Happy New Year, CUOL! To kick off 2014, we’re featuring student success stories & the professors that helped them along the way.
In this Issue: (pdf copy)
Patti Proulx – Professor Profile
Nick May’s CUOL professor Patti Proulx talks juggling school and entrepreneurship.
Starting a business in university can seem like a recipe for disaster—or, at the very least, a recipe for four years’ worth of all-nighters. But as we learned from this month’s student profile Nick May (next page), hard work, a strict schedule and passionate professors can help you turn your great idea into a fledgling company before you get your degree.
Patti Proulx was May’s CUOL Survey of Accounting professor, and recalls learning about Remay’s success when she met the company’s young CEO face-to-face for the first time.
“He told me after his final exam,” says Proulx. “He was really excited—he has a lot of enthusiasm.”
Proulx’s class and his other CUOL courses helped May balance university with everything from marketing meetings to website development—even getting a shout-out when he was interviewed on CBC Radio’s All in a Day last May.
“He would have to be very organized and strict about time management in order to run a business and to do well in his classes,” says Proulx. “He’s a science student so this would be very difficult because of the added workload of labs.”
Though a chemistry major, May dabbled in business classes to help him gain the entrepreneurial expertise required to launch Remay. Proulx’s advice for those students looking to follow his footsteps and start a company while still in university? Understand that running a successful business requires you to know a little bit about a lot of things, ranging from accounting and finance, to marketing and staffing.
“Have a plan,” she says. “If you don’t have the answers to something, find out. It will save a lot of grief later on.”
She sums up her course, Survey of Accounting (BUSI 1003), with three concepts students will take away: how to read the business section of a newspaper, how to interpret a financial statement and how to make business decisions. It’s a misconception among some students that accounting is all about math, says Proulx, when really it’s about the reporting of transactions so that users can understand what has happened in a business.
“Accounting is the language of business and you’ll hear accounting terms if you work anywhere,” says Proulx. “Terms like sales, expenses, assets. I also cover a lot of decision-making analysis in my class that students can use in making personal finance decisions.”
Because her course is on-demand, students can watch lectures and take quizzes whenever they want, wherever they want. For busy students like May and Jenna Park, it can be an indispensable tool. But Proulx cautions against loading up on CUOL courses only to marathon-watch the lectures the night before the exam. For busy students like May and Jenna Park (page 3), it can be an indispensable tool.
But Proulx cautions against loading up on CUOL courses only to marathon-watch the lectures the night before the exam.
“It requires you to be disciplined,” she says. “Don’t procrastinate watching the lectures or you’ll be sorry.”
It’s lesson students can take away from May’s story—everyone has the same number of hours in a day. It’s just about using those hours most effectively.
“Be organized,” Proulx says. “Commit to a time to watch the lectures, complete your course work and be efficient with whatever time you have.”
Entrepreneur: Nick May
How CUOL helped a young entrepreneur pursue a degree while building a business.
In December 2010, Nick May had an accident in the kitchen.
While experimenting at his parents’ Kanata home, the then first-year chemistry major dropped a powder into a pot of hot oil, which congealed into a slippery solid.
It was May’s “eureka” moment—that chance discovery became Remay Vanilla Shower Time, a foam-free shaving gel product.
“It was an idea I had when I was 14 years old when I first started shaving,” says May. “I liked to shave in the shower, but I felt that a shaving cream which would leave a thin, ultra slippery layer of lubrication on the skin would be much more convenient then a messy foam. After countless hours of working on formulas, I had the accident and the shaving gel bar was finally created.”
Vanilla Shower Time is now stocked in 85 retailers across Canada, like Rexall and Shopper’s Drug Mart, and expanding rapidly. May’s product and contagious entrepreneurial spirit won over Arlene Dickinson and Jim Treliving on CBC’s Dragon’s Den, walking out with three times the valuation he’d asked for—$50,000 cash and $100,000 in marketing dollars in exchange for 25% of his company. May has since been working with Dickinson’s Venture Communications on a marketing strategy, in the hopes of going global with Remay.
But running a company while writing essays and cramming for exams can be tricky business. May has decided that instead of doing all four years of his undergraduate degree in a row, he’ll take semesters off and fill his timetable with CUOL courses to offset a busy schedule. His trick? Download the videos and watch them at two times their original speed. Two-hour lectures become one-hour lectures—much more feasible for a full-time entrepreneur.
“I use CUOL for every class that I can,” says May, a former competitive motocross racer. “It helps me to make the best of my time and dramatically improve my efficiency while studying. If it weren’t for CUOL I’m not sure that I could manage running the business and maintaining high grades.”
That balancing act has not only gotten May recognized across Carleton faculties by professors like Bob Burk and Patti Proulx (also featured in this issue), but has landed him air time on CBC’s All In A Day, coverage most of Canada’s major newspapers, and a few awards to pad his already prolific resume. May was named 2013 Student Entrepreneur National Champion by Enactus, as well as Young Entrepreneur of the Year by the Ontario Chamber of Commerce.
In spite of his early success, May is determined to complete his Carleton degree—with the help of CUOL.
“For me, school is not just a piece of paper to get a job,” says May. “I love school, I see school as a tool to do the things I want to do. I just happened to use what I learned in my first year to create this product.”
Pursuing an undergraduate degree when your business is starting to take off might seem counterintuitive, but May says that university is the best time to start a company—wait until after graduation, he says, and you may miss out on critical academic resources. Some advice for a student looking to follow in his footsteps?
“The first year or two of your business can be done as a small side project while in school, because it doesn’t take up a lot of your time,” he says. “At first, come up with a logo, draft up your business plan and start talking to friends and family about it, which can all be done after school. Then, you can start to use the university to network with people and profs you may use to run your business. You can take advantage of university business competitions which can help you fund your company. By the time the student is finishing their fourth year the business will be ready for them as they graduate.”
Recent Graduate – Jenna Park
Recent graduate Jenna Park shares her secret to CUOL success.
For Jenna Park, the trick to dissecting complex science courses was a double-take.
“You can come back to the online lecture after the real physical lecture is done, for review,” the recent Carleton graduate says. “You always understand better the second time around.”
Park, who completed her honours BA in Psychology this past November, topped up her schedule with CUOL courses like biology, chemistry and neuropsychology—prerequisites for her degree. She says Carleton’s online offerings helped her navigate a science-heavy course load, allowing her to retrace her steps through the more complicated lessons.
Her advice to first-time CUOL users? Remember that you can always come back and re-watch lectures once they’ve finished—it alleviates some of the anxiety of trying to take detailed notes and listen to the professor at the same time.
“My background is not in science,” she says. “I had more difficult times for taking notes in neurology class. [With] CUOL, I could repeat the lecture over and over again. Then, when I still didn’t understand, I could take a note and asked my professor about the topic.”
Familial ties brought Park eastbound, from studying fashion design in Vancouver to psychology in Ottawa—her sister had been accepted to Carleton, and Park had heard good things about the university’s arts programs. Now that she’s graduated, Park plans on taking a break from structured academics to gain some experience outside of school for a year or two, before returning to complete an MBA or prepare for law school.
Though Park wasn’t a distance student, CUOL helped her tackle a timetable full of honours courses bookended by extracurriculars like figure skating and kickboxing, and part-time work for the university—she worked as a CUOL desk attendant and for the Enrichment Mini-Courses Program, as well as a teaching assistant for a first-year Japanese class. Reflecting back on her experience at Carleton, she says new students shouldn’t be intimidated by online learning—what seems like a complicated system can be a way to simplify a strenuous schedule like her own.
“Some of my friends were avoiding taking the CUOL courses just because it is not familiar system for them,” says Park. “However, once you are enrolled in the CUOL courses, [it’s] not confusing at all.”
New Year’s Resolution
Some aspirational ideas to get you on track for 2014.
Resolutions. You make them every year, determined to cross each point off a carefully curated list of goals, but your eagerness always seems to dwindle off by the time February 1st rolls around. It’s hard to keep aspirations like that daily 7am wake-up call top of mind when the assignments start rolling in faster than you can roll out of bed.
We’ve found that the best resolution lists are a mix of specific and over-arching, attainable and grandiose. In the spirit of turning over a new loose leaf in 2014, here’s our list of goals for all of you CUOL-ers looking to start fresh this year.
1. I will make a lecture-watching schedule—and stick to it!
If you’re one of those students whose VOD lectures start to pile up towards the end of the semester (and you’re not alone), now is the time to nip those bad habits in the bud. Instead of rushing to cram half the lectures in the night before an exam, this year, give yourself a designated weekly time slot to watch and take notes.
2. I will not take on more than I can handle.
Next year, tell yourself to only sign up for the classes you can handle, and that fit into your schedule. Professors report a significant number more CUOL students dropping out of courses than in-class students. Don’t overwhelm yourself with “maybes”—do your research and sign up for the courses that will help both your degree trajectory and your future career, not just the easy A’s.
3. I will try something new.
Reach out of your comfort zone and try one of the hundreds of different electives and introductory courses offered by CUOL. And for those of you for whom graduation is on the horizon, now may be your last chance to take that Addiction course you always wanted to try, or that Evolution of the Earth class your friend was talking about—take it!
4. I will treat my CUOL environment like a classroom.
No one can make the most of a class with email notifications popping up in screen corners and Beyonce’s new album underscoring the professor. If you’re one of those students who finds concentrating on a course online much harder than in a lecture hall, make 2014 the year of Self Control (both the state of mind and the distraction-blocker app). Carve out blocks of social media-free CUOL time, leave the phone in another room, close all extraneous tabs, and hold off on the iTunes until post-lecture. It won’t be easy, but once it becomes a habit, you’ll realize how much easier it is to soak in all the information without the burden of multitasking.
5. I will not let school stand in the way of doing what I want to do, now.
One of students’ favourite parts about using CUOL is the flexibility of scheduling—doing classes on their own time. It’s a great tool to help you make time for whatever it is you wish you could be doing, be it starting a business like Nick May, international travel, or just taking on additional extracurriculars. This year, don’t use school as an excuse as to why you’re waiting to take these things on—with a huge network of like-minded thinkers and resources at your fingertips, university is a great time to kick-start a side project. And with CUOL, you can take your courses along with you for the ride.
The latest app from the brains behind Twitter.
“Where should I park at Carleton today?”
“What’s the best on-campus spot to kill time between classes?”
“Anyone want to buy this textbook?”
Jelly has the answers. Part search engine, part question-and-answer service, this brand-new app by Twitter co-founder Biz Stone allows users to “search the group mind of their social networks.” Kind of like Ask Jeeves or Yahoo! Answers, but for the socially connected generation.
Post a shot of a book and ask friends if it’s worth reading, or screen cap your possible electives and ask friends which they’d recommend. The object is to get answers from a web of people you trust, rather than the World Wide Web. And while questions can be about anything and everything, the immediacy of the app makes it a valuable tool for students, especially those who aren’t sitting in a room full of peers they can ask for help.
The visual component of Jelly—each question is superimposed over a photo you take—can help in working through math or word problems together as a cellular study group.
Just don’t get any ideas about snapping a shot of your exam to crowd source answers.
Jelly is available for free on iPhone and Android.
SASC Advising for CUOL Students
Are you registered in a CUOL or Evening course and need to see an Advisor? Do you have questions about changing your major, adding a minor or dropping a course but aren’t on campus during the day?
The Student Academic Success Centre is happy to announce extended advising hours during the 2014 winter term for students registered in CUOL or Evening courses only. This option is available in an effort to accommodate those students who are not on campus during our regular office hours and cannot use our drop-in advising service. We will be scheduling appointments on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings at 5:00 p.m., but space is limited, so please contact us via email to schedule your advising session soon! Please note that after-hours advising may not be available for all requests; we will work with you ensure your academic needs are best met.
The Student Academic Success Centre is located in 302 Tory Building, down the hall from the Registrar’s Office. Please send your appointment request to firstname.lastname@example.org from your cmail account. Be sure to include your full name, student ID and detailed information about your inquiry.
We look forward to seeing you soon!