How To's & FAQ
Find answers to common questions and guides for basic processes at college:
How to Thrive During College
Nobody really knows what to expect when they first arrive on campus. Everything is new, complicated, and a little bit scary. Here are a few tips to help you succeed:
- GO TO CLASS. And if you are not able to attend, let your professor know and make up any work you may have missed. Try to get notes from a classmate.
- Take notes! For students with hearing, visual, motor limitations or those who have learning or cognitive disabilities that significantly affect the ability to take notes in class, you can request a Peer Note-taker Accommodation.
- Try to ace your first semester! Establishing a high GPA early on and then maintaining it is much easier than trying to raise a low GPA. Do yourself a favor and aim for that 4.0.
- Get involved in a club or organization. If your major/department has a club, join it! Not only will you get to know your cohort, you will get to know your department's professors better as well.
- Don't be afraid to ask for help. Everybody needs help at some point and there are resources on campus ready to get you back on track. You can contact the office of Student Assistance to help you find the resources you may need.
- Take care of your mental and physical health. Aim high, but know your limits. Your health is more important than any test score or award. Suddenly balancing dorm life, rigorous classes, clubs, a new social group, and student debt on top of all the other new changes in your life is seriously overwhelming. There are resources on campus to help. You can find KU's Counseling & Psychological Services here. There also many resources available online such as the National Institute of Mental Health's FAQ for students about college and depression here.
Tips for Online Classes
Most students will have to take on online class at some point in their academic career. The COVID pandemic has made remote learning a necessity, but online classes will always be a reality in an increasingly online world. Here are a few tips to help you be successful in your remote learning:
- Before class, join a Zoom test session to test your audio and webcam, and familiarize yourself with the chat and other controls
- Make sure you’re muted when not talking
- Use reactions, including the raise hand, yes, no, go slower, and go faster buttons to engage with your class
- When you need to ask a question live, use the raise hand option and/or send a chat message to request permission to speak
- Set up an intentional space with minimal background noise and distractions where you can attend
- Your instructor may utilize breakout rooms during your class so that you can meet and discuss course topics within smaller student groups. Click here to familiarize yourself with how to participate in Zoom's breakout rooms
- If you need accommodations due to a disability, contact the Disability Services office as soon as possible to get help
Here are some resources to help with issues you might experience with Zoom:
How to Email a Professor
Knowing how to properly communicate with professors is one of the most important skills to learn during college besides doing your own laundry. Email etiquette is no joke and can make or break connections with your professors. Remember that an email to a professor is basically a business letter and there are certain do's and don'ts to keep in mind:
- If you know the professor's title, use it! Respecting and using a professor's title is one of the most important aspects of email etiquette in academia. Professors have worked hard to earn the degrees they have. When in doubt, address the professor as "Prof. LastName" or "Dr. LastName." Never address them by their first name. Or, just be polite and ask!
- Include a subject line that summarizes the point of your email.
- Start with a salutation such as "Dear Prof. LastName", "Good morning/afternoon", "Hello Dr. LastName." Never start an email with "Hey" or "Hi."
- Include as much relevant background information as possible in your inquiry. Simply asking, "What day is the assignment due?" does not tell the professor who you are or what class, what section, and what assignment you are talking about. See the example below for an ideal message.
- End with a sign off such as "Best," "Regards," or simply, "Thank you." Remember to include your full name after the signoff.
- Adding a signature to your emails that includes your name, student ID and major helps the professor identify you better and makes your emails look more professional. Use the settings in Outlook to add a signature.
- Check the syllabus for an answer before you email.
- Don't use acronyms or emojis. Internet shorthand comes off as unprofessional.
- Remember that it's better to be too formal, rather than too casual!
- Give the professor a few days to get back to you. They are busy and their jobs include much more than only teaching and grading.
- If you make a mistake, it's okay! Be sure to politely apologize and correct the error.
- Side note: You may also have to email secretaries and other university staff at some point. All of the previous do's and don'ts still apply, however you can address them as "Ms. LastName" or "Mr. LastName."
Here is an example of an appropriate email to a professor:
"Dear Prof. XYZ,
I am Student ABC from EDU 300 section 050. I was looking over the syllabus and had a question about using citations for the paper due next week. What citation style should be used? Also, should we include in-text citations? Thank you for your time.
Student ID 000123456
Secondary Education English Class of 2025"
How to Enroll in Courses
Course enrollment is a basic, but often tricky process that all students must do. Before you can enroll in courses, be sure that you have met with your advisors. Secondary Education majors must meet with both their Education advisor and their LAS advisor. Be sure to look out for emails from your advisors to sign up for advisement times.
Students enroll in courses on MyKU. You can find a walkthrough for course enrollment here.
Please note that courses added to your shopping cart will not be automatically added. You must manually enroll in the courses for them to be added to your schedule.
TIP: Sec Ed's checksheets include an 8-semester plan to give students an idea of the most efficient way to schedule classes for each program.
If you need help, ask your advisor or the department office. Contact the Sec Ed office at firstname.lastname@example.org.
How to Add/Change a Major/Minor
If students want to make a change to their curriculum (i.e. their major or minor) they need to go to the office of the program to get the change made.
Students within the College of Education who want to change their major to a different education program can simply contact the program's office and ask to fill out a change of curriculum form.
Students from outside the College of Education who want to change their major to an education program must meet the requirements before the change can be made:
- 3.0 minimum GPA
- Background checks/clearances
- Passing Basic Skills Test scores (if you have 48+ credits)
What to Expect During an Advisement Meeting
Advisement meetings are required meetings with your advisor. Most students have one advisor, but Secondary Education majors have two. Students must meet with their major advisors before they can enroll in courses!
To find out who your advisors are, log into MyKU and check the "Current Instructors & Advisors" tile.
What to bring to an advisement meeting:
- A copy of your major's checksheet. You can find Sec Ed's checksheets here.
- A list of classes you want to enroll in. (Be sure the class times don't overlap.)
- Write down any questions you may have about the program, classes or requirements.
After you meet with your major advisors, you can enroll in courses when the enrollment period opens.
What grades can I teach if I am certified to teach a secondary subject?
At present, most certification areas available through the Secondary Education Department are for grades 7-12. All modern language certifications are for grades K-12.
How long will it take to complete my degree program?
Most programs can be completed within a four-year time span. Many students carry approximately 15 credits per semester and attend summer and/or winter classes. Many students take less credits per semester and finish comfortably in five years. Any significant change in major will result in more time to complete a certification program. An 8-semester plan can be found for each undergrad program on our Checksheets page (see the last page of checksheet PDF file).
What is the best advice for getting teaching positions?
We advise our teacher candidates to achieve a high GPA to make them stand out in a competitive job market. We also encourage our teacher candidates to be active in KU organizations, clubs, and additional activities such as volunteering. A multidimensional teacher candidate will be more marketable in obtaining a teaching job-- consider our ESL program to broaden your experience. Mobility is also a key in obtaining a position in academic areas with few job openings. KU's Career Development Center offers services and resources to help students and alumni achieve their career goals.
What tests need to be taken to get certification in Pennsylvania?
Candidates for certification must pass the Basic Skills Tests and pass the Praxis II content test for their certification area. Visit the Pennsylvania Department of Education's website for more information.
Do I have to return to school for additional course work after I get certified?
Your teaching certificate is not a permanent certificate, and you will have to acquire additional course work and documented hours to keep your certificate active. Many teachers return to Kutztown University for our Master of Education in Secondary Education program. Contact the Graduate Admissions Office for additional information on becoming a graduate student. Act 48 information concerning your certificate can be found at the Pennsylvania Department of Education website.
How can I get Act 48 Credits at Kutztown University?
Courses that are offered at Kutztown University, reporting forms for Act 48 courses, and Lifelong Learning opportunities are available at the Act 48 website.