Tag Archive | "APU"

Suggestions for Success: What to Know Before You Begin Your Program

success-tips-online-learnersBy Melanie Dougherty
Academic Advisor at American Public University

Congratulations! You’ve taken a big step in starting your education. Whether you’re pursuing an associate, bachelor’s, or a master’s degree, I want to tell you what an exciting journey you have ahead of you. Are you scratching your head wondering where to begin? Well, don’t! Here are some suggestions for starting out in your degree program.

First, you need to invest in yourself. As you prepare to embark on this new journey, be prepared to encounter new ideas and new challenges. Take this time to discover new passions, to learn more about yourself, and to prepare for a future doing something that you love. Don’t jump into this program without knowing what you want to get out of it! You should write down some small goals that you want to achieve at different points in your program and in your life. Seeing these goals written out can remind you of how to invest in yourself both academically and personally.

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The Value of an Argument in Writing

thesis-statement-argumentative-essay-tipsDr. Stacey Little
Program Director, Transportation and Logistics Management at American Public University

After being assigned several argumentative essays, you may have determined that this type of writing is a skill that’s hard to acquire. According to the Roane State Community College online writing lab, most people forget that the goal of the argumentative essay is to “win” the argument. With that thought in mind, it is suggested to avoid writing about issues that you won’t win, regardless of how strongly the writers view is of this topic. An argumentative paper has value to the learning process. It allows the student to learn, grow, and think critically about a subject. Let’s examine the parts of an argumentative paper.

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How to Personalize Your Online Learning Time

personalizing-online-learning-experienceBy J. Mason
Online Learning Tips Editor

Being an online learner doesn’t mean you have to spend all of your time learning alone. There are a few ways to insert peer interaction into your studies. For some it’s as simple as finding a public wifi spot so you can work with the buzz of people around you. Other students need a real-time connection to other students. This way you get the collegiate experience even when you can’t see all the other people learning around you.

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Academic Thievery – Never Worth the Risk

Cheating on testBy Dr. Robert Gordon
Program Director, Reverse Logistics Management at American Public University

“You dare use my own spell against me?!?” – Professor Snape to Harry Potter from The Half-Blood Prince

One of the unwritten requirements of being an instructor is to stay current on how students cheat. As such, I have watched plenty of videos about how students can cheat and reviewed many assignment checkers and websites that sell student papers.

However helpful all these tools are, the easiest way to catch academic thievery is through simple comparison. Everyone writes differently and so the moment an assignment does not match other writing samples that students have done makes me give their work a closer look. This closer look means giving it greater scrutiny that often leads to more questions about the paper.

Another way to detect academic thievery is when a paper is just too well written. When an undergraduate student turns in a paper that starts using post-doctoral jargon, it becomes clear that the paper is not the work of the student.

References also often give students away. When a student references books that are not available online, it causes me to ask more about where those sources came from. Broken links are also red flags because if the link in the paper does not work, how did the student find the information?

I remember one senior at a school I was teaching at posting to social media that they had worked so hard for four years that they felt that they earned a vacation from schoolwork. He stated that he had purchased an academic paper and turned it in, fully expecting an A. That student was caught by the university and was not allowed to graduate.

The lesson here is clear; never use someone else’s work, ever. As the saying goes, “if you did not write it, you better cite it.”

If you use someone else’s work as your own, you are likely going to be caught and there will be consequences. One can face expulsion from the university, leaving you with student debt and no degree to show for your effort.

Here is one final word of advice. If you find yourself behind in a class and tempted to take a shortcut, it is better to contact your professor and discuss an extension or other options. It is likely that your instructor has some flexibility to work something out to allow you to complete the course work.

About the Author

Dr. Robert Lee Gordon is the program director for the Reverse Logistics Management department at American Public University. Dr. Gordon has over 25 years of professional experience in supply chain management and human resources. Dr. Gordon earned his Doctorate of Management and Organizational Leadership and his Masters of Business Administration from the University of Phoenix as well earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in History from UCLA.

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4 Plain and Simple True Facts About Writing Well

tips-writingBy Dr. Oliver Hedgepeth
Program Director, Government Contracts and Acquisition at American Public University

Back in the day when I was in elementary school, we had spelling class. I don’t think that class is offered any longer at any school. The thinking is that class time spent on spelling just isn’t necessary because computer programs now alert you to a word that’s either questionable or misspelled. Sometimes even computers make mistakes, so we all need to pay careful attention to the words we write.

I will be the first to admit that I’m not a perfect speller but I do know how to use a dictionary. I prefer the printed dictionaries over the ones in my computer. Just feels authoritative to hold that book in my hands and check the accuracy of a word or its origin or how it might be used differently.

While I consider myself a pretty darn good writer now, I wasn’t always. Writing was frightening. But I did write from an early age. Practice makes you better at whatever you’re doing.

So, allow me to give you a few tips and a few of my pet peeves regarding words.

Avoid clichés.

Most are overused and worn-out any way. Use simple and straightforward language. For example, the phrase “It goes without saying”–if it really goes without saying, don’t say it. Get to the heart of what you’re writing and move on. Your readers will applaud your ability.

Avoid redundancies.

Don’t write (or say) something more than once. For example, the phrase “the city of Chicago” is redundant because doesn’t everyone know Chicago is a city? Also, “absolutely necessary”; if it’s necessary, then it’s necessary. Others to avoid: “canceled out,” “continue on,” “honest truth,” “plain and simple,” “true facts,” and “important essentials.” There are many more.

Use the right word.

Some words sound the same but have different meanings. For example, accept or except. Picking the right one can be challenging because often the pronunciation in spoken language is not accurate. There are many more word pairs like this in English. Be careful to use the correct word.

Be accurate.

Then there’s “first annual.” Never, ever use, say or write that. You cannot have something annually until you’ve had the first one. You can then say “second annual” and be completely accurate.

If you want to get better at writing and spelling, keep your own list of words or phrases you misspell or that you use incorrectly. When you’re writing, refer to that list. Also, keep a thesaurus and a dictionary on your desk and refer to them frequently.

Your writing will improve, and so will your vocabulary. Why not be the person others turn to for help with writing and spelling? It can’t hurt and might even be a little fun.

About the Author
Dr. Oliver Hedgepeth is the program director for Government Contracts and Acquisition at American Public University (APU). He is the former program director of Reverse Logistics Management and Transportation and Logistics Management. Prior to joining APU, Dr. Hedgepeth was a tenured associate professor of Logistics and chair of the Logistics Department at the University of Alaska Anchorage. His book, RFID Metrics, was published in 2007 by CRC Press and is in revision.

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How Online Classes Differ From Traditional Classes

traditional-vs-online-learningBy Ryan Laspina
Senior Specialist, Red Flags and External Reviews at APUS

Online learning has become much more popular due today’s technologically advanced world. There are numerous universities that are fully online, and pretty much every university in the country has at least a small online component in their curriculum. While traditional schools and online schools offer the same end game (i.e. a diploma, certificate, etc.), the actual classrooms have numerous differences. Online classes do require a different kind of learning style than traditional classes. Some of these differences are explained below.

  1. Online classrooms usually require more writing than traditional classrooms. You must be prepared to answer weekly forums, have essay-based midterms/finals, and respond to other students’ postings with written responses. In a traditional classroom, a lot of the discussions can be verbal. Obviously, that is a little more challenging with online learning, so online learners need to have satisfactory writing skills.
  2. Online classes are much more flexible than traditional classes. With online classes, you usually have the freedom to log in at any time during the week and submit assignments. There will always be deadlines, but you will not have to be present online from 1-2:15 every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday like you might have to in a traditional college setting.
  3. You must be able to self-motivate as an online learner. To succeed at any kind of college, you must have the motivation to be a great student, but it is crucial to be self-motivated while enrolled in online classes. The flexibility of the online classroom is nice, but it means that the structure of a traditional, schedule-based school is not present. This requires online learners to create their own schedule and stick with it for the entire duration of the class.
  4. Online universities offer flexibility, affordability, and self-paced learning. However, online schools cannot deliver the full “college experience” that a traditional school can. Online universities may have clubs, extracurricular activities, networking events, and graduation ceremonies, but they probably are not the best option for someone looking for the ambiance of a college campus.

There are major differences between online classrooms and traditional classrooms. It absolutely takes a different kind of learning style to succeed, but they are not mutually exclusive. There are many learners out there that can adapt to both styles. If you are planning on attending an online university, be aware that it will be different from your typical on-ground learning experience.

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The Pros and Cons of Credit Cards and Debit Cards

debit-vs-creditBy Ryan Laspina
Senior Specialist, Red Flags and External Reviews at APUS

In today’s world, most transactions are completed through either a debit or a credit card instead of cash. Both of them have advantages and disadvantages, and it is important to understand the most efficient way to use both if you want to stay financially literate. Whether you utilize one, both, or neither, the below tips will aid you in your quest to become financially responsible.

Credit Cards 

  • The most simple and efficient way to pay for purchases today is through the use of a credit card. The convenience is an advantage, but it can also serve as a disadvantage. Remember, buying things on credit means you do not necessarily have the funds to pay for your purchase at that time. If you are not careful, this can get you into financial trouble. To avoid issues, you should ask your credit card company (if they have not done so already) to cap your maximum monthly limit to an amount you can handle.
  • Because the use of plastic cards has increased, the rate of fraud has also increased. At some point in their life, everyone will probably be a victim of credit card or debit card fraud. It is much easier to correct credit card fraud.  If you see a strange charge on your bill, you can put that amount into dispute and refuse to pay for it. Most credit card companies have a very good fraud department who will investigate the matter for you.
  • Using (and paying off) your credit card on a monthly basis helps to build credit. This will come in handy when you are ready to make a very large purchase, such as obtaining a car loan or a mortgage.

Debit Cards

  • Debit cards are also extremely convenient to use. When you use your debit card, you are using funds that you currently have sitting in your bank account. If you do not have the funds, you will not be able to make the purchase with your debit card. If you exclusively use your debit card, you will not have to worry about making purchases with funds you do not currently have.
  • As stated before, it is much easier to correct credit card fraud as opposed to debit card fraud. With a credit card, you can simply refuse to pay for the illegitimate purchases. If you have money taken out of your account via your debit card, you will have to work with your bank to get the funds put back into your account. This is a stressful and involved process that does not always bring desired results.

A responsible adult should be able to handle at least one credit and debit card at the same time. Because neither is completely secure, it is advisable to use your credit card (as long as you are responsible) for most of your purchases in which you will not be using cash. It is a personal preference, but knowing how to use each efficiently will help you become even more financially literate.

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Science Labs Delivered to Your Door

mobile-science-labs-apuBy David Brashinger
Faculty Member, Natural Sciences at American Public University

How do you take a laboratory-based science course when you don’t have access to a traditional campus-based laboratory? Have the laboratory delivered to your door!

American Public University (APU) is rolling out a series of new online courses in biology, chemistry, and physics that include laboratory activities that students perform where they live. This approach combines the flexibility of distance education with the hands-on learning goals of science laboratory education.

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