Category Archives: Counseling and Advice

Cyber Safety, Part 1

For the next two weeks, we’ll be talking about cyber safety. Today’s post discusses three of the most common forms of theft and fraud that you’ll find online, and next week will be all about cyber bullying.

Phishing

Phishing is a common trick used by identity thieves to gain your personal information. This crime involves sending email or creating sites that appear to be from a legitimate company and asking you to confirm personal information such as bank account numbers, passwords, birth dates, or addresses. PayPal and eBay are two of the most common targets for phishing scams. Before adding any personal information, contact the supposed site directly to see if they have been trying to contact you. Most reputable sites will not contact you in this way.

Identity Theft

When they think of Internet safety, adults most often consider identity theft a top priority. Identity thieves can use the information they find online to drain your bank account and ruin your credit rating. In some cases, the damage caused by identity theft may even harm your future employment prospects, especially if you work in an industry that regularly does credit checks for all job applicants. Should you find yourself to be a victim of Identity theft, visit https://identitytheft.gov/ for easy instructions on how to report the crime and form a recovery plan.

Watch for Fraud

The global nature of the Internet has brought new life to scams. Some of the most common forms of Internet fraud include the following:

  • Online auctions site postings that feature nonexistent or falsely represented merchandise
  • Nigerian money offers promising large sums of cash in exchange for assistance with bank account transfers
  • Financial scams targeting consumers with poor credit who are tricked into paying upfront fees in hopes of receiving credit cards or personal loans
  • Phony sweepstakes offers asking for payment to claim a prize that doesn’t really exist

Don’t let yourself be taken advantage of on the Internet! Think critically about anything that sounds too good to be true.

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

 

Spring Graduation: Get What You’ve Earned

So, you have earned your Parkland College degree or certificate, AND you are not walking in the commencement ceremony this May; you’re moving on.

However, you can still graduate and receive the credential you’ve earned…and you SHOULD. Here’s why:

• You never know how soon your life may change. Get that degree awarded to your Parkland College transcript.
• You have no idea how proud your family will be seeing that diploma on the living room wall.
• Your children follow in your footsteps. Knowing you’ve graduated will increase their chances of graduating from college as well.
• It is an excellent accent to your growing resume.
• Many jobs require at least a two-year degree, so why miss that opportunity?
• Haven’t you always been told to finish what you started?

Stop by Admissions and Records today to fill out a Petition to Graduate! The deadline is Monday, April 10! You can find the petition in Admissions and Records under Forms or in the my.parkland portal. It’s not an automatic thing to receive your degree; the petition lets us know you’re finished.

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

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.]

 

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.]