Record-Breaking Financial Aid, Finding Your Way

Harper College student Kevin Kim works 20 hours a week to help fund his dream of a college education, and relies on financial aid to see him through the rest of the way. The Schaumburg resident, now in his second year at the College, is one of a growing number of students seeking such assistance amid a rough economy.


Record-Breaking Financial Aid

Harper College student Kevin Kim works 20 hours a week to help fund his dream of a college education, and relies on financial aid to see him through the rest of the way. The Schaumburg resident, now in his second year at the College, is one of a growing number of students seeking such assistance amid a rough economy. Two weeks into fall term, more than 11,000 Harper students have applied for financial aid; with months still to go in this academic year, Financial Aid Director Earl Dowling says the College is easily on track to hit an all-time-high. "People today simply do not have the savings they might have enjoyed in the past," he says. "They're forced to rely on someone else's money, since they're using all of theirs for living expenses." The Illinois Student Assistance Commission announced this week that it has received more than 101,850 eligible applications for the state's need-based Monetary Award Program (MAP) grant since the agency exhausted its funds and began denying applicants in April. Most were from students planning to attend community college. At Harper, a rising number of those seeking help are nontraditional students - those not right out of high school. The poor economy has driven vast numbers of adults to the nation's college campus amid the reality that higher education is increasingly necessary to compete in a tough job market and nab jobs with solid paychecks. Nicoletta Ayala is among them. Three years after graduating high school, the St. Charles resident is fiercely determined to attend - and finish - college, but the reality of mounting credit card debt and a job that won't cover the bills drove her to Harper's financial aid office first. "I'm doing this now, because I want to avoid being 35 years old without a career," says Ayala, who plans to study business when she starts at Harper in January. "But the economy is bad, and school is expensive. It's a struggle." A 2009 Higher Education Research Institute survey of first-year college students found that half have concerns about their ability to finance their college education; that's more than any other year since 1971. Dowling is urging students to still fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to qualify for federal grants and subsidized loans. He also says current high school students should start the process now. "If you hesitate, you'll potentially lose," Dowling says. Harper's Office of Student Financial Assistance annually awards $20 million in federal, state, institutional and privately funded financial aid.

Media Note: It's not too late to apply for financial aid. Earl Dowling has more than 25 years of experience in the student financial assistance industry, and is available for interviews regarding tips and tricks for applying for assistance, making sure you're applying for the right kinds of aid, and tapping into aid options other than the traditional sources. Contact Erin Brooks, Media Relations Specialist, 847.925.6159 or, to arrange an interview.


Finding Your Way

Ask Fred Weiss about the practical applications of the subject he teaches, and he'll point to Google Earth: Its 3D maps and satellite imaging are real-world examples of the concepts he outlines to his GIS students. But that's just the tip of the iceberg. "Think of Google Earth, and then think a thousand-fold beyond that," says Weiss, who's heading up Harper College's fall GIS-focused course. "The applications of this field are pretty much endless." GIS (geographical information systems) technology allows users to view data in the form of interactive maps, making it easier to understand information and discover patterns and trends. Because it's applicable to so many areas - from business and marketing to science and government - GIS is among America's top emerging technological job fields. According to the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Outlook, overall employment is projected to grow much faster than average for GIS-related positions. "This class is perfect for adult students looking for a new career area," Weiss says, "or for students who already are established in a career but want to apply new concepts to what they do every day." Harper's course, offered through the College's geography department, will cover the GIS basics: what it is, how it works, and how it can be used in the real world. The class, GEG 151, will be held at 6:30 p.m. Wednesdays, beginning September 22. Students who complete the GIS course and Harper's Market Research class - MKT 255, beginning Thursday, September 23 - can earn a Marketing Research Certificate. For details, email or or call 847.925.6700 for admissions help. Weiss holds a master's in geography and owns his own GIS company.

Press Contact: Erin Brooks, Media Relations Specialist, 847.925.6159,

Honors Society Oscar Talk

In March, Mark Boal addressed a crowd of film industry giants as he picked up the Oscar for his The Hurt Locker screenplay. Next week, he'll take on a smaller audience: about 30 members of Harper College's Honors Society. Academy Award-winning writer Boal is scheduled to attend the group's first meeting of the fall term on Wednesday, September 15, prior to his public lecture at 7:30 p.m. in the College's Performing Arts Center. A former journalist with a passion for getting deep into his story, Boal was able to cut through layers of red tape to be assigned as an embedded journalist with a U.S. Army Explosive Ordnance Disposal unit in Iraq in 2004. The Hurt Locker, a combination of fact and fiction, drew on that experience. "Mr. Boal was a journalist," Harper Professor and Honors Society Advisor Andrew Wilson says. "I hope the Honors folks will leave the meeting with an understanding of how the world's best journalists are committed not to biases and prejudices but, instead, unpolluted truth." Harper's Honors Society is an elite group of students who were in the top 10 percent of their high school graduating class and have a cumulative high school grade point average of 3.5 or higher on a 4.0 scale. Boal's Honors Society discussion is not open to the public. Tickets to his 7:30 p.m. lecture are $15 for general admission, with discounts for seniors and students. Call 847.925.6100 or visit for tickets. The College also will offer a free screening of "The Hurt Locker" at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, September 16, in Room E106, Building E.

Media Note: The Honors Society discussion is not open to the public, but reporters and photographers are invited to attend. Contact Terry Karow, Marketing and Public Relations Specialist, at 847.925.6627 for more information.

Open House

Harper College will showcase the varied offerings of its Prospect Heights-based Northeast Center at an open house scheduled as part of the September 19 Community Fitness Walk. The annual walk, aimed at promoting community health, education and fitness in the Northwest suburbs, culminates at the Northeast Center, 1375 S. Wolf Road. Participants can hear from Harper staff and tour the facility, which boasts classes for seniors and children, computer training and career-boosting programs, English as a Second Language and GED coursework, a reading room and more. The College's admissions, ESL, health careers, continuing education and adult educational development departments will be represented; experts from the Career Center and the Women's Program - a support system for single parents, displaced homemakers, domestic violence victims and others - also will be available. Participants also can pick up more information on the College's Lifelong Learning Institute, a full roster of courses for area residents ages 55 and older. The walk is less than a mile long, and kicks off at 12:30 p.m. Sunday, September 19 in front of Korean American Community Services, Suite 213 in the Palwaukee Plaza, 664 N. Milwaukee Avenue in Prospect Heights. The open house runs until 4 p.m.; beverages and fruit will be provided to walk participants. Outdoor entertainment, including a Mexican-American dance group and children's activities, will be part of the festivities. The Community Fitness Walk, formerly the Diversity Walk, is sponsored by Northwest Cook Leaders. For more on the Northeast Center open house, call Margie McGowan, 847.926.6016.

Press Contact: Erin Brooks, Media Relations Specialist, 847.925.6159,


Realty Check

Buying a new home - or selling a current one - is no easy task in today's rough-and-tumble market. Harper College will offer tips for making it work in a free seminar, "Real Estate in Turbulent Times: What Every Buyer and Seller Should Know," aimed at navigating 2010's realty reality. The session, led by Re/Max Broker Associate Rita O'Connor, is at 7 p.m. Wednesday, September 15 in Room A242b, Building A, on Harper's main campus, 1200 W. Algonquin Road in Palatine. It is the latest offering in the 2010-11 Harper Heritage Seminar Series, a collection of free monthly sessions sponsored by the College's Educational Foundation. The series covers a wide range of topics, from September's realty how-to session to saving for college, understanding the estate tax, dealing with end-of-life issues like ethical wills and advanced directives and estate planning for second marriages. The series is in its second year; sessions are led by volunteers as a public service to the Harper community. O'Connor is a broker associate with Re/Max Unlimited Northwest in Palatine, and has logged three decades selling real estate. She is a graduate of Loyola University in Chicago and a former Certified Financial Planner. Session participants are asked to register in advance. To register, visit or call 847.925.6490.


Future free seminars include:


Saving for College: For Your Children and Grandchildren - 7 p.m. Wednesday, October 6. A team of presenters will cover the basics of planning now for future higher education costs.


Estate Planning for Second Marriages - 7 p.m. Wednesday, November 17 and noon Thursday, November 18. Attorney Robert Glorch will discuss the intricacies and unforeseen challenges that can arise in estate planning amid the realities of remarriage and blended families.


Income Tax Strategies - 7 p.m. Wednesday, December 8. Ahead of the income tax season, accountant Craig Levin will deliver strategies for getting the most out of your returns.


Market Update and Outlook - 7 p.m. Wednesday, January 19 and noon Thursday, January 20. Harper Economics Professor Getachew Begashaw will address America's economic realities.


Estate Tax Update: Impact on Legacy Planning - 7 p.m. Wednesday, February 23 and noon Thursday, February 24. Attorney Robert Glorch will cover the latest Estate Tax laws.


Real Estate in Turbulent Times: What Every Buyer/Seller Should Know - 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 16 and noon Thursday, March 17. Real estate broker associate Rita O'Connor addresses savvy trick for navigating a tough realty market.


Charitable Giving: What to Know When Making a Difference - 7 p.m. Wednesday, April 13 and noon Thursday, April 14. Attorney Robert Glorch will team with Katherine Sawyer, Associate Executive Director of Harper's Educational Foundation, to provide an overview of what to look for in a charity when deciding how to distribute your donations.


End of Life Issues: Ethical Wills, Advanced Directives and Family Discussion - 7 p.m. Wednesday, May 4 and noon Thursday, May 5. Lawyer Bruce Roberts, an estate planning expert, will offer an explanation of end-of-life issues and tips for addressing them with family.


Press Contact: Erin Brooks, Media Relations Specialist, 847.925.6159,


Autism Speaker

For three decades, Jane Thierfeld Brown has focused her research on students with autism and Asperger Syndrome and their experiences in higher education. She's used that knowledge to help students with Autism Spectrum Disorders explore college options before enrolling, and navigate the college scene once they're there. This month, she'll bring her expertise to Harper College for a community seminar on those issues and others, addressing the realities of college life, life adjustments and the ensuing career transition from the perspective of students with Autism Spectrum Disorders. Brown's talk, from 7 to 9 p.m. Tuesday, September 14 in the College's Performing Arts Center, is free and open to the public, and will conclude with a question-and-answer session. Sponsored by Harper's Access and Disability Services Department in cooperation with Passage, an Asperger advocacy and support group, the seminar will kick off a trio of Harper discussions on Asperger Syndrome and autism; later conversations will specifically target College counselors, faculty, and student activities and student affairs staff. Brown's visit comes amid a continued increase in Asperger and autism diagnoses and increased news headlines addressing the disorders. "These will be timely discussions and important discussions that, as a higher education institution that strives to serve all members of our community to our greatest ability, we must have," says Tom Thompson, Director of Disability Services. "The community forum in particular will provide us an excellent chance to have tough questions answered by a true expert." Brown is director for student services at the University of Connecticut School of Law and co-director of College Autism Spectrum, a support organization for students on the Autism Spectrum, their families, and the schools and colleges they attend. She also authored "A Professional Guide to Students with Asperger Syndrome." No RSVP is required for the community forum. For more information, call 847.925.6266.

Media Note: Jane Thierfeld Brown is available for interviews in advance of and during her Harper visit. Contact Erin Brooks, Media Relations Specialist, at 847.925.6159 or to arrange an interview time.


Bolstering Businesses

The key to having loyal, engaged employees: trust. Harper College will offer an overview of the simple but crucial link between trust and business success at a "Building an Environment of Trust" seminar from 7:30 to 11:30 a.m. Wednesday, September 15 at the Wojcik Conference Center on the College's main campus, 1200 W. Algonquin Road in Palatine. The session is the latest in Harper's 2010-2011 "Grab the Ring" Leadership Seminars series, a collection of four-hour programs on topics ranging from motivating and developing others to resolving conflict, leading high-performance teams and setting appropriate performance expectations. The training-and-networking program is geared to rising suburban business leaders; participants can design their own program by choosing the seminars that best fit their needs or attending all nine. "Business continues to evolve, particularly in a time when America is climbing out of a recession," says Maria Coons, who oversees Harper College for Business. "This series will help local leaders learn best practices, meet the demands of their current positions and increase productivity so they can get their business where it needs to go - even in tough times." Harper College for Business, which provides training, development, tuition help, small business support and more for employers throughout the Northwest suburbs, is sponsoring the annual training series in partnership with Development Dimensions International, a talent management company. Sessions are facilitated by a Harper College for Business consultant. The cost is $149 per session; that includes breakfast and materials. To register, or for a complete list of upcoming seminar topics and dates, call 847.925.6640 or visit

Press Contact: Erin Brooks, Media Relations Specialist, 847.925.6159,


Photo Opportunities

Event: Harper Hullabaloo. The annual student back-to-class expo will include representatives from a host of Harper clubs and organizations and a collection of free activities, including tarot card readings, free prizes, a handwriting analysis station and airbrush tattoos.

Date: 11 a.m. Tuesday, September 14

Location: Harper Quad (outside Buildings L, F and D)

Press Contact: Terry Karow, Marketing and Public Relations Specialist, 847.925.6627,


Event: Academy Award-winning screenwriter Mark Boal talking with Honors Society students

Date: Wednesday, September 15 (call for exact time and location)

Press Contact: Terry Karow, Marketing and Public Relations Specialist, 847.925.6627,


Event: Community Seminar featuring Autism Spectrum Disorders expert Jane Thierfeld Brown

Date: 7 to 9 p.m. Tuesday, September 14

Location: Performing Arts Center

Press Contact: Erin Brooks, Media Relations Specialist, 847.925.6159,


Event: Northeast Center Open House (part of annual Community Fitness Walk)

Date: 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday, September 19

Location: Northeast Center, 1375 S. Wolf Road, Prospect Heights

Press Contact: Erin Brooks, Media Relations Specialist, 847.925.6159,