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Online Degrees

Part of Western Governors University

January 19, 2016

Mentor advice for new students.

Mineta Wilde portrait

At WGU, each student is assigned a personal faculty member to work with them as a mentor throughout their time at WGU. Additionally, each course has its own course mentors, subject-matter experts who are available to help students get through course material. Advice from your mentors is invaluable as you make your way through your online degree program. But we also want you to benefit from the wisdom of mentors not necessarily assigned to you, so occasionally, The Night Owl features advice from WGU mentors in colleges throughout the university.

By Mineta Wilde
Student Mentor, WGU Teachers College Graduate Degree Programs

I've worked at WGU for 5½ years as a student mentor in the M.Ed. and M.S. Curriculum and Instruction graduate programs.

Here are my suggestions for being a successful student:

Utilize an electronic note-taking system. 

My personal favorite is OneNote from Microsoft. It is part of the Microsoft Office Suite and is available for PC and Mac. There is a free download at There are tutorials on—login from the WGU library—on how to use all of the features of OneNote. One of the great features is that you can use it on any computer or device. You can have anywhere, anytime access for all of your notes. OneNote can do screenshots and save whole files within its pages. If you copy and paste something, OneNote keeps track of where that information came from so you could click on it and go back to the original source. Don't know how I ever kept track of anything before using this resource. My college son says that the best advice I ever gave him was to use OneNote—and he just finished a term with all A's. Check out OneNote!

Start with the end in mind. 

When you start a new performance assessment course, copy the assessment instructions and the rubric directly into OneNote. Read through the course objectives and the assessment requirements. By knowing what you have to do to pass the course, you will focus on that content when you are utilizing the resources. Then, when you are reading through the COS, you can add thoughts and ideas for writing the assessment—RIGHT ON THE ASSESSMENT INSTRUCTIONS—as you are going through the resources. Wiggins had it right when he developed the Backwards Design Theory. Know where you are going and it makes it easier to get there!

Use the features of a good word processor. 

Sometimes performance assessments require a table of contents or APA formatted reference page. Did you know that a good word processor can automatically create those items if you set the document up properly? A good word processor can help you with formatting headings. Learn to use the features available— has videos to help you. Styles are WONDERFUL and so easy to use! If you are using Microsoft Word, there is a properly formatted APA template available to get you started. Also, the WGU Writing Center can help with APA questions.

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