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.

Leaders: Be Different to Make a Difference

May 17th, 2016 by
Image via imelenchon on Morguefile.com

Image via imelenchon on Morguefile.com

At some point, everyone will take on a leadership role. Whether you are a parent leading your children through a life lesson or a business owner who leads a team through change, the potential to be a positive influence is all around us. We can influence change and make the world better by growing as a leader. With this concept in mind, let’s explore the following questions:

  • How are you growing your leadership competency?
  • What leadership lessons are you learning?
  • Are you reading and applying what you learn to your life?

In their book, Great Leaders GROW, Ken Blanchard and Mark Miller use the acronym GROW to focus on how to become a better leader. They note that leaders should strive to:

  • gain knowledge in areas such as leadership and industry, while also focusing on the needs and strengths of themselves and others
  • reach out to others both formally and informally
  • open their world both inside and outside of the workplace
  • walk in wisdom through both feedback and self-evaluation

After reading this book, I reflected on my personal growth as a leader. The idea of opening my world caught my attention, because it speaks to becoming vulnerable to opportunities that may have been outside of my comfort zone. Change requires doing things differently. For example, a leader could shadow a fellow co-worker to learn his or her job and the impact it has on an organization. The CBS network television show Undercover Boss highlights leaders who go into the workplace and experience the job from an employee’s perspective while learning about the challenges they face. This experience changes not only the leader, but the employee as well.

As another example, a leader could commit to volunteering to help the underprivileged in a developing country. Traveling to another part of the world may sound extreme; however, I can tell you it was the greatest growth opportunity that I have experienced in my life. I was invited to travel to Kenya with a team, to perform medical work in remote villages. I had little experience in leadership, yet this provided me with the chance to learn about myself, working closely with others, while also realizing that I took much for granted. I was pushed to try new and unfamiliar things outside of my comfort zone. It forced me to rely on my strengths and the strengths of others on my team. I developed the ability to communicate with and organize a team, while also learning a lot about an incredible culture. This real-world experience had a tremendous impact on my life and allowed me to be more effective in humbly serving those whom I led day in and day out. It was the desire to open up my world, and my willingness to push myself out of my comfort zone, that afforded me this leadership lesson and opportunity to grow.

About Heather

Heather Mitterer is a 2014 Penn State World Campus graduate with a Bachelor’s Degree in Organizational Leadership and a Minor in Psychology. She lives in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, with her husband.

Should You Drop a Course? How to Decide

May 11th, 2016 by
Question Mark

Image by Andres Nieto Porras via flickr

by Academic Advising and Registrar Staff

If you’re considering dropping a course, you’ll need to know the drop deadlines and how to take action to remove the course from your schedule. In addition, it’s a good idea to think about the academic and financial implications of dropping before you make a decision.

Deadlines and Procedures

You can find all of the important dates and deadlines for the summer 2016 semester in the summer 2016 academic calendar.

You can drop a course from your schedule using eLion or by sending an email to coursedrops@outreach.psu.edu. Fees and tuition penalties may apply depending on when you drop the course, and dropping may affect your eligibility for financial aid. In addition, there is a limit to the number of credits you can drop during your academic career at Penn State. Complete details are available on our website.

Please note that this information is effective through the summer 2016 semester. Course drop deadlines and procedures, and related tuition adjustments, will change starting with the fall 2016 semester and the transition to LionPATH. You can check our website for up-to-date information as the fall semester approaches.

Making an Informed Decision

Dropping a course may be the optimum solution for you after considering the academic and financial implications of this decision. But you may not want to take action too hastily and regret it later.  Making an informed decision will eliminate surprises, and you may even find a way to successfully complete the course.

Here are some factors that Penn State World Campus academic advisers recommend you consider before dropping a course:

Feedback: If you are receiving lower grades than expected and you’re not sure why, reach out to your instructors for additional feedback. They may be able to provide some guidance to improve the quality of your work. Instructors may also guide you to additional resources to supplement your course.

Grades: It is important to understand your grading system and how much of your total grade is impacted by lower grades on one or more assignments. For example, it could be that you do well on writing assignments and poorly on quizzes. So, understanding that quizzes may not have a major impact on the total grade is meaningful information while you are working on skills to improve taking quizzes.

Do you know what grade you need in the course for it to count toward your degree requirements? Some courses require a C or higher, while others may allow for a lower grade. Before dropping a course, you may want to know if the grade you need is still achievable.

Time: Time plays many roles in a decision to drop a course. One consideration is how early you realize that you need some help or support in the course. The sooner this need is identified, the better chance you have to recover and complete the course. If you are well into the semester and you have been struggling the entire time, it may be too late to make adjustments to pass the course.

Also, have you spent enough time on the course? A general rule is 4-5 hours per week for each credit that you have on your summer schedule for the 12-week courses. So you may need to spend 12-15 hours per week on one 3-credit course. Your adviser can discuss time management skills and help you create a plan for allocating enough time to your studies.

The third timing consideration may be that something unforeseen is now taking more of your time and leaving you with less time to devote to your courses. You may need to lessen your course load to be able to devote more time to the remaining course(s).

Resources: Have you explored resources to help with the course? There may be tutoring, note taking and studying techniques, library services, disability services, and other resources that an adviser can discuss with you. And your course may include virtual review sessions or other ways to enhance your knowledge. We can help you explore resources only if you reach out to us!

Course Impact: How does dropping this course impact your academic progress? There are some courses that are entrance-to-major requirements or prerequisites for other courses. If you are considering dropping a course, it is good to have a conversation with an adviser to understand how this may impact your next semester schedule or finishing your degree by an intended date. This will allow you to understand the impact and plan for the adjustment. Knowing the course impact may also help in deciding between dropping two courses in which one has impact on your progress and the other does not affect your ability to stay on track.

Cost: Starting on the first day of classes, there are costs that are nonrefundable when you drop the course. If you are using financial aid, dropping a course may also impact your aid. It is important to understand the consequences before dropping the course.

Keep in mind that course drop timing and related tuition adjustments will change starting with the fall 2016 semester and the transition to LionPATH. Be sure to check our website for up-to-date information about dropping fall courses, as the fall semester approaches.

To recap, if you know things are not going well, don’t wait to reach out for help. Don’t be afraid to contact your instructor to discuss your grades or a situation affecting your work. Contact your adviser to talk through the difficulties, explore options, and understand the academic impact of dropping the course. Contact financial aid and/or the bursar’s office if you are unclear about the financial impact of your decision to drop a course. Once you are informed, you can then move forward with the decision that works best for you!

Paying Your Bill: Top Questions Answered

May 3rd, 2016 by
Pay Bill

GotCredit, flickr

by World Campus Bursar Office staff

Paying your bill is a critical step that completes your registration as a student. Learn what you can expect and what you can do to take care of your bill-related needs with these common questions and answers from the World Campus Office of the Bursar.

Note that all of these questions and answers are correct through the summer 2016 semester; starting with the fall 2016 semester, the registration and billing process will change and will take place in LionPATH.

Do I need to do anything else after I schedule courses for the semester?

Yes — after you schedule courses, you must pay your bill to complete your registration. Penn State has a two-step registration process. Step one is scheduling courses, and step two is paying your bill.

After you schedule your courses, you will receive your semester bill via your Penn State email account or in the mail (for students in certain programs), and then you can pay the bill or confirm that you’ll be using financial aid. Even if you have a zero balance on your bill, you still need to complete this step. Penn State World Campus will notify you if you schedule courses but do not pay your bill and complete your registration.

Your bill will indicate a due date, and you have until this due date to complete your registration for the summer 2016 semesterIf you do not pay your bill and complete your registration by your bill due date, you may be canceled from your courses.

When can I expect to receive my bill?

Bills are generated beginning in late July for the fall semester, mid-November for the spring semester, and mid-April for the summer semester. You may receive your bill around this time or later, depending on when you schedule courses.

Most students will be notified via email that a bill is available for them to view and pay in eLion, but students in certain programs will receive a bill in the mail after courses begin. Your bill will indicate a due date, after which a late fee may be applied. Find complete details about receiving and paying your bill, including payment options.

Note that summer 2016 billing will still occur in this manner, but billing will be done through LionPATH starting with fall 2016 bills.

What if I have financial aid to cover all or a portion of my bill?

Even if your financial aid covers all of your bill, you must still take action to indicate your use of financial aid to complete your registration for the semester.

The amount of your bill will reflect any portion of your tuition and fees that are not covered by financial aid. After your registration is complete and courses begin, your financial aid will disburse into your student account, and you will be notified via email or mail.

When will I receive my financial aid refund?

If you are due a refund of excess financial aid, your 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.

The quickest way to receive your refund is via Penn State’s Rapid Refund Program, which deposits the refund into your bank account. You can enroll in Rapid Refund in eLion, through the summer 2016 semester. Learn more about refunds and enrolling in the Rapid Refund Program.

Note that beginning with the fall 2016 semester, you can enroll in direct deposit in LionPATH.

Will I be charged for courses that I drop?

Beginning with the first day of courses, if you drop below full-time status or below the number of credits you were originally scheduled for, you may be charged a portion of the tuition for courses that you drop, according to Penn State’s Tuition Adjustment Policy.

Tuition adjustments will be determined based on the date when you drop the course. Even if you drop and then add back the same number of credits, you may still be assessed a tuition penalty. Your tuition adjustment will only amount to $0 if you drop and then add the same number of credits on the same day before midnight, Eastern Time.

Note that this information is effective through the summer 2016 semester. The timing and related tuition adjustments for dropping and adding courses will change for fall 2016. Check our Tuition Adjustment Policy for up-to-date information as the fall semester approaches.

Does being a part-time or full-time student affect my bill?

Your bill is calculated based on the number of credits you plan to schedule:

  • 12 credits or more is considered full-time and billed at a flat rate
  • Fewer than 12 credits is considered part-time and billed based on the number of credits scheduled

If the amount of your bill is not what you expected, this may be one reason. To find tuition rates for your program and number of credits, use our tuition estimator.

Feel free to contact us for additional information and assistance:

Links We Love: April 29, 2016

April 29th, 2016 by
Links We Love

Links We Love

ICYMI, here are some great stories that we’ve stumbled upon in the last week!

1.) Ready for graduation? Visit Penn State’s Mortar Board on Pinterest to see some of our favorite commencement moments.

2.) De-stress and sleep easy with the help of these five relaxation apps.

3.) Scammers often target students by posing as financial aid institutions. Familiarize yourself with their current scams to protect your wallet and your identity.

4.) National Arbor Day is always the last Friday in April, but members of the Penn State Mont Alto community think every day is Arbor Day.

5.) Learn how to be a better listener with these seven easy tips.

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!

Meet Career Counselor Karen Armstrong

April 27th, 2016 by
Karen Armstrong

Karen Armstrong

Karen Armstrong recently joined Penn State World Campus as a career counselor. We sat down with her to talk about how she can help students navigate questions related to career counseling:

Please give our readers a sense of your background and interests.

I have been counseling students since 2009 with a distinct focus on career development. It is a thrill to go on a journey with others as they discover their professional passions. I especially enjoy helping students develop a career plan and putting that plan into motion.

What interested you the most about the field of career planning?

Work and employment are areas that consume so much of our lives. Many people view who they are as a professional as their primary source of identity. I love helping people take on challenging career roles and helping them to fulfill their life dreams.

What’s the most surprising aspect of helping a Penn State World Campus student navigate career services?

I’m surprised to learn how many students haven’t considered the professional benefits to joining a club or organization. As a Penn State World Campus student, you have the opportunity to participate in one of our student organizations virtually. Becoming involved in student clubs and organizations demonstrates effective multitasking, innovative initiatives, and managerial skills.

What’s the one thing that people tend to overlook in the job search process?

Our Nittany Lion Career Network is a great online hub that connects students with employers in their fields. Current students can also utilize the Nittany Lion Career Network to search for jobs throughout the country. It is ideal for many of our Penn State World Campus students.

How is searching for a job different today than it was 5, 10, or 15 years ago?

The biggest difference today is technological networking. It is the expectation and the norm that social media will be used as a crucial aspect of your professional outreach. A person’s social media image and presence may be evaluated to determine whether a job seeker is the right fit. More professional relationships are established through social media than ever before. My colleague, Lynn Atanasoff, recently blogged about the importance of your online presence during a job search, and it’s a great read for all of us, even if we aren’t looking for a job change.

What’s the best advice you could give to someone who is looking to switch careers entirely?

Focus on your transferable skills. It helps to write out your job responsibilities to consider which you can use in the new career you are seeking. For example, I was speaking with a former teacher who wanted to pursue a career in marketing. As a teacher, she had many responsibilities that included curriculum design. After gaining approval from the school district, she had to present the new curriculum to students, parents, and community leaders. Marketing was a key aspect of her responsibilities, but she didn’t realize this until she reviewed her work responsibilities with me.

What’s your favorite part of working with Penn State World Campus students?

I love that our students are located all over the world. Counseling someone about their career ambitions can vary depending on the locale. This creates a unique opportunity to learn from each of the students we are working with on a daily basis.

What makes you a proud Penn Stater?

I am proud of the continual community services that Penn Staters are involved in. THON is one example of Penn State serving the community in hopes of finding a cure for childhood cancer. Most of our students are working adults, thriving in their own communities and getting involved in local initiatives to make differences in a variety of ways. That makes me very proud.

What do you do for fun?

I love to travel, because meeting different people and exploring different cultures is always a thrill.

If you need assistance with career counseling, you can reach Karen at 814-863-7018 or kra19@psu.edu. She’s also available on Skype at psuwckarena and on AOL chat at kra19@psu.edu.

Links We Love: April 23, 2016

April 23rd, 2016 by
Links We Love

Links We Love

ICYMI, here are some great stories that we’ve stumbled upon in the last week!

1. No matter what type of learner you are, this infographic of study tips can help you be ready for finals in a few weeks.

2. In online education, the coursework is not the only thing developing your skills. This blog post , (written by a Penn State World Campus Student), explores how communicating virtually in the classroom can be handy in the workplace, too.

3. Need some business card inspiration? Check out these famous business cards.

4. If the class you want to take is full, you definitely need to check out these FAQs on how to use the waitlist function in LionPath.

5. Email inbox dragging you down? We found these nine nifty tips to stop wasting your time on email.

BONUS: We couldn’t pass this one up. Watch this kid solve a Rubik’s Cube in 30 seconds — blindfolded.

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!

Ashley Adams: Penn State World Campus Director of Student Affairs

April 11th, 2016 by
Ashley Adams

Ashley Adams
(Image: Mike Dawson)

Ashley Adams is the director of Student Affairs for Penn State World Campus. We wanted to understand what her newly created position entails and how she plans to form connections between our online learners. Here’s our discussion:

Tell us about your background in Student Affairs.

I have worked in the field of higher education for a number of years across many different functional areas. I started my career as a student employee at the Truman State University Multicultural Affairs Office. As a graduate student, I worked at DePaul’s Egan Urban Center, which focused on community-based research in Chicago. I’ve worked as an admissions adviser, retention coordinator, and as assistant director of Student Services, where I supervised recruiters and academic advisers, before coming to Penn State World Campus.

What first interested you in the field of student affairs?

The idea that I can stay in school is what draws me to this profession. The best and most formative years of my life were as an undergraduate student. As a student affairs professional, I can keep learning and influence the way adult learners interact with their peers through the many engagement opportunities that we offer at Penn State World Campus.

What clubs and organizations did you belong to as a college student?

As an undergraduate student I was heavily involved in student organizations. I sang with Unique Ensemble, the school’s gospel choir. I served as a member of the Association for Black Collegians. During my junior year, I became a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., a historically black service sorority. I also served as the communications director for the student government for a brief period of time.

Can you speak about the various ways our students can become involved outside of the virtual classroom?

From undergraduate research opportunities to student clubs and organizations, there are a number of ways that Penn State World Campus students can get involved. Organizations like the Blue & White Society and Psychology Club offer networking opportunities that may last a lifetime. With an established Student Affairs unit at Penn State World Campus, students are encouraged to form new clubs and organizations based on their interests, degree programs, and even geographic locations! The process of forming new clubs or organizations can be done in partnership with me.

Can you talk about the benefits of becoming more involved in clubs and organizations?

It is well documented that online students are seeking opportunities to build community and have a holistic college experience, and that those who have this are more likely to be successful in academics. Being a part of a club or organization provides you with more chances to connect with your peers. This connectivity builds a community of like-minded learners, which can help you achieve your academic and professional goals.

What would you say to a student who might think that joining a club or organization is too

Being involved as a student doesn’t have to take a lot of time or take you away from other priorities. In fact, it can enhance the quality of your life and connect you with other busy working adults.

What is a new initiative that you’d like to see started at Penn State World Campus in the area of student affairs? 

I’d like to see increased opportunities for students to participate in governance and leadership through the establishment of the first Penn State World Campus Student Government and encouraging expansion of student clubs and organizations. I’d also like to expand opportunities for Penn State World Campus students to have out-of-class engaged scholarship opportunities through study abroad experiences, alternative spring break programs, volunteerism and virtual internships.

You recently moved to State College; what have you liked about the area so far? 

Although I moved in mid-January, my favorite things so far have been the weather and the Pennsylvania landscape. I grew up in the Midwest, so to wake up to mountains every day is beautiful. I also appreciate that although State College is not a major metro area, I’m only 3.5 hours away from DC, Philadelphia, New York, Baltimore, and Pittsburgh, so the big city is only a day trip away.

If you’re interested in connecting with Ashley Adams, you can reach her at studentaffairs@outreach.psu.edu.

Related Penn State News article on Ashley Adams

Links We Love: April 8, 2016

April 8th, 2016 by


Links We Love

Links We Love

Five things that shouldn’t be missed from this past week!

  1. Meet our new Director of Student Affairs.
  2. Pups vs. Pucks!
  3. Productivity podcasts to change the way you work.
  4. Penn State grads first to earn Honor cords.
  5. Penn State prescriptions for healthy eating.