but this can help provide a sense of stability when situations get stressful. Be sure to block off time for studying and homework, too, even if you have to do it in chunks. It’s best to overestimate the amount of time you’ll need to complete your schoolwork so if you get a big assignment, it doesn’t throw you off.

Once you have a routine established, share it with your friends and family so they can support you. Explain to them when you’ll need time alone and when you’ll be available to spend time with them. This can help cut back on distractions and put you in the right mindset to succeed.

Take It Slow

Everyone’s educational experience is different. Remember that there is no “right way” to complete your education. Instead, you should take it at the pace that feels comfortable to you.

Try to challenge yourself a little, but don’t start taking on more classes or projects than you can handle. Remember: you want to achieve your goal of graduating, but you don’t want to burn out along the way.

It might also be helpful to set a target timeframe for when you would like to have your degree by. Give yourself a little wiggle room but try to stick to this deadline. It’ll help motivate you to keep going, even when things get tough.

Ask for Support

No matter what happens along your educational journey, know that you’re never on this path alone. Your school will likely have a counselor or advisor that you can turn to with any questions you have about your classes or requirements. Make sure to meet them and feel comfortable talking to them about your goals.

You also have your family, friends, and coworkers on your side. It might be smart to mention to your boss or manager that you are taking extra classes, especially if you work an hourly job. That way they’ll know what blocks of time you absolutely aren’t available.

If you need more support, reach out to our team. We’d love to connect you with educational resources to help spur your success. While you’re at it, try checking out our blogs on how to apply for scholarships, too, to help jumpstart your educational funding.

The BCVision team works to foster talent development in the Battle Creek community. We are happy to provide assistance and resources for you throughout your college application experience and into your career. Contact us for more information.



How to Prepare for a Job Fair

Job fairs are a great opportunity to connect with companies in the area and start to learn more about industries you might be interested in. Whether you’re searching for a job or just trying to network, job fairs can be a great place to get started.

Our team has put together some tips on how to make your first or next job fair a success!

Do Your Research

Most job fairs have a list of companies or industries that will be at the event. Look up the businesses before the event and figure out which ones interest you. Then, when you’re there, you’ll be able to dedicate time to visiting those booths first, instead of wandering around aimlessly.

If you find a company that catches your eye, it might be useful to see if they have any open positions posted on their website or a job board. Then you can learn more about positions that you might qualify for so you can ask better questions when you show up.

Come Prepared

When you start looking at job fairs, you might notice that some of them allow you to register before the event. It’s always a great idea to pre-register if they let you! That way, employers can review your information before the event even starts.

Here are some other tips for coming prepared:

  • Look your best! Dress in business attire and be sure to shower beforehand.
  • Print off your resume. It’s always a good idea to have a few copies with you. Not sure how to write a good resume? Click here for some tips.
  • Bring a few copies of your cover letter. Most employers won’t ask for it, but it’s best to bring it just in case. Need some help? Read our blog.
  • Hand out business cards. If you have business cards, it’s a good idea to bring them with you and to hand them out to the people you meet so they can remember you.
  • Come with questions. They’ll help you start a good conversation with employers. If you aren’t sure what to ask, click here for ideas.

Make sure to put your best foot forward when you’re at the job fair. Above all else, be professional, but be yourself!

The BCVision team works to help develop the workforce in Battle Creek. We are happy to provide assistance and resources, whether you’re looking for a job, in the process of interviewing for a job, or just want to develop skills in your current position. Reach out to partners like Michigan Works! Southwest for a list of available job fairs and opportunities, or contact us for more information.

How to Apply for Scholarships

Preparing for college is a long process. There are a lot of steps, from researching options to requesting reference letters and more.

For many students, scholarships are an important part of their college application process. These funds can make a huge difference in a student’s ability to pursue higher education. That’s why our team has put together some tips on how to find and apply for scholarships to help make secondary education more accessible.

Scholarship Basics

Scholarships are sums of money that are either reoccurring or a one-time payment. These payments are directly applied toward your education expenses, and they never have to be repaid. That’s why most scholarships have an application process, and why often times the qualifications require an essay. The essays are often required for applicants to explain why they are deserving of the funds. They’re granted based on need and on your achievements or application.

As we mentioned, scholarships don’t need to be repaid, unlike student loans. That means that they’re a great first place to look when you’re trying to find college funding.

Finding Scholarships

There are different types of scholarships. Some of them, called merit scholarships, are based on your grades and activities. There are also other types of scholarships that are awarded based on talents or demographics. There are also need-based scholarships, which are awarded according to financial need.

As we mentioned in our blog about when to start looking for colleges, there are a lot of great scholarship opportunities in the area including BCCF and BCCAN. Start searching for scholarships by asking your teachers or school guidance counselor for suggestions. They know you and your academics, and they might be able to point you towards specific scholarships that are a good fit.

If you’re part of a community, cultural, or religious organization, you can also ask those leadership teams for any advice. They might know of scholarships that are already available from those groups.

If you’ve already decided what college or university you want to attend, their admissions office may be able to connect you with scholarship opportunities, too. There are plenty of places to look! Just be sure to ask a credible source for suggestions in order to avoid scholarship scams.

How to Apply

Most scholarships will require you to answer one or two essay questions. These can range a lot in topic, but it’s important to always read the application thoroughly. Here are some tips to write an awesome response:

  • Read the whole prompt before you begin writing.
  • Don’t be afraid to make it personal.
  • Make sure to include one sentence at the beginning of your response that summarizes your thoughts (a.k.a. a thesis statement).
  • Make sure to answer the question truthfully.
  • When you’re done, read your response out loud. It may sound silly, but when you read out loud, your ear can help catch any grammar mistakes you might have missed when you wrote.
  • Run a spell check on your response.
  • If there is a word count requirement, make sure your response meets it. If there is a maximum word count, make sure you don’t go over it.

If you aren’t sure about your response, try asking a friend, parent, teacher, or other trusted person to read it for you. They might be able to help you spot any areas that might need more attention.

Many scholarships have deadlines. The most important part of applying for a scholarship is to make sure that you submit it before the deadline!

The BCVision team works to foster talent development in the Battle Creek community. We are happy to provide assistance and resources for you throughout your college application experience and into your career. Contact us for more information.

Giving Back to the Battle Creek Community

We love being a part of the Battle Creek community. This is a place where everyone can live, work and play. That’s thanks to the people who make up our community and the volunteers who give back.

In order to foster a culture of vitality, it’s important to have people who are passionate about giving back to the community around and want to celebrate our city.

That’s why our team put together a list of some of the best ways to give back in the Battle Creek community. Keep reading to find out about some awesome opportunities.

Offer to Help

One of the easiest ways to give back to your community is to volunteer when opportunity comes knocking. If you’re a part of an organization, club, or other group, make it a point to volunteer the next time they ask.

You can also keep an eye out on the people around you. If you see someone struggling with groceries or if a classmate needs a ride, offer to help out. That helps to spread a feeling of community among all of us in Battle Creek.

Look for Opportunities

Keep an eye out for larger opportunities in the community. Some neighborhoods may have associations that you can join. Other groups in the community focus on different cultures or interests. Find one that you like, and then start asking how you can help them out.

You can also try asking teachers, supervisors, or other role models if they know of any opportunities to give back. If you can’t find any, try hosting a food drive with your friends or coworkers. Then drop the collected items off at a local charity.

Make sure to check out our blog about the simple ways you can improve Battle Creek for more ideas. There are also a lot of local resources available to you. Check out Neighborhood Planning Councils, United Way, and BCCF if you need a good place to start.

Sign Up to Volunteer

When in doubt, you can always volunteer to give back. Depending on where you volunteer, you can commit to a one-time experience or to a recurring position.

If you’re interested in flexible volunteer work, try getting involved in our Street Team or one of our other volunteer opportunities. We’re always looking for a dedicated volunteer base to help promote a culture of vitality.

There are plenty of opportunities to volunteer in our community. Even if an organization doesn’t say that they are actively looking for volunteers, many will still gladly take your help. Try reaching out to causes that you’re passionate about. After all, when you volunteer for something you care about, you’re more likely to enjoy yourself and make a real impact.

Our team is dedicated to creating a culture of vitality in the Battle Creek community and ensuring that Battle Creek is a city where everyone can live, work, and play. Want to learn more? Visit our website to learn about how we are moving Battle Creek forward.

Which Questions to Ask in an Interview

Job hunting can be difficult. In fact, when some people get an interview, they find themselves nervous instead of excited. That’s because interviewing takes practice, and when you don’t know what to expect, the experience can be intimidating. Although it’s completely normal to have anxiety even if you are completely prepared.

We previously put together some tips on how to have an impressive phone interview, and many of those tips apply to in person interviews, too. That’s why we’ll be focusing on the questions you can ask to get the information you need to succeed.

When to Ask Questions

During a typical interview, the interviewer will ask you a series of questions that they expect you to answer. Once they’re done asking, most interviewers will ask if you have any questions for them. Generally speaking, they are hoping you have some questions because it shows you are really interested in the role.

If you’re in an interview that doesn’t ask you for feedback, it’s okay to politely say, “I have a few questions about the position. I was wondering if you wouldn’t mind answering them for me.”

In most cases, your interviewer will gladly answer any questions you have. If they aren’t willing, the job might not be the right fit for you.

Which Questions to Avoid

Although it’s good to ask questions during your interview, there are some questions that you shouldn’t bring up. Try to avoid topics like:

  • Salary or pay
  • Timelines for promotions or raises
  • Requests for special accommodations

These topics are important, and you should ask about them, but you shouldn’t do that until a job offer is on the table or being discussed. Then you can begin negotiating specifics, which is a normal part of the hiring process.

Which Questions to Ask

When you prepare for your interview, you might want to write down a few questions that are on your mind. That way, when you’re at the interview, you’ll come prepared with at least two questions that you can ask.

Here are some example questions to help give you ideas:

  • What is your company’s culture like?
  • Can you go into a little more depth about what a typical day in this role would look like?
  • What do you expect your new hire to accomplish in the first six months?
  • Why is the position empty?
  • When should I expect to hear back from you about this interview?

Remember to also bring a notebook with you so you can write down any questions that come up while you’re talking. 

The BCVision team is dedicated to developing the workforce in the Battle Creek community. We are happy to provide assistance and resources, whether you’re looking or applying for a job, in the process of interviewing for a job, or want to further your education to move up in your career. Reach out to our partners, like Michigan Works! Southwest for the next step in your career, or contact us for more information. Make sure to also check out our blogs about how to write an impactful resume and cover letter for more information.