We'll have 1700 StenoLife members soon. Who knew there were so many of you out there! It's a good time to be a StenoLife member. This issue of The Steno Life has some great information in it (if I do say so myself). I have an ad running in the September JCR, so make sure to check it out! As always, don't tell me about grammatical errors or typos in this newsletter - I appreciate the concern, but... If you want to contribute an article, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Articles in this issue -
1 - "StenoLife Live Chat With Mark
Kislingbury Tonight! "
The StenoLife chat room has been busy lately - thanks in large part to Noriko! Last week we were honored to have Jason Pardikes chat with us about a new steno machine - The Gemini Piper! Tonight (Tuesday), we have writing champ, Mark Kislingbury, joining us in a chat. Chat time is 9:00 Eastern Time. To join in, just log into StenoLife.com, then click the Live Forum button. Sign in with your first name (to make it easy). See you there!
Many students feel that their schools are not doing enough to further their education. More importantly, many students feel they are not getting the education they were promised when they signed up. At one particular school, the students decided it was time to fight back. Although there are many steps in the process, they did win the first stage - the school was ordered to reimburse the students' tuition. Below is an interview with one of the students involved in the suit. The school name will not be mentioned, because it really doesn't matter : )
What caused the students
to take action?
many students were involved?
Were you still at this
school (or were the other students) as you went through the process?
The other students in your
school who were not involved - how did they react to all this?
Did you speak with the
school before taking action?
Have you had communications
with the school since the judgment?
How did you know how to
What's the next step in
Has it been worth it?
What advice would you give
to students who feel they are in the same situation you were in?
So, that said, if you are there every day and there are
things that are obviously wrong, not just that you don’t like
your instructor or the person behind you stenos too loud or something
like that, then my advice is most definitely to contact the agency that
oversees that school’s accreditation and file a formal complaint.
By not doing so, you are not only doing a disservice to yourself, but
you are to doing disservice to future students and the industry of court
reporting, by not holding your school accountable. This is the way my
friend and I explain it to people: If you bought a car and it didn’t
run and you kept taking it in and asking for it to be fixed and the
dealer kept sending you home with it telling you nothing was wrong,
you would want your money back because it didn’t work and it wasn’t
getting you where you needed to go. Don’t sell yourself short
simply because court reporting isn’t tangible until you’ve
acquired your license. If it’s not working, demand for it to be
fixed or seek the proper channels for reimbursement so that you can
afford to go elsewhere.
End of Interview
When I first put out the email that I was going to have this interview, I got tons of emails telling me of school horror stories. I told everyone to just stay tuned. Now's the time I really want to hear them! Have some info you'd like to share - email it all to me at Marc@Stenolife.com. I WILL be using this information on a future project, but school names and student names will be deleted. Include as many details as possible. Thanks!
When I started my SimplySteno program, I quickly decided that DigitalCAT was going to be the program I taught. It wasn't a tough decision. The price was right and the students got to use the full version of the software - not a stripped down version. And even if students decided they wanted to use some other CAT software down the line, they would still have a good idea of the basics if they learned DigitalCAT.
But there was a glitch (isn't there always?). One of the key aspects to the SimplySteno program is keeping things...simple...easy to understand. And the manual that comes with DigitalCAT, while being very complete, is anything but simple to grasp. At 390 pages, it's tough to absorb, even for the most diehard techie.
So I created DigitalCAT Made Simple! It's free to my SimplySteno students, and now I'm offering it to other students as well. With 23 chapters that are easy to follow, you'll get the information you need, without having to plow through tons of information you don't. And we've included dozens of great screenshots for you visual learners.
The program is on CD and created in Word and PDF, so it's easy to use. Setting up your dictionary, beginning realtime, using audio sync, formatting - it's all in there. The program is $35, with a discount for 6 or more students (schools). Just click here to get more details.
Anyone who knows me or has listened to my rants over the last couple years knows where I stand on most CR schools. I think many are overpriced. I think many are lazy. I think many prey upon naive students. But I am here today to defend schools on one very important point.
I hear it time and time again - "My school wants students to fail so they have to stay in school longer. That's how they make more money." Simply not true. Schools understand the state of court reporting. Schools are closing down left and right. They understand that the only thing that will bring in more students and make themselves more money is to show student successes and restock the court reporter slots.
I will give you this point - there are schools that will sign up ANYONE who is physically able to walk through the door and sign on the dotted line. And that's just wrong - that's where the schools make their money. But once the students are in the mix, schools would like nothing more than to see you graduate. Success breeds success. And since the average graduation time is about 5 years, they are taking your tuition for quite long enough - I have no doubts that they are quite pleased with 5 years of tuition and a graduate.
If you take a look at the better schools, the graduation and test results are posted proudly on every viewable source. They understand that that's what a potential student wants to see. Proven education is what's going to bring more qualified students through the door.
I will not deny that schools make more money off you if you stay in school longer. But in the big picture, they realize that every lifer at their school is a sign of just how horrible their program is. They want you telling your friends. They want you representing their school. The problem is that many schools just don't have what it takes to make students get to that point and feel that way. You have an argument there. But a concentrated effort to keep you in school? I don't buy it, and I never will.
"We're not worthy! We're not worthy!" Ah, the chants of Wayne and Garth - they never get old! But have you had those same thoughts when moving into a new speed? You're not alone. It takes 2 tests to move up a speed in my program. And when I inform a student that they just passed their second test, I often hear, "I got lucky." "It was an easy test." "I think I should stay in the current speed until I feel more comfortable." Ahhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!
Court reporting school is a strange breed. It's 99% failure and 1% success. You start in speed and fail a test. And another. And another. And another. And about 30 more! And then you PASS one! It must have been luck, right? You just failed 40 tests and passed 1 - what's going to make more of an impression? If I shoot a basketball 40 times and miss, then make one...I'm not too thrilled. That's the common mind set within all of us. But, as I mentioned before, CR is not a common program. If you managed to pass only 10% of the tests you took through school, you'd be considered a savant! If you just passed your 130 tests and you're starting 140, that doesn't mean that you will now be nailing 140. In fact, it doesn't mean that you'll be nailing everything at 130! All dictations are NOT created equal.
One of my favorite movies of all time is Poltergeist (scary!). And in one scene a ghost hunter talks about video footage he took of a Hot Wheel car rolling across the floor. It took 8 hours for the Hot Wheel to travel 6 inches. That's steno progress. Slow and gradual. It's the kind of progress that can't be measured in leaps and bounds. That would be nice, and it does happen on occasion. But for us mere mortals, it's 6 inches...over 8 hours.
So don't EVER doubt that your worthy of moving into that next speed. Embrace it! Celebrate every victory you can. They may be few and far between, so make the very most out of each one. You are not only worthy, you are the envy of every other student struggling to get a passing grade. So put a smile on that face of yours, tape that test to the fridge, and pump that fist in triumph! There's another challenge ahead and you're going to conquer that one too!
I opened the virtual doors to SimplySteno.com on July 1, 2004. I had confidence in my program, but that doesn't mean that students will be willing to take that leap - both to another program, and to an online program! By August I had my answer : ) In 1 year we've enrolled over 100 students. Many of them can be found in the SimplyStenoville section of the website. It's only been a year, so most students haven't reached RPR speeds yet, but many have passed their state exams and are now working reporters!
This is a public "Thank You!" to all of you who have helped spread the word about my program. I've often talked about a "Steno Revolution." I think we're on the right track and gaining momentum. It's going to take some major changes at higher levels, but I think we're making a difference. Keep up the fight!
I guess if you put 7 websites on the Internet, one is bound to fail, right? Welcome to my failure, StenoBay.com. It seemed like a good idea at the time - an online auction site, like Ebay, but devoted solely to court reporting! And no fees for anyone! And lots of deals! And...it never took off : ) An auction site only works if there's enough traffic, and I never had that on StenoBay.com. Honestly, if I had a steno machine to sell, I'd use Ebay. So off StenoBay goes to the Internet graveyard.
But you know the saying - "When one website dies, another is born." Okay, maybe they don't say that. But www.RMRprep.com was launched a couple weeks ago, so maybe that saying will take off. RMRprep is an RMR prep program - 4 weeks of RMR boot camp. And if you order in July, you get a $20 discount.