Author Archives: Carol Gottsch

Adjusting to (and Enjoying) College Life

Students who are new to Bellevue University can face a difficult transition. Whether the student comes from the local area or has to travel miles, they may feel like they are surrounded by strangers, they may experience stress from being in a new environment, and they may be anxious about adapting to the rigors of university academics. What can help students adjust to and enjoy college life?

First, students need to realize they are not alone. According to a recent UCLA study, more than 30 percent of college freshmen reported feeling overwhelmed a great deal of the time during the beginning of college.  Additionally, Johns Hopkins University reported that more than 40 percent of a recent freshman class sought help from a student counseling center to assist with their transition.

These strategies can help a student have a smooth transition into college life:

—Develop a time management plan

—Include time for adequate sleep in your time management plan

—Make friends by introducing yourself to fellow classmates

—Develop friendships with students you feel comfortable talking to and who you feel you can trust

—Learn relaxation techniques

—Include quality time each day in your time management plan to ensure you do something you enjoy

During their college years, students may find themselves developing into a whole new person.  Understanding and accepting these changes will help students successfully handle stress and anxiety. These changes include:

—Discovering areas of gained competencies

—Learning how to manage emotions

—Acquiring emotional independence

—Realizing a deeper understanding of their personal identity

—Clarifying their life purpose

—Solidifying their standards of values and integrity

By implementing personal strategies and by understanding how they are changing, college students have the ability to adapt and to enjoy their college years.


In the Beginning There Was Fire

It is true that candles were once used to light holiday trees. Inevitably numerous trees and, unfortunately, homes caught on fire.  Consequently the tradition of using electric holiday lights developed partially because of the threat of fire. The introduction of decorated holiday trees also impacted the use of electric holiday lights.

In the early 19th century Germans settling in Pennsylvania practiced the custom of “putzing”: decorating evergreen trees with ornaments, fruits, and lights.  Because trees were expensive in these early years, decorated lit trees were limited to large public displays.  Once entrepreneurs began opening the first lots selling trees at cheaper prices, the demand for lit trees increased.  Candles were used for lighting these trees.  In 1856 the first lighted tree at the White House was lit by candles.

As the popularity of trees and lights expanded, new ways of affixing candles to trees were developed.  Although some clever inventions helped keep candles from falling over and starting fires, none worked to totally prevent this problem.

Three types of candle holders were common.  One was a string attached to the candle with a weight.  However if the weight shifted, the candle would fall over. A second type of candle holder was a spring-loaded clip similar to a clothes pin:  the joints in these devices often failed, and the candle would fall over.  The third type of candle holder was an enclosed contraption similar to a lantern.  This device helped catch candle drips but radiated enough heat that the threat of fire was ever constant.

Candle-lit trees met their end when insurance companies began adding new language to policies excluding fire damage caused by holiday tree fires.  These changes and the development of electricity sparked the invention of electrical lights used for tree decorations.

Thomas Edison’s development of the electric light bulb was the springboard for Edward Johnson having small holidays lights made especially for him. In December 1882 Johnson proudly displayed his hand-wired tree which had 80 red, white, and blue lights.

Holiday lights of the 1880’s were too expensive for the average household.  These new electric lights cost about $12 for a short string. This would equate to nearly $400 in today’s dollars. Because of the high price, electric lights did not replace candles until well into the 1930’s. These first carbon filament lights were nearly as dangerous as candles as they burned at high temperatures. With the development of incandescent bulbs, decorating with lights indoors became more popular, and outdoor displays began to become tradition.

Today it is estimated that more than 150 million light sets are sold in the United States each year. We would have never imagined how the desire to have lights on the Christmas tree has expanded to be an endearing holiday tradition.

Want to see pictures of actual holiday lights from the 1900’s?  Check out these sites:


The NCTA Annual Conference

In August, I had the chance to attend the NCTA Annual Conference in Minneapolis.    It was a great experience to meet and to talk with people who understood the art and the heartache of testing. Since I was the sole attendee from Bellevue University, I was adopted by the folks attending from the University of Tennessee and from Bethel University.

I attended small group sessions and learned many items that will help the Bellevue University Test Center become even better.  The session reviewing the NCTA Test Center Certification process will prove to be an advantage when we go through this process in the near future.   Another valuable session dealt with academic dishonesty.  Test centers all over the world use vein recognition, eye scans, and fingerprinting to verify identification of the student.   The session on “Testing in a Cloud” pointed out the ramifications of FERPA standards.

A highlight of the conference was the presentation I teamed with Michelle Shipp from Columbia University to share with the conference attendees.    I had the privilege of showing off how our Test Center uses a database designed and maintained by Jeff Dixon.  People were impressed and wanted to steal Jeff to help them!   Our database is wonderful: we keep track of huge amounts of data about scheduling tests, students, and test proctors.    I learned that we saved the university tons of money by designing our own database system.   During the presentation, I also discussed how we use Email Merge which allows us to send emails to large numbers of students and their test proctors.

The entire conference experience was jam-packed with useful knowledge.  I could put a name to faces of people we have worked with for years, and I gained many ideas for us to improve our Bellevue University Test Center services.   Our Test Center Team looks forward to attending the annual conference next year in Nashville.

Advisors Learn New Information about Test Center Services

In late June 2012, the Test Center Team presented the latest information about the Test Center services to the All-Advisors Meeting. 

One of the most exciting developments will be use of Proctor U.   This electronic process will allow students anywhere in the world to take a proctored test.  Keep a look out for the upcoming start date along with additional information.

Another update was that the Computer Proficiency tests will be moving to the MS Office 2010 version tentatively by September 1, 2012. Additionally, Computer Proficiency tests can be taken by both our local students and by our distant students.

Advisors were reminded that students need to be aware several online classes do require proctored exams. Also, students will want to know that test proctors may charge a fee to administer tests. If a fee is charged, the student is responsible for this cost.

Prices are on the rise everywhere, and the testing world is no exception.   Effective July 01, 2012, the fee to take a CLEP test will be $80.

 Advisors reviewed the Test Center website which contains a plethora of information about tests and services offered at the Test Center.  The Test Center Guides likewise have a wealth of information to help both advisors and students. This is an example of the information contained in the Test Center guides focused on CLEP tests:

Please phone or email the Bellevue University Test Center Team with any questions you may have about the testing services offered.

402-557-7428         1-800-756-7920 (Ext. 557-7428)

Everyone is Irish on St. Patrick’s Day

St. Patrick. Fine Art. Encyclopædia Britannica Image Quest. Web. 13 Mar 2012. Everyone Is Irish on St. Patrick’s Day
Trivia about St. Patrick’s Day

You probably know who St. Patrick’s Day is named after, but what do you know about St. Patrick and St. Patrick’s Day? Saint Patrick was not Irish by birth; he was a Romano-Briton Christian missionary born in England. St. Patrick’s true given name was Maewyn Succat.

Born in the 4th century into a wealthy family, St. Patrick was kidnapped when he was sixteen by Irish raiders and taken captive in Ireland as a slave. Eventually St Patrick became a champion of doctrines of the Catholic Church.

Irish folklore includes the belief that Patrick raised people from the dead. He is said to have given a sermon which resulted in all the snakes being driven from Ireland. Of course no snakes are native to Ireland, so historians believe the story is a metaphor for the conversion of pagans. Irish stories also tell that one of his teaching methods included using the shamrock to explain the Christian doctrine of the Trinity to the Irish people.

The Wearin’ of the Green
Originally, the color associated with Saint Patrick was blue. Over the years the color green and its association with Saint Patrick’s Day grew. Historically the phrase wearing of the green meant to wear a shamrock.  In the 1798 Irish rebellion to make a political statement, Irish soldiers wore full green uniforms on March 17 in hopes of catching public attention.  March 17 was chosen to avoid other Christian holidays during the spring months such as Easter and Palm Sunday.

The largest St. Patrick’s Day celebrations outside Dublin are in Downpatrick, County Down, where Saint Patrick is rumored to be buried. This week-long St. Patrick’s Festival has more than 2,000 participants and 82 floats, bands, and performers.  The shortest St Patrick’s Day parade takes place in Dripsey, Cork. The parade lasts just 100 yards, and the participants walk between the village’s two pubs.

There are more Americans of Irish origin than there are Irish in Ireland. Thirsty six million Americans claim Irish ancestors.  Yet the population of Ireland is near 4.4 million people. Enjoy St Patrick’s Day and the Wearin’ of the Green.


Barth, Edith. Shamrocks, Harps, and Shillelaghs: The Story of the St. Patrick’s Day Symbols. Sandpiper. Retrieved 22 February 2012.

“Confession of St. Patrick”. Christian Classics Ethereal Library at Calvin College. Retrieved 22 February 2012.

“St Patrick’s Day celebrations”. Church of Ireland Notes from The Irish Times. Official Church of Ireland website. Retrieved 22 February 2012.

“St Patrick’s Day History”.’s-day-history.html. Retrieved 22 February 2012.

Promoting Academic Honesty and Integrity

Students taking a test

Students Taking A Test. Photography. Encyclopædia Britannica Image Quest.

Cheating? Does everyone cheat? Even Bart Simpson cheated on his aptitude test. What happens at Bellevue University if someone cheats? Instructors have policies in place, and the student handbook explains the process of dealing with academic dishonesty.

Let’s focus on how the Bellevue University Test Center promotes academic honesty and integrity.

Before a tester even enters the Test Center, students are reminded that no electronic devices, including cell phones, are allowed in the testing rooms. The student is reminded how much time will be allowed and if books and notes may be used.

On test day, a proctor reminds the student what is allowed with the test. The only items which may be brought into the testing room are those permitted on the test such as text books, notes, or a calculator. Personal items such as backpacks, purses, coats, and hats are placed in another area. Having drinks or food is discouraged as is leaving the testing room during a test. Students use the scratch paper and pencils supplied by the Test Center.

During testing, proctors in the testing room are alert to behaviors which may be violations of academic honesty. Proctors are alert to behaviors such as using notes which were not allowed, using a cell phone, or talking to another person in the testing room. Other academic honesty violations include taking scratch paper from the testing room, getting into personal possessions such as wallets or pockets, and arguing with a proctor. Students can also violate academic honesty by using web sites, by leaving the testing room, or by having hidden notes.

Once suspect behaviors are noticed, the tester is not allowed to finish the test. The Test Center Manager and the instructor are informed about the incident. A written incident report is filed. The College Dean may review the documentation.

The Test Center strives to promote academic honesty and to keep the academic playing field level for all students.  Even Bart Simpson needs to study for his next Bellevue University exam.