Authenticating Resources on the Internet

Help in determining what is reliable and what is not when it comes to using resources found on the net.

OK, so you’ve read our Internet Searching Tips, been to Google, Duck Duck Go, Bing or the like, and learned you have several—if not hundreds of—thousands of matches for your search.

Some you can toss out right away just by the completely irrelevant title or description of the site. You scan through the list and find a few good prospects to try. Now, how do you determine whether the information at the other end of the link is the best available—or at the least, correct?

First, check the spelling of the domain of each file you’d like to view. You may have heard of the problem with deceptive web sites. Believe it. Many web sites are set up to either sound or be spelled like some well-known organization in order to capitalize on the legitimate organization’s name recognition and community respect. It’s a time-honored advertising practice used by legitimate and illegitimate organizations alike, but in the days of the internet, software and sophisticated programmers, persons who are out to deceive the casual web surfer can easily do just that.

Verifying the Source:

There are several questions to ask and levels of authentication you can perform. From the most simple to the most complex and thorough, they are:

1. Does the site name “seem” to be legitimate?

Dissect the website address to find the “top level” domain (.gov, .com, .net, .org, .edu, .uk, etc.) and the domain name itself (“Yahoo” from for example). Take these two together to see if they seem to correspond. Most large companies have the web site address you’d expect, such as for Nike, for Adidas, for United Parcel Service. Here is a short listing of the most common top-level domain designations:

.biz Newer, less used version of .com. Open to anyone.
.com A “commercial” site in registered in the United States, but not necessarily by a US citizen. The first and most widely used public domain. Registration is open to any entity or individual.
.edu The domain named used exclusively for educational institutions, mostly colleges and universities. (Educause is the overseeing body)
.gov Domain level reserved for official US government sites. Managed by the US Gen. Svcs. Admin. at
.info Another newer less used top-level domain open to anyone.
.net An open registration domain meant for providers of electronic networks, but used by anyone.
.org An open domain once intended for organizations with domains that did not fit in other categories. Widely used by non-profits, but not always!
.us A two letter Country-Code Top Level domain (ccTLD) indicating the United States. Mostly used for local governmental sites, such as a county ( or school district, but recently opened to anyone with significant ties (as in a resident) to the United States. See below for more on Country Codes
.ca Canadian sites, not necessarily governmental. The governing body, the Canadian Internet Registration Authority is found at: Currently, a whois is available in the upper right of the page.

Several years back, many country codes have “opened” up registration to anyone, trying to capitalize on their catchy abbreviations. Have you seen any of these?

Belize .bz (Business)
British Indian Ocean Territory .io (Input/Output)
Western Samoa .ws (Web Site)
Cocos Keeling Islands
(an Australian territory)
.cc (community college, credit card, chat club, etc.
–according to their website.)
Montserrat .ms (microsoft)
Tuvalu .tv (Television)

A pretty good listing of ccTLDs is available at:

Most countries do not add a .com (or .co) before their country code, so that in the US is in Canada, but some countries do, such as in the UK:

Much more information on, domain names can be found at the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) site, top level domains page:

The Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) is responsible for international sites, and the country codes can be found:

If it’s a US government site, the domain name should be “.gov,” however, more and more governmental entities are setting up “.com” sites as well, take for example the State of Oregon’s official traffic information site:

2. Were you redirected?

When you type in “,”(Apple Computer—Canada) for example, your browser is redirected to “” You’ll need to have the “address” line visible in your browser to check this. Most times forwarding is just a housekeeping function of the company as it has grown and reorganized its web site and knows that references to an old address are widespread.

However, if a hacker or someone with less than honorable intentions has gotten to the site, you may be redirected to a different site having nothing to do with what you thought you were after (or what the person who posted the link intended). Redirection will also commonly occur if you have reached a site no longer in operation, but most times, these are generally forwarded to a site asking you if you want to buy that domain name, now that it’s available again, and offer some sort of search option, topic directory, or “link farm”.

3. Does the site look and feel the way you might expect it to?

If you are trying to visit and get a blank page with few words and no pictures, or explicit photos, something is probably wrong. You may have made a typo, chosen the wrong link, or it could be a temporary “takeover” by a hacker. In any case, you’ll need to double check your work! As a very broad rule of thumb, if you go to a large national corporation’s web site, expect it to “look” more professional than, say, a university’s research department, or a local county emergency information page. Marketing is what corporations do.

Don’t necessarily be put off by the lack of design or sophistication of any given site. While a well built, easily navigated “pretty” site is inviting to use, some of the most informative and useful sites are very simple, without headers or graphics, and often, just straight text on a blank background. On the other hand, some of the fanciest sites are missing real content and clear navigation, and once you wait forever for the page to load, you discover you need to download some mysterious software version you thought you already had before they’ll even let you in. (Hint: sometimes, you can hit “Cancel” in your browser while the page is loading and just the text will load.)

Here is an interesting article from Consumer Reports Web Watch and Stanford University titled How Do People Evaluate a Web Site’s Credibility? It describes how the majority of web users assign credibility largely based on how the site looks vs. what content the site contains.

4. Does the site contain contact information?

At the very least, the page you are visiting should have some sort of reference on it, or a link to a home page, contact page, information page, etc. Look for the author’s name, affiliation, organization, SOMETHING! If you can’t find some sort of attribution for something you’d like to cite, the best practice is to not use it at all. Most legitimate organizations will have a page (or area on the home page) that gives such information as street address, city, state, country, phone number, email address, contact personnel, etc. If you’d like, take this information and plug it into your local phone directory site (such as or to see if you can validate it.

5. Have other sites linked to the site you are researching?

Just like in real life, word of mouth advertising on the net works wonders. Just think of all those web-videos you’ve gotten in your email. Anyway, if you have found a reference on a web site that seems slightly obscure, you can go to Google or Bing and perform a link search (type “link: ” in the search field: “”) to see what other web sites have linked to the site or page in question. Click on one or two of the results to see what others are saying about the site you are researching. If there is a pattern of comments (good or bad), you might be on to something. (Note, currently the search engines aren’t recognizing this type of search. We’re looking for a workaround!)

6. How does the site “earn its living”?

Again, just like in the “non-cyber” world, entities generally don’t exist in a vacuum. Most .com sites you visit are offering something for sale. It may be a book (like, advertising, a service, or some other product. Many .org sites sell products, too, but many do not, and many are non-profit. As mentioned above in item #1, allocating domain names is a largely a self-policing exercise, so that if a person wanted to deceive, it’s just a matter of finding the right .org domain name to exploit.

Try to figure out the motivation behind the site, is it up for purely marketing purposes, or does it offer something for everyone to leave with? While the answer to this question is enlightening, be warned that some of the best information is found on fee-based subscription services (such as Consumer Reports or Lexis-Nexis).

7. Have you performed a “Who Is” check?

Whenever someone wants to register a new .com, .net., .org or one of several other open registered top-level domain names, the transaction is recorded by an agency called Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). Private companies contract with ICANN to sell domain names to client companies and individuals. A huge database of all the domain name owners is part of the public record of the internet and available for anyone to search freely. Use this search to help verify that a company is who it says it is.

In the US:

Internationally (when 2 letter country code used.):, or

Your results may or may not be complete the first time you try. VeriSign/Network Solutions will give you a full record for its own clients, but will refer you to the assigning web site for domains that it did not register. Follow the links and perform a second search if necessary on the assigning site. Eventually you should get a record that looks something like this:

   Practical Psychology Press
   PO BOX 535
   PORTLAND, Oregon 97207-0535
   United States

   Registered through: Wild West Domains
      Created on: 16-Aug-99
      Expires on: 16-Aug-17
      Last Updated on: 15-Apr-15

   Administrative Contact:
      Practical Psychology Press (email removed for this demo)
      PO BOX 535
      PORTLAND, Oregon 97207-0535
      United States
      5032893295      Fax -- 

   Technical Contact:
      Practical Psychology Press (email removed for this demo)
      PO Box 535
      Portland, Oregon 97207
      United States
      5032893295      Fax -- 

   Domain servers in listed order:

8. Does the content make sense?

Once you feel that you are on a valid site, the content STILL may be a fabrication or contain plenty of unusable information. University sites often have free pages for their students, so the beginning of the web site address may be something respected, like Massachusetts Institute of Technology (, but students and professors can have their own pages posted (, which may or may not contain useful information.

Verifying Content

So there you have it, eight simple steps to deciphering the validity of a web site. Once you feel like you’re at the site you expected, the decision of determining the validity of the content is up to you! A few simple steps, much like traditional research validation, are to:

  1. See if you can find at LEAST one independent web site, book, journal, report, etc., that has the same information, or reference to it. Sometimes relationships between media entities are not as clear as they should be. You need to be careful especially with large national magazines, broadcast/cable networks, and the like. Just a few companies own most of these media, and their bias really does come from the executives and their advertisers.It is best to corroborate information between primary sources, such as government documents, scientific journals and lab test results, first hand interviews, bibliographical searches, etc. Even these sources may be biased (see below).
  2. Check the date. Is the research current? Is the research “classic?” It is all relative. An older magazine, for instance, may have more detail about an event that occurred near its publication date than would a current magazine that briefly mentions the event. Find facts and data that best fit your assignment, whatever that may be.
  3. Beware of inherent bias. The same factual dietary information on a Beef Council web site may be presented quite differently than if it were on a Vegetarian Commission site. Be alert for what message the web site is trying to present and look for who they cite as references. Check message boards on a site to see what bias visitors to the site may have. Like-minded people tend to congregate together…. and protestors often are more verbal than the rest of the population.
  4. Note the author’s accreditation. Is the author a whacko in the outfield or a respected member of the research community? Look for a page or section “about the author” or some such that lists educational and professional training. Take time to verify references if you are unsure.
  5. Note the author’s intent. Is the author trying to sell something? Presenting a dissenting view of a popular subject? This is similar to the bias angle, but may be less obvious.
  6. For more information on evaluating web resources, visit:,

by Kristin Pintarich, Editor-in-Chief, The Adult Student’s Guide to Survival and Success

Bloom’s Taxonomy

Many students don’t understand the difference between "C", "B" and "A" level work on their exams and papers. Here are some guidelines.

Many students don’t understand the difference between "C", "B" and "A" level work on their exams and papers. According to Benjamin Bloom, there are six levels of mental skills that demonstrate the kind of understanding a person has about a subject. Starting with the lowest level, knowledge, and building to the highest level, evaluation, students demonstrate depth of understanding of a topic or concept. Each level has key words that suggest the level of thinking. Levels one and two would probably receive a C, levels three and four a B. Five and six are A-level work as long as other requirements for the assignment or test are met.

Bloom’s Taxonomy (summary)

  1. Knowledge
  2. Comprehension
  3. Application
  4. Analysis
  5. Synthesis
  6. Evaluation

For an example of C-, B- and A-level work, please see The Adult Student’s Guide to Survival and Success, 7th edition.

For a clear succinct description of all the levels you can go to the following web site:

and, with a lot of cross links:

The reference work for descriptions of Bloom’s Taxonomy come from:

Bloom, B.S. (Ed.), Taxonomy of educational objectives: The classification of educational goals: Handbook I, cognitive domain. New York: Longmans, Green (1956).

The following site contains a 21 page essay about critical thinking. (PDF file format – updated 2007)

Quia – Bloom’s Taxonomy, a site with flashcard, word search and a concentration type game, activities created by Carolyn Hopper

An online demonstrative quiz of Bloom’s Taxonomy, Choose "Bloom’s Taxonomy." Courtsey of, a demo for their quiz producing software that happens to cover Bloom’s Taxonomy.

Understanding Differences in Temperament

Knowing your temperament and that of your instructors can go a long way towards having successful college outcomes.

How Myers-Briggs Classifications Affect Students

Free Online Myers-Briggs Tests

Just several of many available (Please note – these are not meant as a replacement for a professionally administered test and consultation.):

Isabel Myers and her mother, Katheryn Briggs, developed a test to measure four dimensions of temperament identified by Carl Jung. Myers-Briggs type tests are probably the most popular personality tests given these days because of many benefits gained from seeing how differences in temperament explain misunderstandings between people.

This means that differences in how you and an instructor think are more important than differences in what you think. Here is how the four temperaments influence your learning style:

Extroversion versus Introversion

Instructors and students vary widely in how friendly they want to be and how much emotional distance they need to have. A friendly, extroverted instructor enjoys after-class contact with students. He or she may ask groups of students to meet and talk after class. If you are naturally friendly, you will have a great year.

If you are a more introverted person, however, you may suffer from too much personal attention and closeness. You would much rather have a quiet, more distant instructor who respects your need to be left alone. You like taking courses on the internet better than courses where you have to be part of a learning team with other students.

On the other hand, if you are an extroverted person with a more introverted instructor, you may find it puzzling to have him or her pulling away from you after class. After all, what are instructors for if not to be available for students? Yet your desire to be friendly may cause the instructor to stare at you and make excuses to get away. After that, you may feel avoided.

When it come to studying, the introverted person needs a private, quiet place where everyone stays away. The extroverted person likes to study in the kitchen, in a student lounge, or with classmates. If you grew up in a large family you may study best in a noisy place with lots of people around. Experiment with locations to see what works best for you. Don’t hesitate to tell friends, relatives, and classmates with temperaments different than yours what you need.

Thinking versus Feeling

Descriptions of this dimension of temperament match up closely with left-brain/right-brain research findings. The left brain is where the speech center develops in most humans. The left brain is where you remember words, use logic, and think analytically. It gives you your ability to think rationally and unemotionally. The left brain thinks in a linear fashion. It is time oriented.

The right brain carries your memory for music. You think visually, emotionally, and irrationally in the right brain. It is the source of creativity and intuition. Right-brain thinking follows emotional logic. Using it, you think in patterns and jump from one spot in a pattern to another without apparent connection.

If you tend to be left-brained, you will be well matched to an instructor who gives you thorough, unemotional listings of facts, data, analytic explorations, hypotheses, logic, evidence, numbers, definition of terms, and rational conclusions.

If you tend to be left-brained and get an instructor who teaches in a right-brained way, you may find the course to be a bewildering experience. You may experience the instructor as weird, too emotional, disorganized, and a bit nutty.

If you tend to be right-brained with a left-brained teacher, the course will be painful for you. You’ll feel like a thirsty person handed a glass of water only to find it is filled with sand.

To resolve personality conflicts such as these, avoid indulging in the attitude “If only other people would change, my world would be a better place for me.”

When you have a mismatch, try to find someone (perhaps even the instructor) who will translate the material into a form you understand better. More important, however, make an effort to gain more use of your other brain.

The situation may not be easy at first, but it gives you a chance to add another dimension to yourself. And isn’t this why you’re in school?

You do not have to give up your more natural and preferred way of thinking, feeling, and talking. What you can do is add more to what you already have. We’ll get into more of this in the chapter on resiliency.

Sensation versus Intuition

Sensation oriented people are guided by experience. Intuitive people like fantasy, they are creative dreamers. According to David Keirsey and Marylin Bates, authors of Please Understand Me, differences on this dimension cause the widest gulf between people.

The sensation oriented student is practical, wanting facts and evidence. An intuitive instructor can fill the lecture hour with hypothetical explanations, theories, concepts, and a long list of views held by others.

A sensation oriented instructor gives practical instructions on what to do. An intuitive student wants to know what the underlying theories and concepts are, and asks “but what if?”

What to do about this sort of conflict? Stretch your understanding. Ask for what you need. Try to minimize the judging dimension of the next pair of traits.

Judging versus Perceiving

Judging people make up their minds quickly. They see people, viewpoints, and situations as good or bad, right or wrong.

The perceiving style is to observe without judgment. Such people can watch world events, movies, and hear opposing viewpoints without taking sides or having an opinion.

A judgmental style instructor believes there is a right way to think about the material, that contrary positions are wrong. This instructor may be openly critical of a theory that he or she doesn’t like.

A perceiving instructor presents different positions without indicating that any of them are right or wrong. “On the other hand,” is a favorite phrase. This instructor is frustrating for a judging style student who wants to know which way to think about something.

Note: If you want to take a Myers-Briggs type assessment of temperaments, check with the counseling office or careers center. Many colleges have a software program that lets you take the test and get a printout of your scores.

Learn to Appreciate Human Differences

We humans are all born with different temperaments and different ways of functioning in life. That is simply the way things work. When you experience conflicts with others at school, at work, or in your family, question your attitudes about other people. If you experience an irritating difference, use that as an opportunity to learn more about human nature. You might as well, because you won’t change other people by complaining and criticizing them!

The better you know yourself, the more skillfully you will manage your learning style and the easier it will be to succeed in college!

Help for Sustaining Concentration

There are several reasons why adults have trouble concentrating for any length of time, and several tips to help.

Focusing attention and sustaining concentration is the most difficult challenge for adults in meetings and classes. There are several reasons why adults have trouble concentrating for any length of time. Some of those reasons are:

  • External distractions
  • Internal distractions
  • Feelings of boredom
  • Bad habits
  • Speech thought time differential

External distractions include such things as others talking or whispering or eating or shuffling papers, noises outside of the room from the hall or street, the clothing or mannerisms of the speaker, a soft voice, or, at home, the radio, television, or phone calls.

For most of these distractions you can lessen the effect. Don’t consider it rude to ask others to stop talking or carrying on. You are paying good money for the class and you have the right to attend without annoyance. If you can’t hear the speaker easily, see if you can move your seat so that you are closer to the person speaking. If you find you keep thinking about the speaker’s outfit, hair style or gestures, remind yourself why you are sitting there in the first place. At home, you need to plan your study area that is discussed in Chapter 6. You won’t be able to eliminate all external distractions, but you should be able to reduce those distractions to a minimum.

Internal distractions can be either physical or psychological. Physical distractions include feeling hungry, tired, having a headache or a sore back, while psychological distractions include being concerned about a personal problem, remembering that you need to stop at the store on your way home, or pay the rent, or just being worried about too much to do, too little time.

Some pre-planning and self-discipline are required to reduce internal distractions. Eating nutritious food (protein is good for alertness) and getting a reasonable amount of sleep (try a 10 minute nap before class) will help with the first two distractions. Often, pre-planning can reduce physical discomfort. Perhaps taking a cushion for a hard chair or changing from an office outfit to more relaxed clothing would make you more physically comfortable. Personal problems and time pressures can often be set aside for a time by jotting a note to yourself on a separate note pad you have for this purpose. Once you have formed a habit of writing notes and checking those notes after class, you can forget trying to remember whatever it is that has popped into your head.

Feelings of boredom come from you, not the class. Nothing in and of itself is boring. If you find yourself thinking that the class is boring, stop and ask yourself why? Are you focusing on the message in a way that makes you want to know more, or have you already decided you know everything the speaker is going to talk about? Curious students don’t close off from material they recognize. Rather, they listen carefully to see what more they can learn. Curious students stay engaged with the message.

Bad habits can be changed. Learning to be an active rather than a passive listener will go a long way in helping you to increase you ability to concentrate. The following are habits that active learners strive to perfect:

  • Plan to listen so that you can ask a really brilliant question about the lecture topic before class is over. You don’t have to ask it, but it may be so good you want to.
  • Listen with the intention of relating what the main points of the class were about. Plan to tell someone later about what you learned. You get a bonus here if you actually do it.
  • Listen as if you are the only student in the class. Going solo means that you will be responsible for all questions and answers and that you might be called on at any time….

    (This is guaranteed to keep you alert!)

Speech-thought time differential is the difference in our rate of speaking versus our rate of thinking. It is something that everyone does which is a huge time grabber. Often this time differential is used for day dreaming. Day dreaming is healthy and enjoyable at the right time and in the right place, but when it interferes with your ability to sustain concentration in class… well you know the problem.

Perhaps a little understanding of why we can so easily go off on a mini mental vacation will help you turn your day dreaming time into productive time. These mini vacations happen because the normal rate of speaking in a public setting (class) is 150 to 250 words per minute (wpm). Our brains, however, can process words at 400 to 800 wpm. This difference in speech speed and thought speed allows a huge amount of time for other brain activity such as day dreaming. We literally think between words. Good students work to control what happens during their extra time differential. Some of the ways to use the time are:

  • Use this time to be forming good questions in your mind.
  • Anticipate the speaker’s point. Predict the direction of the talk.
  • Mentally summarize what the speaker has been saying.
  • Identify key ideas and words.
  • Mentally organize key ideas.
  • Relate the message to your own experiences or to what you already know.
  • Evaluate the evidence presented.
  • Look for what is not said–is there a deeper meaning or message?
  • Review the information already given. Ask yourself: did I understand, could I tell this to someone else, did I get the main point?

With a little practice you will learn to refocus your attention quickly and sustain your ability to concentrate for a longer period of time. All of this adds up to listening effectively.

Guidelines for Taking Notes

Taking good notes is essential for succeeding in your college courses. Here are some expanded explanations and tips to help you.

Taking good notes is essential for succeeding in your college courses. Here are some expanded explanations and tips to help you.

  1. During the lecture, take notes on the right-hand side of the paper. Leave a wide margin on the left.

  2. Write down complete phrases and statements, rather than single words.

  3. Star, highlight, or underline points the instructor emphasizes.

  4. As soon as possible after the lecture, complete unfinished sentences and fill in material you didn’t have time to write. The next time you study you will turn your outline into test questions. Each lecture will usually supply you with five to seven good exam questions. Write them in the left-hand margin.

  5. Leave the back of each page blank. Use it later for taking study notes and writing questions from other sources such as your textbook or assigned reading.

This procedure will help you organize lectures into questions and answers. Plan to come out of each lecture with several questions and answers. They are likely to be on the next test!

Outline Style:

Below, you will find a skeleton of an outline as well as a sample:

Title/Date: The major topic or subject.

  1. Major division or category within the topic.
    List important statements.

    1. history, facts, experiments, first researcher
    2. second researcher, other experiments.
      1. Supporting facts and details
  2. Second major division in the topic area.
    1. facts, new perspectives, research

Sample – Outline Form:

If your notes are neat and as close to outlined as possible, you’ll have a much better chance of turning them into a good set of questions. These notes were taken at an introductory psychology lecture. The topic was learning.

Intro Psych – November 17


  1. Behavior Modification – First researcher B.F. Skinner
    1. Main principles:
      1. Experimenter must wait for a behavior to occur.
      2. Behaviors reinforced tend to increase (Note: Term is reinforcement, not reward)
      3. Behaviors ignored tend to decrease
      4. Behaviors punished may be temporarily suppressed but may
        increase, punishment can be reinforcing!
    2. Tracking positives plan:
      1. Specify the desired observable behavior.
      2. Choose an effective reinforcer.
      3. Measure current level of desired behavior.
      4. Watch for slightest increase in the desired behavior.
      5. Give reinforcer as fast as possible.
  2. Classical Conditioning-First researcher Ivan Pavlov
    He noticed dogs salivating when a bell rang that signaled feeding time.

    1. Focus on automatic reflexes.

Summary Method:

Here is a sample of the above information in summary form:


B.F. Skinner, working with pigeons, was the 1st researcher to use Behavior Modification. He said that the experimenter must wait for a behavior to occur & then reinforce that behavior. Without reinforcement, behaviors tend to decrease, but punishment may increase the behavior since it is reinforcing. Mostly, the desired behavior needs to be reinforced as quickly as possible.

Ivan Pavlov was the 1st researcher to study Classical Conditioning. He noticed that the dogs in his lab would salivate when he rang a bell, even w/o the presence of food. CC focuses on automatic reflexes.

Mapping Method:

Finally, a brief sample of the above information in the visual, mapping form:

Mapping note taking sample picture

From notes such as these it is easy to develop practice questions that come close to what the instructor will ask.

Note: Using your own abbreviations for frequently repeated words can be helpful. Just make sure you can remember what they stand for! (A master abbreviation list may be helpful to create ).

Classroom Listening

The main goals of classroom listening are to understand the message being sent, and to be able to use that information at a future time.

Huh? What’d you just say?

The two main goals of listening in a classroom are to understand the message that is being sent, and to be able to use that information at a future time, such as for an exam. Another name for this kind of listening is Informational Listening. Being able to understand the message and to use the information later can be enhanced by using several techniques.

Classroom Listening – 6 Ways to Improve Yours

The first technique is to improve your memory. There are many systems that are used for improving memory, and you should be able easily to find several of them by looking in the library, but what we want to mention here is something about forgetfulness. Probably the main reason we forget things is that we haven’t paid attention in the first place. The most important things that can help you pay attention and thus reduce forgetting are motivation and practice. Your motivation is probably already in place in your desire to earn a good grade. Reducing forgetfulness can be helped by the next techniques.

The second technique that can improve your ability to listen for information is to develop a large vocabulary. Noting words you don’t understand and asking about them, or looking them up in a dictionary later will help to increase your vocabulary. (The word-a-day calendars are a fun way to learn new words.) Keep a list of words you look up and watch the list grow. Practice using the new words when you can. Once you can use the word, it will be solidly in your vocabulary.

A third technique is to be curious and listen to the speaker as if the information is the most fascinating subject you have heard. Your curiosity should carry you along mentally because of the questions you are asking–even if you only ask the questions in your mind.

A fourth technique is to overcome the tendency to judge the speaker rather than the information. Every time you "attend" to what the speaker is wearing, or what his or her hair looks like, or how he or she speaks (too fast, too slow, too high, too low, etc.), you have lost valuable time that should be going to the other techniques.

The fifth way is to develop strong notetaking skills. Reviewing what you write down sparks your memory for what you heard.

And finally, concentration skills help tremendously. Learning how to maintain concentration and how to utilize the technique of the speech-thought time differential will increase your listening efficiency.

Enrolling and Getting Registered

— (Chapter 3). If you want to get a college degree from a four-year college or university, you must apply for admission and meet certain admission requirements before you can enroll.

Getting Registered and Finding Your Way Around….

If you want to get a college degree from a four-year college or university, you must apply for admission and meet certain admission requirements before you can enroll. The friendly folks in the admissions office will explain what to do. Advisors and counselors help you get started.

Most community and technical colleges have an open door policy. That means they have few admissions requirements. No matter what your background, they will let you take a number of classes. It is possible to go to the campus, go online or use the telephone to select the courses you want to take, fill out the registration forms, and pay tuition fees.

If you want to enroll in a specific vocational, technical, or degree program, however, we recommend that you speak to an advisor or counselor. It may be necessary to go through an assessment of your reading, writing, and math skills. If you need basic skill classes, the advisors and counselors will help you arrange to take them, often at little or no cost.

Community college and technical college classes can lead to a two-year associate degree, but the courses you take may or may not transfer to a university for a four-year degree. If you don’t know what you want to specialize in, check with the counseling or advising office for guidance on transferrable courses. It is a free service and they will help you.

Online College Application Sites:

Registration Tips

If you have met with an advisor or counselor and know which courses you need, the college may allow you to register by mail, online or by phone. This will save you much time over campus visits.

If you must be present at registration, have all the forms filled out in advance and have a list of alternate courses. Plan to spend a lot of time standing in lines. Take your Social Security number with you because most schools use your Social Security number as your student identification number.

Be sure to have your checkbook or credit card with you. Most schools require payment at registration, although you may not have to pay the full amount then. Do not stay away because you don’t have the full tuition at registration. Most schools have payment plans. Check with the admissions office or our financial aid tips if you have a financial concern.

Don’t Wait Until Classes Start

If you wait until the day classes start to enroll, you will find that many classes are already full. Once the allotted spaces are gone, no more students will be admitted. That is why it is practical to go to the college a few weeks or even a term ahead of registration to talk with an advisor.

If you want to enroll in a certificate program (usually one year) or in one of the degree programs (from two to four years) talk to an academic adviser at the college a few months before starting the program! Heres why:

  1. You may need to take special examinations.

  2. If you want to enter a degree program you will probably have to obtain a high school transcript to show that you graduated and passed all required subjects. (Note: It takes time to obtain a transcript and it usually requires a small fee. You may run into delays if you don’t send the fee with your request.)

  3. You may have to take placement tests in English or math. Many entering students do not have the basic skills in math, spelling, grammar, and vocabulary. They need to brush up those skills in classes provided by the college.

Getting In After a Course is Full

If you must take a certain course at a certain time of day, but find that the course is already filled up, don’t give up. There is a way to get in the class that can work. Even though you are not registered, attend the first class anyway. At the end of the class tell the instructor about your problem and ask for permission to enroll the course.

Most instructors, when approached in this manner, will allow a student into a course. The reason why showing up works so often, is because by the time the second week starts a few students who enrolled will have dropped the course. You need to be assertive to do this, but it is a way to get into a course you need.

Another option may be to go to another college in the area for the one course you need. Take the course and then transfer the credit back. Check with an advisor first to make sure the transferred credit will be accepted.

Support Services

Make sure to become familiar with the variety of support services available on campus. Help is available for almost any need.

College Services Checklist

Do you know where to find these?

  • Academic Advising
    College counselors or academic advisors will give you information on course requirements for specific majors, eligibility for certain programs, and such. Peer advisors, specially designated adult students, may also be available to help you with your course selections and give you many useful tips.
    Find an advisor you enjoy talking with and meet with this person at least once a term. This can be one of your most important contacts.
  • Admissions Office/Orientation Office
    On larger campuses these will probably be separate offices. On smaller campuses they may be combined. In any case, these are the offices with people who know the answers to your questions or know how to get the answers. That’s their job!
  • Bookstore
    Spend time browsing here to learn what they sell and where everything is located. The front part of the store usually contains trade books. These are books available to the general public and are sold in almost all college bookstores. The textbook section is at the back of the store. Textbooks will be arranged on shelves listed by course numbers within the different departments of the college.

    Notice that computers, computer supplies, calculators, and other such items are priced at a student discount that is much lower than in regular stores.


  • Cashier/Business Office
    Tuition and other money matters are handled here. Be sure to inquire about any available payment plans. The cashiers office will probably cash checks for any person with a valid student body ID card.
  • Center for Adult Students or Re-Entry Students
    Many schools now have a designated area where older students, sometimes called re-entry, adult learners, or non-traditional students, can go for information about problems or concerns. It is also a place to meet a friend.
  • Cooperative Education/Internships
    These are programs that lets you earn course credit for learning new skills while working as a paid employee or non-paid intern. It is a form of on-the-job training. Cooperative Education is a college supervised program that lets you learn new career skills in a workplace setting. The employer gets certain tax breaks, and in addition to earning course credit, you may earn a modest wage.
  • Counseling Center/Career Counseling
    In these centers professional counselors are available for private sessions with students who want to talk about personal concerns. If you run into problems with instructors or other school personnel, counselors can serve as your advocate. Career counselors usually have access to an array of instruments/materials designed to help students clarify their career goals. These centers usually have books, cassette tapes, and other materials you can use or borrow. The services are usually free.
  • Child Care Center
    If you have preschool children, the college may provide day care, or cooperative child care. You can bring children to school with you and for a low fee have the child cared for and fed by professionals while you are in school. Some colleges have provisions for school-age children to study on campus while parents attend night classes.
  • Dean of Students
    The office of the Dean of Students is the place to go if you have questions or difficulties not handled well by other offices. The Dean of Students is responsible for seeing that you have every chance possible for succeeding in college. The Deans office exists to help solve problems that may be interfering with your college success.
  • Dean of Instruction
    This is an important office on every campus. Here you will find help with many kinds of academic questions and problems, including how to change a mistake in your transcript of grades, remove an incomplete in a course, get permission to take more than the allowed number of course hours, waive a course requirement, get into a course already filled, arrange for a special academic program, or complain if instruction for a course is not up to your expectations.
  • Office for Students with Disabilities
    Special assistance will be available at little or no cost to help physically challenged or learning disabled students succeed. Such assistance may include notetakers, readers, writers, or sign language interpreters. The assistance counselors will have many practical suggestions. They can help students obtain adaptive equipment, transportation, and other services from your states vocational rehabilitation department. Assessment for learning disabilities is available as well.
  • Health Service
    Many schools have medical help available for emergency medical care and treatment. The health service may also be a resource for information, programs, and services on alcohol and drug abuse, birth control, blood pressure testing, cholesterol screening, and so forth. Costs are usually included in your fees or are very low. Inquire, if you wish, about student health insurance. Rates are low and the insurance may cover family members.
  • Learning Center
    Many colleges have special centers where you go to learn a specific subject. You tell the person in charge what you want. You will then be assigned to a booth with a set of earphones, a television monitor, or a computer terminal. You work at your own speed at the lesson you are there to complete. You can stay with it as long as you wish. Don’t feel intimidated; the person in charge will be glad to explain how everything works.
  • Library
    Plan to take lots of time walking through the library on your own. Ask the librarians what would be useful for you to know. They usually enjoy telling students about all the library services. Take advantage of their helpfulness. Find out when they have sessions on how to use the library computers for locating books, references, and other information you will need for writing papers.

    Notice that there are many desks, tables, and study areas. Most libraries have computer rooms, video viewing rooms, conference areas, and even quiet rooms for listening to music. For rest and relaxation (R&R), or research, this is one resource you should not overlook.


  • Registrar
    The registrars office keeps the academic records of all students. If you have earned college credit elsewhere, the registrars office can give you information on how to claim credit and obtain documentation so that it will apply to your program. After you graduate, the registrars office is the place that provides transcripts of the courses you took.
  • Security Office/Campus Police
    The college has its own security officers. Find out how to call or reach campus security in case of an emergency. Call this office when any emergency help is needed. They may help with minor car problems or contact your family if you have an emergency. Make a special effort to be friendly with security officers.
  • Sports Facilities
    All students have access to the sports facilities. There will be an exercise room, a swimming pool you can use for a relaxing swim, a track for jogging, and many other possibilities for exercise. You may be able to check out equipment free of charge.

    I found that during certain hours I could use the workout rooms used by the athletes! I could use the track and courts even if I wasn’t taking a physical education class. And for a small fee I could occasionally take one of my daughters swimming. — Mary Karr, co-author


  • Student Activities Office
    Every college has a number of student-run organizations. The student body president, other officers, and many student project coordinators are located in the student activities office.
  • Student Center
    The student center is where you find cafeterias, art displays, television rooms, reading rooms, possibly a bowling alley, a barber shop, ping-pong tables, pool tables, lounging areas, and more. The student center on every campus is unique, so take time to familiarize yourself with this building. On the bulletin boards you will find announcements for various student activities such as theater productions and films shown on campus.

    TIP: Find out if lockers are available for rent. A locker at school is a great place to leave heavy books, keep your lunch, or store an extra umbrella. It also serves as a place where friends can leave notes for you!


  • Student Employment/Job Placement Office
    This office lists jobs that local employers have available for students looking for off-campus work. There are many jobs in every community that fit perfectly with being a student. This office will provide assistance with resume writing and interviewing skills. They will help you find employment upon graduation.
  • Student Housing
    Need a place to live? This office will help you. It will coordinate renting rooms in private homes and apartments in the nearby area. Your college may provide student housing in its own residence halls. Larger colleges will have housing for married students and their families.
  • Study Skills Center
    Go here if you want help improving your study skills. This center has friendly, well-trained people who can teach you how to read faster, learn in less time, reduce your nervousness about taking tests, be better at passing tests, and write good papers. 
  • Transportation Office
    If you drive to school, go here to get a permit to park on campus. Check out this office before starting classes because parking space is often difficult to locate. Also inquire about car pools or buses as an alternative to driving your own car.

Distance Learning

Several articles and links to useful sites with information on online learning opportunities

Below are several articles and links to useful sites with great information on the plethora of online learning opportunities available:

Articles at

Online Distance Learning Resources:

Sample colleges with online presence:

Miscellaneous Distance Learning / Life Learning

While many of the above links are focused on full-level coursework affiliated with accredited colleges and universities, the internet is full of many general (and technical) subject free tutorials. Below are a few links that have useful and fun tutorials on everything from computer usage to growing flowers.

Free Online Courses and Tutorials

Financial Aid Resources

Financial aid ideas for the Adult Student returning to college

The Adult Student's Guide to Survival and Success, grad cap

Yes! You can afford college!

Financial Aid Links from ASG/7

Financial Aid FAQs

You’re not a traditional student, so chances are, you may not have access to some of the traditional means to pay for school, such your parents or all those scholarships offered to high school seniors or star athletes. Fortunately, there are plenty of other options available for you, if you do a little work.

What can you do??

  • Download the Federal Financial Aid Guide. Always a good place to start, this publication has a ton of information about grants, loans and work-study.
  • Ask your employer. Many companies will pay full or partial tuition reimbursement upon successful completion of a college course. These programs vary widely from employer to employer in that some cover only courses directly related to your field of work, while others may have a complete degree reimbursement program.
  • Check out what your state offers. Here’s a list of state scholarship offices (scroll down). Some may have web presences — so search the web on the department name for your state.
  • Take a loan. At some point, inevitably, you will probably need more money than you have. Colleges financial aid offices have information on lenders, but beware if they try to steer you to only one or two choices. (Recently, several college loan offices have come under scrutiny for taking kickbacks from lenders. Fortunately, Congress has taken notice and these practices should be ending). Your loan may be a federally backed student loan, or from a private lender, or even from your neighbor: an offbeat loan resource is Here you can put in a loan request and see if anyone bites. Another alternative loan site is
  • Study an unpopular subject. Several careers just don’t draw enough job applicants so employers need to offer special incentives to attract and keep employees. Let’s see, teachers and nurses are perpetually on top of that list, as well as electricians, long-haul truck drivers, heavy equipment mechanics, medical technicians, and surprisingly many more occupations. Often, training assistance (tuition reimbursement), relocation expenses and other incentives are available. Your college’s career center should have an idea about what are the hard to fill jobs in your location and/or elsewhere.
  • Play the numbers game. The biggest tip we have to get financing for college is to apply, apply, apply. For scholarships and grants (both “free money”–not needing to be repaid) try FastWeb first to find scholarships you may qualify for. Find obscure ones offered locally or regionally. Sometimes, small local groups have scholarships that go unawarded for lack of applicants, so apply for ones that you may not completely qualify for and you just may be surprised.
  • Go slow. Maybe you started out with a bang, school full-time, work part time and things were great. Then that appendicitis hit or the kids need braces and poof, your college fund/dream is gone. What now? Well, recoup and change your tactics. Keep your goal, but allow yourself more time to complete it. Instead of attending classes full time, go part time. Instead of part time, take one class a quarter. Like the tortoise and the hare, slow and steady wins the race.

Other Sources of Help

Welfare Parent Helps Find Funding for Others

Diana Spatz was a single mother on welfare. She encountered many barriers when she tried to get an education to become self-sufficient, but she found ways to overcome them. She now works to help other parents on welfare gain access to funding that is available for their education. Read her story and how to contact her.

The Adult Student's Guide to Survival and Success 6th Edition cover See Chapter Three in The Adult Student’s Guide to Survival & Success, 7th Edition for more information on financial aid help.

Our one piece of advice for finding financial aid is DO NOT PAY ANYONE to search for scholarships.
There are too many ways and people who will help you do this for FREE!!!