Parent & Family Newsletter
Spring 2019, Issue 2
Summer is the perfect time to visit the Penn College campus! Whether your student is planning to join us this fall or you want to share Penn College with someone new, we have the perfect visit opportunity.
Admissions Information Sessions are designed for those just starting the college search. Information Sessions begin with a tour of campus and housing, an admissions presentation, and wrap up with an open Q&A with representatives from Admissions and Financial Aid.
Exploration Days are perfect for those that know they are interested in Penn College and have one or two majors of interest in mind. Guests can tour up to two academic areas in the morning, then choose their next activities from options like campus and housing tours, visiting with Financial Aid, and chatting with Student Activities, just to name a few.
Reminder of upcoming deadlines:
“Scholarships act as a gateway to inspire growth in a student’s academics and passion for his or her industry.” Olivia C. Ferki, plastics and polymer engineering technology major and scholarship honoree.
The annual scholarship luncheon provides an opportunity for the scholarship recipients to meet and thank our generous donors and corporate partners.
The expanded Career Fair held in March welcomed more than 450 employers to the college’s Field House, offering 5,000-plus jobs and internships.
Career Services: Start Here. Start Now.
No one has a resume that they are 100% comfortable with, nor does anyone have a life that they are 100% comfortable with.
~ Jay Baruchel
For most students and their families, college is a value proposition: Invest in a college education with the expectation that, upon graduation, they will enjoy a long-term return on the investment in the form of career opportunities and advancement within their chosen profession. Penn College takes that investment seriously and the office of career services is tasked with supporting the promise of ‘degrees that work.’ and preparing graduates to compete and excel in the workforce. Today’s students and new graduates have access to unprecedented employment prospects during their time here, but they must take advantage of the services available to them.
One of those opportunities is seeking resume development assistance from Career Services. Our office works with employers from all across the country every day, and we talk to employers about what they want to see on a resume. We also survey employers every other year to ensure we are assisting students with developing “employer desired resumes” specific to their major. It is a competitive job market and the first communication a potential employee has with an employer is their resume, which is also their first impression. A well-written resume and cover letter help point out to a potential employer why you are the ideal candidate to call for an interview. Career Services offers insight and guidance as to what employers are looking for on a resume and we have created a variety of Penn College major-specific examples for our students and alumni. Our resume examples are not “one size fits all,” but are custom to our majors and the needs of industry.
Now more than ever it is important for new and current students to work with career services early in their academic career to:
- develop their resumes and cover letters
- learn about companies and industries recruiting their major
- obtain part-time jobs, internships or summer positions in their field for experience
- develop the professional skills that employers are expecting from students entering the workforce
When it comes to career development success, education is one part of the equation and preparation is another. Building an “employer desired resume” is the first step in this ongoing process.
Penn College offers a series of free study and life skills workshops to students in all majors. Students who are struggling in college are often referred to Project Success by their Dean and/or Academic Advisor, but any student can enroll in these workshops at any time during the semester. Project Success teaches students advanced and effective study skills to handle college classes, but also addresses many of the life skills that students need to master college and career.
Often when student are struggling, it is due to a lack of experience with these life skills. These students fail to meet basic expectations, like attending class regularly or turning assignments in on time, and either one of those issues can have a swift and harmful effect on grades. To remedy this, we teach time management, stress management, and how to manage your sleep schedule.
Learning and memory are directly tied to the amount of sleep a student is getting each night and young adults need 7-8 hours of sleep every night. Much of our memory consolidation and critical thinking happen during our sleep cycles. When students cut sleep time down to 4-5 hours, they are damaging their memory and understanding of what they learned that day. Sleep also primes the brain to absorb and process new information the next day. Therefore, cutting several hours from the sleep cycle makes it more difficult to learn the new information.
Contrary to popular belief, one cannot “catch up” on lost sleep over the weekend. In fact sleeping late some days can derail the natural sleep cycle. Students who attempt this strategy often sleep through their morning classes when Monday arrives. Sleep-deprived students may also try going back to their apartment for a nap in between classes during the day, but then accidentally sleep through their late afternoon or evening class.
Creating an evening routine and a structured morning schedule can help students get the sleep they need. If students slip into the habit of sleeping in until the crack of noon over holidays and semester breaks, they often arrive on campus already sleep-deprived. To avoid this, it is a good idea for students to establish a more structured sleep routine in the last two weeks before a semester starts.
Here are some strategies to create that healthy sleep routine:
- Wake up at the same time every morning. Even on weekends and those mornings when you don’t have an early class. Get up and use those hours before your first class to read your textbook or review for an upcoming exam.
- Get out of bed right away when you wake up. (Do not hit the snooze button or lie there looking at your phone.)
- Caffeine and nicotine disrupt your sleep. Stop caffeinating about 8 hours before you want to be asleep.
- Exercise earlier in the day, not in the evening.
- Set an alarm for one hour before you want to go to bed. You need to get to sleep at about the same time every night (8 hours before you plan to wake up).
- In the last hour before bed, these methods help you fall asleep: stop looking at electronic devices (TV, cell phone, laptop), take a hot bath or shower to relax (your body temperature drops when you get out of the hot water, which helps make you sleepy), and keep your bedroom cool (about 65-68 degrees).
It takes about 2 weeks of following this new routine daily to get the brain into the habit of going to sleep and waking up on this schedule, but after about 10-12 days, students often find they are waking up naturally at the same time their alarm goes off.
Upcoming Changes to Financial Aid Office Confidentiality Policy
Let’s face it, the Financial Aid Office works with all kinds of confidential information, including but not limited to:
- Income, tax and assets data from FAFSAs
- Government income and tax documents
- Award types and amounts
- Application data
- Student appeals
Penn College and state and federal government agencies all recognize the highly important need to protect identity and data and to ensure privacy and confidentiality. With these needs in mind, the Financial Aid Office recently analyzed the three primary modes for which we communicate financial aid information to students, parents, and others: walk-ins to the Financial Aid Office, phone calls and emails. From our review, we determined that additional safeguards regarding confirming identity will best ensure data integrity, privacy and confidentiality.
We will of course continue to answer general questions without a need to confirm identity. For questions that are specific to student or parent information, here are some of the upcoming changes to our existing Confidentiality Policy:
- Students that come to the Financial Aid Office will need to present their valid Penn College-issued student ID card or other government-issued picture ID card
- Financial Aid Office staff will ask students for permission to discuss financial aid matters with parents or anyone else who is accompanying the student
- Parents or other relatives of students who come to the Financial Aid Office without their student present will need to present a valid government-issued picture ID card or Penn College-issued ID card
The Financial Aid Office will provide more details once our updated Confidentiality Policy is implemented. Our goal is to continue to provide excellent ‘customer’ service and we hope that you understand the importance of confirming and protecting your identity and confidential information. Let us know if you have any questions.
What SIS Can Tell Your Student and You
Students can learn a lot about their 2019-20 FAFSA status and financial aid awards from the College’s Student Information System (SIS). Parents can also view this information if your student has given you parent/guest access to SIS. Note that different types of aid are awarded at different times; refer to this timeline for detail.
After logging into SIS:
- Go to ‘Financial Information’
- Proceed to ‘View Financial Aid Information’
- ‘Continue’ to the’ Financial Aid Award Summary’ for 2019-20.
- Here you can learn about the following information:
- 'Received' or 'Not Received'
- 'Complete' or 'Incomplete'
- ‘FAFSA may need your review’
- ‘FAFSA Received; needs review by Financial Aid Staff’
- ‘FAFSA Received; contact Financial Aid Staff’
- Federal Verification
- ‘Verification Required’
- ‘Verification Received’
- ‘Verification Processing’
- 'Verification Complete'
- Federal Direct Loan and Private Loan Status
- 'Received' or 'Not Received'
- Federal Direct Parent PLUS Loan
- Credit check: 'Approved,' 'Denied,' or 'Not Received'
- Master Promissory Note (MPN): 'Received' or 'Not Received'
- Grants, loans, scholarships and veterans benefits award amounts once they have been awarded
- Click on 'Grants' and then 'PHEAA (PA State Grant)' to learn if and why a PHEAA Grant is on a 'Hold' status
- Estimated Cost of Attendance (COA)
- Before scheduling classes, semester tuition and fees are estimated for 15 credits per semester
- After scheduling classes, semester tuition and fees are estimated for the actual number of scheduled credits
We encourage students and parents with guest access to always check SIS before contacting the Financial Aid Office.
Pennsylvania Residents and PA State Grant News
During May, the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA) will notify students with a complete FAFSA about their 2019-20 state grant eligibility. First-time students must also have completed their Pennsylvania State Grant Form in order for PHEAA to determine eligibility. PHEAA will email students and parents via email addresses provided on the FAFSA or on PHEAA’s records. The PHEAA emails will direct students to its secure Account Access site to learn about eligibility. Later in May, after PHEAA notifies all students, the Financial Aid Office will receive students’ PHEAA State Grant award and eligibility information, which students can then view via SIS.
Per PHEAA regulations, the Financial Aid Office must then further review all students awarded by PHEAA. If we determine a student does not satisfy all policies, we must inform PHEAA, which will then reduce or remove the award. The most common PHEAA policies are:
- PHEAA Satisfactory Academic Progress (for those that had a previous PHEAA award)
- Limits on the number of semesters of PHEAA Grants in a program of study
- PHEAA Distance Learning Policy
First-time students should make sure that their State Grant Form is complete by logging on to AES Account Access. If not complete, follow the directions and complete as quickly as possible.
First-time and returning students are sometimes selected for a PHEAA process called ‘Validation’ or PHEAA may have questions that need answered before it can determine eligibility. When this happens, PHEAA will email or send a paper letter that states what is needed. If you or your student have any questions about the State Grant Form, Account Access, or any communication from PHEAA, contact PHEAA at 800-692-7392.
Also, note that the e-mail 'domain' that PHEAA uses is @pheaa.org. You and your student should “whitelist” this domain in both of your e-mail accounts so PHEAA messages will not go to Spam or Junk folders.
First Year Cost Estimator
Especially designed for incoming students and their families, the First Year Cost Estimator approximates the total cost of attending Penn College for students’ first academic year (both Fall and Spring Semesters).
The Estimator is easy to use. Viewers first select an academic program and then answer questions about Pennsylvania residency, living arrangements and dining plans. The calculated cost estimate is based on current academic year (2018-2019) costs. By late June, the estimator will use costs for the 2019-2020 academic year.
Parent Access to Student Records
Pennsylvania College of Technology supports the privacy of student records, as required by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). In compliance with FERPA, the College limits the disclosure of personally identifiable information from educational records without the student’s prior consent.
At the same time, we understand that students may wish to share such information with parents and guests interested in supporting their educational experience. As a result, Penn College developed a “Grant Parent/Guest Access” option in the Student Information System (SIS) to allow students an easy, one-stop method to release key educational information to parents, legal guardians, and guests.
Talk to your student about using the Grant Parent/Guest Access option to give you the ability to review his or her educational records through SIS. Your student will need to set up a User ID and password for you. If you lose your User ID and/or password, your student can access that information for you through the “Grant Parent/Guest Access” option on the SIS.
Any student who has not petitioned for spring 2019 commencement should come to the Registrar’s Office, SASC 1020, as soon as possible to complete their petition.
If a graduating student has a guest with special seating needs (such as accommodations for a wheelchair or walker), please report this to the Registrar Office staff at Commencement Rehearsal, held April 29 and 30 at 3:30 pm at the Community Arts Center.
Sign language interpreters will interpret the Commencement ceremony. Interpreters will fingerspell graduates’ names, upon request. Requests for fingerspelling graduate names should also be made at the commencement rehearsal.
End of Year On-Campus Residence Hall Closing Procedures
Saturday, May 11th - The residence halls close at 10 a.m. for all students, or 24 hours after a student’s last final exam, whichever comes first.
At the end of the academic year, residents should follow standard procedures for closing down their apartment and checking out. Failure to follow closing procedures may result in the assessment of charges to the residents of the apartment. The closing process begins a few weeks prior to the end of the spring semester and concludes after residents vacate the apartment. The closing process involves the following steps:
- Resident Assistants meet with each apartment to complete a closing contract and to perform a pre-inspection of the room/apartment (the last few weeks of the spring semester)
- Cleaning: All rooms/apartments should be cleaned prior to move-out to avoid cleaning charges. Cleaning supplies are available in complex offices.
- Checkout Options:
- Express Checkout - Residents drop off their keys at a designated location when they are ready to leave. Residents who choose an express checkout waive the right to appeal damage and cleaning charges.
- Long Checkout - Residents schedule an appointment for a room/apartment inspection with a Resident Assistant 24 hours prior to the time they plan on leaving.
- Post Inspection: All rooms/apartments are inspected by Residence Life staff after residents vacate the apartment.
Dining Services End of Semester Information
Board & Block Plans
Unused flex dollars will only be refunded at the end of the semester if additional funds were added to the account during the spring semester and if that account has more than $10.
Unused meals are not refundable.
Declining Balance Plans
Declining balance plans are refundable at the end of the semester if the account has $10 or more remaining. Refunds will be processed at the end of the spring semester by the method the student selected through BankMobile Disbursements. For more information about the refund process, visit the Bursar’s Office Refund FAQ’s Web page.
If the student is taking summer classes and wishes to keep their declining balance plan open through August, requests must be submitted via email to the dining services office prior to Friday, May 10. Requests should include the student’s name, ID #, email, and phone number.
Summer Dining Plan
Dining Services offers a $50 declining balance plan for students who are taking summer classes at Penn College. This plan runs through August 8, 2019 and is refundable if the account has $10 or more at this time. Plans do not carry over to the Fall 2019 semester.
Fall 2019 Dining Plans
Non-Resident Students – may add a dining plan to their tuition bill through the SIS optional charges starting June 14, 2019.
Resident Students – your dining plan selection was part of the housing contract process and will appear on tuition bills automatically.
Please contact the Dining Services office with any additional questions at 570-327-4767 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The end is near! Top off your student’s successful semester with one of these great Wildcat Wishes Packages – Munchies, Ice Cream Sundae Treat, Exam Cram
Got the munchies? This package supplies chips, nachos, dip, salsa and soda for your student’s munchies craving.
Ice Cream Sundae Treat
I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream. This package includes 2 pints ice cream of your student’s choice along with ice cream cones and an assortment of toppings.
Exam coming up? This snack pack will help your student "power" through their exam. Package includes Pop-tarts, microwave popcorn, snickers bar, Nutri-grain bar, Power Bar, Almonds and two Rockstar energy drinks.