Pennsylvania College of Technology

Preparing for College:
College vs. High School

Penn College Classroom

Going off to college is an exciting time for students and parents. Unfortunately, many individuals have come to view higher education simply as “grade 13.” The reality is that college is a very new and different experience, and one that requires adaptations in order to succeed. Rarely what works in high school works equally as well in college. To help students and parents anticipate the necessary changes that will help with student success, we require all new students to attend a summer Connections session. Additionally, you may find this list of the differences between high school and college (PDF) helpful in preparing for the college transition.

Preparing for College:
Connections (Orientation)

While commencement is over and only a small percentage of students remain on campus for the summer, Penn College is still abuzz with offices preparing for Connections. Connections is a required orientation program designed to prepare all new students and parents for college. This two-day program covers everything from meeting the academic deans to learning about resources for academic success, and even discussing the transition from high school to college. Connections is the one-stop shop for all the imperative information students and parents need to arrive on campus prepared for the first semester. Special one-day sessions are offered for nontraditional and transfer students.

More than 90 percent of students who attend Connections agree the program gives them a better understanding of how to get help with their classes and what will happen if they don’t do well in classes. Almost all students also agreed that Connections gave them a better understanding of how to get involved on campus and find out about campus activities.

Students should register for Connections by logging in to the Student Information System. Students can register as soon as they receive their placement test results.

“Your staff and overall facilities made us feel comfortable and pleased with our sons' choice of Penn College. They are beyond excited and we thank you for your attention to detail and thoughtfulness.” – Parent quote from 2011 Connections survey

Financial Aid News

Check out the Financial Aid News for Parents for the following:

  • FAFSA & Federal Verification update
  • Loan information
  • Scholarship award notification and application information
  • PHEAA Grant eligibility & Satisfactory Academic Progress
  • Learn how to access financial aid information on SIS
  • Tips for contacting the Financial Aid Office

Paying Your Bill

The Bursar’s Office at Penn College is responsible for the billing and collection of student tuition and fees, as well as the disbursement of financial aid funds. In mid- to late-July, students will receive an e-mail notification that their electronic bill (eBill) is available on SIS. Fall 2012 tuition is due August 6 and can be paid in a number of convenient ways, including check or credit card. However, the College’s credit card payment process is changing. eBill payments will still be processed through the SIS; but, beginning July 2012 a convenience fee will be assessed for credit card payments. Visit the Bursar’s Office to learn more about this change, as well as how loan refunds are issued to students (PCT OneCard), and our deferred payment options.

Student Success: MAP-Works Can Help Your Student Succeed

In the fall of 2011, Penn College began using MAP-Works (Making Achievement Possible), a web-based survey and reporting tool that can help your student succeed. MAP-Works is designed to help students achieve in college by focusing on four main areas: academic success, student persistence, student development, and student involvement.

What is MAP-Works?
MAP-Works surveys are designed to seek student perceptions of their transition to college and provide feedback that can help them establish realistic expectations and connect them with campus resources. Based on more than twenty years of research, MAP-Works also helps us identify students who could benefit from face-to-face discussions with various support personnel. College faculty or staff then reach out to offer guidance and resources using suggestions offered by the program to target each student’s specific need.

As part of the First Year Experience course, FYE101, all first-semester students are asked to take two MAP-Works surveys (one at week three; the other at week 11). After each survey, students receive reports customized to address their unique concerns and identify resources to help with those concerns, as well as to help identify strategies to improve in their classes. In Fall 2011, students who read their reports returned for the spring semester at a rate 14% higher than those who did not read the reports. Their average GPA was also half a letter grade higher than those students who did not read the reports. While there is obviously more at work than simply reading the report, it is clear that MAP-Works can help students in their efforts to perform well in college.      

How Can You Help?
The best help we can get from parents is for you to remind students of the survey and resulting reports when you check in with your student during the first semester. Around week three, see if they have completed the survey. Around week five, ask if they have accessed and read their reports. At week 11, remind them of the check up survey, and at week 13, see if they have read the report for the check up survey. Perhaps, if your student is willing, you could even review the survey together.

Colleges across the country have seen MAP-Works help students persist through their first year. While it is still too early to see what effect it has had at Penn College, you can help increase its impact by reminding students to take the surveys, read the reports, and attend any meetings requested by faculty or staff.

Student Success: WIN IT Zone

The Academic Success Center is excited to announce the new WIN-IT (What I Need Is This) Zone, offering students information to be successful … whether it is their first semester, last semester, or anytime in between. The WIN-IT Zone, available on the Academic Success Center portal site, offers tips, hints, and suggestions on how to handle difficult situations that face students during their time at college. These situations are divided into three categories: academic, personal, and social. Topics include procrastination, study skills, test-taking tips, learning styles, classroom etiquette, library skills, academic mentoring, managing finances, leadership skills, transitioning to college, homesickness, and partying. New topics will be added to address other challenging issues. In addition, if there is not a topic that covers your student’s concern, he or she can always “Ask the Wildcat” through a convenient link on the site.

While there is no substitute for the advice of a parent, the WIN-IT Zone hopes to add another line of support to help students transition into and succeed at Penn College. If you have any suggestions or questions regarding the WIN-IT Zone, feel free to contact the Academic Success Center.

For everyday access to parent information, bookmark the Parents Web page:

Summer 2012, Issue 1
Important Dates
Meal Plans

"I just wanted to thank you and all who are involved in providing the dining services. My son tells me that the food is really good and he enjoys it. This takes a big load off of my shoulders. THANK YOU!"

As a parent of a student heading off to college, one of the last things we want you to worry about is whether your son or daughter is eating nutritious meals. Dining Services helps to ease this worry by offering several meal plans to students. Having a meal plan ensures your student can get nutritious, home-style meals without the time and effort involved in planning and preparing meals. As a parent, you can feel confident your money is being spent on quality food delivered by caring professionals.

A meal plan is also a great way to help your student adjust to a new life away from family and friends. Our dining halls are natural gathering places for students. Having a meal plan allows your student to join in the social aspect of college life by meeting friends for meals and special events, or to meet other classmates to study and work on projects. Research has also shown that students participating in a meal plan achieve higher grade-point averages.

Dining Services offers two types of meal plans that can be used in any of the 10 dining facilities. Students can find something open from as early as 7 a.m. until as late as 11 p.m.

Board plans provide flexibility when deciding where to eat on campus. With the purchase of a board plan, students receive a set number of meals a week and “flex dollars” that may be used to purchase retail items. Board plans are required for students living in on-campus housing and are selected as part of your housing contract.

Declining balance plans are used the same as a debit card. Students swipe their ID card at registers and vending machines throughout campus to make purchases. By logging into your student’s SIS account, you may easily add funds to the account at any time.

Learn more about meal plans.

The College Store
at Penn College

Fall Semester textbooks are already available for purchase in the store or online. The best time to purchase textbooks is during July. That is when the highest inventory of used books are available.

Introducing Rental Textbooks – Look for “Rental Available” when viewing your textbook requirements.

For students enrolled in programs in the schools of Natural Resources Management and Transportation Technology, look for information on ordering program tools and kits being mailed out the first week of June.  Orders for many kits need to be received at The College Store by August 1 to ensure availability.

Orders for uniforms are being accepted online. Look under Program Supplies, then choose the school under which your program falls. Uniform orders cannot be shipped and usually take three to four weeks to arrive at the store.

Wildcat Rewards rolls out on July 1. Earn points on every purchase made in store or online. Points are also earned on each title sold back to The College Store during textbook buyback. Points can be redeemed for College Store Gift Cards. Look online in late June for more information.

Did You Know...

PCToday is the one-stop source for news and information about Penn College. Whether you're looking for an athletic event or activities calendar, student accomplishment or faculty/staff achievement, include PCToday among your daily visits. You can also sign up to have PCToday delivered via e-mail.

Penn College ranks among the top public colleges in the north, according to “America’s Best Colleges,” and is one of the nation’s top 100 associate degree producers, according to “Community College Weekly.”


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