Virtual College Blog

Why a College Degree is Important

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Check out this great article on why a college degree is important:

Almost 97% of Good Jobs Created since 2010 Have Gone to College Grads

Warning Signs an Online Degree is a Scam

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Over the past couple of months a number private schools have gone out of business, leaving students scrambling.  Fort Hays State University, a public, not for profit school founded in 1902 is one of the most fiscal sound university in the country.  Below is a link to an article which details some of the warning signs associated with schools that are really a scam.

Fort Hays State University Commencement 2015

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Fort Hays State University Commencement 2015 was a great day for all students.  Students traveled from many locations to attend.  The FHSU Virtual College hosted a Meet and Greet on Friday and a Virtual College Graduation Breakfast on Saturday morning.  The events provide a wonderful opportunity to get to know our students.

Here are a few of the news stories from 2015 Fort Hays State University Commencement:

To watch the 2015 Commencement Ceremonies:

 President Martin with Virtual Student

 VC Breakfast 2015

 Vc Meet and Greet


Yet Another Reason to Choose Fort Hays State University

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In light of the recent closings of two for-profit universities (Jones International and Corinthian Colleges), many questions arise about stability and trust of this type of institution.

Once a cash cow industry, for-profit education companies have struggled to overcome criticism of their costs, placement rates, transferability of credit, and the quality of instruction. Because of these issues, the University of Phoenix and Jones International University have lost more than half of their students in the past five years1.  Corinthian College’s network of for-profit schools once boasted over 110,000 students on 120 campuses across the country, but only served about 16,000 when it announced the abrupt closing Sunday, April 26, 20152.

Choosing a university can often be a very daunting task.  There are schools of all types, for-profit, not-for-profit, regionally accredited, and nationally accredited. What do these designations mean to students?  

For-profit schools are a business - that is they strive to make money for their shareholders They generally offer more associate’s degrees for entry level jobs than bachelor’s degrees that are designed for higher level or professional positions. They are often nationally accredited, far more expensive than not-for-profit universities, have exaggerated placement and graduation rates, and experience issues transferring credits to not-for-profit institutions3.

Non-profit institutions offer more diverse learning opportunities for students to help them grow personally and professionally, have higher academic standards, are more likely to be regionally accredited, offer more support for the student, and generally have a better reputation than for-profit schools. Many of the for-profit schools rent office space and do not have a traditional campus environment, while the non-profits are stable institutions with an actual campus and in many cases, an online presence4.   Many non-profit institutions have been around for over 100 years.

According to the U.S. Department of Education, more than 85 percent of all colleges in the United State are regionally accredited.   Why does the accreditation of the school matter?   Educational credit earned at a regionally accredited institution is widely accepted and transferable between other regionally accredited schools, while a nationally accredited school might not offer the transferability of coursework.

The recent closings at Jones International and Corinthians College are leaving students stranded in the middle of the year with no academic program, no degree, and possibly without transcripts.   Corinthians College has a lawsuit pending against them by the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau for “falsely advertising job prospects”5 to recruit students and the Department of Education fined the college “$30million for exaggerating job prospects”6.

With the recent events in mind, it is important to really consider your options when choosing a university.   Sometimes, it is better to look for a stable, traditional college degree program than look for an accelerated, job specific program.  

Fort Hays State University has been here since 1902 and we will be here for you in the future.  The Virtual College at Fort Hays State University offers over 40 online Associate’s, Bachelor’s, and Master’s programs, and is highly ranked for quality and affordability by many organizations.   Visit for additional information.

1. 3/25/15 and 4/5/15
2.    Huffington Post 4/26/15
3. and

Adjunct faculty in FHSU Virtual College complete training to enhance teaching skills

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HAYS, Kan. -- Fifty adjunct faculty at the Fort Hays State University Virtual College this year completed new training classes to enhance their skills in pedagogy and technology. Faculty who complete the training courses are compensated with a salary increase, beginning the semester following completion.

Recently hired adjunct faculty completed Foundations of Online Teaching. This four-week course covered topics such as media richness in online learning, retention and persistence, last date of academic participation, faculty/administration collaboration, basic Blackboard concepts, and procedures for dealing with academic misconduct.

Experienced faculty completed Advanced Concepts in Online Teaching. This six-week course included content on discussion board best practices, adult learning theory, internationalization and teaching multicultural learners, rubrics, and "flipped" learning. Both courses included learning modules on state comprehensive university culture and FHSU culture.

Adjunct faculty who completed Foundations of Online Teaching, and their respective departments, are as follows:

Alan Moore Justice Studies
Anika Rohla English
Bari Courts Management and Marketing
Brenda Rose Teacher Education
Brooke Mann Psychology
Chris Dinkel Biology
Clarine Jacobs Management and Marketing
David Arndt Psychology
Donald Ashbaugh Management and Marketing
Eamonn Coveney Geosciences
Elizabeth Ashton Informatics
Elizabeth Dingler Sociology
Erin Kennedy Leadership Studies
Jason Southworth Philosophy
John Adams Communication Studies
Josh Jones Informatics
Julia Kastle Allied Health
Karen Burrows Philosophy
Kelley Parker Leadership Studies
Masyn Phoenix Graduate School
Natalie Bartlett Psychology
Nicole Purcell Psychology
Nuchelle Atkinson Psychology
Rachel Newbury Graduate School
Sharon Stroburg Management and Marketing

Adjunct faculty who completed Advanced Concepts in Online Teaching, and their respective departments, are as follows:

Arthur Morin Political Science
Ben Hill Teacher Education
Brandie Bieker Teacher Education
Brian Gribben History
Cathie Klein Leadership Studies
Chelsea Arndt Psychology
Dale Powers Management and Marketing
Darin Challacombe Psychology
Emily Pinkston Allied Health
Gennifer Marconette English
Hollie Marquess History
Jeremy Carlton Philosophy
Jordan Kroeger Management and Marketing
Josh Tanguay Psychology
Larry Carver Institute of Applied Technology
Linda Frederick Management and Marketing
Mandi Brous Sociology
Marcus Porter Advanced Education Programs
Marilyn Schultz Management and Marketing
Marsha Moody Teacher Education
Mike DeGrosky Leadership Studies
Mike Knehr Leadership Studies
Monica Dreiling Teacher Education
Tom McGlinn Teacher Education
Wesley Rathburn Informatics

Questions about adjunct training and support at Fort Hays State University may be directed to Nicole Frank at or 785-628-4291.

Adjunct Instructors: What Students Need to Know

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What is an adjunct instructor?

Definitions of an “adjunct” vary, especially as higher education has expanded to include hybrid and online courses. For the most part, adjunct faculty are contingent employees. This means that, rather than signing an annual contract, they sign a contract each semester based on the need for instructors in their fields of expertise. Some adjuncts are retired full-time faculty, who want to continue teaching on a part-time basis. Others are employed within their industry in the private sector, and teach their classes as additional, part-time work. Adjunct faculty members’ duties are generally -although not always- limited to teaching, whereas full-time faculty typically have research and service requirements, as well.


Does this mean my instructor is not a real professor?

At the university level, we generally describe anyone who teaches as being an “instructor” or member of the “faculty.” These terms can be used accurately for both full-time faculty and adjuncts. 

Professorship is different, in that it is an earned title comprised of various ranks, such as “assistant professor,” “associate professor,” and “professor.” Traditionally, these ranks are used when referring to full-time faculty. While people sometimes informally use the term “adjunct professor,” adjuncts are generally instructors who do not hold “professor” titles. However, an adjunct instructor is the official “instructor of record” for his/her courses, just as a professor is of his/her courses.


If my adjunct instructor is not a “professor,” how do I know that s/he is qualified?

All adjuncts at FHSU hold a minimum of a masters degree, and 30 percent hold terminal degrees. Terminal degrees are generally considered the highest degree available in one’s field. Most often, terminal degrees are doctorate degrees, such as a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.), a Doctor of Education (Ed.D) or a Juris Doctor (J.D.). In addition, there are some substantial 60+ credit-hour specialist and masters degrees which are considered “terminal,” such as an Education Specialist (Ed.S.) and a Master of Fine Arts (MFA). 


How will I know if my instructor is an adjunct?

Most likely, you won’t know your instructor is an adjunct instructor unless s/he tells you. FHSU adjunct faculty are fully integrated into university systems and platforms. They have official university email addresses, and use the university Learning Management System (Blackboard). The course shells for your Virtual College courses taught by adjunct faculty will look no different than your Virtual College classes taught by full-time faculty.


How do I know that my adjunct instructor will be a good teacher?

Just as top-notch employees exist at all levels of most corporations, top-notch faculty exist at all levels within universities. While traditional notions hold that adjunct faculty are somehow “lesser” than their full-time counterparts, data does not reliably support this idea. In fact, a Northwestern University study showed that, where adjuncts were “well-compensated and enjoyed long-standing relationships with the university,” their students were more likely to take subsequent courses in the same discipline, and to earn higher grades in those courses, than students who took their initial courses from tenured or tenure-track faculty.


Fort Hays State University takes pride in employing both traditional full-time faculty whose degrees, research and publications make them renowned in their disciplines, and a diverse body of qualified adjunct faculty whose real-world industry experience provides invaluable insight to students looking to enter similar fields. 


Any questions about adjunct faculty at FHSU Virtual College can be directed to Nicole Frank, Coordinator of Adjunct Support and Engagement.



Berrett, D. (2013). Adjuncts are better teachers than tenured professors, study finds. Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved from



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 severely 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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