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Academic programs, services offered at PSU

The Writing Center offers assistance on any type of writing that students and even professors are doing according to director of the Writing Center Janet Zepernick.  

“We help students with any type of writing assignment or academic or professional writing,” Zepernick said. “So, it might be writing for a class, but it could be a graduate school or scholarship application, or it could be a writing they are doing for their job. Really any kind type of… academic or professional writing that students do… We also help faculty and staff with writing and so we’re pretty diverse.” 

There will be several changes due to COVID-19. For the Writing Center, those changes mainly revolve around face-to-face consulting and appointments.  

“…There are going to a lot of changes and I don’t yet know entirely what all those things will be because the university is still looking at the situation,” Zepernick said. “But important things for students to know, we are not going to have face-to-face drop in hours in the evenings the way we always have in the past. We are going to have appointments in the evening. So, our services in the past have been mostly appointment based but we’ve also had some drop-in hours. For fall semester, right now our plan is to definitely have appointment-based consulting from 9am to 9pm Monday through Thursday. We will have appointment available on Friday and Sunday also, but I don’t yet know the hours for those… So, all of our appointment based consulting is going to be online by Zoom for people who want to do video chat, online by phone for people who want to do a voice chat, online by email for people who want to do it asynchronously, or we can do a typed chat option… I don’t know if we’ll be able to offer any drop in face-to-face consulting at all. That’s the piece of it that we’re still trying to figure out. If we are able to, that will be during the day probably in the afternoon, but I just don’t know if it’s gonna be possible.” 

Student Success Programs director Heather Eckstein says that the goal of student success is to help students “transition successfully to PSU and to be successful in the educational environment as well as in curricular and cocurricular activities.  

“There already have been changes (due to COVID-19),” Eckstein said. “…We’re going to do Gorilla Warm-Up online as well. We have some exciting activities, I think, planned for them to both with interact their individual Gorilla Gateway section and instructor… as well as a networking opportunity for them to meet a broader range of students… We had some students who are CARES leaders participate in a mock session of this program and they said students participating will enjoy it, they will meet people, it will be fun, and they may look at what online activity means differently after they do this and we hope lots of students will be excited to do it, not do it just because it’s part of the class.” 

Another program that PSU offers is the study abroad program. The Study Abroad Office is located in the International Programs and Services Office in Whitesitt 118.  

“PSU offers many exciting opportunities for students to study abroad during their college career,” said Study Abroad Coordinator Angela Moots. “Students can choose to study for a week up to an academic year on various programs around the world. We offer faculty-led programs with PSU faculty, exchange programs at our partner universities, and affiliate study abroad organizations that have many unique options. Students can take classes toward their majors and minors or go abroad for a summer to take a language or art class, for example. In order to study abroad, students need at least a 2.5 GPA for faculty-led and affiliate programs and a 2.75 GPA for exchange programs. Students are eligible for faculty-led programs as freshmen and for all other programs once they have sophomore status.” 

While students don’t have the option to study abroad this fall, applications for studying abroad in the spring are available.  

“We understand that there are concerns about studying abroad due to COVID-19, and the health and safety of our PSU students is our priority,” Moots said. “We are following the guidelines of Pittsburg State University, monitoring the alerts posted by the U.S. Department of State, CDC, and WHO, and corresponding with other study abroad offices and organizations. Prior to studying abroad, students receive pre-departure information about all aspects of their time abroad, including health and safety, so that they are aware of their resources and support. Although we will not have any students abroad this fall, we are currently accepting applications for Spring 2021. Studying abroad is an exciting and transformational experience, and as we wait to travel internationally, we want to help students remain excited about planning for future travel.”  

For more information on studying abroad, stop by their office Whitesitt or check out their website.  

“…Studying abroad truly is an exciting and unique experience that allows students to step outside their comfort zone, interact with different cultures, take interesting classes, and learn more about themselves and the world,” Moots said. “For students who are not able or do not want to study abroad, PSU offers many great ways to have international experiences here on campus with Pitt Pals, the International Student Association, and IKE.”  

The COVID-19 situation changes every day so students can expect to see a lot of changes made to classes and events in the fall but there are several steps students can take to make the best out of the situation.  

“They’re going to build this experience,” Eckstein said. “Whatever decisions they make about participation will determine how they feel about the experience… The key to success for every student is going to be to approach this… with a positive attitude, to look for opportunities, to do things that will help make the experience better for themselves personally, and, this is always true, try new things… They also need to think about what they need to learn, what skills they need or information they need to be successful in both the learning environment they’re going to be in, and they need to seek out that assistance very early… The key is not to get frustrated and the other key is not to wait…. You have to ask the questions (you have) early so that we can help you resolve the issues… So, I think that that will be important as well.” 

Zepernick hopes all freshmen students know that they will be available despite all the changes and are ready to assist them in any way they can.  

“Freshmen should know that we love working with them,” Zepernick said. “English 101 students are some of our absolutely most delightful clients and we’re so sad that they’re starting school in this strange situation. I just think that’s so disappointing for everybody. But we’ll absolutely be there to work with them, and we welcome their emails, their phone calls… We will help them in any way we possibly can…”

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