Category Archives: Uncategorized

This Blog Is Being Retired


This blog is being retired–but only because Appalachian has created an even better way for me to communicate with all first-year students! That’s right, first-year students who’ve entered the University with fewer than 30 transfer credits will automatically be in the “First Year Seminar” AppSync communication portal.  Through this internal communications network (it’s sort of like a local Facebook system), I’ll be able to message all first-year students.  Likewise, each specific FYS course will be in its own group under the First Year Seminar portal. So that way an individual instructor can also message their own students about co-curricular events and such.  The beauty of AppSync is that you’ll also be able to stay in the system for participating in co-curricular events and clubs throughout your time at Appalachian. When you move to sophomore status, you’ll be removed from the FYS portal but you can stay in any of the other AppSync groups (or “portals”) that you find interesting, such as global connections, wellness, or undergraduate research!

The First Year Seminar portal is here.

If you are already a sophomore now, check out the engagement tracks in AppSync under the Engaged Learning umbrella–each track has its own portal on AppSync. Sign up for one (or more!) that you find interesting: Global Connections, Civic Engagement, Undergraduate Research, Student Leadership, Wellness, and Sustainability.



Do Your Spring Cleaning ONLINE!


Yes, you can clean online!  OK, not your bathroom or some of the nasty things that probably do need cleaning by now.   But life in this digital age demands that you do a digital spring cleaning.  The National Cybersecurity Alliance and the Better Business Bureau have provided this Digital Spring Cleaning Checklist to guide you through all that you should do annually to keep your information and communication devices clean of malware and to project the best possible digital presence.  After all, you don’t want weird things out there about you as you apply for internships and jobs.

Digital Spring Cleaning Checklist

Famous Leader Speaks Tonight at 7pm!


Wednesday, March 30, at 7:00pm, Dr. Mae Jemison–the first African American woman in space and a member of the National Women’s Hall of Fame–will be speaking at the Schaefer Center for the Performing Arts on campus.  The title of her talk is “Exploring the Frontiers of Science and Human Potential.”  Dr. Jemison is also in the National Medical Association Hall of Fame and the Texas Science Hall of Fame.  Prior to NASA, Jemison was Area Peace Corps Medical Officer for Sierra Leone and Liberia for two and a half years, overseeing the healthcare system for Peace Corps (and State Department in Sierra Leone).  She has been a commentator for BBC, McNeil Lehrer Report, ABC Nightline, NPR and CNN.

It’s free–take advantage of this opportunity to be educated and inspired!

Start Planning Your Study Abroad Trip


You’re still a freshman but it’s not too early to start planning your study abroad experience.

First, get a passport.  It’s easy! It can be done at the Campus Post Office.

The University Post Office offers U.S. Passport application services.  You can pick up a passport application at our post office or fill out online, and once you complete it, the University Post Office will accept your application and send it to the government for processing.  If you need a passport photo, the University Post Office offers this service, too.  So if you are planning to travel outside the U.S., the Post Office can help you with the passport process.

Come to the front window, Monday – Friday, 9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m., and ask for passport assistance.  Please remember that securing a passport is a process that begins with an application and must then proceed through government channels.  Therefore receiving your passport may take between four and six weeks, so please apply for your passport well ahead of your trip.  There is an expedited service that will provide your passport faster, but this service is more expensive than the routine service.

One of the required documents for obtaining a passport is a certified birth certificate, or if you have a previously issued passport in good condition it may be used in place of the birth certificate. If you are thinking about getting a passport and you are at home for Easter break, then this might be a good time to find your birth certificate or old passport and bring it back with you.

For more information about travel, passports and fees, click on the following link:

Remember that your University Post Office is the place to apply for your US Passport!

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Consider the reasons we want you to have an international experience while you’re at Appalachian.  According to the Institute for the International Education of Students (IES Abroad, a global, not-for-profit academic consortium that offers study abroad programs to more than 5,700 U.S. college students each year), today’s college graduates will live and work in a global society with a global economy.  Markets and trends change quickly; businesses succeed best when they have the kind of global expertise that leads to creative and innovative strategies. You will need to jump on board this fast-moving train. A quality university education will help you gain global skills by providing opportunities to make global connections to your own life and work.

The results of a 2012 study conducted by IES Abroad included some striking outcomes for recent college graduates who had studied abroad through IES:

  • Within 6 months of graduation, 89% got their first job, with almost half securing the job while still in school.
  • Within one year after graduation, 96% had secured a job, compared to only 49% of respondents in the general college graduate population.
  • They earn, on average, $7,000 more in starting salaries, compared to recent U.S. college graduates from the general population.
  • Of those who went on for more ­education, 76% got into their first choice graduate school, and another 14% got into their second choice school.

(See more at:

Want to talk to a person on campus about the logistics of studying abroad? See the website of Appalachian’s International Education and Development Office and find info sessions, info on financial aid, etc.  We work to make going abroad as inexpensive as possible– and it’s certainly cheaper to do while you’re a student than it will be later!


Get Help Doing Library Research

Belk Library is piloting Open Research Labs (i.e. drop in sessions) for FYS students to receive research assistance for assignments they are completing in their FYS course. Librarians will be available to assist students anytime during the scheduled sessions.
Open Research Labs are scheduled for the following dates/times:
  • Monday, March 21, 10:00am-Noon and 3:00pm-5:45pm 
  • Tuesday, March 24, 11:00am-1:00pm
All sessions will be held in classroom 024 (lower level Belk Library)
This schedule will also appear in the Open Labs calendar available in the First Year Seminar Online Library Component.
The Open Research Labs do not offer formal classroom instruction and the library will not be providing any documentation for students attending. 

Is Your FYS Instructor Award Material?


If you are enjoying, or enjoyed, your FYS instructor, you have until March 4 to nominate them for a teaching award.  The Rennie W. Brantz Award for Outstanding Teaching in the First Year Seminar honors a FYS instructor who demonstrates exemplary teaching and has made an impact on student lives in the First Year Seminar classroom.

Examples of Outstanding Teaching in FYS may include:

-Enthusiasm in the classroom.
-Evidence of innovation in pedagogy
-Creation of a safe and open space in the classroom where students are free to take intellectual risks and form meaningful relationships.
-Demonstrated competence and expertise in the subject matter of the course.
-Connection of learning in the classroom to the life of the broader community.

Eligible candidates: any faculty member who taught FYS (UCO 1200, HON 1515, or WRC 1103). In order to nominate an instructor, please send the nominee’s name, e-mail address, and a brief statement of the reasons for your nomination by March 4, 2016 to Kristin Hyle, chair of the University College Awards Committee.

Take Your MAP-WORKS Survey


It’s time for freshmen and new transfer students to complete the required survey online on the MAP-Works website, and then view their individualized Student Outcome Reports. On Feb. 4, first-years students (whether you entered in fall ’15 or in spring ’16) will receive an email with the link to the online survey.  The subject line will read: Mapworks Spring Survey Requirement.

Why do you have to take this 10-minute survey about your courses, roommate situation, and overall experience at Appalachian? Because the University tries to help new students succeed and this survey tool is a way we check in with you. We want you to succeed here and have a good experience.

Once you take the survey it gives you a risk indicator based on your study habits and other answers you gave.  You could get a green, which indicates that you’re on target for success, a yellow to indicate that you’ve at a slight risk of poor academic performance, or a red for being at risk of poor academic performance. Once you see where you stand, and if you are at risk, the system offers you ways to get help.  It’s all about checking in and turning things around before it’s too late.

Students who complete the survey have said (in conversation, focus groups, and scholarship applications) that they found their MAP-Works survey-taking experience helpful because:
– It was a wakeup call;
– It helped me change some of my study habits; and
– It offered helpful advice to turn a bad college experience into a good one.

You can take the survey between Feb 4 and Feb 24.

Skipping Class: Major Predictor of Failing


Did you know that skipping class is the best predictor that you’ll flunk?  So even if you don’t feel bad wasting your tuition dollars (or the taxpayers’ dollars) when you skip class, you probably ought to attend class regularly so that you don’t flunk out.

When I spoke with some academic advisors, they said that students who are on academic probation because of bad grades routinely attribute the problem to not attending class.

While it can be tempting to skip class when you’re feeling down, keep in mind that once you’re there you’re part of a learning community that might just lift your spirits. I mean, will it really help things to stay in your dorm under the covers feeling sad and blue?

Moreover, once a student starts to skip class they can end up too embarrassed to show up and start trying again, thereby starting a vicious cycle they might not get out of.  If you’ve already missed too many meetings of a class (or classes), DON’T GIVE UP– SHOW UP!

Your Well-Being in Mind


Welcome to First Year Seminar! This may or may not be your first semester at Appalachian, but either way I predict you’re already sensing the mountain of work you’ll have this semester and also learning of the many compelling opportunities–social, academic, travel, etc–that will require your time and energy.

If you’re a person who needs no sleep or who’s good at multitasking, this won’t be overwhelming. But most students need to find an approach to all the activities asking for their attention.

When I was in college, going to hear a band or watching Cheers on television Thursday nights was always a tempting distraction from my work. Talking to roommates was also a potential distraction. But there were easy ways to control these distractions. If I went to the library or a study room somewhere, my friends were not there to talk to. If it wasn’t Thursday night, there was no band playing and Cheers wasn’t on TV.

How different it is today! In your quiet study room you might text, call, or Skype with your friends. On the very laptop you’re using to look up sources for a research paper you’ve got to write you can watch any episode of Cheers (or Big Bang Theory or Arrested Development) you want. Even the music you want to hear can come through the device you’re using for homework. Shutting out distractions is far more challenging for students in the wired world.

Prof. David M. Levy, author of Mindful Tech: How to Bring Balance to Our Digital Lives (2016, Yale University Press), argues that most people have allowed their online activities to be controlled by unconscious habits and unexamined rules. If you’ve found yourself “on” your computer for hours on end without actually accomplishing what you set out to do, or surfing along mindlessly in a sort of Internet blackout, you might find Levy’s suggestions useful. He suggests the following exercise to help you bring greater attention to your activities:

• Practice your ability to maintain focus on one task.
• Notice what typically distracts you from the task you want to focus on.
• Notice what actions or environmental conditions help you stay focused.
• Decide how you want to adopt a more focused approach to the task.

Ultimately, approaching tasks with careful attention will help you “waste” less time and enable you to find time for socializing, for exercising, and for eating and sleeping.