Author : christine-a-shelly

Must-See Websites for Military Students

Posted by Christine A. Shelly must see websites for military studentsMilitary students – that is, students who serve their country while they work toward completing a degree – have a perspective that is unique to other students. So it makes sense that the resources they need while they’re in college might be a little different than those of the average first year college student.

Below is a list of websites that we’ve found helpful for military students. From student support organizations to scholarship assistance to academic help, these are some of our favorites. We can’t possibly list them all, but if there’s a site you’ve found particularly helpful, let us know in the comments below. Be sure to tell us what you find useful about it, too.


Financial Support

This foundation helps military families with scholarships and offers support for children and spouses of disabled or deceased service members.


Research/Academic support

What started out as a college blog project has become one of the most utilized student resources on the web for study advice and strategies. Study Hacks says their mission is ‘demystifying student success.’

This is an extensive collection of reference material, databases and other resources to help you find and check facts.

The CollegeBoard website has a substantial amount of information for students applying to and attending college.


Life/Work Resources

After Deployment – In-depth information, assessments and tools for transitioning/post-transition military.

Request your service records at this website. You’ll need your military service records for college applications, plus you can have them evaluated to determine how much of your training and experience can be counted toward your degree.

Student Veterans is an organization whose focus is to empower military veterans with the educational resources imperative to success in the 21st century. They do this through support and advocacy on behalf of veterans.

This website is dedicated to connecting veterans to corporate business leaders through two free programs. Bonus – Jon Stewart just joined their advisory council.

And my host for this list, is a site created for the military community that includes helpful information about education benefits, career planning, pay, retirement planning and healthcare benefits. There’s also a message board for locating and connecting with other military friends as well as helpful tools for finding military-friendly schools.


These sites are just a few of the online oases available for military students – and just fyi, mentioning them in this list does not constitute an endorsement. We weren’t compensated in any way. The Internet has made staying connected and informed so much easier – but you have to wade through a lot of garbage to get to the gems. Hopefully, this list will offer student service members a good place to start. 






Ms. Shelly has spent more than a decade working in higher education. She currently serves as executive vice president for Grantham Education Corporation. Ms. Shelly is passionate about changing lives – about making college education accessible and affordable to more people and preparing students and graduates for success.

Are you gut-strong?

Posted by Christine A. Shelly are you gut strongEven the best-made plans can go awry, and even the most organized of us can sometimes be caught by surprise. Some people are motivated by challenges – so when things are running smoothly, they are easily distracted. Others, when faced with obstacles, need a little support to get over the bumps in the road.

The great industrialist and automobile pioneer Henry Ford once said, “Whether you think you can, or think you can’t, you are right.” The difference maker that can change your attitude is gut-strength. 

In their book Heart, Smarts, Guts, & Luck, authors Anthony K. Tjan, Richard J. Harrington and Tsun-Yan Hsieh define one of the characteristics of successful businesspeople or entrepreneurs as “guts-dominant.” Guts–dominant people are not only the people who have an idea, but they’re willing to take action on it, endure trials and tribulations to keep it alive, and evolve as necessary to see that idea come to life.

When you have guts, you take action. You are resilient. You are accountable. And you get things done. This is a concept our military students and veterans know quite well; they are people who have a vision,  make a plan, take action, measure results and adjust accordingly.

How can you tell if you are gut-strong?

When you encounter an obstacle, do you stop in your tracks, unable to fully function because you are analyzing every possible outcome (repeatedly)? Or do you briefly consider your options then take a decisive action? Gut strong people take action.

Are you willing to make tough decisions and accept the outcome? Notice this is not the same thing as blindly forging ahead and damning the torpedoes – that isn’t strength, that’s carelessness. Gut-strong people accept responsibility and consequences for their actions.

If you’re saying to yourself, “But I don’t have any of these qualities,” think again.

You’ve already made a tough decision: You’ve decided to earn your degree. The responsibilities attached to this are substantial – you’ve got to do the work to gain the prize. If you have a family, work, or other commitments as well, you must work out a way to honor those too. That takes resilience and – you guessed it – gut strength.

You can bet that the ride won’t be smooth. But it will be worth it. The experience and knowledge you gain will propel you toward your goals, and the sense of achievement and confidence you earn will stay with you throughout your life.

If you’re willing to keep moving forward, take action and accept responsibility, you can endure and not only succeed, but thrive in your educational and professional pursuits




Ms. Shelly has spent more than a decade working in higher education. She currently serves as executive vice president for Grantham Education Corporation. Ms. Shelly is passionate about changing lives – about making college education accessible and affordable to more people and preparing students and graduates for success.

The Online Study Group Survival Guide

Posted by Christine A. Shelly online study group survivalMost people don’t do their jobs completely alone – even if they office alone. Real life requires interaction with people, whether electronically or face-to-face. An important part of online education is learning to connect and work with others via Internet technology.

In case you were wondering, that’s why your high school teachers assigned those group projects. And that’s why you’ll often find group work as part of your post-high-school education. Because learning to get along with people is one of those life skills that takes lots of practice. When you can work with people to achieve goals, you’ll be able to work your way up that career ladder.

If you’ve been assigned to a group that you think may be made up of one part normal, two parts devil spawn, keep reading. In this post, we’ll take a look at some common personality types that make study group dynamics interesting. We’ll offer some tips for surviving and succeeding – and none of our tips involve exorcism of any kind.

The Ringleader.

There’s always one in any group: a natural leader who oozes charisma and quickly takes control. This person usually has a great “big picture” view but can often miss the details. The Ringleader thrives on being the group’s spokesperson because they may enjoy hearing themselves talk. They like to “help” the rest of the group by delegating tasks.

The key to working with this person is to make the most of his or her natural abilities and love of the limelight – but don’t let them overlook key details and don’t let them shrug off their share of the work. Sure, they can read the details of the project out loud for the rest of the group. But make sure, along with the rest of your team, to spell out specific roles and responsibilities, due dates, and any other important details up front to keep things fair for everyone.

The Introvert.

Don’t let this person’s quiet, well-mannered demeanor fool you: this is somebody who knows how to get things done, who usually has a very well-informed opinion and tends to be a major asset to any group.

Make your group an inclusive, safe place to participate by setting “no wet blanket” ground rules up front. When introverts feel welcome to share their thoughts and opinions, they’ll often shine. This personality type can be  a significant asset to any group – independent, hardworking, often with brilliant ideas. They’re just not particularly forthcoming with them. Don’t pressure or bully them to share – just be inclusive and they will usually surprise you.

The Cantankerous.

Speaking of wet blankets – if there’s a blanket of any kind to be thrown, there’s usually one person who will pitch one at everyone with both hands. This person may not have learned many social graces, or, they just plain don’t care whether they make anyone uncomfortable. They have a negative attitude and are often disrespectful to the point of distraction from the group’s purpose. At the extreme, they spew hateful, offensive commentary and bully others in the group.

Often times, when someone is pushing boundaries in a group, it only takes one or two people to publicly call them on it in order for them to back off, buckle down and participate appropriately. Sometimes, though, you will have to power through in spite of this person’s toxic behavior. Don’t let it affect you or sour your group – stay positive and productive. Plus, it’s always a good idea to make sure you are aware of your institution’s policies on bullying. If you have the option to remove unproductive bullies from your group, remove them. If not, make sure to have backup coverage for the assignment your wet blanket is responsible for so you don’t get left high and dry.

The Free Spirit.

This person is usually very passionate, well-intended, and possibly easily distracted. What they lack in structure and discipline, they make up for with enthusiasm. But unfortunately, enthusiasm doesn’t drive results.

The key to getting something accomplished when working with the free spirit is to provide structure where there isn’t any. This means someone – say, the ringleader – will need to provide reminder emails when tasks are due or break down an assignment into small to-do lists. Most importantly – the free spirit should be held as accountable as the rest of the team for getting the job done.

Learning to achieve goals as a group is a major part of learning how to win at life. And it’s something that you will practice for the rest of your days. Every group or project team is different, but there are always some archetypal personalities that come into play whenever there’s a group of people involved. These are just some ideas for dealing with the various types of personalities you may encounter.

Have you had any opportunities handling any of these types of people? What’s worked for you? Share your experiences here.


Ms. Shelly has spent more than a decade working in higher education. She currently serves as executive vice president for Grantham Education Corporation. Ms. Shelly is passionate about changing lives – about making college education accessible and affordable to more people and preparing students and graduates for success.

Using Social Media Wisely, part 3: How Social Media can Help You Find a Job

Posted by Christine A. Shelly

Using social media wiselyOver the past few weeks, I have shared some ideas about how social media can enhance your education and how an online misstep can unravel your reputation. Now, let’s examine ways you can go from using social media as a way to keep up with friends and family, to using it to help you find a rewarding job opportunity.

Last year, more than 80 percent of companies were expected to use social media as a workforce recruitment tool (source: Recruiters use social media to help them reach candidates, not just because it saves them money, but also because they can target a specific job level and reach candidates who might not otherwise apply. And a bonus for transitioning military who would like to find a job far from where they are stationed, or for the military spouse who wants to secure a job while packing up the house for the next PCS move, social media allows job hunters to connect with recruiters around the world.

Nearly all recruiters – 98 percent – use social media like LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook to find candidates. Almost 95% of recruiters have made a successful hire from  LinkedIn. Not only are recruiters actively looking for potential candidates using social media, they are proactively engaging qualified candidates online. So if you’re not using social media as part of your job search, now’s the time to start.

The best place to start preparing for your social media job hunt is with your profile or background pages on sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Eye-tracking studies have demonstrated that the average person spends a little less than six seconds looking at a person’s profile. If you want to make a good impression on potential new employers, you’d be wise to make those six seconds count. Post pleasant, professional profile pictures, use keywords relevant to your job search in your bio, and keep usernames simple and free of profanity or otherwise unprofessional language.

Most people use Twitter as an outlet for expressing their opinions on news, politics, or causes that are near and dear to them. Why not use it to get yourself a job? The Twitter search function can help you find recruiters in your industry. Many companies encourage HR recruiters to tweet about job openings in addition to posting them to the usual job boards and advertisements. As an example, Grantham University job postings are strategically placed — and tweeted — to recruit top faculty and staff for the 100% online university. Start by finding a few recruiters in your field — or better yet, identify recruiters that specialize in placing veterans in jobs — and follow them. You’ll likely see opportunities as a result.

Ten years ago, if you were interested in working for a particular company, you had to rely on cold calling for informational interviews if you didn’t know (or couldn’t remember) someone at a particular organization. Now, you can ask people in your social networks to introduce you or even refer you for open positions. Sites like  or search your Facebook network for hiring companies.

You can also build your influence and your network by writing thoughtful posts about current industry issues and posting them to your LinkedIn page or other networks. Demonstrate your knowledge, skills and expertise so that when someone in your network thinks about your industry, your name is top of mind.

Gone are the days when job hunting meant sifting through the Sunday classifieds with a cup of coffee and a number two pencil. Companies rely on social media to help them find the top candidates – so you have to engage in social media and put your best foot forward if you want to compete.


Have you found a job through social media? Tell us your experience in the comments.


Ms. Shelly has spent more than a decade working in higher education. She currently serves as executive vice president for Grantham Education Corporation. Ms. Shelly is passionate about changing lives – about making college education accessible and affordable to more people and preparing students and graduates for success.

Using Social Media Wisely, part 2: How to Make Social Media Work for You

Posted by Christine A. Shelly

using social media wiselyLast week, I wrote about some of the ways that missteps in social media can damage your professional – and maybe even your personal reputation. Next, we want to take a look at how you can use social media in a way that makes it work in your favor in two very important ways: Your education and your job search. This week, let’s take a look at how social media plays an important role in your education.

According to a recent study by Pew Research, more than 80 percent of all secondary educators use social media or mobile tools as part of their day-to-day classroom assignments. It’s not uncommon for a teacher to have a account to house class-appropriate reference materials, or to use tools like Blackboard as a repository for syllabi and assignments.

When educators do this, not only do they leverage relevant technology, they also help students develop important skills and prepare them for future undergraduate work or career paths. Incorporating social media into daily classroom activities – using channels like Twitter, slide share, flickr, and YouTube® – teaches students the value of sharing, collaboration, and support.

As a 100% online university, Grantham University faculty and students work together via a wide range of social media platforms and technology services. Students are not required to be software developers, but the goal is to make sure that they have a reliable Internet connection and a current operating system. Faculty conduct classes in both synchronous and asynchronous formats. In an asynchronous system, students communicate independently with the instructor and classmates, complete reading and assignments and turn them in at a predetermined deadline. In a synchronous system, students meet via teleconference or chat directly with the professor and classmates.

Community chats, Facebook, and Twitter offer students a way to connect, compare notes on professors or coursework, and provide valuable insight into life as a Grantham student. If I were a prospective student looking at online programs, I would highly recommend taking a close look at these channels. You can learn a lot about a school based on how people talk about it in social media: Are the students respectful of each other and the faculty? Does it support the needs of military students, spouses or veterans? What kind of support is available to students with disabilities?

One of the best pieces of advice I’ve seen is “Be social. Don’t ‘do’ social.” This means that you should take an active role in the development of your own online persona. Ask questions, listen to the answers, and thank people for their feedback. Know your school’s social media usage policies. If you plan to enter a particular professional field, you need to start observing relevant social media usage policies and standards now rather than later. For example, if you’re planning to go into social work, you’ll want to know what professional social workers can and cannot say or do in social media.

Social media is a way of life for most people, and it’s become so ingrained in life that we forget sometimes what a truly game-changing tool it can be. It’s a phenomenal way to work with people all over the globe, letting people not only communicate, but share resources, tools, and ideas. When you use it carefully and deliberately, it can help you prepare for the educational and professional world.


Ms. Shelly has spent more than a decade working in higher education. She currently serves as executive vice president for Grantham Education Corporation. Ms. Shelly is passionate about changing lives – about making college education accessible and affordable to more people and preparing students and graduates for success.

Using Social Media Wisely

Posted by Christine A. Shelly

Social Media bubble smallNewton’s Third Law of Motion says that for every action, there’s an equal and opposite reaction. If Newton were alive today, he might add a corollary to this law that says for every action, there’s a corresponding Facebook update, Instagram photo and Tweet. 

Social media is, without a doubt, one of the most revolutionary things to happen in communication since the telegraph. It’s changed the way people connect, the way we behave, the way we purchase or participate, and even the way we learn. In fact, a 12-year study by SRI International for the US Department of Education demonstrated that online students outperform students in a face-to-face classroom.

We are no strangers to technology here at Grantham. Our classrooms combine cutting edge technology with leading curriculum to create an affordable education that fits with your life – not the other way around. With technology usage in the classroom now starting as early as kindergarten, it’s no surprise that generations of students are truly comfortable with the interactive world in which we live. But  are we getting a little too comfortable?

Remember Lindsey Stone, the young woman who thought her inappropriate sense of humor would buy her a “get out of Facebook jail free” card when she posted a photo of herself in a disrespectful pose in Arlington National Cemetery? Ultimately, she was fired from her job with LIFE (Living Independently For Ever), a non-profit organization aimed at helping individuals with disabilities.

Or how about the Domino’s pizza employee who posted a questionable (to say the least) video of himself on YouTube and was subsequently relieved of his job?

Lindsey and the Pizza Guy are just a couple of a growing number of cautionary tales. Not only can a social media misstep cost you the job you already have, it can make it harder for you to get a job in the future. According to, a little more than eight out of every ten employers reviews candidates’ social media profiles before extending a job offer.  Whether or not you “friend” them, a hiring manager is very likely to check your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and LinkedIn profiles. So what do they look for? The answer might surprise you.

First of all, if you’re NOT on any social media pages, that can be a red flag for an employer. Especially if they are a prominent local or national brand. Like it or not, social media has blurred the lines between professional and personal – you and your behavior reflect on the people who hire you.

And if you’re not participating in social media, there’s usually only a few reasons why: 1) You don’t know how to use it (not a good argument for being hired); 2) You have no desire to participate (which means you wouldn’t be a brand advocate in social media channels); or 3) You have something to hide (deviant or illegal behavior, financial troubles, etc.).

Suppose you are on social media. Are those photos from last year’s New Year’s Eve party going to eliminate your shot at winning a good job (or promotion, or acceptance to college)? The answer will vary from employer to employer. There are a few simple ways to preserve your professional and your social dignity while you participate in the wide world of social media. Jobvite published this infographic that paints a pretty clear picture: recruiters aren’t just looking at your resume; they’re looking at your online presence.

A few tips to avoid becoming the next cautionary tale everyone talks about include:

1) Assume nothing is private. Ever. If you wouldn’t show it to your elderly aunt, it might not be a good idea to post it on the Internet. Never post anything you wouldn’t want to appear on the evening news. (Just ask Lindsey Stone.)

2) Watch out for hot-button topics. It’s wonderful to be passionate about a cause, but the Internet can behave a lot like a great big dinner party – which means controversial topics can turn sour on you very quickly. Unless your long-term career goal involves advocating for a specific cause, you might consider keeping political, religious, or otherwise controversially-themed posts offline.

3) Know and apply the social media policies and guidelines that are in place at your job, your school, or any other organization in which you take part.

4) Use the privacy settings on every site. Make sure you’re clear about who can view what. Just remember – privacy settings are not infallible, so don’t let them be a stand-in for common sense.

Freedom of speech is a cherished part of our Nation’s Constitution, and I would not advocate censorship or dishonesty. It’s a good idea to think about the Internet the way you might think about getting a tattoo. Whatever you put out there today, you will have to live with forever. And when you consider the growing social net each of us casts – from friends, family and colleagues to employers, congregations, future in-laws, future children or even grandchildren – it’s wise to use discretion whenever you post anything online. 


Ms. Shelly has spent more than a decade working in higher education. She currently serves as executive vice president for Grantham Education Corporation. Ms. Shelly is passionate about changing lives – about making college education accessible and affordable to more people and preparing students and graduates for success.