INTERNET SCOPING SCHOOL EXPERIENCE — The past 11 months
Current Student Perspective — for info on what it is like to be a “practicing” scopist, there are others on the FB group who have offered their help with that — as I will down the road:)
Katherine (Kate) Mulderig
•Decision to enroll: Last spring I took the introductory module to a proofreading course and actually learned about scoping through that. I think it may have been in one of the connected blogs on the website. After extensive research with Googling everything I could find on scoping (the best work-at-home career that you never heard of!), I decided it was a “meatier” and more challenging career choice, and the potential income was much higher, so I enrolled with ISS at the end of July 2018. Additionally, from my research, there seems to be a shortage of good scopists, with “good” being the key word here. There definitely seems to be a supply-and-demand issue, which is a good thing, as Martha says. Another element that I took into consideration was the explosion of the proofreading course and its graduates. There appears to be a flooding of the transcript proofreading market at this time — a lot fewer scopists out there than proofreaders which equals more job opportunity.
•Cost: I do not feel that the cost, based on a return-on-investment approach, is high at all. I believe it is worth every penny, including the software (it does amazing things)! The old adage that you “have to spend money to make money” is true in this case. I chose to do the monthly payment plan, and while you pay a bit more in total by the end, it spreads out the cost and makes it much easier to do a predictable budget each month. The cost is comparable to one or two college classes, but with ISS tuition, you are getting an entire “degree” program that will lead to a new career.
•Curriculum: It is extremely comprehensive and detailed; more importantly, it is “scaffolded”: The next lesson is built on prior knowledge from previous lessons and includes practice from the previous lessons, which helps with information retention. As someone who has designed and implemented curriculum in my professional life, this is what you strive for in writing a successful curriculum that will lead to student achievement.
•Course Modules: All are very rigorous and very dense in information. Get your “memorize hat” on. Some students will enjoy some modules more than other ones or find some modules easier based on past life experiences. My favorite module: steno notereading. It’s like learning a secret language; I loved it! My easiest module: medical terminology: I took a med term course and worked as a med secretary many eons ago before finishing my teaching degree.
My most intense module: the software. There is so much to learn, memorize, and practice in this module (becoming a “keyboard” person, not a mouse person, has been quite challenging). BUT all the other modules mean absolutely nothing if you do not get this one firmly down and implanted in your brain and muscle memory. You need the software expertise to scope the transcript!
•Timeline for completion: Originally, it was a six-month plan, but of course, the best laid plans of mice and men… Three serious life events occurred that waylaid my timeline. Such is life. I had several one-month periods that I worked very little or not at all on the course due to these events. So it will be a total of a year’s time when I complete the course at the end of next month. I do put approximately 3-4 hours a day, seven days a week, into studying and practicing. Flashcards are my best friends; they are portable, great for reviewing steno, med terminology, and keyboard commands — at stop lights, waiting rooms, and road trips (not while driving, of course).
•This course could be done in six months with a rigorous study schedule of approximately 4-6 hours per day, five days a week. But, actually, I think it is more important to really master the material and be ready to accept client]s AND do a superb job for them. With racing the clock or calendar to complete the course, you risk becoming a “half-baked” scopist. Reputation is everything, and once it is tarnished, it is hard — if not impossible — to put the shine back on again.
•Constant, continual curriculum review: As I move through the course, I set aside 30 minutes a day to review the previous modules, especially the steno. I practice my notereading all of the time, even if it is only for ten minutes. And what I have found from the practice transcripts in the software module is that every CR writes his or her words and briefs differently. So having a good foundation in notereading is essential. That foundation will allow you to translate almost anything with a bit of detective work. I also review the Grammar/Punctuation module and LMEG a few times a week, as a lot of the verbatim court reporter/transcript English differs from standard English rules that have been burned into my brain over the years. All of this review just keeps everything current and fresh in my mind, so I am ready to roll when I pass my final exam (hopefully on the first try).
•Other outside research and study: I research to find all sorts of transcript formats, download them, and review them to become familiar with “all things transcripts.” I started watching the Case Catalyst training videos on YouTube way before I even started the software module. The videos were great to get a basic understanding of what I would be working with in the software module. They proved to be immensely helpful. Also, I have joined several closed FB groups where I pick up interesting and valuable information on the world of scoping (positive and negative). Some have a bit of “drama” on them before the moderators get a chance to remove it (do not go down the rabbit hole!) Some of the FB groups are as follows: Scopists & Proofreaders-NCRA, Court Reporter/Scopist Connection, Case CATalyst Reporters and Users, Case CATalyst Training by Jill Suttenberg, New York State Court Reporters Association, Just For Scopists, The Court Report/Scopist Connection (different from above mentioned), Triple Threat Scoping Job Board, Punctuation Rules-Lillian Morson, Internet Scoping School (of course), Margie Holds Court, NCRA, Grammar Girl, and Grammarly.
•Course Instruction Support: Topnotch! While I am not a student who seeks a lot of additional support, Linda has always quickly answered any questions that have cropped up or explained something that I did not quite the first time around, especially on the tests. Feedback is so important with tests, or else you have no clue what you need to correct and restudy! And from
what I have read from other students, the support is across the board whether you have a million questions or just a few. This course would be very difficult, and most likely impossible, without Linda’s support, encouragement, AND her sense of humor! •Marketing module: I am not there yet, but after retiring from education, I owned my own business for five years, so I am fairly adept in this area. What I have done in the past few months is a lot of research on other scopist and proofreader websites (bookmarked folder), so I have a good idea of the rates, policies, and resources (like sendthisfile, dropbox, google wallet, preference sheets) that other scopists use in their business. Currently, I am working on building my website using Wix.com and keeping it very simple and clean (easy to read with a good amount of white space for the eye to rest). I will also be revamping my LinkenIn page and most likely doing a FB page just for business purposes. As for all that, that stuff is great, but from my experience in the business world, the important “marketing” tool is word-of-mouth advertising. Nothing compares to that!
SUMMARY: This is my “third” act, so to speak. I turned 60 last year and look forward to at least another 40 years (yes, I plan on living to be 100). Becoming a scoping student has been one of the best decisions I have ever made; I only wish I discovered this opportunity sooner!
If you are willing to invest the time, money, and hard work (this is not an easy course, but the work will definitely keep you engaged), want an interesting and intellectually challenging job that you can do long into your “golden years,” if you so desire, and want to work at home as your own “master and commander,” then scoping may just be for you. And if so, then I highly recommend ISS to ensure that you meet your goal and have a productive, enjoyable career. From my experience with ISS so far, I do believe that this course (and LindaE) will give you all the knowledge and tools you need to be a successful and much-sought-after scopist. Please feel free to email me with any questions; I will gladly answer them if I can.
“Get a compass, forget the clock.”