Tuesday, June 29, 2010

1,200 meatballs, 400 asparagus tips,     600 pineapple-strawberry skewers ...

If you were at this spring's pregraduation reception in Pullman, you know how lively it was. If you weren't, here's a new video.

Our next reception is December 10, the evening before December 11 commencement. The free event is open to students, grads, family and friends. Hotels always sell out during commencements, so it's not too early to make reservations now. 

Friday, June 25, 2010

From yurt to classroom: Online instructor was once online student at WSU

jerry petersen
Jerry Petersen takes a break from working in the Koppel Farm community gardens.

After the midwife left the yurt, Jerry Petersen looked at his newborn daughter.
     Petersen and his wife, Stephanie, lived in the remote forest of the Olympic Peninsula. He was a self-employed landscaper and they’d built the yurt themselves, using plans from the library. They were used to being independent. But now Petersen had two children – Ariane, and her 5-year-old sister, Jera – depending on him.
     “I began to wonder how I would support my family if I injured myself on the job,” he said, “if I fell off a ladder or a tree fell on me.”
     Not long afterward, Petersen strung 100 feet of wire from his neighbor’s phone line. He hooked up his computer, dialed up an ISP, and connected with WSU’s online degree program, which he’d learned about at a WSU Extension office.
     “They explained my degree would be just as valid as if I’d gone to classes in the flesh,” he said. “I also found out I qualified for financial aid, and that the courses were taught by WSU faculty, the same folks who taught on campus. I was sold.”
     Two years later, in 2003, Petersen graduated summa cum laude with a social sciences degree. After encouragement from teachers and fellow students, he moved to Pullman. In 2006, he earned his master’s in English. He was awarded his doctorate in May 2010.
     Along the way, the former online student became an online instructor. More...     He teaches composition and rhetoric, and won the 2009 English Department’s Distinguished Teaching Award. He also assesses freshmen placement exams for the WSU Writing Program and is a volunteer sign-language interpreter for WSU and in Moscow.
     One of his former online writing instructors is now the chair of his department.
     “Jerry was as great a student as he has turned out to be a teacher,” said Professor George E. Kennedy. “He became our Blackburn Post-doctoral Fellow this year for the outstanding quality of his dissertation, effective teaching, and abundant promise of professional success to come.”
     Ariane is 9 now. She studies dance at the Northwest Dance Center, and volunteers alongside her father at the Koppel Farm community gardens. Jera is 14 and devotes herself to animal welfare causes. Stephanie Petersen earned a B.S. in biology at WSU Pullman and works for the Plant Biology Department.
     Jerry Petersen has traded rain forest for wheat fields. But he sometimes pauses during an online course to discuss the yurt.
     “I tell my students I know what they’re going through,” he said, “because I completed the same course from our little house in the woods.”
     Students are surprised he was once one of them, he said. They’re also encouraged to see that a bachelor’s degree can be just the beginning of the journey:
     “WSU’s online program is about real education,” he said, “and real opportunities to improve or transform your life.”
Story and photo by Richard H. Miller/WSU Online

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Three financial aid Webinars this Thursday

If you have questions about paying for college, be sure to attend one of our three Webinars on financial aid this Thursday, June 24. They will be presented at 9 a.m., noon, and 5 p.m. The Webinars are free, and no preregistration is required.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Check your Internet speed

There are roughly 5,000 YouTube videos of cats chasing laser beams. In order to watch them all, and get your WSU Online coursework done, you’re going to need a fast Internet connection.
You can check your Internet download and upload speed with our nifty tester.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Free career help on Tuesday

If you're looking for free job tips, we've got three Webinars on Tuesday, June 15. They begin at 9 a.m., noon, and 5 p.m. Just go to our events page for more information and to log on.

Changes at The Bookie, Too. Online buyers can now use PayPal to purchase books at The Bookie, Too. Still on the drawing board are plans to allow book rentals. More to come on that topic in July.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Unlace the corset, slip into some sweats

Second Life main art
Azure Moonlight’s corset is chafing, and her boots pinch her size-2 feet. She’s had a hard day of flying, shopping and dancing in the virtual world of Second Life.Second Life mug-Cougar eyes
     Fortunately, she can teleport over to J. Coug for the latest in Washington State University loungewear.
     “Avatars may want to get comfortable and show their Coug spirit when they visit WSU’s Second Life campus,” said Brian Maki, media production manager for WSU’s Center for Distance and Professional Education, which built the virtual campus. “So we created some typical WSU attire, like, well, sweatpants.”
     The most popular item is the women’s long-sleeve T-shirt, followed by the women’s sweatpants. Other big hits are the Cougar foam finger, and spiked hair in WSU’s school colors of crimson and gray.
     Some merchandise is unisex (a giant foam finger knows no gender), but men’s clothing is still on the drawing board.
     “I’m thinking of a crimson and gray tuxedo for formal events,” said Kayla Sheeley, a WSU senior who designs the apparel for the CDPE. “Not that we have those here in Eastern Washington, but anything’s possible in Second Life.” More...     Most Second Life stores charge in Linden dollars (one U.S. dollar equals 250 Linden dollars), but all the WSU items are free. So far, about 80 have been given away.
     WSU Second Life project leader David Cillay, associate CDPE dean, sees the virtual campus as a place for collaboration, research, arts and music, conferences, and courses.
     “WSU works to engage people who can’t come to campus,” Cillay said. “That’s why we have Extension programs, and our online degree program, WSU Online. Second Life is another way we reach out.”
     The virtual campus is most well known for hosting the annual Edward R. Murrow Journalism Summit, with such speakers as Second Life creator Philip Rosedale, and journalists Helen Thomas and Bob Schieffer.
     WSU is continually adding new features to the Second Life campus, Cillay said, but sometimes the student designers get a bit too creative:
     “I went along with the spiked Cougar hair,” he said, “but I deleted the hot tub.”
By Richard H. Miller/WSU Online

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Big increase in online scholarships

      WSU Online’s scholarship program is getting bigger and better. The program began in 2007 with 10 $1,000 scholarships. For the 2010-11 academic year, it will offer 30 $2,000 full-year scholarships.
      This is the first year for summer-semester scholarships, with five $1,000 scholarships being awarded. In 2011, 10 $1,000-summer scholarships will be awarded, along with 20 $1,000 spring-semester scholarships.
      The scholarships are funded by the WSU Online’s student government and alumni donations. They are solely for online students. Only students seeking degrees can apply, students must be enrolled in a minimum of six semester hours of credit (three semester hours in the summer session), must complete all courses within any given semester, and maintain at least a 3.0 cumulative grade point average. More...      Applications are judged on both objective and subjective elements. The objective elements include academics, cumulative grade point average, and degree. The subjective elements include expressed need, character, and what the student plans to do with the degree.
      One important factor is the student’s desire to give back, said Larry Lawrence, WSU Online’s student government president.
      “We look for applicants that show a willingness to serve their community,” he said. “It’s not enough for students to want a degree just to get a job. It’s also important that students be willing to use their education to improve their community.”
      Immediate past president Debby Poris echoed that thought: “It’s not only need but also their desire to contribute that makes their application stand out.”
      More information on the program is online.

By Don English, 2002 WSU Online graduate

Monday, June 7, 2010

New tuition schedules posted

In response to state budget cuts signed into law last month, WSU has increased tuition for the 2010-11 academic year. The new tuition schedule is on our Web site.

If you're curious about how tuition has changed in other states, the Washington Higher Education Coordinating Board put out this report in May 2010 that details increases in dollar figures and by percentage.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Celebrating in Pullman, and Iraq

One diploma, three generations. Graduate's father, children celebrate as she describes her WSU Online experience. The video is on the banner of our home page, or you can access it directly here.

A palatial graduation. WSU Online student takes time out from serving with the U.S. Air Force in Iraq to graduate in Saddam's old palace.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

No hit records, but a huge audience

We check out his Facebook page: Links to The Bryan Suits Show on 570 KVI, where he is executive talk producer. Video of a Pearl Jam concert (he’s seen every Seattle-area show). Pictures of him with celebrities: Carrie Fisher, Stacy Keach, a 7-foot Homer Simpson.
      We check his online photos. Yeah, he’s handsome with tousled hair and a three-day stubble. Of course, his wife is beautiful. And, naturally, his hundreds of Facebook friends look fresh from the Nordstrom catalog.
      Not too shabby for a 32-year-old guy who dropped out of high school. That was in 1993. Jeremy Grater wanted to be a rock star. He wanted to be Eddie Vedder. (“That guy rocks.”) Instead he slogged through jobs in movie theaters, video stores and coffee shops.
      The journey from wage slave to media maven started in 1999 at a party, where he was introduced to a radio producer. “He offered to let me see the show live,” Grater says. “I accepted. That day I knew I wanted to work in radio.”
      He applied for a job. The first test? Showing he could talk fast: “I had to explain to the hiring manager how my movie theater background would somehow translate to radio production,” he says. “For some reason it worked. I think my first title was weekend, part-time, vacation fill-in board operator.” More...      Once they let him in the building, it didn’t take him long to move up. He produced popular talk shows as well as Mariners and Seahawks broadcasts for KIRO. He became afternoon news editor at KOMO Newsradio, where he interviewed everyone from Nancy Pelosi to Dan Aykroyd, from Slade Gorton to Howard Dean.
      He never got any gold records, but he did get a huge audience: At KOMO, up to a million people a week, and at 570 KVI, about 100,000 a week.
      What he didn’t have was a “bus ticket.” He was able to get high school credits in community college while earning an associate’s degree. He thought about a bachelor’s degree – “I always felt sort of haunted by my lack of formal education,” he says – but put it off. Then he talked to a friend about working for a U.S. congressman. You’ve got the skills, the friend said, but no four-year degree. Without that “ticket to get on the bus,” he advised, the options are limited.
      “That was all it took,” Grater says. “I knew I wanted to get on the bus.”
      When you want something done, they say, give it to a busy person. Grater has a family, a demanding job, a busy life. No problem. He got on the virtual bus, and joined the online degree program at Washington State University in 2007.
      “The instructors really understand who online students are,” he says. “We can’t sit in lengthy lectures or always be in the same place at the same time. Our pets get sick or work gets too demanding. Life just gets in the way. The faculty gets that.”
      But don’t expect to slack off, he warns. “You’re not let off the hook. You still have to do the work, but you are treated like a real person with real responsibilities.”
      Grater studied politics and earned his social sciences degree in August 2009. When he talks about it, he gets a little Vedder-esque: “Earning an education is earning a sense of freedom,” he says. “You can’t move freely in the world around you without understanding it. WSU makes freedom accessible.”
      With all his freedom to move in the world, has this big-city ├╝ber-cool radio producer ever come east to visit WSU? Nope. Never.
      “Someday,” he says.
      Yeah, right. When he’s not busy with hobnobbing with glitzy celebs. When he’s out of lentils. We’ll be sure to leave a light on.
      To be fair, he has participated in lots of West Side WSU events, such as football games and seminars.
      “There’s a great sense of community,” he says. “WSU is a really great school with a wonderful and supportive distance program. I love being a Coug and I’m proud to have my degree from WSU.”
      Well, OK. We feel better now. We’ll see about sending him some cheese.
By Richard H. Miller/WSU Online