Betsy Esposito and Michelle Wiley: Penn State World Campus Academic Support Specialists

July 28th, 2016 by
Michelle Wiley at a Paul McCartney concert.

Betsy Esposito and Michelle Wiley at a Paul McCartney concert.

Betsy Esposito and Michelle Wiley are academic support specialists who interact with students on a daily basis to help them understand the tools they need to be successful in an online learning environment. They have helped countless students while building a strong friendship with each other during their time at Penn State.

 

 

Tell me about your roles as academic support specialists.

Betsy: I’m happy to be part of a team dedicated to helping Penn State World Campus students be academically successful.

Michelle: Most of the work I do is “behind the scenes” to review data and research best practices for helping students meet their academic goals.

How do your projects support Penn State World Campus academics?

We have many programs that support the academic success of students, including Transitions: College and Career Prep; Tech Camp; Math Essentials; and SmarterMeasure.

Transitions: College and Career Prep is a free, nine-week, noncredit course for students considering Penn State World Campus. The course builds academic skills and helps students develop educational/career plans. In my role, I talk with every student prior to the course in order to make sure the program is a good fit for them.

Tech Camp is another free, noncredit course available to students prior to their first semester. Tech Camp introduces students to the essential technology they’ll use as Penn State students, including Canvas, LionPATH, and the University Libraries. On average, 95 percent of the students completing the Tech Camp assessment indicated that the course helped them feel prepared to navigate the technology!

Math Essentials is the perfect four-week course for students who might be feeling anxious about their upcoming math course because they need to build their math/algebra skills and/or it’s just been a long time since they had a math class — both pretty common issues. Students learn to use the technology, work in ALEKS to build skills, gain confidence in math and problem solving, and be ready to start a credit course needed for their degree.

SmarterMeasure is an online readiness assessment for new Penn State World Campus students. This short assessment identifies areas of strength and opportunities for improvement associated with online, technology-rich courses. The assessment is free and only takes about 30 minutes to complete. An academic support specialist is available, by appointment, to review the results with students and offer suggestions for available support options as needed.

Penn State World Campus offers a variety of options for free online tutoring and support for select courses. Our students have access to several resources to help improve understanding of the course material, or better use technology needed for their courses. We work together to ensure students have the support they need to be successful.

What’s the most challenging part of your positions?

Betsy: I’ve always enjoyed having the student physically in my office (ok, it’s really a cube now) for the conversations; I miss that more personal interaction.

Michelle: The most challenging part of my position is not being able to meet with students face-to-face. My background is in K–12 special education, and at times I truly miss the student interaction.

What’s the most rewarding part of your positions?

Betsy: Simply being able to help a student — particularly an adult student — succeed in reaching their goals and moving forward in life.

Michelle: The most rewarding part of my position is being able to help students and their advisers troubleshoot academic issues. I want to see all students be successful. Finding and sharing resources that help a student progress toward his or her goals is probably the most rewarding part.

What’s your best piece of advice for Penn State World Campus students?

Betsy: Learning is not a passive experience — be intentional and engaged, make the most of this opportunity, and don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Michelle: Asking for help is not a sign of weakness but a measure of persistence and perseverance. Our advisers and staff are valuable resources who can assist students with just about any academic issue.

Betsy and Michelle enjoy a walk in the park!

Betsy and Michelle enjoy a walk in the park!

 

How do you both work together on projects to ensure student success?

Betsy: We both have teaching experience, share similar philosophies about what students need to be successful, combine our talents to develop programs for our students, and enjoy working with the academic advisers to help a student work through an issue. We appreciate each other’s good humor and positive attitude on a daily basis — and we talk a lot about how we can keep improving our services.

Michelle: I could not ask for a better co-worker. We combine our knowledge and expertise to develop and share strategies and programs that can assist students in working through difficult courses.

Tell me something interesting that our students might not necessarily know about you.

Betsy: Michelle is a die-hard fan of The Boss, and has been to plenty of Bruce Springsteen concerts. Her goal is to have Bruce select her out of “the pit” to come on stage.

Michelle: Betsy is a music connoisseur. She loves all genres of music and has an exceptional and eclectic playlist that includes a variety of artists from Blake Shelton to Paul McCartney. Betsy loves the beach and has a goal of making it to Siesta Key sometime in the near future!

Receiving and Paying Your Bill in LionPATH: What You Need to Know

July 25th, 2016 by
Pay Bill

GotCredit, flickr

Starting with the fall 2016 semester, Penn State World Campus students will receive and pay bills in LionPATH. Continuing students may notice several changes from previous semesters. Here’s a quick guide to how billing will work in LionPATH and what you’ll need to know about paying your bill.

The first fall 2016 semester bills will be generated on Monday, August 1, 2016. If you are registered for fall courses by the end of July, your initial fall semester bill will be available for you to view and pay in LionPATH on August 1. If you enroll for fall courses later than this date, you will receive your bill on the first day of the month following the date you enrolled. Your bill will reflect any financial aid you have been awarded and accepted.

You will receive an email to your Penn State email account when your bill is available in LionPATH. You will find your bill in LionPATH in the “Finances” section in the Student Center.

Bills will always be generated on the first of the month, and due on the 22nd of the month. If you receive your fall semester bill on August 1, it will have a due date of August 22.

You can choose to pay your bill via eCheck or credit card. If you choose to pay via credit card, a 1.5 percent convenience fee will be added. If you are using financial aid to pay for all or a portion of your bill, your bill will reflect financial aid that you have been awarded and accepted. To learn more, you can view a tutorial about paying your bill.

If you do not pay your bill by the due date, a 1.5 percent late payment fee will be added, and an enrollment hold will be placed on your account. You will not be able to enroll in any additional courses until you pay your bill, and any future semester courses that you may be enrolled in will be canceled.

If you make changes to your enrollment after your initial semester bill, any adjustments to your bill will be received in the month following the date the changes are made. For example, if you are enrolled in fall courses and receive a bill on August 1, and then during the month of August you drop or add courses, causing your total bill for the semester to change, you would be refunded or billed for any new charges in the following month — September.

If you are using financial aid and you make changes to your course enrollment, your financial aid may be affected. Several factors can impact whether a change to your enrollment will lead to a change in your financial aid. These factors can include the type of aid you are using and the requirements to qualify for that type of aid. You can always contact our Financial Aid Office at 814-867-4244 with questions about your individual financial aid circumstances.

If you are due a refund of excess financial aid, this refund will be processed after your aid disburses. Students often receive refunds within the first two weeks after courses begin. You should plan to pay for everything you need to begin your courses, including books and materials, without relying on your refund. You can enroll in e-Refund in LionPATH to have your refund directly deposited into your bank account.

If you participate in a deferred or installment payment program or if your tuition is paid by a third party, you and/or the third party will be billed accordingly. This may include the Penn State Installment Payment Plan, the Penn State World Campus Employer Reimbursement and Tuition Deferment Program, or payment of all or a portion of your bill by your employer or the military. As long as you are approved for one of these payment arrangements before your bill is assessed, you will be billed by the terms of your payment arrangement.

New for fall 2016 and going forward: There will be no tuition penalty for courses dropped before the regular drop deadline. A tuition penalty is an amount that you will still be charged for a course you drop. Starting in the fall 2016 semester, you will not be charged a tuition penalty for courses you drop before the regular drop deadline. Note that your individual circumstances, including whether you are in full-time or part-time status and any financial aid you may be using, may affect any adjustments to your bill for dropped courses.

After the regular drop deadline, you will be charged a tuition penalty for any dropped courses, based on the Tuition Adjustment Schedule. The amount of the tuition penalty will depend on how much of the course has already been completed, as detailed in the Tuition Adjustment Schedule.

 Feel free to contact us for additional information and assistance:

  • Contact the Penn State World Campus Bursar Office for billing questions at 814-863-8300 or bfo@outreach.psu.edu.
  • Contact the Penn State World Campus Financial Aid Office for financial aid questions at 814-867-4244 or financialaid@outreach.psu.edu.

Find office hours and additional contact information on our website.

Links We Love: July 15, 2016

July 15th, 2016 by
Links We Love

Links We Love

Here are some of our favorite links from around the web this week:

1. Exploring the role of creativity in business.

2. Ten ways to sneak in a workout.

3. Tech Camp is a free, noncredit course that introduces you to the essential technology you’ll use throughout your time at Penn State World Campus.

4. Learn about why a Penn Stater researcher says that this common practice could make things worse for a crying baby.

5. If you’re in town for the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts, use this app created by Penn State’s College of Information Sciences and Technology to navigate around State College.

Each week we share our favorite articles, stories, videos, and resources. Some of it is our content, some of it is just some great stuff from around the web. Do you have a link that you love that you’d like us to share with our students, alumni, and friends? Leave it in the comments below and maybe you’ll see it featured on our blog!

Links We Love: July 8, 2016

July 8th, 2016 by
Links We Love

Links We Love

Here are our favorite links from the week:

1. Penn State serves up some deliciousness on Pinterest with a new ‘Tailgating Board.’

2. Always late? Here are seven helpful tips to start being on time.

3. Learn the power of the network, with the Penn State Alumni Association.

4. Admissions Counselor, Matt Miller, teaches us how to make the most of military education benefits.

5. Area elementary school students team up with Penn Staters to ‘do the robot.’

Each week we share our favorite articles, stories, videos, and resources. Some of it is our content, some of it is just some great stuff from around the web. Do you have a link that you love that you’d like us to share with our students, alumni, and friends? Leave it in the comments below and maybe you’ll see it featured on our blog!

Understanding Orlando through Picture Books

June 24th, 2016 by

by Emily Kilgore

My heart aches over the horrific news stories that have unfolded over the last several days. It aches because of the terror that must have been felt by victims and their families. It aches because of the way people rush to point fingers of blame, stereotyping whole groups of people. It aches because hate crimes are becoming a new normal. But hate is not normal; I will never accept that to be true. As an elementary teacher, I do my best to show and teach kindness to my students, trying to counter this culture of hate that is stirring around them. Using my background gained with a Master’s Degree in Children’s Literature through Penn State, I strive to bring diverse books into the classroom.

Rudine Sims Bishop, author and professor of children’s literature, uses the terms windows and mirrors when discussing the role of diverse literature in a child’s library. Children should be able to glimpse into other cultures (windows) through reading diverse literature. Equally important, children should also be able to see themselves reflected in the books they read (mirrors). Because I am an educator and adult in society, it is my responsibility to find quality literature that exposes young readers to the world around them. As we keep in mind the horrific events of Orlando, some suggestions follow:

The Great Big Book of Families by Mary Hoffman

The Great Big Book of Families by Mary Hoffman

 

The Great Big Book of Families by Mary Hoffman

This is a book that my students return to again and again throughout the year. Beginning the very first week of school, I read Hoffman’s text to my second graders to get a conversation going about families. Hoffman covers any and every aspect that can make a family unique — from how they behave, to how they look, to what they eat, to what their hobbies are. Students enjoy finding aspects of their own families in the pages while also understanding the overall message that each family is unique and different, but it is still a family — not better, not worse than any other.

Stella Brings the Family by Miriam B. Schiffer

Stella Brings the Family by Miriam B. Schiffer

 

 

Stella Brings the Family by Miriam B. Schiffer

In this story, young Stella is worried about whom to bring to her school’s Mother’s Day celebration. Instead of a mother, Stella has two dads. She goes through the school day worried about what to do, until friends and family help her see that she has many people in her life who act like a mom! Children quickly see that Stella’s worries about fitting in are universal. In the end, they are so excited to see whom she chooses to bring to the celebration!

Malala Yousafzai: Warrior with Words by Karen Leggett Abouraya

Malala Yousafzai: Warrior with Words by Karen Leggett Abouraya

 

Malala Yousafzai: Warrior with Words by Karen Leggett Abouraya

Countless adults know about the heroics of Malala Yousafzai, the youngest-ever Nobel Prize laureate. Her bravery and determination to acquire an education caught the world’s attention, and this book makes the story accessible for young readers. The collage-style illustrations and easy-to-understand language help children see Malala’s courage. My students were engrossed in the story, processing how one girl could fight so hard for the education she believed in.

Golden Domes and Silver Lanterns: A Muslim Book of Colors by Hena Kahn

Golden Domes and Silver Lanterns: A Muslim Book of Colors by Hena Kahn

 

Golden Domes and Silver Lanterns: A Muslim Book of Colors by Hena Kahn

This picture book takes everyday colors and connects them with Muslim culture. Being told from the perspective of a young girl, the reader is shown various elements of Muslim culture, such as “Blue is the hijab/Mom likes to wear./It’s a scarf she uses to cover her hair.” The rhythmic and rhyming text, coupled with the book’s colorful illustrations, draws the reader in, while the connection of everyday colors with Muslim culture fosters new understanding.

While there is a definite lack of diverse literature in our country, there are some quality texts that teachers, parents, and children can find. The four that I mentioned are certainly not an exhaustive list, but instead some suggestions for how to help children see and understand events like the recent Orlando shooting. Encouraging children to learn about other cultures and see themselves reflected in books is crucial for developing kindness and empathy. Reading opens pathways for questions, conversation, and acceptance. What could be better than that?

Military Education Benefits at Penn State World Campus

June 23rd, 2016 by

by Matthew Miller, Military Admissions Counselor

When choosing a college or university, one of the first details that you should take into consideration is how to fund your education. Whether you are a service member, service member’s spouse, or a veteran, Penn State World Campus takes an active role in providing and accommodating education benefits.

If you are seeking an undergraduate education and actively serving in the armed forces, or if you are a spouse of someone who is actively serving, you can take advantage of the Military Grant-in-Aid program offered at Penn State World Campus. This benefit reduces undergraduate tuition rates for World Campus students to $324 per credit.

Penn State World Campus also accepts military tuition assistance (typically $250 per credit and up to $4,500 per year, depending on your branch of service). A service member who utilizes both tuition assistance and Military Grant-in-Aid could possibly have his or her tuition reduced to $74 per credit.  Spouses will also receive the $324 per credit tuition rate, which excludes the information technology fee and purchase of course materials.

Penn State World Campus encourages undergraduate students to file the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) each year. By doing so, you may be eligible for additional funding that will help reduce any out-of-pocket expenses remaining after using benefits like the Military Grant-in-Aid or military tuition assistance. Filing the FAFSA is required if you plan to apply for any Penn State World Campus scholarships, and there are five specifically designed to support service members, veterans, and their spouses. Learn more about scholarships or email financialaid@outreach.psu.edu.

Penn State has a dedicated Office of Veterans Programs that, in addition to serving the University Park campus, serves Penn State World Campus students who are eligible for U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) education benefits. This office helped me figure out my own GI Bill benefit when I first set foot on the University Park campus as a new student. A semester later, it provided me with a work-study opportunity to fill my time between classes, so I am very familiar with the staff’s commitment to student veterans. Our online programs, both undergraduate and graduate, are approved for VA education benefits, such as the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and our VA Certifying Officials are available to assist you with navigating the VA education benefit process.

At Penn State we are honored that students affiliated with the military choose to pursue their education with us. When it comes to financing that education, we want to assist you with maximizing the benefits you’ve earned.

If you have any questions about utilizing an education benefit, please contact the Military Team at Penn State World Campus.

The essentials about Math Essentials

June 21st, 2016 by

The Penn State World Campus Math Essentials course can help you build your math confidence and learn the technology and processes to be successful in your upcoming math course(s). By participating in Math Essentials, you’ll also increase your potential for improving your Assessment and Learning in Knowledge Spaces (ALEKS) placement score.

Math Essentials is a noncredit, tuition-free, four-week course that won’t impact your GPA. The course covers the math materials you need to know going into your intended class — MATH 004, MATH 021, MATH 022, or MATH 110. You will need to purchase an ALEKS subscription, but the subscription you purchase for the Math Essentials experience can also be used for the course. By purchasing the 52-week access to ALEKS math equation360, you gain access to ALEKS, as well as the eBook and textbook resources for all Math 004, MATH 021, and MATH 022 courses. And it’s possible to take those three courses with a 52-week access to ALEKS 360. (MATH 110 is not an ALEKS 360 product, so it is recommended that if you plan to take MATH 110, you should purchase the 6-week access to ALEKS.)

The Math Essentials course also addresses additional skills necessary for math course success, such as study strategies, terminology, time management, and test anxiety. It will also introduce you to Blackboard Collaborate, which is an online learning, live classroom environment.

Tutoring support via Tutor.com is available for Math Essentials’ students. Our instructors want to help you become an independent learner who can plan ahead using a syllabus and course schedule, and know when to ask for and where to seek help when needed.

You’ll need to commit at least 10 hours per week for the Math Essentials course, but it’s an important investment in yourself. Since it is a noncredit course, your participation does not increase your semester credit load.

Consider enrolling in Math Essentials for an upcoming semester, if you:

  • have taken the ALEKS Math Placement Test prep and learning module
  • haven’t taken your first Penn State World Campus math course
  • want to review prior math course material learned years ago

Talk with your academic adviser, or contact Betsy Esposito at bxb4@psu.edu or 814-863-1575.

Important dates

If you are scheduling MATH 004, MATH 021, or MATH 022 for the fall semester, the next Math Essentials course runs from July 11 to August 7.

For those taking MATH 110 in the fall, you can join Math Essentials from July 25 to August 7.

For students scheduling math for the spring 2017 semester, the course runs from November 21 to December 18.

Links We Love: June 8, 2016

June 8th, 2016 by
Links We Love

Links We Love

A collection of our favorite links from around the web:

1. Five tips for choosing an online degree that’s right for you with great information from our military admissions counselor, Matt Miller.

2. Six expert tips for achieving zero inbox every day.

3. Check out our Penn State World Campus Instagram account for great photos of campus and our students!

4. Did you know that Beaver Stadium has a cloud camera?

5. Reasons why you should use your vacation time.

Each week we share our favorite articles, stories, videos, and resources. Some of it is our content, some of it is just some great stuff from around the web. Do you have a link that you love that you’d like us to share with our students, alumni, and friends? Leave it in the comments below and maybe you’ll see it in next week’s edition!

Where I Learn

May 23rd, 2016 by
Student study spaces

Student study spaces

Penn State World Campus students study and complete course assignments in a variety of places and spaces throughout the world. From kitchen counters, to military housing facilities, to on-the-go offices on planes and trains — our students are getting it done!

Here are some examples of where some our students are working right now:

1. Heather Mitterer: The Penn State Home Office

Major: Organizational Leadership

What area would be better to study for my Penn State World Campus degree than in my Penn State–inspired library/office surrounded by blue and white memorabilia?

 2. Jeff Bauer: A Spacious Stage

Major: Letters, Arts, and Sciences

My study space is the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts in St. Paul, Minnesota. I work part-time as a security officer when the front lobby is open for ticket sales and, as I’m sure you can imagine, those tend to be relatively slow during weekdays. This environment, along with my manager’s flexibility, allows me to use my time at work to read and do homework. As you can see from the photos, the building is beautiful and quite spacious, so when I need a break I can take a walk around and enjoy the architecture. I feel incredibly lucky to have such a beautiful space for studying.

3. Laura Anderson: A Cozy Kitchen

Major: Higher Education

I’ve been a college student on and off for the past 12 years, so homework and studying have been constants in my adult life. Through those experiences, I have learned two crucial things about myself when it comes to being a successful student. The first is that in order to be productive, I need a very quiet space. The second is that if I am working on an in-depth assignment like a research paper, I need to move study spaces frequently. The change of scenery, even if it is just within the confines of my own apartment, helps me to mentally reset. I have a desk that was meant to serve as my “official homework space,” but its close proximity to the couch and television made it a counterproductive arrangement. So when I’m home, the space where I am most productive is at the kitchen table. I find the openness of the space and all of the plants to be relaxing and, of course, it doesn’t hurt to be close to snacks.

4. Cheryl Horvath: The Mom Spot

Major: Labor and Employment Relations

Trying to find a good place to study in a household of three teenagers and two young Boxers can be a bit challenging. At first I spent more time getting the dogs to stop barking at everything they heard, and reminding my children that even though they can see me, when I am doing school work I am not to be disturbed unless it is an emergency. Either way, my choice was to “train them” or move to another location, and since my career path is training and development, I felt this would be a good exercise for me!

The location that I chose was my dining room table with my back to the wall; to my left is a sliding glass door that provides me with lots of sunshine and a glimpse of the sky. To the right I have a view of my front door and who might be coming up the walkway. I also have a subtle view of the television, if I get stumped on a subject. In front of me is my kitchen. I can cook, get snacks or refreshments throughout the day, and hold conversations with my children as they prepare for whatever they have planned for the day. So basically nothing gets by this busy mom.

5. Emily Kilgore: A Cute Coffee Cafe

Major: Children’s Literature

My ideal workspace is at Nina’s Coffee Cafe in St. Paul, Minnesota. Nina’s first caught my attention because of its name — the same as my great grandmother’s. Then, after moving to St. Paul, Nina’s quickly became my go-to study space. Just down the road from where I live, Nina’s provides the perfect spot to focus on my graduate work. Tall ceilings, brick walls, and curved archways gives the cafe a unique feel, while a wall of windows provides just the right amount of natural light to help you forget you’re inside working. Best of all, the beverages are so delicious they can keep me working for hours at a time; the chai tea latte and vanilla latte are two favorites of mine. When finding a place to work, it’s hard to beat the charm of Nina’s.

Graduating This Semester: What You Need to Know

May 20th, 2016 by
Graduating Penn State Students

Photo Credit: Penn State News

Graduation signifies an impressive accomplishment, and we at Penn State World Campus want to acknowledge our graduating students and help you mark the occasion. Here’s a quick guide to the steps you need to take and events you may want to plan to attend.

Set your intent to graduate.
Graduating students must notify the University of their intent to graduate.

The deadline to do this for students graduating in summer 2016 is Friday, June 17, and you can complete this action in eLion. Here’s how:

  1. Log in to eLion and select “Graduation” from the menu.
  2. Choose “Graduating this Semester.”
  3. Choose “I intend to graduate this semester.”

If your plans change later on and you no longer intend to graduate, you’ll need to contact your college and ask to be removed from the graduation list.

Note that summer 2016 will be the last semester to set your intent to graduate in eLion. Starting with the fall 2016 semester, students will do this in LionPATH.

Let your instructors know you plan to graduate.
In addition, be sure to complete all of your course work and exams in a timely manner. Your instructors will need to be ready to submit your grades in time to meet graduation deadlines.

Plan ahead to attend commencement.
World Campus students, like all Penn State students, are invited to attend commencement. Many programs have their commencement ceremonies at University Park, but some programs typically have commencement at other Penn State campuses.

You may wish to attend commencement with other students in your program, or at a campus near you. Depending on your preferences, you may need to submit a form to reserve your seat at commencement. The deadline to do this for students graduating in summer 2016 is Friday, July 15.

Note that you do not have to attend commencement to receive your diploma. Diplomas are mailed to all students approximately four to six weeks after commencement.

Read our instructions for students planning to attend commencement, including details about reserving your seat and commencement attire.

Make your travel arrangements early. Hotels near University Park tend to fill up quickly for graduation.

Plan to attend the Penn State World Campus graduation celebration.
Penn State World Campus hosts a graduation celebration each semester for our graduates and their friends and families. This is different from Penn State’s official commencement ceremonies.

The Penn State World Campus celebration is typically a two-hour reception with a brief program and time for our graduates to meet each other and to meet faculty and staff members in person. You’re welcome to bring family and friends to join in the celebration with you. This event is held at the University Park campus, and students whose commencement ceremonies take place at University Park will receive an email invitation.

Find out more about our Penn State World Campus graduation celebration.

You are not required to attend commencement or the Penn State World Campus celebration. But we encourage you to attend either or both and celebrate your remarkable achievements!

After you graduate, be sure to update your contact information with the Penn State Alumni Association. This will ensure that you can stay in touch with Penn State and receive alumni communications. You can update your information online at your convenience.

Graduation is an accomplishment to be proud of, and we at Penn State World Campus look forward to celebrating with you and including you in our growing alumni community.