Virtual College Blog

Pre-Enrollment for the Spring 2015 semester

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Pre-Enrollment for the Spring 2015 semester begins soon!  Please see the Academic Calendar for your date to pre-enroll.  You can also check your date by logging into TigerEnroll and selecting the semester you wish to pre-enroll in.

Pre-enrollment is the time when you select your class schedule for the upcoming semester.  You will pre-enroll yourself in courses on the TigerEnroll system.  Once pre-enrolled, these classes are saved until you make payment arrangements in TigerEnroll or until the enrollment deadline has passed.  

It's important that you take advantage of an Advising Appointment prior to pre-enrolling yourself in courses.  Academic Advisors can assist you in selecting courses for the upcoming semester.  Many courses have pre-requisites or co-requisites, so it's important to discuss your schedule with your advisor.  It is also a great time to discuss your progress towards graduation and your career goals.  Academic Advisors of virtual students are often available using a variety of avenues, such as phone, instant messaging, video conferencing (such as Skype and Google Hangouts), and email.  Not sure who your advisor is?  Log into TigerTracks and click on "Advisor Information".

Prior to your advising appointment, complete the following:
1.    Review your online degree summary or course checklist to make sure everything is updated.
2.    Check TigerEnroll to ensure that you don't have any enrollment holds on your account (second tab).
3.    Review potential course options and their accompanying prerequisites on TigerTracks (to view prerequisites, just click on the course title in TigerTracks).
4.    Prepare any additional questions you may have.  Your advisor will do his or her very best to answer any questions that you may have, and at the very least, direct you to the appropriate department.
Once pre-enrollment begins, courses fill up fast!  It's important to pre-enroll on your designated day in order to avoid missing out on the courses you need.

Happy Pre-Enrolling!

Awards – Why They Matter, and Why They Don’t

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Awards – Why They Matter, and Why They Don’t

A really wonderful problem for a university to have is having to build more trophy cases. Winning awards, whether on the athletic field or in the classroom, is always great as it shows a tangible outcome to the efforts that go into making the student experience everything it should be.

Last week, Fort Hays State University was recognized by TheBestSchools.org in an article entitled “The Best Online College in Each of America’s Fifty States.” According to the publisher, we were selected as the best in Kansas based on academic excellence, course and degree offerings, faculty strengths and reputation for online degree programs. You can read the full article at http://www.thebestschools.org/features/best-online-college-in-each-american-state . Since the article lists the schools in alphabetical order by state, you will need to scroll down a bit. You’ll find that TheBestSchools.org recognized the same benefits of an FHSU online education that U.S. News & World Report recognized earlier this year when they ranked our online programs #16 nationally for Best Online Bachelor’s Programs, #20 for Best Online Graduate Education Programs, and #64 for Best Online Graduate Business Programs. When combined with online tuition that is in the bottom 2% in the United States, FHSU does offer value that is truly remarkable, and it’s great when other organizations notice.

So, honestly, these awards do mean a lot to us.  They are third-party recognition of the constant and dedicated effort we put into online education here at FHSU. When we win awards, and in a year like this year when there are almost too many to count, we do feel good about the recognition.

On the other hand, winning awards is only a by-product of the ongoing, intense focus we have on student success. We don’t think about awards when we try to better serve our students. For example, at a time when most universities were cutting back on new programs and initiatives, we invested a significant sum of money into creating a professional advising group to serve most of our 6,000+ online students with a more personalized and comprehensive advising service. We are always looking for better ways to serve students so they will be successful in their academic pursuits. That’s really what drives us, day after day. We do listen to feedback from our students, and encourage it.

The awards are great, and we like winning them. However, awards or no awards, our focus in on student success, and always will be. It is at the core of what we do, and at the end of the day, it’s the successes we’ve had with our students that really makes us proud.

Brad Goebel

Publication names FHSU best college for online education in Kansas

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Fort Hays State University's reputation as a national leader in the quality of its Virtual College programs was bolstered again this week when it was ranked the best college in Kansas for online education.

TheBestSchools.org ranked FHSU No. 1 in an article, "The Best Online College in Each of America’s Fifty States."

"We believe that many prospective students are in positions in which they need to earn their degree online," said Wayne Downs, managing editor of TheBestSchools.org. "However, that doesn’t mean they don’t want a school close to them in case they want to use the library, visit a professor or participate in other events. This was our primary motivation for producing this article."

TheBestSchools.org selected FHSU’s program based on several weighted factors, including academic excellence, course and degree offerings, faculty strengths, and reputation -- especially reputation for online degree programs.

Here is the link to the article:
http://www.thebestschools.org/features/best-online-college-in-each-american-state/

"We are always gratified when an independent organization recognizes our educational excellence," said Dr. Mirta M. Martin, FHSU president. "It is important to emphasize that this honor also reflects on the excellence of our on-campus offerings, because our core faculty develop the courses they teach both in the traditional classroom and online."

Dennis King, director of the Virtual College, noted that the online students include a very special cohort -- members of the Armed Forces at home and abroad. "We have been recognized as a military-friendly school for several years by GI Jobs Magazine," he said, pointing out that the criteria for making the Military Friendly Schools list includes efforts to recruit and retain military and veteran students.

King also stated that in addition to excellence, FHSU offers exceptionally low tuition to its online students. "We are in the lowest 1 percent nationally in terms of online tuition," King said. "This means our students are getting a top-tier education at the most affordable price."

FHSU's recognition as the best university in Kansas for online education was just the latest in a continuing series of such honors.

Most recently, just last month, TheBestSchools.org ranked FHSU's online M.S. in educational administration as No. 16 in the nation. It was selected based on academic excellence, course offerings, faculty strengths and reputation.

Earlier this year, U.S. News & World Report recognized FHSU as the top university in Kansas and one of the elite universities in the nation for the quality of its online education programs.

The news magazine evaluated online higher education in six categories. FHSU offers courses in four of those categories. All four were rated among the best in the nation. For online bachelor's degrees, FHSU ranked 16th. For online master's degrees in education, FHSU ranked 20th. For online master's degrees in business, FHSU ranked 64th. For online master's degrees in nursing, FHSU ranked 71st.
FHSU was the top ranked university in the state of Kansas for each category except online nursing, where the University of Kansas was ranked 24th.

Of equal importance, the online courses and degrees offered by Fort Hays State through its Virtual College are less expensive than every one of the universities that were ranked as high or higher than FHSU in the U.S. News survey.

About TheBestSchools.org
TheBestSchools.org is a leading resource for prospective students seeking a college or university degree. Many schools in the United States, including Auburn University, Boston University, Texas A&M University, Fordham University and FHSU, reference its rankings.

Success this Semester

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It is sometimes hard to grasp how rapidly the semester, once begun, moves to conclusion. It’s hard to think that we are already in the third week of the semester. Many of you will start having your first exams soon, if you haven’t had one already, and the semester projects will be due before you know it. As an instructor, I’d like to give you some advice on how to succeed this fall.

When the instructor says to read the chapter prior to class, read it. Not only will you be better prepared for class, you will comprehend and retain the material much better. As instructors have only a limited amount of time to lecture and discuss, the lectures will make a lot more sense to you if you’ve read the chapters first. It’s also a lot easier to go from a broad knowledge base to the specifics highlighted in the lecture rather than the other way around. It will make your studying much more effective as well, and maximize your chances of success on exams.

Stay on top of your assignments. When you’re given an assignment, get right to it. Putting it off can create lots of problems, as you don’t know what will come up to keep you from getting it in on time. Many instructors do not take late work, and while missing a single homework assignment won’t necessarily kill your grade, I have had students who, at the end of the semester, missed getting the next higher course grade by the margin of the homework points lost from a single assignment.

Successfully studying for exams requires discipline. If you will keep up with the reading assignments, you will find that it is much easier to study for an exam or quiz. “Cramming” the night before an exam may work once in awhile, but in the long run, you will perform at a much higher level if you keep up with the material on a daily or, at most, weekly basis. Your exam preparation will be much more effective and will take less time, freeing you up to study for other classes or do other things.

Finally, get to know your instructor. Whether you study online or in a classroom on campus, take a few minutes to have a personal interaction with the professor. It will go a long way toward making the class more enjoyable, and every instructor likes students who show interest in the course. I had one student scan and send me a business card after the first class session. While I didn’t need the card, I still remember the name of the student who gave it to me.

Best of luck this semester! Work hard, work smart, and keep your goals in mind. Always remember that the Virtual College is here to help our students, so don’t hesitate to contact us for tutoring assistance or other student services.

Brad Goebel
9/3/14

How to Avoid Closed Courses

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How to Avoid Closed Courses
By Erica Fisher, Student Engagement and Advising Center, Fort Hays State University

One of the great things about FHSU is early pre-enrollment for virtual students.  Pre-enrollment for virtual students typically occurs a full week before on-campus students.  However, many virtual students don't take advantage of this perk, and miss out on early pre-enrollment.  Nothing is more frustrating for a student then trying to pre-enroll and finding that all their needed courses are closed.  This situation can be avoided by following the steps below:

1.  Know when you can pre-enroll.  The Registrar's Office provides an Academic Calendar for each semester that lists the opening date for pre-enrollment.  This calendar also includes information on enrollment deadlines, financial aid release, withdrawal deadlines, and more!  Start your semester off right by plugging these dates into your personal calendar.  You can also check your date by logging into TigerEnroll and selecting the semester you wish to pre-enroll in.

2.  Schedule a pre-enrollment appointment with your advisor.  It is important to discuss course options for the upcoming semester with your advisor.   This helps to ensure that you are taking courses in the proper order while adhering to pre-requisites.  It is also an excellent time to discuss academic progress and academic/career goals.  This meeting should be held at least a couple weeks before pre-enrollment begins.  You will find your academic advisor's contact information in TigerTracks.  Once you've logged in, click on the "Online Services tab," and then on "Advisor Information" under the "Academic & Career Advising" heading.

3.  Pre-enroll on your designated day in TigerEnroll.  Do not put this off.  Once pre-enrollment begins, courses fill up extremely fast!  It's important to pre-enroll on your designated day in order to avoid missing out on the courses you need.  Make sure you complete all the necessary steps in TigerEnroll.  Are you a first time user of TigerEnroll?  If so, FHSU offers step-by-step instructions as well as video demos.

4.  Finalize and pay for your enrollment.  Be sure to complete this step.  The deadline for finalizing your enrollment is typically a couple of weeks before the semester begins.  You can find the deadline on the Academic Calendar.  Instructions for finalizing your enrollment in TigerEnroll can be found on the AACE website.

5.  Order your textbooks.  To order books, go to the FHSU Bookstore website at fhsu.bkstr.com OR select "Order Textbooks" from inside TigerEnroll on the "Pre-enrollment/Schedule Changes" tab.  You are able to purchase new or used books (subject to availability), and, in most cases, will be able to sell books back at the end of the semester by following specific instructions outlined on the FHSU Bookstore site. The bookstore also offers a rental option. Please remember to order your books early so you will have them before classes begin!

Sometimes life happens, and the pre-enrollment date slips by before a student can pre-enroll.  If you find yourself in this situation, there is another option:  the TigerEnroll Wait List.  If a seat in a course opens up, the next student in line on the Wait List will be offered that spot.  To add yourself to the Wait List, please view our video demo or speak with your academic advisor.

Remember, the easiest way to avoid closed classes is to pre-enroll on your designated day.  You can view your pre-enrollment day in TigerEnroll or on the Academic Calendar.  When in doubt, contact your academic advisor!

Fort Hays State continues to gain national recognition

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Recognition of Fort Hays State University's online offerings as among the best in the country have continued to come since January's U.S. News & World Report published their rankings. Those rankings placed FHSU as the top Kansas school, and one of the elite schools in the country, for its education programs offered through the Virtual College.

Fort Hays State University's online degrees, offered through the Virtual College, were recognized in January by U.S. News & World Report as the top online programs in Kansas and among the very best offered in the United States, have again been recognized for excellence. Most recently, FHSU ranked No. 5 nationally for Best Online Bachelor's Programs for Veterans, No. 16 for Best Online Graduate Nursing Programs for Veterans, and No. 17 in Best Online Graduate Business Programs for Veterans.

FHSU's Virtual College offers 27 bachelor's degree programs and 14 master's degree programs online. Many offer multiple concentrations so students can choose the course work that best meets their needs.

"These rankings are important independent confirmations of the excellent value -- very high quality and low cost -- of our Virtual College offerings here at Fort Hays State," said Dennis King, director of the Virtual College.

"Since we invest our money to raise quality in our academic programs and to keep tuition low rather than buy a college bowl game, or buy a bus and travel the country with our name across the side of it, or spend a fortune on national media advertising, it's wonderful to get this kind of recognition and affirmation from entities like U.S. News and the other ranking agencies."

Another recent recognition came from the National Council on Teacher Quality, in its 2014 Teacher Prep Review. On campus as well as online, FHSU ranked No. 3 in the nation for Elementary Education and No. 12 in Secondary Education. FHSU ranked No. 1 among all schools in Kansas.

The university's undergraduate secondary education programs were the top in the NCTQ's Midwest Region, comprised of the 12 states from Ohio to Kansas, north to North Dakota and east to Michigan.

In yet another ranking, FHSU was named one of five colleges among the least expensive in the United States in an article in USA Today. That article listed FHSU as fifth least expensive. The USA Today report was based on affordability ratings from Online U (www.onlineu.org) and rankings of online programs by The Best Colleges (www.thebestcolleges.org).

OnlineU.org, a website created by SR Education Group, Kirkland, Wash., this month issued an expanded ranking FHSU's early childhood education degrees No. 2 most affordable in the nation. Teaching degrees generally were ranked as No. 4 most affordable in the country. In February, OnlineU found that FHSU was the second-most popular college in Kansas based on a study written on data from the National Center for Education Statistics.

Overall, FHSU is also in the top five in OnlineU's rankings in counseling, human resources, IT and computer science, and nursing, and is among the organization's top five in the nation overall.

TheBestSchools.org, in May recognized FHSU’s B.S. in Business Administration and the M.B.A. in Tourism and Hospitality Management as Wise Choices for affordability and quality. These degrees scored high for transferability of credits, comprehensive curriculum covering key aspects of business theories and practices and, for the M.B.A., the ability to take time off for personal reasons and come back to finish.

In March, the online M.B.A. program at FHSU (the program has 11 concentration possibilities) was ranked a "Best Buy" and placed No. 13 out of 124 colleges assessed by GetEducated.com.

On a local level, the university's home city came in for praise from a news site published by Movoto Real Estate, a national real estate brokerage licensed in more than 30 states. Movoto listed Hays as the third-most exciting place to live in Kansas, based on nightlife, live music venues per capita, parks, outdoor activities, availability of arts and entertainment, percentage (higher is better) of restaurants that are not fast food, and percentage (higher is better) of residents age 18 to 34 (Hays came in at 37 percent). No. 1 was Manhattan, No. 2 was Lawrence.

Virtual College earns recognition

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The following article came out today in the Hays Daily News. We thought we would share this with you since it speaks to our philosophy of education and will give you an idea of how important you, our students, are to us. Thanks to the reporter who wrote the story, Elizabeth Golden, for giving us permission to reprint her story here. This is a very nice addition to the list of high rankings the Virtual College has won this year, and we are pleased to be able to share it with you.

7/11/2014

By ELIZABETH GOLDEN
egolden@dailynews.net

The Virtual College at Fort Hays State University has been recognized as one of the most affordable degree programs by onlineu.org.
OnlineU is a nonprofit website dedicated to refocusing the higher education conversation around affordability and quality.
"We are trying to migrate the conversation away from prestige and selectivity," said Kimberly Wetter, head of marketing at SR Education Group.
"We're trying to start talking about affordability and quality. We started this research because student debt is out of control, and we wanted to change the way people thought about online education."
Tuition costs for the virtual college are $186.50 per credit hour for undergraduate and $251.38 per credit hour for graduate coursework.
OnlineU listed the 20 top universities in the 25 most popular programs of study.
"FHSU really showed a strong commitment to affordable degrees across the board," Wetter said. They're offering the most popular degrees to earn online at one of the most affordable prices in the nation."
The early childhood education and the teaching program were ranked in the top five after the company researched more than 2,000 universities.
"These ranks are a great way of indicating the quality of the Virtual College," said Dennis King, director of the Virtual College and learning technologies. "We can't afford traditional advertising, so what we do is take that money we would spend other places and put it back in our programs. We don't have that advertising budget. This is a way for us to advertise on a national and international scale, and do it by offering quality programs that an affordable price."
The Virtual College has been in existence since 1998.
"We were an early adopter of online education," King said. "We have a culture on campus. Our faculty and staff are hired with the idea that they will be working with Virtual College students and offering online programs."
More than 6,000 students FHSU students are "truly virtual," meaning 100 percent of their coursework is completed online. The university aims to reach 7,500 "truly virtual" students by 2020.
For the previous year, the overall number of students enrolled in online education dropped, but FHSU's enrollment increased by more than 12 percent, King said.
"In tough times, you have the option to either grow the university and take a small profit and reinvest the rest in the university," King said, "or to charge more, have fewer students and take a larger return. We've made the commitment that we rather serve 100 students and get a small return than serve 10 students and get a large return."
The average age for Virtual College students is 34, and the majority of students are from Kansas.
"It's our obligation to serve Kansans," King said.
"You see what (the Virtual College) means to them. You see the passion they have; the accomplishment of completing an education while raising kids, working a full-time job. What we do changes lives." Not just for that individual person, but for their families and every generation after that. We're changing history every time we graduate someone from a program."

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