Category Archives: Counseling and Advice

Get Advised Early!

Registrations are coming…avoid the lines!

Did you know that you can see your advisor in the Counseling and Advising Center before registration even begins? Even before our class schedule is released, we can recommend the courses you should take for the next semester. We have a general idea of what is offered during certain semesters and would be glad to get you cleared for registration in advance. (Remember, until a degree-seeking student has earned 30 credit hours at Parkland, he or she must see one of our advisors to be cleared to register for the semester.) 

For continuing Parkland students, summer registration begins the week of March 27 and fall registration begins the week of April 3. You will receive an email from Admissions to your student email account prior to these dates, telling you the exact day and time you can register for summer and fall courses. If you see your advisor before those dates and get cleared for registration, then you will be able to go online when it is your turn and register for your courses.

Counseling and Advising is located in U267; you can also reach us at 217/351-2219. Be prepared to be asked if you are a current student at Parkland. If you are not, then there may be other things you need to do, like placement testing and new student orientation before we can see you. Some departments do their own academic advising, so one of the questions you will be asked when you call or stop by is what your major of study is at Parkland. If you are in a program that we do not advise, then our front desk will give you the contact information of the person you need to see for advising.

Counseling and Advising is doing same-day appointments and advanced appointments through March 23. After that, we will only be doing same-day appointments. To make a same-day appointment, you will need to call or stop by the front desk after 8 a.m. and put your name down for the hour you would like to come in for advising.

[Myriah Benner-Coogan is an academic advisor in Counseling and Advising at Parkland College.]

Tax Time! Benefits for Students

It’s officially tax season! Have you received a 1098-T form from Parkland and are wondering what to do with it? If you are a college student who files taxes, there’s a good chance you can benefit from one or more tax programs for students. Read on to find out how you can save some money (and maybe even get a bigger refund!)

There are two main types of tax benefits available to students: tax credits and deductions.

Tax credits reduce the amount of income tax you pay. If you are receiving a tax refund because you had excess funds taken out of a paycheck for taxes, an education credit can increase this refund. Alternatively, if you owe money for underpaid taxes, a credit can reduce or offset this balance. Tax credits are a great way to offset what you pay for school (including payments that you make with money borrowed as student loans). There are two education credits available to college students: the American Opportunity Credit (AOC) and the Lifetime Learning Credit (LLC). The AOC is available for students who are in their first four years of college (at least half time), and the LLC is available to students who may not meet the qualifications for the AOC. Students who are part time, already have a degree, or who have already used four years of AOC may benefit from the LLC.

Deductions reduce your total income for the purposes of calculating your tax bill. If you don’t qualify to receive an education tax credit, you can deduct the amount of money you paid for school (again, including money that came from student loans) from your income, which in turn will reduce the amount of income taxes owed to the government. Deductions result in proportionately smaller tax savings than credits, but can still increase your refund.

Speaking of student loans, if you made any student loan payments last year–even if you were just paying the interest accruing on an unsubsidized loan–you may be eligible for the Student Loan Interest Deduction. This allows you to deduct the amount of student loan interest paid from your income, resulting in a lower tax bill. Your loan servicer (the company that collects your student loan payments) should provide you with a statement indicating the total loan interest you paid in 2016.

For more information about each of these benefits, as well as a list of all eligibility requirements, check out this article: www.nasfaa.org/2016_tax_year.

Are you a new tax filer? Learn how to file your own taxes with SALT. Parkland has partnered with SALT, a nonprofit organization that helps student take control of their personal finances. They have informational articles, videos, and even an entire course on how to file your taxes. Get your free account at www.saltmoney.org/parklandcollege.

[Julia Hawthorne is an advisor with Financial Aid and Veteran Services at Parkland College.]

 

Degree Completion Day, Feb. 22

Parkland College’s first Degree Completion Day event is coming this Wednesday, Feb. 22.

But you might ask, “Why should I graduate? I’m getting my bachelor’s degree in a couple of years.”  Here why:

  • Who wants you to graduate? Your parents, brothers, sisters, grandparents, cousins, best friend, boyfriend, girlfriend, favorite Parkland Instructor, advisor—all those that care about you, that’s who. It’s not always just about what you want.
  • You have spent countless hours in class and trip after trip to Parkland. Why wouldn’t you want to graduate?
  • It looks good on your Parkland transcript, shows accomplishment on your resume, and can enable you to move up in the workplace. If you are transferring to a university, it can make for a smoother transition and save you from having to take extra general education courses at that university.
  • If you are completing a career program, graduation may be required to verify with future employers. Probably most important of all, you’ve earned it!

Come out to Degree Completion Day in the U building from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and find out more about graduating and how it could benefit you.

[Dennis Kaczor is a credentials analyst in Parkland Admissions and Records.]

 

Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month

The Parkland College Department of Public Safety is here to provide a safe and secure campus environment conducive to learning. Every week throughout the year, we’ll be releasing a new public safety message, providing applicable information that you can use to stay safe and have a successful experience here at Parkland.

Our message this week:  Teen Dating Violence Awareness.

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February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness month, when we collectively recognize that abuse can happen to anyone at any age, and shouldn’t be overlooked. The 16 to 24 female age group experiences abuse at the highest level of frequency, at almost triple the national average, and 43 percent of college-aged women report experiencing violent and abusive dating relationships.

If you or someone you know feels caught up in an abusive relationship, it’s important to know that you’re not alone, and that there are a wealth of resources here at Parkland College to help. Here are a few:

  • Most obviously, you can make a report with the Parkland College Police Department if the abuse is happening here or involves another student. Our officers are also available to talk about it and offer advice, even if it’s not happening on Parkland property.
  • The Parkland College Counseling and Advising Center is staffed with trained counselors who can also provide assistance,
  • You can go to the Dean of Students to get help.

Other resources are available at loveisrespect.org, where you can chat with a live advocate, or call 1-866/331-9474.

[Ben Boltinghouse is a public safety officer with Parkland College.]

Are Your Firearms Safe? A Couple of Reminders

 

The Parkland College Department of Public Safety is here to provide a safe and secure campus environment conducive to learning. Every week throughout the year, we’ll be releasing a new public safety message, providing applicable information that you can use to stay safe and have a successful experience here at Parkland.

Our message this week:  Firearm Safety.

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About 1.4 million homes have firearms stored in a way that makes them available to the wrong hands—children, at-risk youth, potential thieves, and those who intend to harm themselves or others, according to a study by the RAND Corporation using statistics from the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

If you choose to exercise your rights to own a firearm, make sure you also keep that weapon safely out of the wrong hands. Proper firearm storage and reporting are essential to keeping you and your loved ones safe.

Storage Options. The most basic options for securing a firearm include a trigger lock, a cable lock, or a locked storage case. When used properly, these will prevent a gun from firing, but won’t keep it safe from theft. A lock box or safe that you can secure to the ground or wall will more likely keep your firearms from walking away, however.

Reporting. In the event that your firearm is lost or stolen, immediately reporting the theft or loss is of the utmost importance. You will also want to have firearm records on hand that you can provide to law enforcement, which will assist in locating and returning your firearms. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) provides a downloadable form that you can use to properly catalog your firearms.

Gun ownership comes with rights and responsibilities, and we hope you will join us in working to ensure that a firearm never gets into the wrong hands. For more information, please visit safefirearmsstorage.org.[Ben Boltinghouse is a public safety officer with Parkland College.]