Reflections of a World Campus Graduate

I recently spent graduation weekend in State College, and I would like to offer a special thanks to those that put together a fantastic Graduation Celebration for World Campus students. Graduation is, of course, a time to rejoice in the culmination of seemingly endless hours of hard work. In my time on-campus, though, I also found myself reflecting on some of the things that enabled me to be successful in my studies. With that, you will find a few suggestions below that I believe are pivotal in gaining the most out of our World Campus education.

Luke Fogel at Graduation Celebration.
Me (far left) being congratulated by Dr. Wayne Smutz, Executive Director, World Campus and Associate Vice President for Academic Outreach, and Dr. David Sylvia, Director of Graduate Programs, Penn State World Campus, at the graduation celebration.

Make sacrifices now, they’ll pay off later

Many of us fund our own education, so it seems somewhat self-evident that we want to get the most out of our investment; sometimes it is necessary to stay in on Friday night or have your partner/spouse watch the kids while you cram for an exam, put the finishing touches on a project, etc.

My brother-in-law happens to be the newly-crowned all-Africa champion of Judo, Sambo, and wrestling, and he puts it very simply: work hard, train hard, and fight easy. Penn State has designed their curriculum as a training ground for success in the “real world”, so studying hard helps career success come that much easier.

Keep an open mind with required courses

As a business major, it is ironic that my nutrition course—taken to meet the requirement of one health course—had the most significant immediate impact on my life. By adjusting my eating habits, not only have I become healthier, but my children now have a father who shows them how to maintain a healthy diet.

Additionally, I have always wanted to travel, so taking Geosciences and studying our nation’s prestigious parks such as Yellowstone, Acadia, The Great Smoky Mountains, and more made sense—it offered an interesting perspective on places I am eager to ultimately visit.

Finally, for my art requirement, I actually contacted my adviser to see if I could take ART 203 The Art of Web Design because I wanted to gain some insight on the subject. By the end of the course, I was confident enough to design my own webpage, became interested in blogging (as a result, you are currently reading this post), and purchased Adobe’s awesome CSS package for a fraction of the retail cost.

What does all this mean? Well, sometimes the easiest path is not necessarily the best path. Challenge yourself, and you will be rewarded. Geosciences may not be a resume builder for me, but it was personally fulfilling and an understanding of web design can certainly be helpful in a technologically-driven world.

Be resourceful

As a student at Penn State, there are so many resources at our disposal. I am referring not just to the massive online library resources, but to the vast network of students, professors and administrators. For instance, contact Career Services, reach out to fellow students through social networks (including, but not limited to, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter), and reach out to professors to discuss school, career and life objectives. In my experiences, I have found professors to be very receptive in offering feedback or advice, and have actually had long email conversations regarding topics unrelated to coursework.

These are just a few key principles that helped me get through some difficult times; surely other students have personal advice that they can offer. What are some things that have enabled you to get the most out of your World Campus experience?