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Happy Thanksgiving From Us to You!

Monday, November 23, 2015 at 6:55 am

Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and we here at Unitek College have a lot to be thankful for this year. So as classes begin winding down towards a finish, decorations begin filling every visible window, and the scent of turkey and cranberries starts filling the air, we thought we'd take a moment to look back on some of the things we're most thankful for this year.

Things such as our new Unitek College Dental Assisting program, which we successfully launched this year. It's not easy getting a brand new program off the ground, but our faculty and staff worked tirelessly to get it done, and their efforts paid off. We're also thankful for those students who stepped up to become the first official class of Unitek College certified Dental Assistants. You're a huge part of our success and we couldn't have done it without you. We can't wait to see where you go from here.

We're also thankful that our Unitek College family continues to grow as the NCP College of Nursing came under our wing. The NCP College of Nursing didn't just expand our campus offerings, but they brought along 17 years of experience in medical teaching. Together, we're now one of the largest bodies of pre-licensure health care students and graduates in the Bay Area, and those numbers get bigger every day.

While we're talking about growth, our new Concord campus definitely belongs on our list of Thanks. Not only is Concord a beautiful city, but the new location introduces us to a whole new community of potential students we might not have met otherwise. And we didn't start small in Concord. Dental Assisting, Vocational Nursing, Pharmacy Technician training, Information Technology, Medical Assisting... we packed all of these programs into the new location, and we expect big things from the students who take advantage of them.

And finally, we're thankful to the faculty who make learning at Unitek College possible. Our faculty members are highly trained in their fields, and they chose to use that training and experience to introduce a whole new crop of nurses, medical assistants, dental assistants, computer support technicians, and more to the world. Henry Adams once wrote that "Teachers affect eternity; no one can tell where their influence stops", and that's the way we see ours. And of course, this thanks also extends to the outside professionals who so generously open their businesses for our students' externships. The opportunity to learn outside the classroom or the lab is an incredible one, and one that adds that extra quality to a Unitek College education.

And so, from all the faculty, staff, administrators, and advisors here at Unitek College, we wish all our students (current, prospective, and past) a happy Thanksgiving holiday. Drive safely, eat well, and come back recharged and ready to finish up the rest of the year.


10 Tips for FAFSA First Timers

Thursday, November 12, 2015 at 6:32 am

One of the most important things a Unitek College Dental Assisting student can do to prepare for their first semester is fill out and submit their Free Applications for Federal Student Aid, or the FAFSA. Not only can this form help qualify you for many student loans, but you also may discover scholarships and grants you didn't know were available.

If you're filling out the FAFSA for the first time, the paperwork (actual or electronic) can seem daunting, so to help out, we've put together a list of ten tips to help make your application process go as smoothly as possible.

Tip #1 - Have Your Papers Ready. As with most federal forms, you'll need to provide quite a few pieces of identifying information. So make sure you have the following nearby: your social security number, driver's license (if applicable), your alien registration number (if you aren't a US citizen), your latest W2's, a recent bank statement, and records of all forms of income, even if it's an investment or untaxed. And remember-if you're a dependent, you'll need your parents' information as well.

Tip #2 – Get That PIN Number Now. To file your FAFSA, you'll need a federal PIN number, which you can go ahead and get now at Save it in a safe place! You'll need it later.

Tip #3 – Take It Slow, Get It Right. There are a lot of information fields on this application, and nothing screws up the response time faster than incorrect data. Double check that all your dollar amounts are correct, your addresses are current, and just to be safe, don't leave any fields blank; enter a "0" instead.

Tip #4 – Hang On To Your Tax Returns. This might feel like the right time to include a copy of your tax returns, but hang onto those for the time being. If additional information or verification is needed, they'll let you know, but initially, keep those tax returns to yourself.

Tip #5 – Let The Website Work For You. You'll be working hard enough as a Dental Assistant once you complete your degree, so no need to waste any effort now! The FAFSA website is built to help catch errors as you enter them, so pay attention to anything the site flags. The site also provides worksheets to help you figure out what goes in what field, so be sure and use those if you need a little help.

Tip #6 – Talk To Your Financial Aid Counselor. Life can throw some curveballs at you, and family finances can change between filing your FAFSA and your first day of class. If you go through any financial changes, big (loss of a job) or small (medical expenses), be sure and let your Unitek College financial aid advisor know. They may be able to find additional means of financial support.

Tip #7 – Forget The 401k. If you have money in a retirement plan, don't mention it on the FAFSA. They don't count those funds as part of your income and assets, and if you include it on your form, it could significantly decrease your possible student aid. This applies to home equity as well. Stick to the numbers on your tax returns.

Tip #8 – Don't Procrastinate. Student aid is awarded on a first come, first served basis. Get your application in as soon as possible so you don't miss out.

Tip #9 – You Can Call A Mulligan. For those of you who don't golf, that essentially means a "do over" for any mistakes. The FAFSA website has a link that allows you to correct any mistakes if you catch them post-submission.

Tip #10 – Go Above And Beyond. You filled out the FAFSA and submitted your application without a hitch. Congratulations! ... But you aren't done yet. There are still thousands of dollars in student aid available through other outside sources, and you'll never find them if you stop looking now. The FAFSA can help bring in a lot of financial support, but for the maximum amount, you'll need to go the extra mile.

Filing for student aid doesn't have to be a scary experience. Just be prepared, take your time, and constantly be on the lookout for additional aid. And remember, your financial aid advisors at Unitek College are on constant standby to help you out with any questions, concerns, or problems. We want nothing more than to help ease the financial stress of tuition, so that all your focus can go into becoming the best Dental Assistant possible.

For additional information on Unitek College's financial aid opportunities, including veteran's benefits, visit

Proofread Like a Pro – Try These Tricks

Tuesday, November 10, 2015 at 6:16 am

You slaved for weeks over your assignment. You poured over every paragraph, double checked every fact, wrote and rewrote until you were sure you had the perfect paper. You wait patiently (but anxiously) until your instructor hands back the graded project. And there, on page one, circled in red, is a big, fat typo. Something you never thought would sneak past you, but there it is. Sure, it may not mean much in the grand scheme of things, but after all that effort, spotting a mistake is just the worst.

As you work through your Unitek College courses, assignments will show up on your to-do list on a regular basis, and each one is an opportunity to turn in that "perfect paper"—if, of course, you know how to proofread efficiently. And it just so happens that we have a few tricks that can help you out.

  1. Concentrate. This is a no brainer. Turn off the TV, log out of Facebook, and focus only on the words in front of you. Every noise or distraction is an opportunity to miss an embarrassing mistake, so get rid of anything that isn't helping you focus.
  2. Watch out for "correct" misspellings. Not every misspelling gets the funky red underline in your word processor. As brilliant as those programs are, they don't always catch correctly spelled words used incorrectly. "Bare" or "bear", "their" or "there", "then" or "than", and the list goes on. Spelling is just half the battle.
  3. Read it backwards. Okay, this tip is borderline cliché, but trust us… it works. Your brain can trick you when you skim through your writing. We subconsciously rearrange misspelled words in order to understand them, and our brains can just skip past errors if we let ourselves run on autopilot. Reading your work backwards is tedious, but if there's a mistake, there's a really good chance you'll spot it.
  4. Hit the "print" button. For some reason, we spot things differently on screens than we do on paper. You might catch a mistake on your monitor that you'd miss on a printed piece of paper, and vice versa. The different mediums force your brain to process the words and letters in slightly different ways, and that might be all you need to spot a problem.
  5. Don't confuse editing with proofreading. Every paper needs editing, every paper needs proofreading, but those aren't the same things. Editing refers to your work on the paper's content—making sure your ideas are presented the best way possible, that all the facts are correct, and that you're using the most efficient structure. You'll want to take care of all your editing first—that way typos don't slip into those last minute sentences you added before sending in your paper. Write, then edit, then proofread.
  6. When in doubt, Google it. There are a lot of idiosyncrasies in the English language, and you won't always automatically know which forms are correct. Is it "cannot" or "can not"? "10 year old" or "10-year-old"? Fortunately, we have the power of Google at our fingertips, and the answers are just a few clicks away. Never be afraid to double check—just make sure you're using a credible site for your answers.
  7. Delegate. There's only so much you can do. If you really want to try everything, bring in a friend or family member to give your paper the once over. They'll be reading it with fresh eyes, and you'll be surprised how much fresh eyes can catch.

Good luck on those projects! It may mean a little extra effort now, but remember, you're working hard for that bright new career, and once you've locked that down, you'll be glad you went the extra mile.

4 Free Study Apps to Stay on Track

Monday, November 2, 2015 at 5:44 am

Every waking moment, something is clamoring for attention, and usually that something has a battery attached. Big screen, small screen, or mobile screen, it doesn't matter-when you're trying to study, there are a hundred digital distractions, push notifications, dings, and feeds trying to pull you away. But sometimes, that power can be harnessed for good... well, the good of your grades, anyway. This week, we've put together a list of some of the study apps that grabbed our attention, and because every dollar counts when you're in college, we looked exclusively at the "free" options.

  1. Flashcards+ (By Chegg) – So much of nailing that good grade simply comes down to remembering all the new information you've been given, so naturally, a flash card app goes to the top of our list. There are lots of flashcard apps out there, but we liked this one because it was clean and easy to use, it allows you to share content around your study group, you can add images to the cards, and the shuffle feature helps mix things up a bit so you really have to know your stuff. This one also lets you keep track of the cards you're struggling with, so you can focus primarily on those and not on the data you've already mastered.
  2. Evernote – Aside from memorization, organization is one of the skills most likely to bump up those test scores. For that reason, we like Evernote, an app that puts all your notes into one easy to read format. Notes from class, to-do lists for your assignments, snapshots of the whiteboard so you don't have to write everything down... you name it, this app organizes it. And it lets you connect with other users, so you can grab those notes from the class you missed.
  3. Dragon Dictation – It's hard to find a really great dictation app, but Dragon Dictation lands solidly in the "pretty decent" category. Like any similar app (or like Siri, for that matter), there are plenty of nuances and bugs to work around. And if you have a heavy accent, well... g'day, mate. But for the most part, this is an app that, quite simply, writes down everything you say. Use it to convert your handwritten notes to an electronic file without needing to type everything, or keep it handy at the gym in case you think of a great thought for your paper between sets.
  4. ISTUDIEZ LITE – Here's an app designed to keep your study schedule, class schedule, work schedule, and personal life from getting too jumbled and overwhelming. While it takes a good half-hour or so to input all your different schedules, the end result is an easy-to-use breakdown of everything filling your day. Use it to carve out much needed study time for specific subjects, keep track of assignments, or-and we love this part-find those priceless windows of free time to give your brain a break. There's also ISTUDIEZ PRO if you want to shell out $2.99, but for the sake of this list, we're sticking to the free version.

Seven Ways to Succeed as a Dental Assistant

Thursday, October 29, 2015 at 10:56 am

Dental offices are hiring more and more dental assistants every day, making the job one of the fastest growing in the United States. And as anyone who has ever worked as a hiring manager can tell you, finding the good workers is a lot easier than it sounds. As our Dental Assisting Program begins, and as our students begin looking ahead to their future careers, here are seven pointers on how to stand out as an irreplaceable asset.

#1 – Take on responsibility (don't wait for it)

There are busy times in every dentist's office, and there are slow times. Make sure you're giving 100% during both. Employers will quickly recognize assistants who are proactive in their daily tasks, and an employee who's constantly looking for ways to improve the office and the business is an employee they'll definitely want to keep around.

#2 – Keep the water cooler positive

Mini-communities evolve in every office setting, and as long as that community stays positive, all is well. But these office communities can quickly become hostile, hurtful, and counterproductive if employees forget to work as a team. Make sure and keep the lunch-break chatter positive—steer away from the juicy gossip and backbiting—and your work days will be much more rewarding. You'll also avoid the awkward moment when those negative words come back full circle, and they always do.

#3 – Listen Up!

In the fast-paced environment of a dental office, communication is huge. That doesn't mean being the loudest voice in the room, though. True office communication means attempting to understand before attempting to be understood. You'll find that this approach makes your co-workers (and boss) feel important in your eyes, and that is a rare, irreplaceable feeling.

#4 – Show some personality

Specifically, show it in your cover letter when you apply for the job. Your resume is a sheet of cold, hard facts, so use the cover letter to let you shine through. Let your future boss know that you're a hard-worker, but also someone interesting, engaging, and who will brighten up that office.

#5 – Leave the old job at the old job

This is a huge pet peeve for many dentists. If you walk through the office continually reminding everyone how they did things at your last office, they'll quickly start wishing that you'd stayed at that office. Remember, right or wrong, every practice has a different way of doing things. Adjust quickly to the new routines, let go of the old ones, and your blood pressure (and the blood pressure of your co-workers) will thank you for it.

#6 – Get the patients to talk about the patients

Not about the other patients; get them to talk about themselves. It's the most comfortable topic you can possibly introduce, and it'll quickly have your patients feeling at ease. Ask them about their jobs, their families, their pets—and let their responses steer the conversation naturally. And if you can recall their stories the next time they drop by the office, well, you just won a truckload of bonus points. It's hard not to notice an employee who has a genuine positive interest in their patients, so this works in everyone's favor.

#7 – Don't fall for the old suction trap trick

Hazing isn't just reserved for fraternities and football teams. The suction trap comes out of the floor, into a biohazard bag, and into the appropriate disposal bin. If someone tells you to open up that foul cesspool of saliva, odors, and nastiness—they're having some fun with you. Don't fall for it. Trust us. (This doesn't have much of an impact either way on establishing yourself as a quality employee… we just thought you should know).

Don't forget to check back each week as we continue to explore the career opportunities ahead of our Dental Assistant School graduates, plus some sneak peeks at the program, the people making it happen, and more from our Unitek College campuses.

Lend a Helping Hand

Monday, October 26, 2015 at 10:34 am

There's an old story about a man facing a flood. He hears on the radio that his section of town will soon be underwater and that everyone should evacuate. As his neighbors leave, one calls out the car window "Hey Bill, aren't you heading for higher ground?" "Nope", says Bill, "I believe God will save me."

The hours go by and the water creeps up to the door of his house. Another neighbor in a canoe paddles past and asks Bill if he'd like a ride. "Nope", says Bill, "I believe God will save me." Several more hours pass, and the waters force Bill to the top of his roof. As he clings to his chimney, a helicopter swoops by and offers a ladder. But Bill, again, refuses.

Very soon after, Bill finds himself at the pearly gates of heaven, dripping wet and red-faced with anger. He marches up to St. Peter and demands to know why God didn't save him. "Save you?" St. Peter says. "We sent a radio announcement, a canoe, and a helicopter. What more did you want?"

The point of the story is pretty obvious—it doesn't matter how much you want something or how much you believe you'll get it, everyone needs a helping hand at some point, and if you don't know how to ask, you'll find yourself stuck in the mud pretty quickly.

At each Unitek College campus, we've filled offices with people just waiting to help out with any challenges you face during your studies. If you're not sure how to turn your new diploma into a job, our Career Development Coordinators are standing by to help you do just that. If you're ready to jump with both feet into our Nursing or Information Technology or Dental Assisting programs but you just aren't sure how to pay for the investment, feel free to reach out to the men and women in our Financial Aid department. They'll fill you in on any financial aid or student loans available, plus they'll even help you with the paperwork.

Some of the biggest challenges, though, come in the middle of your Unitek College program, as you're studying, memorizing, experimenting, and working hard to master your new field. If at any point the course material feels confusing or difficult, the Unitek College faculty is a constant resource. Never hesitate to ask for help, or even just shoot them an email with a question. The faculty is here for you, and their number one goal is your understanding of their subjects.

The holidays are just over the horizon, but don't wait until then to look for help. Whatever's in your way, someone at Unitek College can lend a hand.

All you have to do is ask.

And if you're currently a Unitek College student, don't forget to check out all the online help available at the Student Portal.