Carefully Extending A University Premises

Two of the focuses of my blog are Business/Entrepreneurship and General Education. Higher Education is big business in the United States. One of the biggest concerns of institutions of higher learning is expansion of their campuses. The following contributed post is entitled, Carefully Extending A University Premises.

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Pexels – CC0 License

As a university faculty, the extreme increase in students applying to follow a course suggests a need for expansion. This can be an exciting prospect. That being said, carefully extending a university premises is often a multi-faceted project that can take some time, and may leave you feeling as though this process is extremely complex. Additionally, students are often fickle and can drop out for any time, or may even transfer to another institution should they feel their needs aren’t being met. This can be the case even if launching a range of excellent and prestigious degrees.

In order to best pursue this extension and to better manage your construction efforts, a careful plan needs to be in the works long before you begin. Additionally, ensuring that the least amount of harmful influence on your daily operation is considered can help you avoid alienating students, and prospective candidates alike. Additionally, a university budget can be a tight thing, meaning that cost-effective managing this process requires a little more forethought. With our advice, you are certain to carry this process out to the best of your ability:

Alternate Lecture Theatres

Finding alternate lecture theatures for your students can be an important first step. After all, it can be hard to lecture and study when large construction efforts are taking place. Additionally, consider the routes to said lecture halls. It might be that you need to subsidise extra coach or train fares to reach a different part of the city, or maybe you need to rent out an entirely new building for six months of the year. It is possible, but you have to manage people and resources carefully.

Reliable Construction Firms

Reliable construction firms, such as Stosius are known for their extremely accurate planning and impressive execution. When you can rely on a service to keep you on schedule, to stay thoroughly communicative of their needs and remain two steps ahead at all times, you can ensure that the practical planning of your own approach can be effectively considered, and this may save you and your faculty a great deal of stress. Additionally, being advised as to the best safety implements and usual requirements will help you curate that former plan of action.

Telegraphing In Advance

If your construction efforts mean that half of your science block is going to be out of action for that year, then it could be that telegraphing this in advance is essential. Students may not withdraw their applications as you may vital alternate arrangements, but letting them know about said work rather than lying in the brochure or somehow deflecting them away from said plans during the tour can be an honest and ethical way of going about things. Financial subsidies, additional investments and potentially the means to rework non-essential course practicalities can enable you to move through this time with care and attention. This makes a difference.

With this advice, you are certain to carefully extend your university premises well.

Researching your career revisited: Wisdom from a STEM professor at my HBCU

I originally published this piece on the Examiner back in January of 2013. It discussed some simple, but valuable career advice a professor from my undergraduate institution gave me and my classmates. If followed, this advice would likely save the student, their family and their schools money, time, and heartache.

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Though the importance is questioned by some today, there are advantages to attending Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). Two big advantages are small class sizes and the personal relationships that can be developed with the faculty. These two factors were integral to my success at Johnson C. Smith University (JCSU).

It isn’t just the close relationships with the faculty that are advantageous, but also the “tell it like is” mentality with which they taught us. The instructors felt as though they had to be hard on us students in order to make us competitive, to help us reach our potential, and ultimately, to achieve our dreams. Some students rejected this approach, while others embraced the guidance and the coaching.

Many students who major in the biological sciences do so with hopes of going to medical school and becoming a physician. Not only is being a medical doctor a well-respected profession, but it is also believed to lead to a life of wealth and prosperity; something many doctors and the author of The Millionaire Next Door, Dr. Thomas Stanley, would debate.

During my first year at JCSU, a very simple but important piece of advice was passed along to the students in our Concepts of Modern Biology class. That advice was simply that we students should take some time to research our careers of interest. Again it was simple but very powerful advice.

“You all keep saying that you want to go to medical school, but you don’t have the slightest idea as to what it takes to get into medical school, or what’s going to happen once you get there,” our professor, a Ph.D. of Cell Biology, passionately said to us. She was small in stature but was a very tough-minded professor.

“What you all need to do is to go to the library, pull out a book on the healthcare professions and read up on what it will take to become a medical doctor,” she further advised us. She’d often say, “the slots are limited,” meaning that it was very competitive to get into medical school and they would only take the best of the best. A couple of driven, motivated and talented students from JCSU in that era did in fact go on to medical school to pursue their dreams.

It was debated quite a bit at the time whether or not students from a small HBCU like JCSU could get into medical school. The students who made it in proved that it could be done, but again they were some of the best and brightest that our Natural Sciences Department had to offer.

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I took my professor’s advice and investigated the path towards becoming a medical doctor. In between semesters, I visited Buffalo’s downtown public library and pulled out a book on the healthcare professions. Some of what I discovered in my research, I’d heard before; applicants needing a competitive score on the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT), a competitive grade point average (GPA) particularly in the sciences, letters of recommendation, and scientific research or volunteer experience in a clinic or hospital.

What I read next though were the real eye openers. Financially, many medical students offset their tuition with loans and graduated with hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt. Medical school graduates are required to complete something called a “Residency” which usually involved them getting little sleep over long periods of time, depending on their specialization. They further had to be willing to move to often remote and undesirable locations in some instances initially. Finally, most don’t start making significant money until long after they’ve graduated or completed their training.

After doing the research, I decided that I didn’t want to go to medical school to be a physician. I stayed in science but decided to go into research which itself had its own notable challenges and struggles, though ultimately quite a few rewards. See my post on that.

The point of this story is not to discourage anyone from going to medical school, especially if treating and caring for patients is a student’s underlying motivation, dream and passion. A career is a personal choice and must be decided by the individual. That being said, it’s important to do the research, study the process and figure out all that will be involved when pursuing a particular career path.

At one point, being a medical doctor may have been a very lucrative profession to pursue, but as with most areas of life, things seldom stay the same. Significant factors that medical doctors have to contend with today that they didn’t worry about as much in years past, is the impact of Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs) on the degree of care patients can receive, and the threat of malpractice lawsuits.

“You want to do something that you’re going to enjoy doing every day. If you’re doing something just for the money, it’s not a good thing,” a mentor advised me. In general, careers should be pursued not simply for the money, but based upon what a student is passionate about and has a natural talent for.

Furthermore, the cost of seeking a professional education such as attending medical, dental or law school, for example, should be strongly considered before pursuing a given career. Specifically, the amount of debt that will have to be repaid should be one of the major considerations as it will impact an individual’s lifestyle for a potentially significant amount of time.

Thank you for taking the time to read this blog post. If you enjoyed this post, you may also enjoy:

The story of how I earned my STEM degree
A look at STEM: What are the Basic Sciences and Basic Research?
A look at STEM: What is Regulatory Science?
The transferrable skills from a doctoral degree in the basic sciences
A look at STEM: What is Pharmacology?
A look at STEM: What is Toxicology?

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