Beginning Your Penn State Journey

You can imagine my excitement when I finally got accepted into Penn State. I was living in Aliquippa, Pennsylvania, (just outside of Pittsburgh), and I was aiming for summer of 2010 semester. I was going to begin my work towards a Psychology degree with an emphasis on business, but I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do.

I am a cochlear implant wearer, and I wanted to help others who are going through the cochlear implant situation or even thinking about getting the cochlear implant, and Psychology was the best way to begin that journey. I had done my research, and heard nothing but great things about Penn State’s World Campus. I checked them out on Facebook, and the amount of positive responses about the programs they had blew out the competition.

But since I was nearing thirty years of age, and have been out of school since 1999, I was concerned how I would handle going back to school, and in some cases, “re-learning” some of the material that I thought I had lost over the years. How was I going to handle working overnights (as I was doing at that time) and take a full course load of four classes to start off with?

I spoke with my mother who is also taking online classes (at a different site), and she gave me some tips and advice.  She also said that it wasn’t going to be easy just because it is an online program. So as part of my first blog post for Penn State World Campus, I am going to offer you some tips and advice on how to get started as a World Campus student, and I am going to share my experiences as well.

1. Prepare ahead of time!

This is essential to all students whether you are on the main campus or in the World Campus program.  On the first day of classes, look around ANGEL, and get a feel for how it works.  Locate the important links, and make a note of them. Generally in most classes that I have taken, the first week’s lesson familiarizes you with how ANGEL operates for each particular class.

On Sunday, I log into ANGEL and print out the week’s lesson for every class that I am taking. I look at the syllabus, and write down in my Penn State World Campus planner the readings required, and the assignments that are due that week. I then look at my personal schedule and plan for when I can read, and when I can do the assignments. Since I am not working overnights anymore (I moved to South Dakota since I started school, and this is NEBRASKA country…more on that later), I do my readings and note taking in the mornings, and review my readings when my time permits.

2. Do not wait!

This seems to be a constant problem for some students, as they wait until the day before the assignment is due, or the actual due date to start on their assignments. Especially when you have an essay due. If you can, look ahead to the essay(s) questions, and as you read the assigned chapter, look for the important stuff that can help you with the assignments.  Take notes, and write down as you read to help you retain the material better.

3. Be in constant communication!

This can be with either your instructor or the students in your classes.  Majority of the classes have discussion boards in ANGEL, and posting a question or comment about what you are reading can help you learn. I have learned that not everyone gets the material the first time around. Share your thoughts on the class’s discussion board, and constantly check to see if anyone else needs help.

4. Get involved!

Join the Penn State Blue and White Society, and be active on the World Campus Facebook page. Post your questions, concerns and whatever else you would like concerning your experience with the World Campus and trust me, they always respond quickly. (That’s how I got this blogging job!!)

I am now classified as a fourth semester student in the Psychology major, and I am aiming for a 2014 graduation. I have taken some great courses, and this spring of 2012, I am taking five courses for the first time. I used the first two years to get myself back in the swing of learning, and to re-establish myself as a student.

I will be posting once a month on my experience as a student, and sharing my wisdom with those who want to attend Penn State World Campus, or are at least considering Penn State World Campus. You can post any question you may have on this blog, and I will give you my honest answer. So don’t be shy, and ask anything you would like.  Since you will be asking a student, you will get a firsthand experience of the World Campus.

I am now living in South Dakota, and this is Nebraska (or Iowa) country. I have met a few Penn State fans around here, and some alumni as well. Whenever I see someone wearing Penn State, I always try to greet them with a “WE ARE…,” and hope to get a “PENN STATE” response.

My first year here in South Dakota, my wife and I attended a Penn State-Minnesota football game in Minneapolis, and as well as the pep rally the night before at the Mall of America. Being amongst fellow Penn State alumni, students, and boosters made me feel even more proud to be a Penn Stater.

My father graduated from Penn State’s main campus (1986), and to continue his tradition of being a Penn State family is something I am proud of doing. Penn State runs deep in my family, and to be a student of the greatest university in the world is an awesome feeling.