Fort Hays State University
Virtual CollegeForsyth Library 060
600 Park Street
Hays, KS 67601
Toll Free: 800-628-FHSU
On the first day of class, or sometimes sooner, the syllabus
will be made available to you. Read it thoroughly. Of all the documents you
will get in a course, the syllabus is perhaps the most under-appreciated. Not
only is the schedule in the syllabus, all of the class rules and expectations
are there also. What, if any, are the prerequisites for the course? What is the
name of the required text (and other materials)? What are the course
objectives, and what should you learn? How often must you log in to the course?
Does the professor take late work or not? What do you do if you miss an exam,
and what (if any) are acceptable reasons for submitting late work or taking a
make-up exam? What accommodations are offered for students with learning
disabilities? Are there discussion boards in the LMS (learning management
system – e.g., Blackboard, Moodle, Angel, etc.), and if so, how frequently are
posts required? How will you be graded? How long after your work is submitted
should you expect to get feedback and a grade? What work is due, when is it due
and how should it be submitted?
All these questions and more are answered by the syllabus. Here
is a really great idea – keep all the syllabi you get, from every course you
take. Why? Someday you may transfer schools, or go to graduate school at
another institution. When I applied to my MBA program, the university had
various prerequisites that I had to show that I had satisfied. For example, I
had to have taken a statistics class. Since I had majored in business, that
wasn’t a problem, but then I found that they wanted to know that my business
statistics class had certain specific key learning outcomes. Did it contain
certain elements of inferential and descriptive statistics, or just one type?
Having kept my syllabus from that undergraduate statistics class, it was easy
to see what I had taken and what aspects of stats I had been exposed to. The
same types of questions were asked about a couple of other courses I had taken.
Having the syllabus from courses I had taken saved me from having to take (and
pay for!) several courses prior to admission to graduate school. My daughter is
in college now, and scans all of her important documents into her computer as
pdf files so she will have them when she needs them.
One thing most instructors put into their syllabi is a
caveat that the course schedule is subject to change. For that reason, do not
take it on faith that the course schedule will remain as it was written. Be
alert. When you log into Blackboard, look for announcements that will tell you
if things have changed or are changing. Knowing that the assignment due date or
exam date has changed is your responsibility. Another good idea is to create a
master calendar with the key due-dates for all your classes. That way, you will
never miss a deadline. Take a look at all your classes and assignments. Do you
think you will need tutoring for any of your classes? We provide a service
called Smarthinking here at Fort Hays State for our online students. Don’t wait
until the last minute to get access. Allow at least a week to get everything
done, including the sign-up process. A good time to get started with whatever
tutoring service you may use is the first week of class. That way you will have
access when you need it.
I’ll close this article with another thing we’ve discussed
previously. I can’t stress enough how important it is to get to know your
professor. If your professor recognizes your name when he or she gets a post or
email, things just go better. Make contact early in the course. Ask for help sooner
rather than later. If you have questions about anything in the course –
assignments, the work itself, projects, whatever – do not wait to get answers.
As an instructor, I sometimes get emails on Friday afternoon wanting to know
what to do with a major assignment that is due that night. I typically make
assignments due at 11:59 p.m. the day they are due. Waiting until the day the
assignment is due to ask about it? Not a good idea.
Best of luck to you as you begin your new semester. If we
can help in any way, don’t hesitate to contact us!
It’s pre-enrollment time at FHSU! Whether
you are part-time or full-time, exploratory or degree seeking, traditional or a
non-trad student, it’s important you connect with your Academic Advisor. Every student at Fort Hays State University
is assigned to an advisor with whom they have the opportunity to visit with
about their academic program and their career and life goals. Your advisor is there to assist you with
course selection, make suggestions in program planning and to help you with
academic questions or issues. Your
academic advisor is your connection to success at FHSU!
As a student, you need to remember you are ultimately
responsible for the choices you make. Take the initiative to contact and
maintain a working relationship with your advisor. Below are tips of what to do before you meet
with your advisor to pre-enroll:
Call, email or stop by to make an appointment - and
keep your scheduled appointment
Be prepared - have a list of questions or
concerns you wish to address
Be open and honest about issues that may be prevent you from achieving your best…remember
your advisor wants you to succeed and
reach your academic goals
Familiarize yourself with the degree requirements
resources available to you on campus
Follow through on your advisors recommendations
Your Academic Advisor is there to help navigate you your
through your educational experiences. Visit regularly with your advisor to
evaluate your educational plans, experiences and opportunities at FHSU.
Best of luck!
This weekend at FHSU we celebrated the 2014 commencement!
Friday night was Graduate school and Saturday morning was Undergraduate. The
FHSU Virtual College hosted the annual Graduation Breakfast at the Robbins
Alumni Center. Graduates attended from all
over the country, including one that traveled from Honolulu, HI. For many, this
was their first trip to campus. We had a great day and really enjoyed meeting
and spending some time with our virtual college students.
Here are a few of the photos from the Graduation Breakfast:
FHSU Graduate School Commencement – Friday May 16th,
“Thanks to the Fort Hays State
University Virtual College I'm proof that you CAN get your Master's with a
full-time job, husband, dog and 2 kids, while selling one house, building
another house and moving! It took me more than 3 years to complete, but it
feels so good to be done. Go Tigers!! “
~ Hayley Bieker
Albert Einstein once said “If A is success in life, then A = X + Y +Z. Work is X; Y is play; and Z is keeping your mouth shut.” I’m not sure about Z, but all are important elements of a balanced and productive life. Attaining and maintaining that balance is crucial for success in successfully completing an online education program.
We frequently ask Virtual College students how they maintain balance in their lives as they pursue an associate’s, bachelor’s or master’s degree online. The answers are sometimes amusing, but underneath the humor is a very obvious dedication to completing something they started. One student wrote, “I have a job that goes until about 6:00 in the evening. Then I go pick up my two kids, go home, fix dinner, help with their schoolwork, get them in the bath and get them to bed. So my school day starts about 10:00 p.m. With luck, I get to bed about 1:00 a.m. But only a year and a half left – and then hopefully a better job and more time with the family – or sleeping!”
Obviously, self-discipline is very important to succeed in an online degree program. You have to make time to get the class assignments done and submitted, and you have to make time to study and learn the material. Our best students have learned to be organized and to make the most of the time they have available.
Most online programs today use a learning management system, or LMS, to facilitate the delivery of course material. You may be familiar with Blackboard, Moodle, Angel, WebCT, or other systems. They are similar in function, providing a “virtual classroom” for online students. They’re accessible anywhere you have an internet connection, and while I wouldn’t try to do a whole course on a smartphone, it probably could be done. Most don’t require that you be a tech guru, but you do have to be comfortable learning new ways to do things.
Log in at least three times a week to make sure you know what’s going on. If you have technical problems, get help at your earliest opportunity. If you’re taking an exam online, turn off everything on your computer except the exam (no music streaming, etc.). I would also suggest that you make sure you have all the bandwidth that’s available in your house or apartment. The kids watching Hulu or Netflix in the next room will eat up a lot of your internet connection and could cause problems while you’re taking the exam. Have them watch a DVD instead for that hour or so. Taking care of this before going into the exam will go a long way to ensuring that your computer won’t lock up on you or kick you out of the exam space.
Contact your professors and support services early in the semester or course term. A lot of people think that an online course isn’t interactive just because people are separated by geography. Not true. As an instructor, some of the best interactions I’ve had with students have been in my online classes. Be proactive. In addition to your submissions, share some of your thoughts with your professor. Ask questions – especially if you are having trouble with any of the assignments. Find out early what student support services are available and appropriate for a given class – library online databases, tutoring services, writing centers, financial aid, etc. – and connect with them for assistance.
Stay in close contact with your advisor. Talk to your advisor at a minimum of once a semester, more often if necessary. They will reach out to you throughout the year. When they do, respond as soon as you can.
I think the final thing, but perhaps the most important thing to keep in mind is “How badly do I want this degree?” There are sacrifices to be made, a lot of hard work to be done, and there will be times when the end is not clearly in sight and your determination may waver. As Stephen Covey (author of The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People) said, “Begin with the end in mind.” Start your educational journey knowing all the good things that will come from attaining a higher level of education, and stay focused on your goal.
If you have any questions about learning at a distance, or about our programs, don’t hesitate to contact us. We’re always here to help you.