Articles in this issue -
1 - "Can Anyone Become a Court Reporter?"
2 - "NCRA Approved School or Not?"
3 - "New Brief Contest!"
4 - "Schools - Online Versus On Campus - What To Do?"
5 - "Operators Are Standing By!"
Can Anyone Become a Court Reporter? (back to top)
I've had a long-standing debate with one of my fellow instructors - "Can anyone become a court reporter?" We're talking about if the teaching and learning conditions are ideal, can any person get through school. My friend's response...yes. My response...no. Don't start throwing things at me yet.
First off, I've been told I'm being negative when I make that statement. Negative? Hardly! I just believe that there are many professions that everyone can not succeed in. Court reporting is up near the top of the list because of its difficulty (as proved by the dropout rate and completion rate) In my mind, success in this field has to do with our individual makeup, nothing more. I'm not saying smarter, slower, happier, heavier or anything like that - it's just a personal combination of many things that I believe determine your success in this field.
To say that anyone can do it belittles the accomplishment in my eyes. Can anyone serve hamburgers? Yeah, with a little training. Can anyone wash cars? Sure, why not. But court reporting? Naw - not everyone. Court reporting is a difficult combination of 2 qualities - mental and physical. You can't be stupid and become a court reporter. You can be dense. You can be shallow. You can be intellectually challenged. But you can't be flat-out stupid. And you don't have to have the physical attributes of Lance Armstrong (Tour de France), but you do need a certain amount of physical dexterity. It takes a delicate balance of the 2 to succeed.
Even with perfect learning conditions and the perfect balance of mental and physical, there's another stopper - real life! If schooling was taught in a bubble, I could throw that out the window. But we happen to live in a world that shapes us daily - not always in a productive way.
When you graduate, you better stand up there with your head held high and a proud smile plastered on your face. You will have accomplished what few have. And if you ever hear someone say, "Yeah...anyone can do it," you point them in my direction - I'll have a few words for them.
Want to share your thoughts on this subject? I've added it to the "Marc's Corner" section of the Message Board. Let me have it, people!
NCRA Approved School or Not? (back to top)
Another popular question from prospective students - "Should I only go to an NCRA approved school?" The short answer - every school stands on its own merits whether it's been approved by the NCRA or not. What makes a school good is a solid program and knowledgeable, helpful teachers.
What does it mean when a school is NCRA approved? It means that that school has met the minimum requirements the NCRA has set forth (and paid the NCRA for the right to be stamped "NCRA APPROVED!"). I've worked at 4 schools and all 4 of them met the NCRA's minimum standards. Only 1, however, was NCRA approved. The other 3 never sought that stamp of approval. Does that mean they weren't as good? Nope.
If I were a prospective student, I would approach all possible schools with the same interest whether they were approved or not. Look for structure. Look for happy students. Look for teachers that care. Look for honesty. And if it happens to have the big "NCRA APPROVED!" stamp on it, that's a bonus.
New Brief Contest! (back to top)
I've decided to keep running brief contests as a way of dealing with all these brief requests. I just can't keep up with them. So my inadequacy is your gain!
Tonight I will transfer 500 brief requests to the Brief Contest section of the Board. The 2 people who contribute the most usable (by my judgment) briefs within the next 20 days will each get a FREE version of my new steno game, Name Droppers! It's a fun way to practice spellings on your steno machine. If someone has already posted a brief response, add another if you have a good one. Some words have several great briefs.
I've placed the briefs into groups because of convenience (for me). The groupings have no significance - just easier for me to post that way. So look through those briefs and I'll announce the winners in 21 days!
Schools - Online Versus On Campus - What To Do? (back to top)
Now, you may think that just because I now run an online program -SimplySteno.com - that I would recommend an online program...nope. There are many things to consider when selecting a school - quality - location - results - needs - cost -and on and on.
If I were a student, assuming that both online and on campus schools were good programs, I would have to go with the on campus school every time. There are a couple reasons. First, the teaching atmosphere can't be substituted. When you're in a classroom, working alongside others who are trying to achieve the same goal, that can be a motivating situation for many. Questions are instantly resolvable. Friends are made. It takes less focus on your part if you're in a school environment. Not that you SHOULD focus less, but it requires less.
When you're an online student, you need to conjure up your own motivation and drive. At home, there are a million distractions to tear you away from what you need to accomplish, so you need to really focus. Everyone can't do that. They need someone to hold their hand.
One of the first things to consider - will the school you select qualify you for what you need to accomplish in your state? Most states are fine with an RPR license, and anyone can take the RPR. You don't even need to be in a school. You can become an NCRA member and pay your fee - you're in! Some states require CSR or other licenses - that's where it gets tricky. Of those, many will allow you to take their state test if you've passed the RPR - so that's fine if you want to take an online course. But some will only let you take their state exam if you've qualified through a CR school. If that's the case, you NEED to go to a campus school. Online programs may be able to give you all kinds of fancy certificates and plaques, but they will not qualify you to take one of those state tests.
So why would someone take an online program? Well, as I mentioned, if you're in an RPR-related state, an online program will do the trick. Location. Hmm...some of you drive 2 hours to school. 2 hours...living room. 2 hours...living room. It's a tough call. Costs. Generally, an online program costs less - or it should! My online program costs about 1/5th of what a typical campus school charges.
Quality. If attending an online or a campus school makes no difference in the long run to you (an RPR state), this is the thing to consider. Will the program provide you with what you need, personally? And that's not the same thing for everyone. Some students need a tight structure. Others need a looser environment. Some need constant motivating. Others do their best work when they're left alone. But there are some things every program needs to be good - instructors with knowledge. Instructors who have the skills to share that knowledge constructively. A positive environment. You may have a great program, but if you're not getting positive reinforcement, that could slow you down.
In conclusion, ladies and gentlemen of StenoLife, all things being equal, a campus school would be my first choice. But in reality, all things are not equal, and I would consider a quality, online program as a worthy consideration. Just make sure you do your research. At SimplySteno.com, we have a page with links to the top online schools because we want you to compare and make an intelligent decision based upon your needs.
Operators Are Standing By! (back to top)
I have a new toy on my websites that you can use if you want to find me right away. On all of my websites, except StenoLife, you will see a graphic that reads "Click Here to chat with Marc." That means that you can chat with me instantly if you have any questions or just want to chat. Just click on the image and I'll be there. If the image isn't up, that means I'm not available. But let's be honest, I live at the computer, so your chances are good.