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Hokie Family E-Newsletter May 2014


From the Vice President for Student Affairs

Spring has come to our beautiful campus—and with it—the excitement of commencement. I have many thoughts for the extraordinary members of the Class of 2014, who have become such an integral part of our work in Student Affairs.

  • I hope our graduating students have been inspired to explore new things and to engage in critical reflection.
  • I hope they have felt the exhilaration of working hard and reaching a goal.
  • I hope they have realized that the Virginia Tech experience is as challenging as it is supportive.
  • I hope they have experienced the sheer fun of creativity, innovation, and learning.
  • I hope they have discovered the importance of diverse perspectives.
  • I hope they have learned that Virginia Tech is not just about classroom academics, but also about understanding themselves, their values, and their purpose. 
  • I hope they have acquired the knowledge and skills to become courageous leaders and change agents who will serve the greater good.
  • I hope they know that Virginia Tech is and always will be a pivotal part of their lives.

Congratulations to all our graduates and to you -- the families who have helped, supported, guided, and mentored them!

This summer we also bid farewell to Dr. Charles Steger, who has been our outstanding president for 14 years. We will miss Dr. Steger. He has been a visionary, a strong leader, and a valued colleague who leaves an impressive legacy of growth and commitment to the land-grant university mission.

In June, Virginia Tech’s 16th president, Dr. Timothy Sands, will officially become a part of the Hokie Nation. I say “officially” because since his appointment in December, he has come to our campus numerous times to meet with various groups and learn about Virginia Tech. This included a breakfast with student leaders in April, where the students shared their views, voiced their concerns, and expressed to our new president what they find so special about the Virginia Tech experience. I am thrilled that Dr. Sands values students’ perspectives, and that he is committed to building a strong relationship with them.

Also in April, during Spring Family Weekend, we celebrated the Virginia Tech Family of the Year Award. Our congratulations to the Hicks family and their nominator, Mikayla Meyer. Their story reminds us that families come in diverse manifestations, and that family support and involvement are so important in ensuring a positive educational experience.

I hope as the spring 2014 semester comes to a close that you will be honored to spend time with your student for the summer or before he or she engages in summer adventures. I also hope that you know we want to stay connected with you, so let us hear from you. We welcome your stories, as well as your ideas and suggestions about topics you would like to see addressed in the Hokie Family E-newsletter. We are always on the lookout for ways we can better serve you and your student.

Just a reminder: the Hokie Parent E-newsletter will be on hiatus for the months of June and July while we are hard at work welcoming new students and their families at New Student and Family Orientation. Please look for information pertaining to fall semester when we resume publication in August.

If we can assist you in any way, please don’t hesitate to contact us. You can contact our Director of Parent and Alumni Relations, Penny Helms White, at phwhite@vt.edu or 540-231-3284. You can also send a message to families@vt.edu if you have questions, comments, or concerns. And, of course, you can always contact me.

I hope you and your family have a great summer!

Patricia A. Perillo, Ph.D.
Vice President for Student Affairs


The Student Success Center

Final Exams – A Time to be Kind
The month of May brings with it a flood of emotions for students at Virginia Tech. The excitement of being so close to completing the semester, the sadness of saying goodbye to friends who will be graduating, and the stress that comes with finishing up semester-long projects and taking final exams. During this time of renewed focus and energy put toward academics, it is important that students feel supported in their goals. The Student Success Center is all about providing support. Here are a few tips in lifting up spirits during this time:

  1. Reading Day is May 8. The university designates this as a time for students to prepare themselves for final exams, as classes have ended, but finals have not yet started. This is a good day to call your student and let them know you are thinking about them. Calling every day might be a little overwhelming once finals get going, but hearing your voice before they get started just might give them the extra perseverance they need.
  2. Text Often. This tip is relative to the amount of times you normally text your student, but one short, simple text per day of exams is encouraged. Messages could include, “Do your best,” “We believe in you,” and/or “Good luck today!” Let them know that they are on your mind.

Follow Up. After the semester has finished it is important to have a conversation about how things went. Grades are not always a reflection of effort. If your student struggled or did not reach their desired outcome, have a dialogue about why that happened. Refer them to resources on campus and suggest they visit the Student Success Center.


Spring 2014 commencement information

Commencement Website
The Virginia Tech Commencement website has been updated with information regarding college/departmental ceremonies. Use the resources available to update your Commencement plans.


Reminder for graduating students

You’ll want to encourage your graduating students to check their records in HokieSpa. In certain circumstances, students who kept their records confidential need to make changes if they want to continue receiving correspondence from Virginia Tech after they graduate.


University Scholarships and Financial Aid

2014-15 Financial Aid 
The financial aid process is well under way for 2014-15. Each week that goes by, we are receiving more FAFSAs, reviewing more information, and awarding even more financial aid. Please have your student check his or her Hokie SPA account or email to be sure that we have all the information that we need. Delays in receiving requested documents could result in less financial aid.  

Important Deadlines
June 1 – Students who are offered Federal Work-Study aid and/or a Federal Perkins Loan must accept this aid through their Hokie SPA account by this date. New students must accept the admissions offer and set up their PID before they can accept this financial aid. More information about how to accept this aid can be found through University Scholarships and Financial Aid

July 1 – Students who want their Federal Stafford Loan(s) to appear on their fall bill must accept this aid on their Hokie SPA by this date.   

Summer Financial Aid
Financial aid awards for summer sessions began in April. Students should enroll in summer classes as quickly as possible to be considered for summer financial aid. University Scholarships and Financial Aid will automatically review students for possible aid options once they are registered for classes. No additional application is necessary. Summer ends the 2013-14 academic year and funding options may be limited. 

Summer Academy
Students interested in attending the Summer Academy program need to file the 2013-2014 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) through www.fafsa.gov. This application should be completed as quickly as possible so summer financial aid eligibility can be determined. The 2013-2014 FAFSA cannot be submitted after June 30, 2014. 


University Bursar

We regret that tuition and fee rates for 2014-15 are not yet available. The rates for the prior year may helpful to you in making decisions about the coming year. We recognize that it is helpful for our students to know the upcoming year's tuition and fee rates as soon as possible. The university is monitoring the status of the General Assembly budget process as part of the tuition and fee development. The administration hopes to provide a tuition and fee proposal for consideration by the university's Board of Visitors by early June 2014.

Fall semester billing will be posted on July 15, 2014.  An email notification will be sent to students through their student email addresses and to authorized payers of these students. The payment deadline for the fall semester billing is August 11.

The Fall Budget Tuition Plan online enrollment will be open July 1. The application fee is $35.

Is Your Student Enrolling in the 2014 Summer Sessions?
Bill and payment deadlines for students enrolled in Summer Session I and/or Summer Session II:

  • Summer Session I:  Billed April 15 with payment due date May 12.
  • Summer Session II:  Billed May 15 with payment due date of June 10.

Is Your Student Graduating in May?
Please be sure all the student account charges are paid in full to prevent a hold on the student’s diploma and transcript.

Please visit the University Bursar website at www.burar.vt.edu, email bursar@vt.edu, or call 540-231-6277 if you have any questions. We are located at 150 Student Services Building, Virginia Tech (MC0143), 800 Washington Street SW, Blacksburg, Virginia 24061. Our business hours (excluding federal, state, and university authorized closures) are: 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.  Phone hours are 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

When contacting the University Bursar by email or phone, please be certain to include or have available the student account number and assigned FERPA passcode. If you do not have a FERPA passcode, contact your student.


End-of-spring 2014 residence hall move-out

Students must check out of their rooms within 24 hours after their last exam, and no later than noon on Thursday, May 15, if they are not directly involved with the commencement ceremony. Graduating students, those directly involved in commencement, or those who have a member of the immediate family graduating should ask for a late check-out. Students must log in and submit their reason for late check-out.

Students who live in buildings used for commencement housing have been receiving notices and visits from Housing and Residence Life staff to check their end-of-semester status, departure plans, and involvement with commencement. This is done so that we can maximize the amount of space we have available for our commencement guests staying in the residence halls.

Residence halls will close for all students, except those holding 12-month housing contracts in Donaldson-Brown Graduate Life Center, at noon on Sunday, May 18.


More on move-out

The university has a full page of information you might find helpful when it comes to moving out and leaving Blacksburg.


Summer sessions credited for being a graduation game changer

With the start of the 2014 Summer Sessions just a little more than a month away, there is still time to finalize academic plans and secure a seat in the range of courses offered. Summer Sessions feature two, six-week sessions (Summer I and II); along with special mini-sessions, including courses offered on campus and at a distance (including study abroad experiences).

Summer Session I spans May 27 through July 3, followed by Summer Session II, which runs July 8 through August 16. The last day to add classes for Summer Sessions I is May 29 and the last day to add classes for Summer Sessions II is July 10. Visit the Summer Sessions website to view the entire academic calendar.

“Summer session is a true graduation game changer for many students, allowing them to graduate on time, or often ahead of schedule,” notes Michael Herndon, director of summer and winter sessions. “It also helps students who are double-majoring or want to add a minor.”

General education and high-demand courses are typically offered during summer session. This gives students the opportunity to enroll in these courses that typically fill up quickly during the fall and spring semesters.

 “One of the things that students find most appealing about summer courses is the ability to have that dedicated focus on the subject matter, as students can earn up to 12 credits over the course of both summer sessions,” adds Herndon. Review the course highlights to see a snapshot of courses offered.

Watch one student’s thoughts on Summer Sessions 2014.

Visit the Summer Sessions website or contact Michael Herndon at mherndon@vt.edu or 540-231-1832 to learn more about summer opportunities.


‘In the Loop’ podcast: Summer Sessions

This edition of ‘In the Loop’ focuses on summer sessions at Virginia Tech. Director Michael Herndon talks about how students can make summer sessions an important part of their plan for academic success, whether online or in person. And by the way, summers in Blacksburg can be lots of fun!

‘In the Loop’ is produced specifically for the Hokie Family E-news by Virginia Tech University Relations. ‘In the Loop’ addresses topics of interest to Hokie families. You can listen to previous editions of the podcasts at the ‘In the Loop’ archives.


Summer Housing and Dining

We are excited to announce that summer 2014 on-campus housing costs are the same as summer 2013.  Summer is a great time to be in Blacksburg and to either catch-up or get ahead in your studies. Students considering attending summer sessions at Virginia Tech can sign up for housing and dining  (on-campus). Off-campus students wanting to add a dining plan may either email hokiepassport@vt.edu or visit Hokie Passport Services at 100 Student Services Building to submit a summer dining plan request. On-campus residents will have their dining plans added using the housing/dining contract above.


Off-Campus Housing – resources to help find off-campus roommates

As students start to prepare for next year, some may find themselves with unoccupied rooms in a property they are renting. This may occur for a number of reasons. Sometimes a roommate does not return, a lease is signed without all rooms filled, or other circumstances change.  This can be a stressful situation when a student is left wondering how to pay that portion of the rent. 

The Off-Campus Housing office provides resources to assist students with finding roommates and advertising vacant space. The Off-Campus Housing website has a roommate feature that allows users to create profiles and search profiles that have been created by others. The profile can be linked to a Facebook account and can be made as secure or open as one would like. There is also a message board; if the room available is a sublet it may be posted on the message board as well. Many students will utilize the Off-Campus Housing Facebook page to post when they are in search of a roommate, or a room. Utilizing all of these services may increase the likelihood of finding a roommate, and filling a vacant room. 

If the lease is a joint property lease, it is highly recommended that all parties fill out a roommate agreement. This agreement is a legally binding contract, and can help share responsibilities and avoid potential conflict. A sample roommate agreement can be found in the Off-Campus Housing office, located at the Welcome Center of Squires Student Center.

As always, the Off-Campus Housing office can be reached at vtoch@vt.edu.


Career Services – summer “to do list”

Where did the academic year go?  The summer is almost here, and while we want our students to enjoy their time away from Virginia Tech, here is a list of items to help them prepare for their return in the fall.

1. Are they traveling?  Encourage students to take their resume with them. 
They never know who they may meet while they are on the road. Now is the perfect time to update a resume, or if they don’t have one, create it! They may visit the resume guide for assistance.

2.  Is their summer job already lined up? Encourage them to add a volunteer experience to their schedule.  
In the spirit of Ut Prosim (That I May Serve), they can give back to the community, develop skills, and expand their network. Employers love to see volunteer experience on resumes.

3.  Students can research what to do with their major after they graduate. 
Here are some great sites to get started:

4.  Remind students that networking can occur even when they’re having fun! 
Someone they meet during the summer might be able to help them explore career options. Does your student have a LinkedIn account? There are more than 112,000 Hokies on LinkedIn! Visit the links below to learn more about networking, online presence, and how creating a LinkedIn profile can be helpful to them.

5.  Now is the time for students to get ready for their fall job search. 
Visit Hokies4Hire on the Career Services website to upload a resume and view job listings.

6. Summer is also a great time to go shopping for an interview suit! 
There is more time to search for just the right attire and make any alterations necessary.


Dining Services and Hokie Passport information

Spring 2014 Dining Plans & Rollover Balances: All initial spring 2014 dining plan funds and any rollover dining plan funds must be spent by Wednesday, May 14 at 8:00 p.m. to avoid forfeiture. If your student has funds remaining, they may want to consider donating a portion of the remaining funds to Flex Out Hunger, a partnership with Dining Services and the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity that donates the proceeds to local food charities. Last year, almost $20,000 was collected for the cause. Representatives from Sigma Alpha Epsilon will be stationed at tables outside of the dining centers during the last few weeks of the semester.

Flex Additions will carry from semester to semester as long as the student has one of the three major dining plans, otherwise they will revert to Dining Dollars. Hokie Passport funds and Dining Dollars will remain on a student’s account until graduation or formal separation from Virginia Tech.

Graduating Students: Upon graduation, students may be eligible for a refund of Hokie Passport/Dining Dollars/Flex Additions accounts. The university will refund the remaining credit balance on the accounts less a $15.00 refund-processing fee per account. This refund will be credited to the student’s account at the office of the University Bursar.

Commencement Meals: Dining Services will offer commencement meals on Friday, May 16 and Saturday, May 17. All graduating seniors with an active dining plan will receive a free meal at D2 for breakfast, lunch and dinner on Friday and brunch on Saturday. Parents and guests are welcome and may pay via cash or credit/debit card. Hours are available online.

Fall 2014 Dining Plans: Sign-up for fall 2014 dining plans through HokieSpa begins Sunday, June 1. Prices will be released online once they are approved. On-campus students will default to the Major Flex plan but may change their dining plan (between Major, Mega, and Premium Flex) during the sign-up period. Is your student moving off-campus next year? More than 70 percent of off-campus students at Virginia Tech purchase a dining plan – that’s more than10,000 off-campus dining plans each year. The university offers these students the same great plans available to on-campus students plus a few additional plans designed for the off-campus lifestyle. Check out the options by visiting the Virginia Tech Dining website.

Visit the Hokie Passport website, email them hokiepassport@vt.edu or, call Hokie Passport Services at 540-231-5121 if you have questions or need additional information. For questions regarding dining center hours of operation, please visit the Virginia Tech Dining website or contact Dining Services at (540) 231-3933.


Schiffert Health Center – summer health reminders

Skin Health and Safety Tips: Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States. Most cases of melanoma, the deadliest kind of skin cancer, are caused by exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light.

To lower your skin cancer risk, protect your skin from the sun and avoid indoor tanning. CDC recommends these easy options—

  • Stay in the shade, especially during midday hours.
  • Wear clothing that covers your arms and legs.
  • Wear a hat with a wide brim.
  • Wear sunglasses that block both UVA and UVB rays.
  • Use sunscreen with SPF 15 or higher and both UVA and UVB protection.
  • Avoid indoor tanning

For more information please visit the CDC website.


Say “thank you” to a Virginia Tech teacher

Do you know a teacher at Virginia Tech who has:

  • Challenged your student’s view of the world?
  • Taught your student something new and inspiring?
  • Encouraged and taken an active interest in your student’s learning?

As the academic year comes to a close, do you want to say thanks? We can help. Thanking a teacher is easy with the Center for Instructional Development and Educational Research (CIDER) Thank a Teacher program. Simply fill out our online form, including one or two sentences expressing your appreciation, and we'll send your student’s professor, instructor, or graduate teaching assistant a thank you note. You can even do it anonymously. Visit the Thank a Teacher website.


Save the date: Fall Family Weekend will take place October 3 – 5, 2014

All Virginia Tech family members are invited to attend Fall Family Weekend. During the weekend, parents and family members will have an opportunity to experience student life and attend events coordinated by New Student and Family Programs. This exciting weekend of events is designed for Hokie families to connect with one another, become more familiar with campus, and spend time with their students. Registration will open Tuesday, August 5, 2014. More details will be available soon.


Want even more news about Virginia Tech?

Virginia Tech News and Information offers a daily email that serves as your connection to the latest Virginia Tech news and information. Delivered overnight, Monday through Friday, it includes the latest news, campus notices, events, and Blacksburg weather forecast, with extensive links to the Virginia Tech News website for detailed coverage. The student edition email is distributed every Wednesday during the academic year to all Virginia Tech students. Faculty, staff, parents, alumni, family, friends, and those interested in receiving either the daily or weekly email can subscribe online.

The Facebook and Twitter icons on the top right side of this web page will connect you to the Division of Student Affairs social media pages. Join in the lively conversation and find out what is happening on campus each day. In the same spot, you can also check out current and past editions of the ‘In the Loop’ podcast, produced specifically for Virginia Tech families.


 

Do you have comments or suggestions for future issues of Hokie Family E-news? Send them to DSA New Student and Family Programs.