Monday, January 25, 2010

Student: Advisor 'made all the difference'

At Distance Degree Programs, we pride ourselves on exceptional student service. A big part of that is our academic advising team. We just received this letter singling out one of our great advisors, Craig Stephens, so we thought we'd share it.

I just wanted to share with you what an awesome experience DDP turned out to be for me. As a student taking a rather untraditional approach to earning a bachelor’s degree, it was frightening to go from the “normal” routine of college to this new method.
I was worried for a few reasons. Will I do well if I’m not actually going to class? Will I get lost in the shuffle of other students and be overlooked when I need help? Is this going to be recognized as a “real” degree by the outside world?”
Well, all these fears were immediately put to rest when I first spoke to my academic advisor, Craig Stephens. He answered all of these questions and more!
More...Without Craig’s guidance, I believe I wouldn’t have finished my degree as successfully. Craig was always willing to set aside time to talk with me, work out various plans for if I wanted to switch majors or change my minor, and discuss both in big picture and little picture terms what that would mean for my class load, graduation timeline, etc.
The requirement that every student meets or talks with his/her advisor before registering each semester is a fantastic way to keep students on track with their goals, and timelines. Having that helping hand made all the difference to me.
To students who fear that this might not be perceived as a “real” degree, I’d say that everyone focuses more on what you learned while obtaining your degree instead of how you obtained it. Employers also find that students who put in hard work and long hours to meet their educational goals are the types of employees they want. All in all, my experience with Distance Degree Programs was fantastic!
Even though I’ve never been to Pullman, I’m proud to be a Coug!
Thanks for letting me share a little bit about how much I appreciated my WSU experience.
Sincerely,
Anna Carlson

Fall 2009 honor roll released

The Fall 2009 honor roll is now available on the WSU president's Web page.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Money is on table. First come, first served

Would you rather get $5,156 as a loan or a grant?
In 2009, Sally Sunshine filed the FAFSA by the priority date. She got a grant. Paul Procrastinator filed the form after the date. He got a loan he needs to pay off. That’s because earlier filers are eligible for a bigger pool of financial resources.
Unfair? That’s the way it’s always been. The early bird gets the worm, the diligent ant survives the winter, the feckless grasshopper perishes in the snow.
This year’s priority date is February 15. Here’s a link to more information. Now it’s up to you.

MLK volunteers can share stories. If you were among the more than 90 WSU students, staff and faculty who participated in service projects for Martin Luther King Day, WSU’s Center for Civic Engagement would like to hear from you. Please contact Kim Freier so the center can document your service hours. The center also wants to hear what you did, so it can share your story. Here's a video of students helping at a food bank.

Changing lives, one degree at a time

     “Education that Changes Lives,” says the tagline on the new WSU Online brochure. For the woman on the cover, the words were prescient.
     The photo of Melanie Bott, with her children, Kaycee, 4, and Kayden, 1, was taken during spring 2009 graduation. Melanie earned her human development degree through WSU Online at the same time her husband, Isaac, graduated from WSU’s Veterinary Medicine Program.
     Isaac quickly found a job in Payson, Utah. It was harder for Melanie. “For every job I had applied for, there were hundreds of applicants,” she said. More...She had an advantage, though: her degree from WSU. In December 2009, she was offered the position of Early Head Start family educator in Orem, Utah. “The degree definitely helped me get the job,” she said. “It gave me the knowledge of how to work with families in need.”
     Now it’s Melanie’s turn to change lives. “I will be going into the homes of the low income, poverty stricken, homeless – the neediest of needy – teaching parents how to teach their children,” she said.
Melanie’s family is happy about the job – and excited that she’s on the brochure.
     “Kaycee and Kayden absolutely love the fact that they are on the cover with mom,” Melanie said. “My mom and sisters also think it is pretty amazing and exciting.”
     Melanie said she felt honored. “Thank you so much for the opportunity to represent WSU. I loved being a part of such a great university and program.”

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Behind the scenes: How courses get online

Tuesday's edition of WSU Today features an article about one of the people who work with WSU faculty to put on-campus courses online.

Friday, January 15, 2010

A hard road, but it leads forward


      Lisa Jurevick is trying to remember her childhood. “I was living in Puerto Rico,” she says, “in an orphanage.”
      “So, you’re an orphan?” a listener asks.
      “Yeah. I guess I am.” She laughs. “I never thought of it that way.”
      From anyone else, that might be surprising. But Lisa doesn’t live in the past, nor indulge in self-pity.
      She doesn’t dwell on the 2003 car crash that impairs her memory and ability to focus. She isn’t consumed by the 2004 car crash that killed her 21-year-old daughter, Kylee, an honor student at Oregon State University, and injured her two sons. She’s learned to live with the cobalt allergy she developed while working on a turbine project in Elma, Washington, even though exposure to the wrong metals, dyes or household products leaves her with skin-peeling breakouts that last four to six weeks. She’s accepted the fact that, in 2006, the allergy forced her to close her company, Top Gun Construction, which she’d opened six months earlier.
      “I have been very blessed in my life,” she says. “I have been able to overcome tremendous personal difficulties.”
More...      Lisa, 45, earned her bachelor’s degree in social sciences through Distance Degree Programs and graduated in December 2009. Her goal now is to help others.
      “I’m interested in getting a master’s in counseling psychology,” she says. "I want to reach out and help young mothers, like I was, especially teenagers. A lot of youths lack direction because their parents aren’t home.”
      The Lacey, Washington, resident knows that situation first-hand.
      “I was working two full-time jobs for many years, and didn’t get to spend time with my kids, so I’d like to counsel young mothers so they understand how important it is.”
      Lisa doesn’t know who her own mother is. Her father was in the Air Force, and had an affair. “He doesn’t know I exist,” she says. When Lisa was about 5 – “I know just little bits and pieces,” she says of her childhood – she and her half-sister came from Puerto Rico on a boat. They got split up, and Lisa ended up in a Van Nuys, California, foster home.
      “I’ve been on my own since I was 14, when I ran away from the foster home,” she says. “In Van Nuys, I baby-sat, and when I was 16, they emancipated me because they couldn’t find me.”
      Lisa chose DDP because of its accreditation and flexibility. “DDP gave me the opportunity to take the time I need to be successful,” she says. “I felt like my instructors were really engaged, and the curriculum is set up so you really remember everything, instead of just memorizing from a textbook.”
      Her fortitude impresses her academic advisor, Jaqueline Almdale. “Lisa is an amazing student,” Jaqueline says. “She has faced a lot of setbacks in the past, but soldiered on.”
      Lisa would rather focus on the present.
      “I feel really blessed because I’ve turned out to be a good person despite the challenges,” she says. “I’m grateful for that. I’m happy.”

By Richard H. Miller/Center for Distance and Professional Education

Textbook options rapidly changing

For decades, hefty textbooks have damaged both budgets and backs. The industry is changing though, with all kinds of rental options springing up, including a Barnes & Noble announcement this week that it was expanding its rental program.

In California, the Legislature just passed a law requiring textbooks to be available in electronic form by 2020. The industry is likely to embrace that effort, given that it lets them avoid returns of unsold books, and better compete with used-book stores and rental companies.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Learn how to speak FAFSA

FAFSA tipsheet. The FAFSA people have created a handy guide to common mistakes on this crucial financial aid form. They range from the obvious (wrong Social Security number) to the tricky (don't use commas or decimal points in number fields, always round to the nearest dollar). The priority deadline to file the FAFSA is Feb. 15. The earlier you file, the more financial aid options you have. More information is at the WSU Web site.

CCE survey. If you took a fall 2009 course through the WSU Center for Civic Engagement in which you completed and tracked service learning hours, the deadline to complete the student survey is Friday, Jan. 15. Please go to the Web site, and log on with your access code. If you have questions, call 1-800-833-0867 and ask for the Civic Engagement survey coordinator, or send us an e-mail.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Time runs out to apply for $5,000 grant

Washington Women in Need is offering a $5,000 grant for low-income women. But there's only a two-day window in which to apply.
To qualify, applicants must be Washington state residents who still need assistance with tuition and books after all other grants and scholarships have been applied. They must also be enrolled in a program of study at an institution that accepts federal financial aid.
The application will be available to download for two days only: From 8 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 12, until 5 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 13. Instructions are on the Web site.
The organization also offers help with health-insurance premiums, and vision and dental care.
A list of other private/donor scholarships is on WSU's financial aid Web site.

Everett center offers proctored exams

One useful resource for DDP students in the Everett, Wash., area is the University Center of North Puget Sound.
The University Center offers proctored exams as well as a computer in the lobby, which students can use on a first-come, first-served basis. Students with a WSU ID card can also print, fax and copy for a fee.
The University Center is in Gray Wolf Hall, at Everett Community College, 2000 Tower St., Everett, WA 98201. Here's a map, and here's the phone number: 425.259.8900.

More options. DDP's Web site has a list of other sites that offer proctored exams, as well as some good ideas for finding a proctor in your area.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Y2K+10?

If you were affected by the recent credit card processing problems at WSU, you're not alone. Systems were affected across the country, and in Germany and Australia. One reason, this article says, might have been computers' inability to handle the change to a new year.

MLK Day a great time to help others

Martin Luther King Jr. Day is January 18, and WSU has a variety of ways you can show the world that Cougs care. Here's how to find a service opportunity near you, and document that service with WSU's Center for Civic Engagement.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

DDP's student government needs you

"Senator" would look good on your resume. So would "president." That's just one of several reasons to seek a position on the DDP student government. Others include expanding your leadership skills, free travel to ASWSU-DDP events, and a small salary.
To run for office, you'll need to file paperwork between February 1 and February 8, so get started now. There's more information online, as well as a copy of the letter that the student government is sending out.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Service connects students, scholarships

Meet your match. A new Web site, WashBoard.org promises "smarter scholarship matches" for students seeking financial help.
Among the WSU scholarships currently listed are: the Cougar Academic Award, Future Cougars of Color, Glenn Terrell Presidential Scholarship, Regents Scholars Program, Transfer Achievement Award, and University Achievement Award.
WSU's financial aid office says it will be adding more scholarships as the site continues to grow.

FAFSA now online. The new year means the new FAFSA form is now online. Here's a link to more information. The earlier you file, the more options for aid you have.
The form has been simplified this year, The Washington Post explains, with "skip logic" that lets applicants bypass unnecessary questions. The government is also working on a way to download tax information directly onto the form.