Monthly Archives: January 2019

There’s More to Academics Than Picking a Major

Part of choosing a college involves thinking about what program you want to study. With over 70 degrees and programs offered at PUC, whatever your passion, we’ve got a program for you! (Pssst! You can learn more about all of the college’s programs at puc.edu/academics.)

There’s also a lot more to academics than deciding on your major. Here are five academic-related questions students frequently ask during PUC’s admissions process. Reach out to PUC’s team of admissions counselors if you have additional questions or need clarification on anything!

What does the typical day of a college student look like?

Every day will probably be different! Sorry, it’s a frustrating answer, but it’s the truth. Most classes at PUC meet three or four times a week, so you’ll likely have different classes on different days. Some classes are an hour, while others might be three hours (like a lab). Depending on your schedule, you might have classes all in the morning or all in the afternoon. You’ll have lots of free time, but it’s important to balance your time well. Which leads to the next question …

How much should I plan to study each week?

As a general rule of thumb, most professors say college students should expect to spend about two hours studying per week for each credit hour they take. A full load at PUC is considered to be 16 credits, which means about 16 hours of your week is spent in class, and you should try to block out about 32 hours a week to prepare for classes. Class prep includes homework, reading, and any other assignments. Don’t panic though, you probably won’t spend all that time studying, as it can fluctuate based on papers, projects, and other things. To give you a better idea of what to expect, USA Today found the average college student spends about 17 hours per week preparing for their classes.

What if I don’t know what I want to study?

Don’t worry if you haven’t picked a major yet! You’ll be fine. Research suggests as many as 80 percent of college students change their major at least once, while the average student changes their major up to three times. Understandably then, many students come to college without knowing exactly what they want to study.

The beauty of PUC being a liberal arts college is you will need to take classes in many different subjects to fulfill your General Education requirements (You can read more about those in the “What on Earth are General Education Requirements?!” blog post). This is the perfect way to try something new while learning about your strengths to see whether or not you’re interested in a subject enough to major in it. Each quarter, there are hundreds of class options available to you, including classes on such topics as business law, fencing, American government, ceramics, anatomy, Christian ethics, creative writing, computer programming, and so much more.

If you’re struggling to see where your future is headed, there are also many resources available to you at PUC. Through the Career and Counseling Center, you’ll have access to multiple personality tests, interest surveys, and our career counselor will happily give you one-on-one career counseling. We’ll help you find where God is calling you.

Learn more about PUC’s Career and Counseling Center.

What academic resources does PUC have to help me with my studies?

The Teaching and Learning Center (TLC) offers free group tutoring Sunday through Thursday for more than 25 different courses, ranging from business to languages to science. Most lower-division GE courses have tutoring options available. If you’re struggling with a class but don’t see a tutoring option available, talk with the helpful TLC staff and they can set you up with a small group or an individual tutor. There’s also a writing lab available to students who would like input and direction on writing papers—take advantage of this service!

For those with a learning disability, be sure to contact the disabilities support service coordinator in the TLC when you are on campus to learn more about the accommodations we provide.

Learn more about PUC’s Teaching and Learning Center.

How do I register for classes?

For your first quarter, you’ll work with your admissions counselor to get registered for classes. Then, once you’re a student, you will be assigned an advisor in the area you’re studying. For example, if you’re planning to study business, your advisor will be a professor in the department of business (helpful, right?). Your advisor knows the ins and outs of their department’s programs and will be a valuable source for any questions you have about what classes you should take, what major you should consider for your career path, and more. Every quarter your advisor will need to approve your schedule, which is a great safety net for making sure you stay on track to complete your degree!

We have a team of five amazing admissions counselors ready to help you throughout the application process with any questions you have along the way, whether you have questions about admissions requirements, financial aid, or one of PUC’s academic programs. Call (800) 862-7080, option 2 or email admissions@puc.edu to get connected with one now!

Five Ways to Add Vitamin N(ature) to Your Diet

Do you know there are studies that show being in nature actually makes you smarter? (Don’t believe us? Check out our “Five Reasons Why Being in Nature is Good for You” blog post to learn more!) What better place to spend your college years than surrounded by hundreds of acres of beautiful forest, trails, and vineyards! The peaceful setting provides the perfect atmosphere for students, whether you’re studying outside on a blanket or taking a break to adventure into the forest.

If you’re looking for ways to incorporate nature into your life, here are five suggestions of outdoor activities to do while you’re a student at PUC!

Hike to Inspiration Point

PUC’s back 40 property has over 30 miles of hiking and biking trails, across ridges and valleys. Ask most students at PUC, and they’ll tell you their favorite Sabbath afternoon hike is to Inspiration Point, which is a huge cliff (safely cordoned off with a railing!) with a lookout offering beautiful vistas of the neighboring Pope Valley.

Marvel at the Wonders of Linda Falls

Did you know there’s a waterfall near PUC? A short hike from campus takes you to the infamous Linda Falls, where you can climb around moss-covered rocks, get your feet wet, or just relax and take in its magical and peaceful sights.

Star Gaze at the Young Observatory

Napa Valley’s incredible views don’t just include what you can see from the top of a mountain. Look up! The college’s Young Observatory, a fully functional and modern observatory that is the prized jewel of the department of physics, offers the opportunity to gaze into the heavens. Spot the Big-Dipper or catch a glimpse of a shooting star. Featuring a Celestron (CGE1400 14-inch Schmidt with a 3910 mm focal length) telescope, the observatory is used for lab classes twice a week by Astronomy classes and open for public viewings two or three Friday nights per quarter.

See the Sights at Mount St. Helena

The most strenuous on this list, the hike up the majestic Mount St. Helena in nearby Calistoga is a 2,068-foot climb over 5.1 miles to the summit. Once you’re at the top though, your hard work is rewarded with breathtaking views of the valley terrain below. On clear days, Mt. Tamalpais in Marin and Mt. Diablo near Walnut Creek can be seen, and some have even claimed to see Mt. Shasta, 192 miles away.

Explore Beyond the Valley

Northern California has limitless options for PUC students interested in spending time outdoors beyond just what’s in the Napa Valley. There are plenty of beaches within a short distance of the college. Grab a blanket, a Frisbee, a guitar, and your friends and spend an afternoon on the coast. You can also raft down the Russian River, ski at Lake Tahoe, and surf at Ocean Beach in San Francisco. With so much to explore, you’ll never be bored!   

We love living in Northern California, and we know you’re going to love living here too.

#FacultyFriday: Meet Patrick Benner

Some people are surprised to learn librarians are faculty, and they teach, too! Patrick Benner has been teaching college students how to find the resources they need since before the internet was a thing (sorry, Patrick!), and he’s really good at it. His office is really easy to find (at the end of the circulation desk in the library lobby), so pop in and say hi, or ask him a question. He’s also got some pretty cool technology toys (and relics!) in there. Go check it out!

Name: Patrick Benner
Title: Systems Librarian & Department Chair / Library Director
Email: pbenner@puc.edu
Faculty since: 1997

Classes Taught: All librarians teach as guest lecturers on information literacy—discerning good sources from poor sources, how to make use of the library’s extensive resources, and how to improve your search strategies and chances of finding what you are looking for. Each of us is assigned to work with certain departments. I work with all the fun ones which include Math, Physics, Chemistry, Aviation, Nursing, and Emergency Services.

Education: B.S. in computer science, Pacific Union College; M.L.I.S. from the University of California-San Jose

Where did you grow up, and what did you want to be when you grew up?

I was born in Sacramento General Hospital and grew up in the capital city, mainly the northern areas of Fair Oaks, Carmichael, and Citrus Heights. I remember as a little dude I wanted to be a scientist and later on an archeologist. As my relationship with God began to develop, I started aspiring to be a missionary. Yes, I read ALL the missionary story books by Josephine Cunnington Edwards and others. Years later I was overjoyed to be able to serve as a student missionary teaching math, science, English, and Bible.

So what made you want to become a librarian?

Someone bet my mother she couldn’t teach me to read before I was 3 years old. Big mistake. My mother rarely lost bets and according to her, by the time I was two and a half I had learned my alphabet and was reading. I remember stacks of word cards that started out small like “the” and “cat” and then went up to larger words like “something” and “purpose.” I have been an avid reader ever since. In the grocery store, I talked mom into buying me a copy of Alice in Wonderland I saw on a book rack when I was probably 8. I LOVED libraries but they were never close enough to where I lived. I was thrilled when I got to Junior High because the large campus for the 2,000 7th & 8th graders had their own library. I was constantly checking out books reading my way through each genre they had. Towards the end of my 7th-grade year, I had spent so much time in the library the librarian actually approached me and asked if I was interested in working there the next school year. Wow, I thought I had died and gone to book heaven!

What does a typical day look like for you?

A typical day for me is unpredictable. It may include things like helping a student find sources for a paper, answering tech support questions, gathering statistics for federal reports, dealing with a flood in the lower bathrooms, teaching a class in the computer lab, tracking down a bug in the code of the library room reservations website, attending administrative committee meetings, updating the Faculty Handbook, directing student workers, planning for future changes to our physical spaces, interacting with a multitude of vendors who supply us with many resources we subscribe to and purchase, troubleshooting malfunctioning printers, scanners, computers, or any of the associated software, buying equipment or repair tools or software or online databases, and, of course, answering phone calls and emails.

Where is your favorite spot in the PUC library?

I think it’s right here in my office because it’s close to the front lobby where the students come and go and it makes it easy for them to pop in to say “hi” or to ask a question.

What are some of your hobbies?

Hmmm let’s see, besides reading (is that a hobby?) I do enjoy dabbling in astronomy, chemistry, electronics, geology, biology, physics … mostly with kids. Actually, I’d say kids are my main hobby. Starting in high school (Sacramento Adventist Academy) I have been involved with church day camps, summer camps, Sabbath School primary and juniors, Pathfinders, etc. everywhere I have been. My other main “hobby” is spending time with Angwin Ambulance as a volunteer EMT and ambulance driver.

Who is one of your favorite authors?

Wow, if I have to start picking I will say Richard Feynman and Oliver Sacks. Oh, and Mary Roach is super quirky and educational; I love her audio books. Was I supposed to only pick one?

What’s something people may be surprised to learn about you?

I worked for 11 years in Lincoln, Nebraska, for Christian Record Services for the Blind and Deaf. During that time I learned enough sign language to converse and also helped our deaf services department create the Pathfinder honor for sign language.

Five Commonly Asked Admissions Questions

Choosing the right college is one of the most important decisions of your life. Like most seniors, you will likely apply to a variety of colleges before deciding where you plan to spend the next four years. It can be a lot to keep track of, and each college can have a slightly different process. Here are five of the most commonly asked questions during PUC’s admissions process. Reach out to PUC’s team of admissions counselors if you have additional questions or need clarification on anything!

Is there an application fee?

No! Our application is always free and can be found online at puc.edu/apply. It’s simple and should take less than 10 minutes to fill out.

What are PUC’s admissions requirements?

For first-time college students (aka incoming freshmen), you need to submit the following:

  • Submit one letter of reference, written by someone who knows you but isn’t a relative
  • Send in your transcripts; unofficial copies are fine, but you will need to eventually submit an official copy, showing graduation
    • Have secondary-school (high school) graduation, or its equivalent, with an unweighted core GPA of at least 2.5

For more information about admissions requirements, visit puc.edu/admissions.

Does PUC require test scores?

A little different than most state and public schools, we don’t require test scores for admission for first-time college students, with the exception being for admission on academic probation and for international students.

The only real deadline for submitting test scores is the first day of school, as they are required to begin classes. However, waiting until then to submit your scores can impact what classes you’re able to register for, as test scores are used for placement into Math and English classes. This could also negatively impact how much financial aid you qualify for since PUC’s merit scholarships are based on either GPA or test scores. The sooner you send in your test scores, the better! You might even consider retaking the ACT or SAT.

For transfer students, test scores are only required for students who have not successfully taken the equivalent to College Algebra or English 101.

PUC accepts both the ACT and the SAT. PUC’s school codes are 0362 (ACT) and 4600 (SAT).

How long does it take to receive a decision letter?

As soon as we receive the necessary documents, your application will be reviewed for acceptance. If you are accepted, you will receive an email within 1-2 days, with an official letter following in the mail several days later.

What can I do once I’m accepted?

Celebrate! You deserve to be proud of your accomplishment. Then, it’s time to get back to work, doing all sorts of fun things like submitting your health forms, registering for your fall classes, finalizing your housing plans, and getting financially cleared. Visit puc.edu/alreadyaccepted and talk with your admissions counselor to see what you can start working on once you’re accepted.

We have a team of five amazing admissions counselors ready to help you throughout the application process with any questions that you have along the way. Call (800) 862-7080, option 2 or email admissions@puc.edu to get connected with one now!

Q&A with Winter Revival Speaker Aren Rennacker

By Becky St. Clair

Aren Rennacker is currently the youth and college pastor at the Calimesa Seventh-day Adventist Church. After graduating in 2007 from Sacramento Adventist Academy, Aren went on to earn his bachelor’s degree in PR and journalism from PUC in 2011, then his master’s in theological studies from La Sierra University in 2017.

One of four kids, Aren has myriad stories from his childhood, during which he dreamed of winning a spot on an NBA team.

He will be speaking during PUC’s Winter Revival, Jan. 22-25, and his theme is “Authentic.” We caught up with Aren so we could all get to know him a little better (how did he go from basketball star to youth pastor?) as we prepare to receive his insights on authenticity and God next week.

Why did you choose “Authentic” as your theme?

It’s such a unique time to be alive right now, and particularly to be in college. Students are forming their identities in the midst of a lot of distrust, competition, pressure, and confusion. These can all contribute to misunderstandings about oneself and what it means to be human. My hope is for one week, we can practically examine the journey of growing as a child of God, and how that actually is meant to allow for more authenticity in our lives, not less. I truly hope our time together is engaging, practical, and genuine to the students’ experiences.

What was your experience with church and worship as a college student, and how has that affected your life today?

Friday night vespers at PUC were always a highlight. I spent most Sabbaths with Kidz Reach, a group that mentored at-risk youth in Napa. Also, the religion classes were outstanding. Truly, the entire spiritual environment at PUC helped me grow in a lot of ways and led me into pursuing ministry. I remain grateful to this day for the teachers and leaders I had as guides during those years.

What’s something that challenged you as a young adult, and how did you handle it?

At the end of my freshman year, I was asked to take a year off to serve as the youth leader at a local church. At that time I still wanted to be a sports journalist and had no desire to be a pastor; however, I felt saying “no” would upset God.

I met with a mentor of mine to process the decision, and he helped me see God was not for me or against me based on my decision, but both “yes” and “no” could be the right or wrong answer based upon how I chose to spend the next year. That took a lot of the pressure off and helped me see God in a healthier way.

I decided to return to PUC that year recommitted to serving God on campus. And, what do you know, by the end of that year I decided I wanted to pursue a career as a youth pastor instead of as a journalist.

What were you like as a kid?

I was the youngest of four and I’m sure I acted like it. Fortunately, my mom and siblings were patient and helped create a great childhood for me. Sports were my passion, and I always wanted to be watching, playing, or reading about them. Reading the sports page in the newspaper every day helped cultivate my love for writing, and obsessing over the Sacramento Kings helped me acclimate to taking losses. Despite that, I was a generally happy kid who enjoyed school and loved my family.

What is your favorite food to eat?

My favorite food category is ice cream. (Is that a category?) Seriously, though, if I were to have one plate of anything, it would be my mom’s French toast. She’s the only one in the world who can make it her way.

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

I still enjoy playing basketball, and I’m hoping to play some while I’m up at PUC. I’m currently in the middle of several good books, including Under the Overpass, an account of two guys who chose to become homeless for five months to better understand what others experience. But my favorite free time activity is spending time with my girlfriend, Paige, which usually means a game of Uno, an episode of The Office, or a bowl of acai. Better yet: all three.

What are some items on your bucket list?

This is a timely question because I turn 30 this summer, meaning I should probably do some life reflecting. Some of the things I’ve done are travel the U.S., work at a job I love, and see the Giants win the World Series (three times). I’d still love to run a half marathon, write a book, and star on Broadway. Dream big.

What would you say is your main goal for Winter Revival?

My ultimate goal for the week would be for those listening to be willing to process or wrestle with at least one new idea or perspective they hear. Living within a faith community can often numb us to yet another message (myself included), so if any student or staff actually feel something they hear is worth consuming and thinking over, perhaps even discussing with a friend, I’d be honored and grateful. I simply long to be a small part in the journey of growth for anybody who will allow me to be.

If, in the course of said discussions or ponderings, a student has questions or just wants to connect with you about things, how can they reach you?

I would love to talk in person while I’m on the hill, or they can reach me at asrennacker@gmail.com.

#FacultyFriday: Meet Marie Pak

Dr. Marie Pak, professor in the department of chemistry, has been teaching at PUC for close to two decades, since 1999. She specializes in biochemistry and spent six years as a postdoctoral research fellow at the National Institutes of Health in Rockville, Maryland. She enjoys reading, going to state fairs, and watching movies. Let’s spend a few minutes getting to know Dr. Pak!

Name: Dr. Marie Pak
Title: Professor of Chemistry
Email: mpak@puc.edu
Faculty since:  1999

Classes taught: Introductory Chemistry, Survey of Organic Chemistry, Survey of Biochemistry, Biochemistry, Biochemistry Lab

Education: B.S. in Biochemistry from Indiana University, M.S. and Ph.D. in Developmental and Molecular Biology from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine

What made you decide to be a teacher?  

Teaching allowed me to share my passion for chemistry and to have time for my son.

What are some of your hobbies?  

I enjoy cooking, watching documentaries, reading, going to state fairs, and nurturing plants.

What’s something people might be surprised to know about you?  

I know some NASCAR trivia.

What’s your favorite thing about PUC?  

PUC’s serene environment and its trees.

What’s your favorite spot on campus?  

Chan Shun 328 laboratory with windows.

What’s your favorite movie? (pick one)

“Seven Samurai”

What advice would you give to an incoming freshman?  

Follow your heart when choosing your major.

Professional activities (Note: Only the most recent three in each category are listed.)

Publications

  1. Pak, J.R. Hoskins, S.K. Singh, M. Maurizi, and S. Wickner (1999).  Concurrent chaperone and protease activities of ClpAP and the requirement for the N-terminal ClpA ATP binding site for chaperone activity.  The Journal of Biological Chemistry, 274, 19316-19322.
  2. Anderson, L. Phan, R. Cuesta, B.A. Carlson, M. Pak, K. Asano, G.R. Bjork, M. Tamame, and A.G. Hinnebusch (1998).  The essential Gcd10p-Gcd14p nuclear complex is required for 1-methyladenosine modification and maturation of initiator methionyl-tRNA.  Genes Dev., 12, 3650-3662.

Presentations

  1. Pak and S. Wickner (1996).  Molecular chaperone function of ClpA in plasmid P1 RepA activation and degradation. Protein folding and assembly in the cell, FASEB summer research conference, July 27-Aug 1, Saxtons River, Vermont.
  2. Pak, H. Pelka, I. Willis, and L.H. Schulman (1993).  In vivostudy of E. colitRNATrpidentity.  15th international tRNA workshop, May 30-June 4, Cap d’Agde, France.

Five Commonly Asked Financial Aid Questions

As you can imagine, college finances are a hot topic for prospective students and parents. While some things are more difficult to explain than others, here are five of the most commonly asked questions and very simple answers to help get you started. Reach out to PUC’s team of financial aid counselors if you have additional questions or need clarification on anything!

How do I apply for financial aid at PUC?

The most important thing you can do is file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The FAFSA is an online form you will submit each year that determines your eligibility for student financial aid. Filing the FAFSA also potentially qualifies you for a Pell Grant, which is a subsidy from the U.S. federal government, and is something you don’t have to pay back. Amounts can change each year, but for the 2018-2019 award year, the maximum Pell Grant award is $6,095.

According to a study by NerdWallet, in 2014 U.S. high school graduates left a whopping $2.9 billion in free federal grant money on the table just by not completing the FAFSA, which made them ineligible for a Pell Grant. In our great state of California, over 100,000 seniors would have qualified for Pell Grants if they had filed their FAFSA, but as a result, they lost $396,401,205. See how critical it can be for you to take the time to do the FAFSA?

If you live in California, we also strongly recommend you apply for Cal Grant. Cal Grant is a financial aid program administered by the California Student Aid Commission that provides aid to California undergraduates, vocational training students, and those in teacher certification programs. The short version: A Cal Grant is money for college you don’t have to pay back!

Cal Grants can be used at most colleges in California. If you’re planning on attending a private non-profit California college like PUC, Cal Grant is worth up to $9,084 per year. That’s over $36,000 to help pay for four years of college—and it’s free!

Don’t forget to apply for PUC scholarships as well. Visit puc.edu/scholarships to see everything we offer as well as scholarship requirements, deadlines, and their applications.

How can I get an estimate of what PUC might cost me?

Once we have your FAFSA data on file, our team of financial aid counselors can determine how much financial aid you are eligible for and create a personalized estimate where you can see how much per month it would cost to attend PUC. It’s incredibly helpful and absolutely an essential thing for you to have when making a decision about where to attend college.

While you wait for your estimate, you can also use PUC’s net price calculator to receive a free preliminary estimate of your aid eligibility, including grants, loans, and PUC scholarships.

Should I apply for aid anyway, even I think I won’t qualify for anything?

Yes, absolutely! Even if you think you won’t qualify for financial aid, or if you aren’t planning on taking out loans, it’s still recommended you file FAFSA. It might surprise you what you qualify for! Many families mistakenly think they won’t be eligible for aid and prevent themselves from receiving financial aid by failing to apply for it. There are a few sources of aid such as unsubsidized Stafford and PLUS loans that are available regardless of need. You also never know when your circumstances may change, and it’s always better to have the option of more financial aid available, should you need it.

Where should I look for outside scholarships?

It’s estimated there are 1.5 million scholarships in the United States alone, so it’s time to get to work if you haven’t already started your scholarship search!

Here are several scholarship websites worth checking out: 

Are there jobs at PUC to help pay off my tuition bill?

Having a job while in college can help defray the costs of obtaining a degree, and equip you with some of the necessary skills needed to enter the workforce post-graduation. In 2017-18 approximately 500 students were working on-campus at PUC, some with multiple jobs. Learn more by reading our “How to Get a Student Job at PUC” blog post!

Our Student Finance team is here to help if you have questions about financial aid and scholarships. Call (800) 862-7080, option 1 or email studentfinance@puc.edu to get connected with a financial aid counselor now.