Scholarship Deadline Approaching: Jane Ireland Student Fund

September 8th, 2014 by

Monday, September 15, 2014, the deadline for the Jane Ireland Student Fund scholarship, is fast approaching! This scholarship is open exclusively to current undergraduate degree students attending Penn State World Campus in the spring or summer semesters who have the following:

  • a minimum of 24 credits in their World Campus program
  • a cumulative GPA of 3.2 (or higher)
  • a FAFSA on file with the Office of Student Aid demonstrating financial need

Along with the application, students must provide a personal statement, essay, and one letter of recommendation from a professional reference. Please visit the World Campus Scholarships page for details and an application.

More than 10 years ago, academic adviser Jane Ireland initiated the student fund as a way to assist students who have difficulty paying tuition. The fund has grown continuously and is supported solely by World Campus staff members, faculty, and students who want to help others pursue their Penn State education from a distance.

Faculty Focus: Finance Professor Simon Pak

September 2nd, 2014 by

With experience ranging from physics to economics and finance, Dr. Simon Pak, associate professor of finance, brings a wealth of knowledge to teaching online courses at Penn State World Campus. We caught up with him recently to learn about his background (including his stint as a taxi driver), why he decided to teach at Penn State, and what swayed him to value online education after his initial skepticism.

Penn State professor of finance Simon Pak

Dr. Simon Pak, associate professor of finance at Penn State

Tell us about your background, and how you ended up teaching at Penn State.

I actually started out as a physicist. People tend to think finance and physics are very different, but they’re quite similar and use a lot of the same math. And, believe it or not, I used to drive a taxi cab in Manhattan in the summer of 1972.

Do you have any shareable pictures from your time as a taxi driver?

I do, but I don’t think my wife would like if I shared them.

I’m sure she has your best interests at heart. Now, I understand that you have worked for some prestigious organizations in your career. Tell us more about them.

I worked at the World Bank in Washington, DC, for four years before moving to California to pursue my Ph.D. in Economics from the University of California, Berkeley. Shortly after, I moved back to New York to begin working at the NYU Stern School of Business. Later, I worked at Florida International University for 17 years, and then 12 years ago I came to Penn State.

I came here to the Great Valley campus because it’s in the middle of the Great Valley Corporate Center, and the campus is part of the corporate park. Within a few minutes’ drive, there are 8 or 9 companies with over $1 billion annual revenue, and more than 150 companies with over $100 million in annual revenue within a 30-minute drive.

Does working in a corporate park help with your teaching?

Yes — the Master of Finance program is focused on practical business fields and finance. I try to make connections with people in the finance area. I’m working closely with the CFA Society of Philadelphia, which is the most prestigious finance organization in the area. As a result, our curriculum is tightly aligned with the CFA’s goals.

How long have you been teaching for World Campus specifically?

In the spring of 2013, we had our first cohort in the Master of Finance program. There are ten courses in the program, and I’m teaching two of them: BUSAD 526 (Current Issues in Corporate Finance) and Finance 513 (Speculative Markets).

I heard you were somewhat skeptical about online education at first. Can you tell us more about that?

Sure. I was mostly skeptical about student engagement in online courses, because there’s no face-to-face interaction. But I realized that our students are great with technology. They get to know each other and communicate with each other.

I also promote engagement through email responses. When someone asks questions, I respond to everyone, which encourages everyone to talk to their classmates. I’ve found that in terms of grasping the understanding of course material, online is as good as, and sometimes even better than, face-to-face classes.

What have you learned from your students?

Our students are highly motivated and hardworking. In one course I teach, students are expected to build a valuation model from a 10K report from a company, which includes financial statements, income flow, balances, and more. When we analyze various companies, there are many issues to consider. My students have come up with fascinating analyses, and have found information that I had never even thought of!

What inspires you as a teacher?

When I see a motivated student — a really passionate student — I try really hard to deliver the knowledge that they are seeking. I always give feedback and reasons why something they’re doing is incorrect, and also encourage and acknowledge what’s right. I consider it my responsibility to give good feedback that they can apply later on.

This is very rewarding for me, when i see students very excited to gain more knowledge, and apply knowledge they learn in their lives.

What about your life outside of the classroom? What do you do for fun?

I like to listen to classical music and take trips.

Favorite food?

Tofu.

What movie could you watch over and over?

An Affair to Remember.

Thanks, Simon! Have more questions for Dr. Pak? Post them in the comments section below.

8 Ways to Better Use Your Computer to Your Advantage as an Online Student

August 22nd, 2014 by
Image by Ginny via flickr

Image by Ginny via Flickr

by World Campus HelpDesk Staff

As an online student, your computer is probably one of the most important tools you use. To help you make sure you’re getting the best performance and productivity you can from it, World Campus HelpDesk staff members offer the following tips:

1. Know your shortcut keys for your operating system — using keyboard shortcuts can save you time and effort in completing tasks that might otherwise require a mouse or other device.

2. Keep the software you use up to date. If you use a PC, make a point of routinely running and installing Windows Updates. In Windows 8, in Apps View, search for “windows update” and then select “check for updates” to run the process manually. In Windows 7, open the “Start” menu and then search for “windows update” and select “check for updates.” Install these updates once a month at a minimum.

If you use a Mac, select the Apple icon and then select “software update.” To ensure that updates are made automatically, go to “System Preferences” and then “App Store” and make sure that “Automatically check for updates” is selected, as well as each of the three options below that selection.

Update Java, Flash, and Quicktime as updates become available. These programs will periodically check for updates after they are installed. Some browsers may also update them automatically.

3. Create a separate login profile just for your course work. Windows and Mac systems both allow you to set up multiple login profiles. This will allow you to keep your work or personal files separate from your school files. This may be especially important if you share a computer with your family or others in your household.

4. Dedicate a web browser to use only for course work if you prefer. This is another effective way to keep your school activity separate from personal or work activity.

5. Back up your files regularly by copying them onto a USB flash drive or external hard drive, to keep from losing them if there is an accident or system crash.

6. Contact the HelpDesk immediately if you have a problem during a timed quiz or exam, even after hours, since an email or voice mail will have a date and time stamp. This will create a record of your efforts to get assistance in case you are unable to complete your exam.

7. When submitting attachments to a drop box, try selecting your submission after it is ready to confirm that the file is attached and readable.

8. Take advantage of the free technology resources Penn State provides to students:

  • Downloads.its.psu.edu: Provides antivirus protection and other downloadable tools
  • WebApps: Provides programs that can be accessed on most mobile devices
  • WebFiles: Allows you to access and manage your files and copy files from other services like Google Docs, Dropbox, and SkyDrive
  • Box at Penn State: Allows you to store and share files securely online
  • Lynda: Offers online training for commonly used programs

Students can contact the World Campus HelpDesk at any time with technical support questions or for help with Penn State systems.

How-to: Forward Penn State and ANGEL Course Email

August 18th, 2014 by

Hey there!

So, you got everything set up and are starting classes?

Email?

Which one – WebMail or ANGEL?

Yes, they are two different things.

WebMail is your Penn State email that is used for official correspondence with the University.

ANGEL email is designed for correspondence between you, your professor, and your classmates.

How can I log in to one place to check both mail systems?

One way you can do that is to forward both emails to an existing email account like Yahoo or Gmail. You can go to www.work.psu.edu and log in. At the bottom-middle of the page there is a link for “changing your email forwarding address.” Simply click on it, and then enter the email address you want your Penn State email forwarded to, and click the “change” button. All email from that time on will get forwarded to the email address you provided. Make sure the email address you enter is accurate because if you put in an email address that is incorrect or invalid, your email will be forwarded to the ether, never to be heard from again. You can find more information about your Penn State email accounts by visiting the IT electronic mail website.

Do I have the option to use an email client?

Another option is to set up an email client such as Outlook or Thunderbird to pull the email from your WebMail. Then, you will forward your ANGEL email to your WebMail, which will result in all your email being delivered to the email client. The IT Knowledge Base can provide you with instructions for setting up email clients for both IMAP and POP3 configurations.

How can I set up the email on my phone or other devices?

When using a smartphone or tablet, you can find instructions for setting up the native email client to retrieve your Penn State email accounts.

How can I forward my ANGEL email?

Forwarding your ANGEL email is a little bit harder but still can be done. The IT Knowledge Base can provide you with instructions for forwarding your ANGEL email. Forwarding your ANGEL email will forward a copy of the email to the email address specified and leave the original in the Course Communicate tab in ANGEL. You can watch some tutorials about ANGEL including using the ANGEL email tool by visiting the World Campus website.

Keep in mind that ANGEL email forwarding is a one-way street, so for example, even if you can receive your ANGEL email in your Gmail inbox, you can’t reply to those messages. To do that, you’ll need to log into ANGEL and use the ANGEL email tool. Setting up email forwarding can be a useful way to receive notifications when you receive ANGEL email, but be aware, you can not use it to reply.

Remember, if you ever have any questions or need assistance with doing any of this you can contact the World Campus & Continuing Education HelpDesk.

Well, I have to get back to work. Looks like there are quite a few students with questions for the HelpDesk.

Stop back anytime.

 

Did You Know: Course Registration is a Two-Step Process

August 15th, 2014 by

Did you know that scheduling your courses is only the first step in registering for the semester? Penn State actually has a two-step registration process:

  1. Schedule your courses.

    Student working online

    Image by Jennie Faber via Flickr

  2. Pay your tuition bill or confirm that you’ll be using financial aid.

After you schedule your courses, you will receive your semester bill 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. World Campus will notify you if you schedule courses but do not pay your bill and complete your registration.

You have until September 8, 2014 to complete your registration for the fall 2014 semester. If you do not pay your bill and complete your registration by this deadline, you will be canceled from your courses.

You can do both steps — schedule your courses and pay your bill or confirm your financial aid — in eLion. Check our step-by-step instructions to see exactly where to go and how to complete these actions.

If you’re not sure whether you’ve completed your registration, you can check your registration status in eLion. World Campus will also notify you via email if you still need to complete your registration. If you do not complete your fall 2014 registration by September 8, you will be canceled from your courses.

For more information about completing your registration, read our Frequently Asked Questions.

Why a College Degree is Like the Declaration of Independence

July 30th, 2014 by

How many of us have considered the freedom and independence that an education from Penn State affords us? A Penn State degree is like an alum’s Declaration of Independence. It symbolizes one’s victory after a battle to obtain freedom from the cultural, social, and economic restrictions inherent in the adult American experience.

The question is, do you need a degree to get any job in the United States (or anywhere else for that matter)? The answer: no. However, there are some jobs (careers) that do require a higher education, and those are the ones that most of us degree-seeking adults are pursuing.

declaration of independence

Photo by David Amsler via Flickr.

However, a degree means more than employment potential; it also says a lot about a person’s potential. An advanced academic degree says that the individual is not only committed to their own personal development, but the area of study they have chosen. Certainly, choosing a major is a major step in pursuing a career, a passion, a future!

Does a bachelor’s or master’s degree mean that you will get a job right away after graduation over other non-college graduates? Unfortunately, no. However, your degree from Penn State opens doors and opportunities for you, specifically the doors and opportunities you came to see opened: career, finances, personal achievement.

In this Forbes article, John Ebersole discusses some of the common “scuttlebutt” surrounding degrees and employment in America. Ebersole notes that, statistically, college graduates have a lower unemployment rate, and substantially higher earning capabilities with an average starting salary of $45,000 for an individual with a bachelor’s degree.

Many people in our nation struggle with unemployment, financial problems, and a general discontentment with life (an overwhelming desire to do/have/be more), most of which they feel is out of their control. Life, for many, is not something they live, but rather something that happens to them. College students, like the United States in 1776, take a stand, however difficult and tumultuous it may be for many of us, against the travesties of being dictated to and overwhelmed by the circumstances of our lives. We make a conscious decision to pursue more, to not just survive, but thrive!

However much you find yourself struggling in college, fighting battle after battle, getting beat up with course work, scavenging for financial aid, triaging your personal, professional, and academic responsibilities, you must press on until you get your hands on that diploma, that declaration of your sovereign, individual independence. Your degree is your reward for envisioning a better tomorrow, pursuing equality and justice for yourself and those your success will benefit, and it is the proof that your dreams can and will come true!

Just remember, 1776 was only the birth of our nation, only the dawning hours of our new day. It took more hard work, drive, and faith to get us to where we are today! Degree in hand, you will enter into a world with greater and better opportunities; however, you have no automatic claim to them. You must begin to consider now the path that you will blaze in your new future. How will you make the best of, the most out of, this degree you have sacrificed and worked hard to earn? We have all come to Penn State for our own diverse reasons, but there is one thing we all have in common — this is a turning point in our lives!

Understanding Different Personality Types: Communicating Effectively in the Workplace

July 25th, 2014 by

“You have to get along with people, but you also have to recognize that the strength of a team is different for people with different perspectives and different personalities.” — Steve Case

What's your personality type? Photo by Victoria Nevland via Flickr.

What’s your personality type? Photo by Victoria Nevland via Flickr.

Do you feel that you have a hard time speaking to your boss or colleagues? Maybe your boss sets undeniably high expectations? Or maybe you feel that your colleagues are inappropriate and obnoxious, or maybe they just talk too slow and do not get to the point fast enough?

Whatever the reason, understanding that we as humans are inherently and genetically different and we all think differently is key to a successful workplace. When we understand the people around us, we become more effective entrepreneurs, business leaders, and friendlier colleagues.

What Are Personality Types?

Personality type by definition is the psychological classification of different individuals with specific behavioral tendencies. Organizational and industrial psychologists use science to study human behavior in the workplace. These psychologists can use personality tests to assign people to certain parts of organizations or companies based on behavioral traits and personality criteria or scores.

Now that you know that these personalities can actually be measured, let’s take a look at some personality types. Some of you may be familiar with the Myers-Briggs Personality Type Indicator, which has 16 different personality types — though, for the purpose of this article, I’ll be discussing four personality types that Alison Mooney has divided people into.

Four Personality Types

  • The Playfuls – Energetic, funny, loud, enthusiastic, extroverts who love speaking to people. They are best at networking and socializing. They are also unorganized, forgiving, and easily distracted. They are innovative, full of ideas, creative, and tend to work fast.
  • The Peacefuls – Just as the title says it, they crave peace and order. They are easy going, patient, diplomatic – always avoiding confrontation with others. They are very grounded, and are emotionally stable. They balance out companies who are on the move or fast-paced, and are best at building a working team.
  • The Powerfuls – Authoritative presence, productive, decisive, take control, do not give up easily, internally strong, get to the point, work hard and accomplishing their many goals.
  • The Precises – They value structure, order, and compliance. They are organized, procedurally strong perfectionists. They put work before play and generally stop working only after they have done everything right.

In order to run a successful and engaging business, all personality types should be considered. Each one utilizes different strengths and weaknesses and should be valued consistently. Some of us offer insight, such as the Peacefuls, and some offer analysis, planning, and critical thinking, such as the Precises.

How to Interact With Each Personality Type

  • Playfuls typically want fondness, attention, and approval.
  • Powerfuls typically want credit, loyalty, and appreciation.
  • Precises typically want quiet, space to work alone, and sensitivity.
  • Peacefuls typically want respect, value, and harmony between people in the workplace.

Example Scenario: Playfuls vs. Precises

Playfuls like attention, and precises like to work alone in quiet. Playfuls are extroverts, and precises are introverts. These two are completely opposite of each other.

One way you can work with an introverted person is give them the space they need to work. Small talk may not be productive in working with them.

In Dr. Laurie Helgoe’s book, Introvert Power: Why Your Inner Life Is Your Hidden Strength, she demonstrates that an introverted personality enjoys speaking in depth. Introverts find this stimulating and glorifying. Instead of small talk, try sparking a conversation that isn’t about the weather. Introverts do not like the “barrier” that small talk creates between people, and would like to know about you as person rather than the weather.

Playfuls, or extroverts, are the opposite of precises, and like to be surrounded by people. Playfuls generally feel very comfortable making direct eye contact when speaking to someone. Extroverts also like to feel they are part of the team, and that their hard work is not going unnoticed. Extroverts love socializing, and letting them have social freedom during work hours helps them with prioritizing and productivity.

Again, extroversion and introversion are very different. They follow a continuum rule — if you’re high in one, it usually means you are low in the other. Anyone who feels they are a mixture of both introversion and extroversion is called an ambivert. Ambiverts equally favor all elements of introverts and extroverts, such as solitude and socializing.

Start by Knowing Your Personality Type

When you understand what personality type you are, you can understand yourself and what communication styles are most effective for you. And when we understand our colleagues’ personalities, we can work better with them, develop closer relationships, and create a friendlier, more cohesive work environment.

Find out your personality type with this personality test. I scored 69% Extroversion — what is your score?

How do you feel about the four personality types listed?

Are you a mix or solely one personality type? Let me know your thoughts below!

August 11–13 Shipping Discount on MBS Direct Textbooks

July 24th, 2014 by

Penn State World Campus’s textbook partner, MBS Direct, is offering free shipping for U.S. Contingent orders, and 25% off international shipping with UPS Saver.

To take advantage of this, you won’t need a special checkout code — all you need to do is purchase your books from MBS Direct on August 11, 12, or 13. The special discount ends at midnight CT on August 13.
MBS-discount-photo

Is Your Student Aid on Hold for Verification? How to Know and What to Do

July 24th, 2014 by
Paperwork

Photo by John Patrick Robichaud via Flickr

When the Office of Student Aid reviews your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), you may need to clarify certain personal information such as your legal name or tax information through a process called verification. The Office of Student Aid will not disburse your aid until this verification process is complete.

Who Does Verification Affect?

If you are selected for verification, you will see a notice on your Student Aid Checklist stating that you need to submit documents to complete the verification process. You can find your Student Aid Checklist in eLion by selecting “Financial” in the menu and then selecting “Student Aid Summary.”  Select the academic year and then select “Continue.”

The Checklist provides an overview of the type(s) of information you must provide and acceptable methods for submitting this information. You will also receive a letter with detailed instructions and any forms that you need to complete and return.

Why do you need to do this?

Federal student aid laws require the Office of Student Aid to confirm certain information that you have provided on your FAFSA and collect certain missing information. Not all students are selected for verification, but over 10,000 students were selected at Penn State for the 2014–15 academic year. Verification ensures that you receive exactly the amount and types of aid for which you qualify, and minimizes changes to your aid after it has been disbursed onto your account.

What do you need to do?

  • Keep your permanent address up-to-date in eLion by selecting “Personal Profile” and then “Address Information.”
  • You can be selected for verification at any time, so regularly monitor your Student Aid Checklist, postal mail, and Penn State WebMail.
  • Sending additional documents that are not requested may result in delays, so it is helpful to carefully review and provide just what is requested.
  • Follow the instructions on your Student Aid Checklist and/or verification letter.
  • Follow these guidelines when preparing and sending documents:
    • If questions appear on your verification letter, do not leave blanks (for example, write “zero” when appropriate).
    • Ensure that your 9-digit Penn State ID number appears at the top of each page you submit.
    • Fax documents to 814-863-0322 or mail them to: Office of Student Aid, 314 Shields Building, University Park, PA 16802.
    • If you receive a busy signal when faxing, try again in the early morning or evening.
    • For additional tips and information about specific types of verification, visit the Office of Student Aid website.

When is the deadline?

If you are selected for verification, it is critical that you provide the requested documents as soon as possible. The official deadline is 30 days after you receive a verification letter. If you fail to complete verification by the end of a semester, you will not be able to receive need-based aid and may be left with a bill to pay out of pocket. If you are selected for verification after your aid has disbursed, you must complete the process or we will have to return aid that you already received.

How do you check your verification status?

  • To confirm that the documents you send are received, view your Student Aid status in eLion by selecting “Financial,” and then “Student Aid Summary.”  Select the year, and then select “Continue.”
  • If you fax your documents, please allow up to two business days for confirmation of receipt on eLion. If you mail documents, please allow a week from the estimated delivery date for confirmation.
  • After we receive your verification documents they will be processed within a timeframe of about one to six weeks, depending on the type of verification. Documents are reviewed in the order in which they are received.
  • When your documents have been reviewed and verification is complete, the verification messages on your Student Aid Checklist and Student Aid Status will disappear.

Contact

If you would like to speak with an aid counselor about your individual situation, please contact us at 814-867-4244 or studentaid@outreach.psu.edu.

Find Summer Volunteer Opportunities in Your Hometown

July 15th, 2014 by

Hello, fellow Lions. I hope this post finds your summers not too stressful, and not too hot. Over my way in California, our weather system has yet to decide if the June gloom will be able to prevail against the blasting rays of the July sun. We shall see.

At Penn State, thousands of students volunteer at THON each February in State College. But there are countless opportunities across the world to be a Penn Stater and give back to the community.

At Penn State, thousands of students volunteer at THON each February in State College. But there are countless opportunities for Penn Staters across the world to give back to their communities. Photo courtesy: Penn State (via Flickr).

I feel like a second should be taken to consider volunteering during the summer, whether you’re taking courses or not. Granted, it is much easier for those not going to class to find an opportunity, but for all of you admirable individuals who are taking classes, there are opportunities for you as well!

Three Ways to Find Volunteer Opportunities

One resource I’ve utilized over the years and have found to be reliable is volunteermatch.org. You can input your location and search for seemingly unlimited amounts of volunteer opportunities to choose from. Or, if you wish to create an account, part of the process is selecting different categories that interest you, such as Animals or Human Rights and finding opportunities that way. You can also look up local, physical opportunities, as well as virtual ways in which to lend a helping hand.

For those of us not taking classes, and for those who are, Volunteer Match makes it very simple to get involved and more importantly, engaged in what is happening in our local communities.

Another option perhaps for those with a little bit more time to dedicate is volunteering with the American Red Cross. Opportunities range from serving as a Board Member to helping with marketing and fundraising endeavors to serving as a disaster relief team member, to even helping with clerical work, which may also give you good experience for your resume.

The Red Cross has no shortage of chances to help the organization help others, and is definitely worth looking into, should you be able to volunteer on a regular basis.

One last one I’d like to touch on is Feeding America. Feeding America is a non-profit organization of food banks dedicated to feeding nearly 40 million people in the United States. This is done through soup kitchens, homeless shelters, and food pantries set up across the country. Naturally, volunteers are needed here.

Opportunities range from clerical work to tutoring children being fed, to spreading the word about Feeding America’s mission. If you have a social media account and one minute, this is the perfect chance to show some support for an organization doing good work!

Why Volunteering is Important to Me

To put into words the impact volunteering has had on me as a person is both difficult and all too easy. Volunteering offers a way to practice empathy. More than that, and selfishly, it has also allowed me the chance to forget my own troubles and daily stressors, and focus on a picture bigger than myself. This has then helped me return to my own situations and looking at them with a much more humbled expression, realizing that ‘Hey, maybe things aren’t so bad after all.’

Whether it was my Meals on Wheels experience, or my exceptionally eye-opening campaign to supply my city’s homeless men and women with backpacks of supplies, volunteering has not only changed my outlook on worries, but also my outlook on life itself.

Of course there are many other ways to volunteer in your community, and I encourage everyone to look into their respective city’s own website to find some of them. Or, perhaps visit your favorite small business and ask if they could use a hand. A simple shout-out on a social media site, or a positive review online could really make an impact. (The business student in me shines forth!)

The ultimate point I hope to make here is that even though summer is our time to relax (some of us more than others), we should keep in mind that it’s also a chance to enrich our lives with something completely outside of ourselves — volunteering. One day, one hour, one minute, whatever the duration, the most important thing is to go for it!

Fall semester will be upon us soon enough, and we’ll once again be wrapped up in upcoming holidays, school work, and regular life. For a time let us focus on things that don’t just impact us. Let us find a cause we can get behind, one that we feel a connection to, and support it in any way possible.

What do you think, Lions? Do you have any other resources that you rely on to find volunteer opportunities?

Have a lovely July, everyone. And in the wise, wonderful words of Ralph Waldo Emerson, “The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful,  to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.”

To good experiences, and better lives,

We Are!