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Virtual College

Hammond Hall 201
600 Park Street
Hays, KS 67601
Phone: 785-628-4291
Toll Free: 800-628-FHSU
Fax: 785-628-4037 

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Student Success Story

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Meet Julie Kelly, 2011 Graduate - Bachelor of General Studies, concentrations in Leadership Studies and Human Services

1.  Tell us a little about your alumni get to know you.

I am a military child and bride, daughter of a United States Army Soldier of 30 years and married to one who has now served 26 years.  Married 21 years to Lance, who I met in Fulda, Germany right after the fall of Die Grenze, "The Wall" in early 1990.
We have four children, Brenden, age 19, Sandy, age 18, Nick and Graham age 15.  Currently living in the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles due to military orders.  

2.  Tell us why you chose Fort Hays State University

To be honest, it boiled down to accessibility and money.  We had been assigned to Fort McCoy Wisconsin right after I started back to college and there was not a local college to attend that offered any programs remotely like what I needed or wanted.  I began looking for SOCAD schools that would be able to work with our continued moves while I completed my degree and Ft Hays came up.  When I saw the tuition rate for online learning compared to some other "online" schools, I was amazed.  Better yet, there was no need to deal with in or out of state tuition, which has always been a huge obstacle for military families and service members.  
Then I learned that this program began years before, geared toward helping military members earn their degree while in the field, deployed, etc.  It was a perfect fit, since as a spouse, I often didn't have my husband to watch kids for me to attend a physical classroom, let alone the stability to stay at one college until I was done.  FHSU changed that.  We moved several times while I was working on my BGS and the one thing I didn't have to worry about was my college education getting kinked up.  

3.  Tell us some of the experiences with your classes and or instructors at FHSU.

Wow, where do I begin?  I kind of 'fell' into the Organizational Leadership program for my emphasis, it seemed to make sense for me but I didn't really know what it was.  With amazing professors like Dr.'s Curt and Christie Brudgardt and Kathy Nordyke, who mentored and challenged, I grew quite passionate about leadership studies.  More importantly, the discussions in classes were passionate and memorable.  
Weekly posts were not just a bland post, but involved small groups that became very animated and at times, verbose, about topics, going well beyond the assignment to really become a true life learning lesson.  
It felt great to find the same names after a few classes, where I began to notice, hey, that person was in my last class.  I began to 'know' their personalities and could actually begin to joke with them some.  We all 'learned' each others 'tone' which is important in online learning.  
Some of those friendships transcended blackboard and I ended up Facebook friends with a few leadership students as well as a few professors after I finished my degree.  In fact, Christie and I still hash things out on fb- and I am so grateful for a friendship that allows us to be really passionate while still respecting each other, especially when we disagree.  
I think my fondest memories though, were teaming up with a particularly passionate group of leadership students to create the leadership mentoring program.  I ended up good friends with my mentee the following semester and I must say, I really valued the chance to actively learn and help others learn too.
Of course there are sometimes glitches with online learning too- and when taking physical science, I ended up needing a tutor- I just could not understand the material in a way that I could memorize.  The best part was that my professor was patient and suggestive of ways to make things work for my style of learning.  
Along the same lines, I discovered in Philosophy class that I am a kinesthetic learner.  Watching the lectures, I decided to mess with some yarn one day.  Next thing I knew, I understood and remembered what was on the lecture video- so now knitting is part of every lecture video for me! This taught me about the importance of understanding our learning styles- and that while online learning may not be ideal for everyone, knowing your overall learning style is important for the best success.

4.  Are there any particular memories you wish to share?
Ha! Driving across country to "walk" for my degree.  I had worked six years for that and felt it was really important to have the physical connection with my professors.  I also really wanted to meet my friends from class.  Some of them weren't going to attend, but when I mentioned that I wanted to meet them, we decided it was a must!  We walked and celebrated together that day and it was so neat to put their personality together with a live body and action.  I expected not to be 'recognized'  by faculty or staff when we arrived for the graduation social, but that is just not the way FHSU works.  The moment I introduced myself, they were enthused and greeted me like old friends, immediately connecting stories and personal details, so I knew they were authentic.  
Of course, I also graduated on my birthday- so yay! Happy Birthday to me, right?  Except it almost wasn't.  On our drive, I missed a step off a curb at one of our stopovers (3 days drive from New York!) and ended up severly spraining my foot, ankle, and knee.  I couldn't even put my leg down for balance, how was I going to walk?  FHSU jumped to though and before I knew it, a wheelchair was arranged for processional and when it came time to walk, they had my crutches at the stage, per my request, so I "walked" (crutched) across that stage after all.  It made my day!
The best memory of all though is realizing that my attending FHSU opened a door for my husband to obtain his degree too.  When he was struggling at another online school, I looked at the website and was floored at how unintuitive it was; totally unorganized and his professors were unresponsive.  Then I showed him mine- and even had him do the physical steps of logging in for me, and posting a transcribed assignment.  He was so excited at how easy it was to find his was around the site.  Before I knew it, he was doing Leadership Studies too and ended up graduating one year after me.  Of course, we moved to Los Angeles in between, so we have literally driven across our entire great nation for 2 graduations at Ft Hays!  

5.  What are you doing now?

I went straight from one online program into another! I am now almost done with my Master of Divinity graduate studies at Luther Seminary. I begin my hospital chaplaincy (CPE) in February, followed by internship next fall and graduation in May of 2016.  

 Housed in St Paul Minnesota, it is a distributed learning program that requires two intensives a year for two weeks each and the remainder of my program is online.  I am absolutely convinced my experience with FHSU online prepared me fully for graduate studies online.  In fact, I have to say, it was still a new program at Luther, and I came in asking all kinds of questions and making constant suggestions to the Tech department- I am pretty sure they had me on the "Oh No, she is calling again" list but it was amazing to be able to encourage new ideas for them as they grew. Now the program is very intuitive like FHSU Tiger Tracks and also very interactive.  
I am serving on the board of a suicide pre/inter/post-vention group that specializes in advocacy for military families and service members.  
Additionally, I am an Army Family Programs trainer for Master Resiliency out of Penn State, and several other initiatives as well as and the Family Readiness Group  Leader for my husband's current unit. In those roles, I earned the volunteer of the year from the local AUSA  which gifted our program $250 to continue supporting our military families.  Last December, I was also given the Army Patriotic Civilian Service Award for over 1,000 hours of volunteer service in the past couple of years.  

6.  How has obtaining your degree at FHSU enriched your life?

To limit it to particular events is difficult.  It has certainly left me with friends and mentors in new places, a passion for leadership studies, a passion for online learning and for the concept that we can do old and traditional things in new ways.  It encourages me to look outside the box, to think laterally and discover options before assuming what is tried and true is the only way forward.  
It has increased my pride in a little town I never lived in, and even for my children, it has made a difference.  Bringing them to Lance's graduation in 2012 opened their eyes to college as more than an option, but now as a goal.  In fact, two of them are considering attending FHSU as well.  
It brought passionate discussion into my marriage and a new common ground for my husband and myself (he got fired up about Leadership Studies too!).  


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In college, students are expected to write, write, and write some more!  Instructors differ in exactly what they expect in a paper, but one rule holds true across the board:  Never plagiarize!  At first glance, this appears to be a straightforward rule; however, students are often confused on exactly what qualifies as plagiarism.  Plagiarism is presenting someone else's work as one's own.  Instructors expect students to develop original ideas while incorporating work that has already been completed by other researchers and authors.  This is where students often stumble, and place themselves in danger of plagiarism.


FHSU addresses plagiarism in the Academic Honesty policy.  Students who are found in violation of this policy are subject to consequences such as verbal and/or written warnings, lowering of assignment and/or course grade, or, in extreme cases, suspension from the University.  When students are accused of plagiarism, they are given the right to appeal in the following manner:  1.) informally with the instructor;  2.) formally with the department; and 3.) formally with the Provost.[1]


On top of academic consequences, there are also legal ramifications when individuals are accused of plagiarism.  In the United States, there are laws protecting the authors of copyrighted materials.  Some instances of plagiarism constitute copyright infringement.  According to, cases of plagiarism that reach a court of law are typically misdemeanors with the possibility of fines or jail time.[2]


To avoid being placed in this uncomfortable position, students have an obligation to learn the skills necessary to avoid plagiarism.  First and foremost, students must understand how to cite properly using formatting styles such as MLA, APA, or Chicago.  An improper citation, or lack thereof, could easily lead to an accusation of plagiarism.  Put quotations around any sentence that is word-for-word from a source.[3]  An excellent resource for learning and using the different styles is the Purdue Online Writing Lab.


Secondly, students should understand how to paraphrase correctly. Paraphrasing is summarizing or rephrasing an idea initially written by someone else.  Students should change not only the words, but also the sentence structure to avoid plagiarism.  Once paraphrased, the content of the writing should still match the source, but will be expressed in your own words.  Paraphrased information should not be used to just reiterate someone else’s ideas, but to support your own ideas in the paper.  Remember that paraphrasing still requires a citation![4]


Once you have mastered these skills, academic writing will come more naturally.  If you are ever in doubt, make sure to use a citation.  Your instructors are an excellent resource for questions about writing format and style.  For more information on plagiarism, please see the resources below:


      FHSU Academic Honesty Policy

      Purdue Online Writing Lab

      Harvard Guide to Using Sources

      Copyright Infringement (Wikipedia)


Happy Writing!


Erica Fisher






Evening Chat Now Available!

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Beginning Tuesday, February 3rd, the Virtual College will be available for Chat on Tuesday evenings from 7pm to 8pm CST.

The available chatter will be Erica Fisher.  Erica Fisher is one of two Academic Advisors for virtual students in the Department of Teacher Education. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Anthropology from the University of Kansas in 2005. She is currently working on her MSE in Higher Education Student Affairs and is currently completing her final practicum in the Virtual College Office. Erica joined FHSU in 2009 as an administrative specialist in the Virtual College and began her current position in 2012. Erica is Google Apps for Education Certified and assists in training Kansas schools on open educational resources.

Be sure to stop by the Virtual College website on Tuesday nights for any questions, concerns, or to just say hi to Erica!  The chat feature is located on the left hand side of the website under "Contact Virtual College," and is also available during FHSU normal business hours.

Learning Online-Your success Manual

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Just what the world needs, right? Another blog. This one, though, is different. If you have any questions about going back to college, and you need to do it online because of constraints on your time or where you live, this blog will give you the answers you need.

Distance education started with relatively low tech methods like pen and paper correspondence courses taught through the mail. Groups of learners were served by circuit riders who traveled to towns near colleges and universities to hold classes primarily for teachers in public schools. Later, audio conferencing between groups of people at various sites regionally or nationally gave a big boost to higher education. People in different locations would meet to sit around a speaker-phone and interact with the teacher. Later, video conferencing became the preferred method of teaching students at a distance. The biggest problem with these types of meetings was that there was a limited amount of information that could be shared during a scheduled meeting time that might or might not be convenient for the student.

In the late 1990’s, colleges and universities started delivering classes over the internet. The first learning management systems were very simple. Systems like Web Course in a Box were basically drop boxes that allowed an instructor to upload documents to a space where students could then download them. Those primitive systems evolved into the sophisticated systems like Blackboard, Moodle and others that we have now. As technology develops, online courses will become even more interactive, with increased engagement and information sharing between professors and students.

Next post, we’ll take a look at the current state of online learning and what it takes to be a successful online learner.

Brad Goebel

Adjusting as Veteran Learners

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By, Jeremy Carlton (FHSU Coordinator of Military Student Success, U.S. Air Force Veteran , 2003-2011)

“I need we in order to be.” Leonard Sweet, Historian and Semiotician
    I recall those initial hesitations that took shape as I had come to embrace higher education myself. Transitioning between having served on active duty, an environment where everything is predetermined and regulated for you to a learning community where questioning is encouraged and dissent matters, was a very difficult adjustment to make sense of; yet let alone live into. As I recall, transitioning between certain uniformity/compliance to encouraged “individualism” was immediately overwhelming. I was not prepared for the sea of individuals, having come from an environment that the Army recruiters have aptly described as “an Army of one”. What I wasn’t prepared for was collaborative learning. I loathed sharing in meaning. Again, I was accustomed to predetermined meaning—someone via a Reg telling me what to do. I liked being told what to do. I still do to a certain degree. There is comfort in it. When professors used terms like “learning laboratories” I would cringe and immediately verify the class-drop date to see if there was still time to jump ship. Most of the time, however, I knew early on if it was going to be a collaborative learning environment or not. If it wasn’t for my want to overcome I would have dropped many classes along the way. I am glad that I didn’t. I needed a variety of voices in my life. I still do. I needed diversity. I needed to learn and know that we all bring our own histories to the table and that our shared learning experience is life affirming. Yes, I still prefer a top down approach, but I have grown to cherish the egalitarian nature of the academe. “Out of many, one,” means that I make room for understanding life from a variety of angles as I become a whole person.
    Years have passed and now I am an administrator helping veterans field their transitions into higher education. I have seen the frustration first hand and have fielded countless conversations with veterans who were barely hanging on. My heart breaks for them. I suppose that that is why I feel inclined to write this piece. I want veterans to know that there are others like them sitting in the classroom—the library—the quad—the union—online. That there are advocates on-line and around campus who care and understand those unique histories that shape veterans. Our veteran students unbeknownst to others bare within them images, smells, and sounds that are directly tied to conflict—to war—to hell. We know the cost. We’ve seen and felt the pain. We have experienced unimaginable loss. We have felt the anxiety that comes with being “real world ready”. Serving is not easy. I don’t think that too many would argue that. Point is, you are not alone. Just about every campus sports a sizable veteran population. Do yourself a favor and find them (See: Student Veterans of America Commune with them. Swap stories. Chide alongside them. Trust me, it will make your experience more than manageable as you adjust to the academe.
    Here at Fort Hays State we have enacted several initiatives to better support our veteran students; and more are coming. From the recent “Green Zone” initiative where safe-spaces have been intentionally created for our veteran populations (both on-campus and on-line); to the creation of my office (Office of Military Student Success) year ago; to our FHSU-VC Military POI (See:; Fort Hays is striving to create space for you to succeed. You also may not know this, but we also have an unofficial FHSU Military Lounge on-line chalk full of tutorials, tips, helpful links, and a scholarship listing (See: Feel free to explore the Lounge at length and contribute should you so choose. Proudly, we have professional counseling and referral services (among other things) available to our on-campus and on-line students as well through the Kelly Center (See: Use these services as needed. Updated often, we have a rather sizable Social Media presence as well—one that was specifically created for our FHSU veterans (Look for us on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram). Lastly,  I cherish serving veteran populations because I know that veterans bring a lot to classroom. I know that classrooms need more voices of (experienced) veterans in them. You have a lot to give and your fellow classmates need to hear what you have to say as you contribute to this privileged and shared conversation. Your classmates have a lot to teach you as well. Be open. Be patient. Be understanding. Again, we are all bringing a host of diverse histories to the table and that strength can be found in shared meaning.
Please feel free to contact Jeremy at with your questions and thoughts.

Sweet, Leonard. Soul Tsunami: Sink or Swim in New Millennium Culture. Grand Rapids, Zondervan, 1999.

Choosing a Major

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Many students choose a particular major because it will prepare them for a certain career.  However, once immersed in the coursework, many students begin to question their choice of major.  Are you unsure about your major selection?  Do you find yourself questioning the career path you have chosen?  Are you interested in investigating other fields of study?  If your answer is yes to any of the above questions, we can help!  FHSU has a variety of resources to put you on the path to success!

MyMajors Career Assessment - MyMajors is a free career assessment tool that is available for students in TigerTracks. Once you log into TigerTracks go to the Online Services tab and there is a link that will allow you to complete the MyMajors tools. The assessment will ask for information regarding your academic and work preferences and will then generate a Top Ten majors list that will assist you in identify potential majors.

Academic Advising & Career Exploration Center Resource Site -This FHSU office offers multiple online resources that can assist you in choosing a major.  Resources include career inventories, career exploration databases, and much more!

What Can I Do With a Major In... - This page lists all majors, on-campus and virtual, that are offered at FHSU and provides you with a PDF file that lists occupations you could pursue with that degree. This is a great way to explore potential employment options for majors you are considering.

UNIV 100 VA Major & Career Exploration - UNIV 100 VA is offered each semester (fall, spring and summer). The class is designed to assist students in learning about themselves and majors that match their interests, abilities, values and strengths.

Bachelor of General Studies - The BGS offers maximum flexibility to students who wish to determine the specific content of their degree program, rather than pursue one of the established majors at FHSU. There are numerous Concentration options, including Child Development and Education.

List of Online and On-Campus Majors - FHSU offers a variety of majors online and on-campus that you can browse through.

If you decide that you would like to change your major, please contact your Academic Advisor.  Your Advisor can guide you in the process of changing your major.

Keep in mind that you should choose a major that both interests you and is relevant to a career you wish to pursue after college.  This should be a personal decision that involves deep reflection and goal setting.  During this process, be sure to utilize the resources that FHSU has to offer.  We are here to help!

FHSU's Virtual College celebrates national distance learning week

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HAYS, Kan. -- Fort Hays State University's Virtual College recently celebrated National Distance Learning Week, an annual event sponsored by the United States Distance Learning Association, which promotes and celebrates the increasing growth and accomplishments in distance programs.

FHSU currently provides more than 6,000 students in more than 20 countries the opportunity to earn online degrees. To celebrate its distance learning students, FHSU's Virtual College recently gave more than 100 free T-shirts to domestic and foreign online students, who then sent pictures of themselves wearing their Tiger T-shirts in local landmarks.

The photos can be found on the Virtual College's Facebook page. Look for "FHSU Virtual College" on Facebook.

A sampling of the submissions:

Jessica from North Dakota sent a picture of herself standing under the nose of a giant buffalo sculpture. "FHSU Virtual College allows me the luxury of traveling with my husband for his job while continuing my education! This photo was taken in Jamestown, North Dakota, home of the world's largest buffalo." (see above)

Kathy from Washington D.C. sent a picture of herself with the Washington monument and the caption: "Enjoying my freedom to learn. As an Army wife, I have loved the opportunity that FHSU has given me to pursue my own degree. It was hard before I found FHSU because I was always having to start over with every move. The Virtual College has allowed me to have a first-class education no matter where I live, from Kansas to Washington D.C."

James and Jennifer from Delaware pictured themselves on the beach: "We are full-time teachers and live at the beach year round. FHSU makes it easy to pursue our master's at a school with a reputable program, without having to leave the coast."

Jessica from Wyoming titled her photo, "Tigers in the Tetons!": "The best part about being a Virtual College student at FHSU is being able to study what I love from the place I love."

  North Dakota       Washington DC      Delaware      Wyoming



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