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Staying in School

written by Georgia Schumacher 29 August 2011

By Guest Blogger

Katie Legg
Student at The Art Institute of Pittsburgh - Online Division

When I first toiled with the idea of going back to school I was frightened. I had been out of school for 5 years and was not sure if I would remember anything I had learned in high school or the brief period I spent studying business management after high school. After submitting my application and being accepted, the excitement of starting something new began to build. The structure of The Art Institute of Pittsburgh’s online program is excellent. I had previously attended a college that was considered online and correspondence (mail). At this past college everything was done at the student’s own pace, there were no deadlines and no teachers to answer your questions if you needed help. When you lose the motivation to keep going, it made it easy to set your books down and give up. With the online program and structure at The Art Institute of Pittsburgh I have deadlines to meet and a pre-determined agenda for what needs to be read and submitted.

There are always going to be classes that students are bored in or feel like they just want to give up, I have already had two or three within the past year. The harder you push yourself, the more you are going to achieve.

With a good college comes a great benefit. The Art Institute of Pittsburgh – Online Division offers a lot of optional short classes to help you learn programs and basic principles related to your field of study. There is also an area in the Campus Common to see many tutorials on common computer programs, etc. You are also allowed 12 hours of tutoring per semester and for me this was greatly useful during my math courses. Also offered are areas explaining networking and portfolios, internships, and freelancing. I say, if you’re going to do it, do it all! You have the best resources at your fingertips with this school and many adults will never get the opportunity to have the chances you have here. Take full advantage of everything offered to you and excel in your life.

Are you an Art Institute of Pittsburgh - Online Division student interested in writing for this blog? Check the Welcome Center in the Campus Common to find out how!



How to Help Make College More Affordable

written by Georgia Schumacher 25 August 2011

In today’s economy, it can be taxing at times to try to figure out how to afford college—although it’s well worth it. The U.S. Census Bureau reports that earning a college degree can mean earning nearly $1 million more in your lifetime! Here are some tips on financing your education without racking up thousands in loans:

  • Look for employer assistance. A recent study found that 84.7 percent of companies offer tuition reimbursement to their employees —some even for those who work part time.
  • Seek out scholarships. Do some research. Scholarships are available for a wide range of students.
  • Test out of entry-level courses. College-Level Examination Program (CLEP) exams and Advanced Placement (AP) exams can save you thousands on general requirement courses.
  • Pay your way. Many students balance taking college courses with full or part-time jobs. Calculate how much of your income you can devote to your education, and plan your college schedule accordingly.
  • Serve your country. The military offers great education benefits to help pay for veteran and active duty soldiers’ college courses.
  • Fill out a FAFSA. Even if you don’t plan to use student loans to finance your education, filling out the FAFSA could help you determine if you qualify for Pell Grants.
  • Be a part-time student. If you can’t afford to take a full load of courses, consider taking classes on a part-time basis. Many students feel that the slower schedule is well worth not going into debt.
  • Take school seriously. You don’t want to pay for a class that you failed (and may have to retake), so be sure to set aside time to study and be a successful student.
  • Be frugal. For many students, going to college without the help of student loans means making some sacrifices. You might choose to eat out less or skip a vacation this year. Make a budget, and stick with it.

Have questions? Contact a student finance counselor to learn more.

Getting to Know Academic Counselor Lindsay Schulte

written by Georgia Schumacher 22 August 2011

Many students at The Art Institute of Pittsburgh – Online Division speak with their Academic Counselors on a daily basis. Academic Counselors provide academic support to students whenever they need it, but students might not often think much about who the person is who’s helping them every day and what their unique interests are.

Lindsay Schulte has been an Academic Counselor for Interior Design, Residential Planning, and Kitchen & Bath Design students at The Art Institute of Pittsburgh – Online Division for almost two years. She earned her Bachelor’s degree at The Pennsylvania State University in Mass Communications with a minor in Business.

When Lindsay was growing up, she wanted to be a dancer. She remarks, “I took dance lessons for 13 years. I eventually realized that sports were my true passion while watching the videotapes my parents made of my dance recitals.” Nowadays, she’s kept on her toes by her dog, Gadget. Though he’s 13 years old, he enjoys exploring the neighborhood on his own. Says Lindsay, “He apparently is not aware how old he is now and how time has affected his speed…I can typically catch him before he leaves the yard now with his slow motion walk.”

Lindsay’s desire to help others began in high school and college, when she volunteered for Habitat for Humanity. In college, she worked at a pizza shop, where she enjoyed interacting with the customers while preparing the pizzas. “That job taught me how to cook, and to this day pizza and pasta are two of the five things that I can actually make,” she says.

Of her current job as an Academic Counselor, Lindsay says, “I have met the most creative people through these programs. I am always impressed about the ideas and designs that students come up with. It’s great to talk to students and hear their excitement with every new class they take.” In her spare time, Lindsay enjoys watching any Pittsburgh sports team, playing softball, golfing, and reading.

The Art Institute of Pittsburgh - Online Division Invites Students to Have a "Super Summer"

written by Georgia Schumacher 18 August 2011

For students at The Art Institute of Pittsburgh – Online Division, while studies are undoubtedly important, they also have the opportunity to participate in fun activities like “Super Summer,” a contest recently held in Connections, The Art Institute of Pittsburgh – Online Division’s exclusive social network. Each day, students were presented with a task, with a chance to win either an gift card or a gift card if their response to the task was chosen.

The five tasks were as follows:

  • Task One: Students were provided with a Photoshop template and instructed to turn themselves into a superhero either with the provided resources or by using their own design means.
  • Task Two: Go to the Featured Events page on the school website, choose your favorite event, and state why you chose it in Connections.
  • Task Three: Identify a movie, book, record, television show, or anything else that you saw, read, or listened to this summer that you loved and post your review in Connections.
  • Task Four: Identify your hero. It could be your kids, your parents, a good friend, a teacher, a leader, a role model, or anyone else who inspires you. Write a description of that person and what makes them heroic.
  • Task Five: Find a blog post or article that is related to your program of study. Write a brief description of this article and explain why it interests you.

The winners of “Super Summer” were announced shortly after the contest’s end. If you’re an Art Institute of Pittsburgh – Online Division student who missed out on this contest, be sure to keep an eye on Connections in the Campus Common for the latest fun activities!

Top Misconceptions about Online Learning

written by Georgia Schumacher 15 August 2011

Not all students are 100 percent sure what to expect when they begin taking classes online. After speaking with several new students, we've found that many of them share some misconceptions about online learning:

  • Online courses are easier than traditional classroom courses. The truth is, online courses feature the same curriculum as campus-based courses. They require the same amount of time and effort as a traditional classroom course.
  • I won’t get individual attention from my professor. This could not be further from the truth. In online courses, your professor will participate in your classroom discussions and give feedback for each homework submission, just as she would in a traditional classroom.
  • I won’t get to know my classmates. Many students are surprised to find that they get to know their classmates quickly by interacting in discussions. Just as in a campus college, students that share the same major often progress through the same courses, building lasting friendships.

    Furthermore, many student groups allow you to network with students that share your interests. Visit the Campus Common to see what groups in which you might like to take part.

  • Online degrees don’t carry the respect of traditional college degrees. Because the online curriculum is the same that you would learn in the campus-based school and shares the same prestigious accreditation, the only difference is the delivery.

    In fact, online degrees are more accepted and respected than ever, and more and more students are choosing to pursue their degrees online due to the flexibility of the format.

  • I won’t have access to help when I need it. If you ever find yourself in need of help, there are many resources available to you, such as individual feedback from your professor, guidance from your academic counselor, online tutoring services and a whole host of other resources available to you in the Campus Common.

Academic Counselor Recounts a Rewarding Internship Experience

written by Georgia Schumacher 11 August 2011

By Matt Hinkle
Senior Academic Counselor for The Art Institute of Pittsburgh – Online Division

As an Academic Counselor for the Interior Design, Residential Planning and Kitchen & Bath Design programs, Matt Hinkle is especially knowledgeable because of his experience in the field. Matt has two Master's Degrees from The Ohio State University in Architecture and City and Regional Planning.

Below, Matt writes of his experience as an intern with a construction management firm.

While I was in college, I worked at three different internships. One project I recall fondly was when I interned for a construction management firm. We were at a worksite where a new assisted living and skilled nursing facility was being constructed. The construction management firm was coordinating the construction efforts, overseeing all of the subcontractors. We frequently were the go-betweens when subcontractors had questions or issues for the Architect, Interior Designer, and Engineer of the project.

The specific project had to do with a proposed revision to the project’s lighting design scheme. The Architect and Interior Designer wanted to switch from the original plan of all incandescent lighting to compact florescent lighting. The project owners and construction manager were wary of agreeing to the change because compact florescent (CFL) bulbs were not very commonly used at that time. They also were not sure how to figure out how the changes in fixture counts and bulbs would impact the amount of light in the spaces.

At this point in my academic life, I had taken lighting class, and they asked me if I could do an analysis of the proposed change and make a recommendation to them. They were used to thinking about lighting in terms of how many watts of power each room was going to have, so I had to approach this project discussing a few things: will people be able to see just as well in the spaces and will this cost more or cost less?

Since this was a project for assisted living and skilled nursing, it was important that enough light was provided for people to see. As people age, their eyes are less efficient and it takes more light to see well, so the goal was to have lots of bright spaces. Having learned in my lighting class that lumens are the unit of light measured in bulb output, I added up the lumen values for each bulb in each fixture in each space. I could then show that the new lighting plan with CFL bulbs actually had more lumens in the spaces so the rooms would be actually a little bit brighter with the new plan.

The next part was to analyze the costs involved. The bulbs and the fixtures used in the new plan cost more than in the old plan. Would the lifetime operating cost difference offset the initial costs? I spoke with the project owners about how they wanted me to evaluate this, and they said that if there would be lower lifetime operating costs they would be happy. So I calculated how the changes in the bulbs impacted the total costs. The new lighting plan used fewer bulbs, which meant less staff time would be consumed with changing bulbs out. Also, the average life expectancy of the CFL was much longer. The project owners told me their average maintenance worker earned about $10 an hour and that getting a call to change a bulb would take that person about 15 minutes to get the ladder, change the bulb and return the ladder. So I was able to show that with longer bulb life and fewer bulbs in the facility, they would save thousands of dollars in maintenance labor with just changing out the bulbs as they died. However, this was just the cost of labor, and it would take years to see these savings. I also realized that the cost difference in the power bill would be a good place to analyze as well. Since CFL bulbs use less than ¼ of the watts that incandescent bulbs use, I was able to calculate how many fewer kilowatts the facility would need. I contacted the local power company to get their rates and so I could determine the exact savings on the power bill the owners would expect between the old and new lighting plans.

I showed that that the savings on their power bill and maintenance labor in just the first year was more than the cost increase of the more expensive fixtures and bulbs needed for the new CFL lighting plan. I recommended they approve the new plan. Because of my educational background with lighting design, I was able to complete a thorough review of the project changes and the impacts to the bottom line. My recommendation resulted in approval of the lighting redesign which was very exciting for me. This was a moment when I really felt that I made a tangible impact on the project.

This was a really exciting part of my internship experience that started as a standard calculation project but ended with seeing my impact on the final project. This is an example of when sometimes the most tedious assignments end up being really helpful in the job field. I hope everyone can experience the kind of excitement related to seeing their ideas impacting a project. It really got me more excited about the design field and reinforced the importance of my education.

Upcoming Library Training Sessions

written by Georgia Schumacher 8 August 2011

Prospective and Current students may have heard about the online library and the services it offers. In the month of August, a number of library training sessions will be held for current students, including tours of the library on August 17th and August 25th. Other training sessions include information on Proquest, RefWorks and Credo reference. For more information, students should check their email and the Campus Common!

Staff Profile: Academic Counselor Sarah Anderson

written by Georgia Schumacher 2 August 2011

For the past two years, Sarah Anderson has been serving students’ needs as an Academic Counselor for the Art Institute of Pittsburgh – Online Division. Prior to becoming an Academic Counselor, Sarah was an Admissions Representative for Argosy University - Online Programs. Her experiences in both of these roles have prepared her well for her everyday work with the students. She has earned her Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with a minor in Psychology from West Virginia Wesleyan College and earned her Master of Science in Management from Argosy University - Online Programs in October of 2010.

“I enjoy my role as an Academic Counselor immensely!” Sarah says. “I am responsible for helping students reach their goal of graduation and ensure they have an enjoyable experience while they are attending the Art Institute of Pittsburgh – Online Division. I enjoy hearing the excitement in their voices when they talk about their dreams of what they want to do with their degree. I once was an online student myself while working full time, and can understand some of the challenges that our students go through to achieve their degrees. Having had this experience, I feel, gives me full picture. “