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Liberty Insider

Friday, August 21, 2015

5 Ways to Start the Semester off Right

Tamela Crickenberger
Executive Director, LUO Enrollment

You are looking forward to learning something new and have the desire to do well, but the uncertainty of what you will face once you are in the course has you a little concerned.  Does this sound like you?  If so, I have a few strategies that should help you get moving in the right direction.

  1. Thoroughly read your welcome announcement(s), course syllabus and course schedule.  One of the most important announcements your professor will post is the welcome announcement.  In the announcement, your professor will outline what you should do first and his/her expectations.  Professors have different preferences.  It is important to understand how your professor wants things done as these preferences will vary from course-to-course.  By understanding professor preferences, this will help increase your ability to be successful.
    The syllabus is the blueprint for your course.  It tells you what the course is about, what you will learn and the materials you will use, and what assignments need to be completed.  The course schedule outlines what assignments are due when so that you can complete the next step, preparing a schedule.
  2. Prepare a schedule.  Using a monthly calendar, write down any events that you know are happening over the next 8 weeks.  Do you have any birthdays, going out of town, babysitting your sister’s children?  Make sure you document events that will be taking your time, including your usual daily activities such as work, family and church commitments.  Once you document your commitments, identify open time slots to complete your coursework. It is important to note when “big” assignments are due, such as papers.  Make sure you incorporate plenty of time in your schedule for research, writing, and editing the assignment.
    If you would like additional help with creating a schedule, check out this video. 
  3. Complete your reading assignments first.  The best way to stay ahead is to complete your reading assignments first so that you are able to complete the assignment with understanding. When I was in school, I would take my books everywhere with me so if I have a few stolen moments, such as in the waiting room at the doctor’s office, I could get ahead on the reading.  
    If you have ordered your textbooks and they have not arrived as of the first day of classes, communicate with your professor as soon as possible to make arrangements.
  4. Determine what professional writing style is required for your course.  Writing style will vary based upon the course you are completing.  Your course syllabus and assignment instructions will outline which writing style is required—APA, MLA, Turabian, or another.  Understanding how to properly format writing assignments in the correct writing style can significantly affect your assignment outcomes.
    The Jerry Falwell Library offers a series of webinars each sub-term and free access to EndNote, a citation tool, which will help you format your papers.  Additionally, there are writing style resources on the Online Writing Center web page.
  5. Have a talk with your family.  It is important that the time you set aside for study and assignment completion is as distraction-free as possible.  When I was completing my last degree, I gave my family my study schedule. I asked them to support me by allowing me to have that time without interruption.  If my daughter walked into my study space and she wasn’t bleeding or otherwise incapacitated, I would give her “the eye” and she would leave.  Many things will vie for your time, even good things, but to be successful you really do have to be disciplined when it comes to protecting your study time.

I hope these 5 tips will help you start your semester off well!  Share your course success strategies with your fellow students by posting to Liberty Landing and including #LUOstudyskills in your post.

Postedby Rebecca Eller at 9:24 AM | Permalink

Friday, August 7, 2015

Why Are There So Many Citation Styles?

by Tess Stockslager

Director, Center for Writing and Languages

Although I think we can all agree that APA, Turabian, and MLA can be tricky to learn, there are logical reasons why all papers aren’t documented and formatted the same way.  This post will give you a brief introduction to the differences among the three major citation styles used at Liberty.

APA (American Psychological Association)

  • Used in psychology and counseling, as well as other social science-related fields such as education, nursing, business, sport management, and (sometimes) communications.
  • Because these fields value up-to-date sources, APA citations prominently feature the publication year.  Sources in these fields tend to have many authors, which is one reason why you’ll never use an author’s first name in APA—using just the initials saves space. Another reason is to avoid gender bias, a big deal in social science.
  • Finally, papers in these disciplines tend to follow a predictable organization pattern—literature review, methodology, results, etc.—which explains APA’s strict format for section headings.

Turabian style

  • An adaptation of Chicago style, which is used in many books.  Turabian is used primarily in religion and history courses, and its distinctive feature is footnotes. 
  • Appealing to a recognized authority is crucial in these fields, and footnotes allow the reader of a paper to glance down to the bottom of a page and see that authority cited.
  • Using up-to-date sources is less important in these fields than it is in APA, so when citing, the date is given less prominence.  On the other hand, you are more likely to quote in a Turabian paper than you are in an APA paper, so the page number where material is found is prioritized—in fact, a page number is included in every footnote.

MLA (Modern Language Association) style

  • Generally used only in English, foreign language, and some communications courses.  Nevertheless, many students are familiar with MLA because they learned it in high school or introductory college writing courses.
  • One reason MLA is so often taught is that it’s a simple, no-frills documentation style—no extra pages (e.g., table of contents, title page).
  • MLA has one major aspect in common with APA: it uses parenthetical citations instead of footnotes.  But when it comes to listing the references, MLA has more in common with Turabian.
  • Once again, the year isn’t that important; for example, in a literary analysis paper, all your sources might be over 100 years old.  Quoting, on the other hand, is extremely common in English papers (have you ever tried to put a poem in your own words?), so it’s crucial to include the page number in all parenthetical citations.

Chances are, you’ll use only one of these styles in your major, but you may be required to use others in your general education classes.  It’s good to have a basic familiarity with all of them.  For more in-depth information on citing sources, visit the Center for Writing and Languages resource page.

Postedby Rebecca Eller at 9:11 AM | Permalink

Friday, July 31, 2015

Developing the Art of the Thank You Note

by Mark Hager
Internship Coordinator, The Washington Fellowship

Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings. - William Arthur Ward

Few actions in our current digital age mean more than a good old fashioned hand written thank you. It really surprises me at just how many people neglect this simple act. Obviously, it takes much less effort and thought to simply send an email. The ease of digital platforms have made us impersonal causing a deficiency in genuine personal relationships.

One question that I hear often from students seeking a career change is, “how do I set myself apart and make a positive impression?” Whether it is after an interview or visit, I always ask if they followed up with a hand written note of gratitude. The note must be professional, legible, addressed correctly, and most importantly; genuine!

I have the humbling privilege of spending time in Washington DC, working with Capitol Hill offices, corporations, not-for-profits, federal agencies, and many more. These experiences have given me the chance to witness firsthand, the power of a hand written thank you note. I make it a point to write a personal thank you to everyone I meet while traveling. Some responses I see immediately, while others I may never see. But that’s ok! Expressing genuine thanks does as much for your spiritual and physical life, as it does for the recipient.

Thank you notes yield so much power to set you apart from the masses! A personal note shows:

  • That you invested the time to connect in a tangible way.
  • A financial investment; because a simple digital email would have been faster and more cost effective!
  • Your genuine and sincere care for people, something that is difficult to measure.

Recently, I received an email from my counterpart at a well-known national news agency. I work very closely with this individual, and routinely communicate with her. Over the past several years she has worked with students and members of our team in various capacities. After I personally met this amazing individual, I sent her a personal note. In that note, I spoke to her passion and kindness. I thanked her for all that she does, and reminded her how much she personally matters to myself, and our team. Within the week I received a hand written note from her, expressing her appreciation and enjoyment from our visit! Several weeks later, after many interactions with Liberty University, she sent me a very special email. In it, I noticed a phrased she had used, “what do you put in the water at LibertyJ.”

The message here is; when you are consumed with Christ, hope and joy inevitably create a lifestyle of contentment and thankfulness! So, be sure to build lasting and effective relationships by investing in the lives of people through genuine thankfulness. Through it, you will be changing lives; one note at a time!

“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, and give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” - 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18  

Postedby Rebecca Eller at 8:01 AM | Permalink

Friday, July 24, 2015

Ten Ways to Stay Motivated to Workout

by Jamie Swyers 

Associate Director, LaHaye Recreation and Fitness Center

If you’ve ever started a workout routine only to have forgotten about it a month later, you may be looking for a way to stay motivated. Here are 10 steps to help you achieve your fitness goals- by sticking to it for the long haul. 

  1. Set goals: Decide what you would like to accomplish, and then create specific, measurable, action-oriented, realistic and time bound goals. It helps to make sure your goals not only include outcome goals (i.e. weight loss), but also performance goals (i.e. your ability to do a push-up), or behavioral goals (i.e. go to the gym three days per week). Having a variety of measures will increase your chances of success.
  2. Create a plan of action: A plan is the path that will bring your dreams to reality.  A good place to start is to create three manageable tasks that will bring you closer to your goals.
  3. Find something you enjoy: Make sure whatever type of exercise that you are performing is fun.  You want to find working out enjoyable whether you are going to a group exercise class, playing in a sports league, or hiking.  If you look forward to the activity most of the time you will inevitably be more motivated to make it happen.
  4. Watch your self-talk: Self talk includes the thoughts, either conscious or subconscious, that you have about your own behavior and self-worth. If your thoughts about yourself are not a healthy balance of both positive and constructive criticism, you may be inadvertently sabotaging your belief in your ability to achieve your goal.  
  5. Watch out for all or nothing thinking: Start slow- don’t try to do everything at once.  If you haven’t run since high school, starting off by signing up for a marathon is asking for an injury.  If you miss a day (or a few), don’t throw in the towel because some is definitely better than none.
  6. Create a reminder system: Put your workouts on your calendar or write your goals on Post-It notes and place them where you can see them. Having reminders will help keep you focused during the busy seasons of life.
  7. Make it a habit: Give yourself time to develop new habits. If you can get through the initial discomfort of change in the first few months, it will get easier.
  8. Have a workout partner: Meeting a friend for a workout will increase your accountability and make the exercise more enjoyable. It’s a great way to combine your fitness and social time.
  9. Work with a professional: It is extremely beneficial to enlist the help of a qualified professional when possible. Not only will a fitness professional help you develop a customized workout routine, but they can assist you in the goal setting process and increase your level of accountability.
  10. Pray: Ask God to give you strength to care for his temple, and allow him to use the journey as part of your spiritual growth.  When you realize that we often grow the most through challenges, it becomes clear that God can teach us so much through the struggle to change old habits that may have more control over our lives than we initially thought.  
Postedby Rebecca Eller at 3:28 PM | Permalink

Friday, July 17, 2015 to Swim in the Deep End

by Zachary Woolard 

Lead Academic Advisor, Liberty University Online

Considered by many to be the eighth wonder of the world, nothing overcomes the doldrums of summer days like a trip to the public pool. Skipping the mandatory shower and shirking any sunscreen, as a child I always made a bee line to the diving board, anxious to repeat the joyous cycle of summer: running start, double bounce, hold your breath, SPLASH!

Online education is akin to jumping in the deep end—exciting right up until you realize the water is over your head. A tenacious spirit is a common defining trait of our students. Yet many face seemingly insurmountable academic challenges as they press towards completing their degree. Adjusting to life in the deep end, they reach out for someone to throw them a lifeline, to come alongside and support them as they master the skills needed to succeed.

Liberty University Online is proud to offer just such a lifeline to our students. Through a partnership with, Liberty offers free online tutoring and career assistance to all our online students. Each semester active students receive an allotment of 20 hours of tutoring services—free of charge. Students are able to connect with tutors in an easy-to-use online classroom. Tailored to meet the needs of busy schedules, tutoring services are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. offers support in over 40 different subjects within the realms of math, science, English, and social studies. Some of the most common subjects utilized by our students include:

  • Essay Writing, Proofreading, & Literature
  • Accounting, Finance, & Economics
  • Biology & Earth Science
  • U.S. & World History
  • Algebra & Statistics

Students who use frequently share just how beneficial the service has been to them. The comments below are just a few highlights from your fellow Liberty University Online students:

  • “I am 35 year old mom, going to college for the first time and this was my first paper. My tutor made me feel much more confident.”
  • “My tutor was not only helpful but also patient with me. Not only did he help me to solve the statistics problems, but also to figure out where I make most of my major mistakes.”
  • “This service has truly been a godsend to me and has helped alleviate stress. I am thankful for the kindness and encouragement that I've received.”
  • “My tutor is very knowledgeable. He was very patient with me and took the time to break down the formulas in my finance course. I look forward to working with him again.”

As an online student aspiring to teach high school science, I know firsthand how invaluable the resources at can be. Through the constant support and encouragement, I am learning how to swim, without which, I would surely still be floundering in a sea of organic chemistry.

Visit our webpage for information on how to sign in to and request help from a tutor.

Postedby Rebecca Eller at 8:31 AM | Permalink

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