Big changes for the FAFSA

The time to get the Free Application for Federal Student Aid completed is now Oct. 1 - Feb. 1. Though FAFSA can now be completed anytime before February, it is advised that students fill it out as quickly as possible. This change is to better help first-year college students when they are choosing possible institutions by allowing them to know how much financial aid they will need months prior to their enrollment. The change also helps continuing students. Instead of getting it done in January when students don’t have school on the mind, they can get it done during fall break when Missouri Western is top priority. FAFSA will now be using the tax forms of two years prior, so students and parents won't have to wait to file their taxes before submitting. If a parent loses their job during the year, they are able to go onto Missouri Western’s Financial Aid website and find the Special Circumstance Appeal Request form so that the student will receive the right amount of aid needed. Due to the changes to the FAFSA, the Missouri's Access Grant deadline has also changed from April 1 to Feb. 1., along with scholarship deadlines and priority Financial Aid deadlines. For continuing first-year students, financial aid packaging deadlines are still due in May, after grades are posted. First-year students will receive their financial aid the first week of December as opposed to March or April. “The FAFSA date change will not affect the amount received," said Paul Orscheln, Associate Vice President Enrollment Manager. Marilyn Baker, Director of Financial Aid believes that this will be a positive change for students. “Before [students] leave for Christmas Break they can talk to Financial Aid staff and ask questions or use our computer lab to fill out questions. This is better than doing it during the summertime when we are here but students aren’t,” Baker said. “I hope it helps students. I hope it allows students to get their applications done before student break." Baker hopes to open up a couple of workshops at some point before Feb. 1 to try to help students with the changes. Students can make appointments to meet with Financial Aid if they have questions. Central High School’s graduating seniors are preparing for the FAFSA application changes already, and will be having Missouri Western’s Financial Aid department come and talk to the parents and seniors. “Families with older siblings may stumble at this change, because they had dealt with FAFSA in the past and were unaware of the new changes. However, for first-time freshman the change should be very simple,” said Megan McCamy, a student counselor at Central High School. All students are advised to deal with the new changes by checking their Goldlink accounts, student emails and completing FAFSA as quickly as possible

Western celebrates Student Employment Week

Student Employment Week took place April 13 through 17 and has had an impact on both students and their employers. According to Brett McKnight, Student Employment Coordinator, student employment week is a week long recognition of student accomplishments. “It’s a week where colleges and universities all across the nation recognize student employees on campus. Part of that week is for the student employee of the year celebration and also student employment supervisor of the year," said McKnight. Kay-lynne Taylor, Director for Career Development Center, believes the recognition prompts students to work harder. “When somebody is appreciated, they will almost always do a little bit more and a little bit better, and they just feel better. It helps our students understand that we appreciate their efforts and we appreciate what they do. As student employees, they are understanding employability, what they are doing in their job, and then they also feel like the future is a little bit brighter for them in terms of their career path," Taylor said. There are between 500-600 students working on campus. Though this week was dedicated to recognizing all of them, some students were specifically recognized for their achievements. This year, Steven Brown, a senior Supplemental Instruction tutor in the Center for Academic Support (CAS) was a winner. The finalists included Hailey Kober, a Career Mentor in MWSUs Career Development Center, and Matt Scholz, Resident Assistant. This year's Student Employment supervisor of the year was Karen Luke, Administrative Assistant of the CAS. “It’s a rigorous process; this is only the third year, so since then we’ve had more applicants, more participation, and more offices are starting to recognize the whole week or even a day," Taylor said. “We want to help students learn professionalism, etiquette, and understanding how to do general office correspondence, because no matter where you work you’re going to have to do this. We also want to help them have initiative, [we're] seeking to help them develop self-motivation.They are learning skills that are going to benefit them in the future." McKnight explained that the event has grown over the years. “We’ve seen an increase of nominees. All the nominees are great people and deserving of the award, which is why there is a whole week to recognize all of them, regardless of who won the awards,” McKnight said. Jamie Sweiger, Assistant Director of Admissions-Operation, weighed in that students are integral to the campus's functions, as well as student employment being a good way for students to get work experience. “They are critical to our operation," Sweiger said. Sweiger continued. “It gives the students a good experience starting out—something they can build with their resume. I like to offer to be a reference for those that work for me. I try to teach them things that I believe will help them in the work force." Student employment opportunities at Missouri Western can be found at Griffons 4 Hire on the Career Development Center's website by visiting https://www.missouriwestern.edu/careerdevelopment/.

Business school hosts Entrepreneurship Week

This week is Entrepreneurship Week here at Missouri Western. Sponsored by the Center for Entrepreneurship and Alpha Kappa Psi, Entrepreneurship Week is a series of workshops and lectures for both students and community members interested in learning and strengthening key business skills. Annette Weeks, director of the Center for Entrepreneurship, and the center’s advisory committee have been planning this week for months with the goal of cultivating skills but also for raising awareness. The Center for Entrepreneurship is relatively new to campus, and Weeks believes few students know the center is an open resource for all. Weeks is hoping that throughout this week, student awareness and engagement about what the center offers will be the biggest result. Jomel Nichols, director of public relations and marketing, is a member on the advisory committee and said this week will also serve as a means of community outreach and training. Community members, like Ken Lippincott of New York Life Insurance, already work with the center by sending interested clients to Annette Weeks, where she is then able to aid with her resources. However, the events being held this week are a part of the key resources Weeks provides, but are available to anyone interested on a much larger scale. The first-ever Entrepreneurship Week has had two successful days so far, and many more events are planned for the remaining three. Monday started the week’s festivities with two workshops, “Artists as Entrepreneurs” and “How to Write a Business Plan.” The former focused on the connection between entrepreneurship and aspiring artists and was hosted by Dean of the Craig School of Business Michael Lane and Dean of the School of Fine Arts Bob Willenbrink. According to Nichols, the turnout was much higher than expected. There was standing room only with over 50 engaged students and community members. On the other side of campus was another workshop with an equal attendee turnout giving tips to those on successful business plan writing. Tuesday included a free breakfast in the Kit Bond incubator highlighting the increasing role of technology in business. Three other workshops explored key business skills, from taxes to social media, on Tuesday as well. Students are encouraged to attend the center’s events on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Wednesday morning at the East Hills Library, attendants can get coffee and learn about two businessmen’s recent journeys into local entrepreneurship. Thursday, there are additional workshops open for all, and Friday morning Steve Craig, successful entrepreneur and sponsor of Western’s business school, will be on campus to speak to students.

Student Fine Arts Fees

Student fees for fine arts majors can have you grabbing your wallet and running out the door, but are the extra dollars being put to good use? The School of Fine Arts grants degrees in art, theatre/cinema and music. Although the fees vary depending on major, the ending amount can be a big eye opener for most students and parents. Student fees are broken down by department, class and the materials for that class. The amount of the fee relies on what materials the students will be using in the class, according to Peter Hriso, chair of the art department. “Most of the fees are determined by the price of the materials that have to be purchased,” Hriso said. Materials for each major vary widely, which results in different types of fees and different amounts of fees for each of the three majors.   Art Materials for art students can include special paints, utensils, papers, fabrics, glazes, colors, etc. Hriso explains it is impossible to have art classes without the use of some sort of material. “All of our classes are applied classes, and they need materials to be utilized and evolved in some way,” Hriso said. The fees for art students include a fine arts materials fee, materials and technology fee, arts program fee and computer intensive course fee. The fine arts materials fee and the materials and technology fee can range from $20 - $150 per class. These fees are a flat rate fee, meaning they do not depend on the amount of credit hours for the class. Other fees, like the fine arts program fee, are per credit hour and depend on the length of the course. This program fee is currently $31.55 per credit hour. The computer intensive course fee is also a flat rate fee of $45, but the money from this fee goes to the upkeep of the computers. Hriso explains the quality of the computers and the computer software is important to the work the graphic design students can produce. “The majority of our computers are not using just like word processing machines, we’re using the machines that have the capacity and capabilities to do graphics, and normally high-end graphics,” Hriso said. The programs that use this sort of high-end graphics include graphic design, motion design, game design and digital animation. Hriso says each of the Mac labs in Potter have recently been updated within the past year or so to give students the most recent programs Apple offers. Aside from technology, Missouri Western charges student fees because the tuition and state funding for the schools are so low. “I know people don’t like fees, but the tuition here is very competitive, and I think it’s very low,” Hriso said. “I think you have to balance looking at that with the fees as well.”   Theatre and cinema The student fees for the theatre and cinema major focus mainly on the technology used for photography, computer programmming, lighting and stage equipment/materials. Jeff Stover, chair of the theatre, cinema and dance department, explains how the money from the fees is used to pay for the equipment provided to the students. “The way it has been explained to me, the fees essentially go to pay for the equipment that we keep in the cinema cage,” Stover said. Stover explains the department has worked out a deal with the IMC, where the IMC would purchase the equipment and the department will pay them back through student fees. This way, the students can have access to the best equipment possible. “Our cinema cage is actually very well stocked for the university,” Stover said. “We have all HD cameras in there, we have steady cam rigs, we have lighting kits, we have audio, so all of the fees go towards paying that equipment.” Theatre and cinema major Mike Hadley says the amount of the fees didn’t hinder his decision to become a fine arts major because he is happy with the equipment he is able to use as a student. “[The fees] don’t really bother me all that much because it helps pay for the materials, such as helping purchase or rent the scripts for the shows, help pay for the facilities and any necessary materials that we might need that are provided by the department,” Hadley said. The fees included in the theatre and cinema majors are the computer intensive course fee, the program fee and the computer assisted course fee. The computer intensive course fee is a flat rate of $45, the program fee is $48.50 per credit hour and the computer assisted course fee is $35 flat. Hadley explains how the fees have helped to upgrade different areas of the department, including renovating the costume shop and providing new lights. He says there is only one thing he would like to see the fees go towards. “Maybe helping provide more opportunities for students,” Hadley said. “[The department] already provides a ton of stuff for us, and our professors are always willing to help us out. It’s mainly just using the money for the opportunities that we can get.” Stover says the program is able to offer unique experiences to their students because of the equipment they have and are able to use. “The fact that our students are getting a hold of the equipment literally in their first year here is huge,” Stover said. “We are the only cinema program in the region, so if you go to another school and you try and do cinema stuff, you’re probably not going to have a camera in your hand.” Students generally don’t complain about the amount of fees they are paying out per semester because the quality of the equipment makes up for the amount being paid.   Music The department of music currently comes in first place with the amount of fees students are being charged for. The department currently has six different fees being applied to certain classes. The flat rate fees include: a $50 music equipment fee; a $100 music major general fee; a $100 music major instrumental fee; a $100 applied music fee; and a $25 music material/concert fee. The last fee, a fine arts program fee, is $31.55 per credit hour. Not all fees are applied to every class. The department currently offers the most courses to students, and generally has two to three fees per class. The department chair was unavailable for comment, but Willenbrink explains the money from the fees goes to the upkeep of the instruments and towards purchasing new equipment. He also explains that fine arts majors cannot complete their degree without the use of certain materials. For example, the students must have the music in order to sing or play. “I think when you take a fine arts major, you’re under a certain understanding that there’s going to be supplies that you have to buy,” Willenbrink said. The fees are applied to students in order to make up for Missouri Western’s lower tuition and state funding. “Some schools have much higher tuition, so that’s what budgeted, but here the fees charge you for what you will use, the consumables that you will use, and nothing more,” Willenbrink said. The goal with student fees is to keep them at a flat rate, so students will not have to worry about an increase of price in the near future. “My goal as dean is to keep them strictly at a cost that is necessary, not to inflate them,” Willenbrink said. “We’re very conscious of that, and we are very conscious that those fees are in place.” For students who have questions on how much they are paying in fees per semester or year, those rates are available for viewing through their Goldlink account.

Craig School of Business maintains AACSB accreditation

Western is pleased to announce that as of Feb. 12, the Steven L. Craig school of Business has maintained its AACSB accreditation. The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business is an exclusive international academic association dedicated to the progression of collegiate business schools. There are only 749 AACSB accredited institutions in the world, making it the gold standard for business programs. AACSB Executive Vice President and Chief Accreditation officer Robert Reid was pleased to accredit Western’s business school. “It takes a great deal of commitment and determination to earn and maintain AACSB Accreditation,” Reid said. “Business schools must not only meet specific standards of excellence, but their deans, faculty and professional staff must make a commitment to ongoing continuous improvement to ensure that the institution will continue to deliver the highest quality of education to students.” Michael Lane, Dean of the Craig School of Business, views the accreditation as a well-deserved recognition of the quality of Western’s business programs. “The original application process is actually a five-year process, which we went through from 2005-2010. Then every five years you go through a reaccreditation, which is what we just did, and that is an affirmation of the quality of the program.  They look at the credentials of the faculty, the quality of the students and the program as a whole. As we are offering the program we are also measuring whether or not the students are learning what they need to learn for the employers out there,” Lane said. “Accreditation should be the byproduct of a high quality program, so we really view the process as just validating the quality of our program. We assume now, since we have had the original accreditation and we continue to maintain the quality of our program then it will naturally reoccur every five years.” Western President Robert Vartabedian was thrilled with the continuation of the business school’s accreditation.