Conquer The College Application Process

Park University hosted the first of three “Get On Board” days on April 11, welcoming incoming freshmen of the Class of 2018 to campus to take care of a lot of the final steps in the college application process. But it was just the culmination of a long process, equal parts unnerving and exhilarating. Students run a daunting gauntlet of deadlines, ACT tests, application essays, campus visits and life-changing decisions. Parents walk the line that separates encouragement and support from hovering and hounding.

Admissions office staff at Park University in Parkville, Mo., high school students, Park students and a parent recently weighed in on what they’ve learned from their journey into the Land of the Most Amazing College Application Process Ever. Here are some of their tips to help students and parents survive (spoiler alert: it’s not all scary):

1. Start Early
Admissions professionals encourage students to start looking at colleges their freshman year of high school. According to Katherine Springston, assistant director of daytime admissions at Park, students should not only take classes that will best prepare them for college but be cognizant of their GPA and its role in winning scholarships. “By the junior year, it’s time to get serious and narrow down the list of potential schools,” she said.

2. Diversify Your List
Anna Menninger, a Park sophomore from Platte City, Mo., recalls that her list of six potential colleges included institutions large, small, public and private. “You need a mix. You might think you like one thing and then discover you don’t,” she said. She chose Park when she realized she preferred small. “My friends in high school went to big schools, but after two visits to Park, I knew it was the right choice for me.”

3. Keep an Open Mind
High school senior Haley Weatherford of Lee’s Summit, Mo., was intent on “getting out of Missouri” for college. But then she attended a local college fair where she met a Park representative. “What really knocked my socks off was that Park didn’t talk to me like I was a potential recruit but because I was Haley and they liked me,” she said. “The rep asked me to fill out a card ‘because I want to know you.’”
Contrary to her original intent, Weatherford ended up applying only to Park. She also received a scholarship covering tuition and housing for four years and a study abroad stipend.

4. Know What’s Important
Students should make a list of what’s important, students who’ve been there say. On-campus housing, small classes, close to home? Athletics, access to public transportation and shopping?
“The role of Admissions counselors is to really understand applicants,” Springston said. “It’s not just about the GPA but about the fit. At Park we look for students who see the potential in themselves and are motivated to get involved in campus life.”

5. Ask Questions
Students sometimes fail to ask questions, especially if they’re the first members of their family to attend college. “If a student doesn’t feel like asking an admissions counselor, they should ask their high school guidance counselor,” Springston said. “They’re going to need a little extra bit of help, especially with financial aid processes. My advice? Use the resources around you.”

Check out the gallery of photos from our first Get On Board day for a taste of what it’s like. And make sure you come back next week as we bring you the rest of our top ten tips to making the college application process the best time of your life!


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Writing Competency Test To Have New “Pirate” Requirement

Starting today, April 1, Park University has announced the Writing Competency Test will be required to be written in “Pirate English.” The test is designed to ensure students know how to structure, cite and write essays and research papers, and is a graduation requirement for all students.

Emily Donnelli-Sallee, Ph.D., interim dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and associate professor of English, said, “Standard edited English is a barnacle from which students need to be freed. I fully support Park’s move to require students to write in Pirate-ese on the Writing Competency Test. This requirement will not only build dialectical flexibility but also prepare students for high-demand careers in the seafaring professions.”

Park University administrators concur that because of the popularity of Facebook’s option to have a user’s newsfeed in “Pirate-ese” and because the University has a pirate as a mascot, it only made sense that students learn how to properly write and speak “Pirate.” This also ties into Park’s Promise to prepare students for a global society and be ready to properly “gab” during International Talk Like A Pirate Day, which this year will be celebrated on Friday, Sept. 19.

Upon learning of the new requirements, Park’s mascot Sir George was at a loss for words and had tears in his eyes, only providing a “thumbs up” gesture in appreciation.

Photo of Park's Mascot, Sir George, giving a thumbs-up.

Park University’s mascot, Sir George, expresses his approval for the recently announced change to Park’s Writing Competency Test. (Credit – Park University)

The Closing Remarks I Did Not Deliver

Last night, Park University welcomed Dr. Robert Jervis, Adlai E. Stevenson Professor of International Politics at Columbia University, to Kansas City for the 22nd Annual Dr. Jerzy Hauptmann Distinguished Guest Lecture. Unfortunately, following Dr. Jervis’ remarks, a small portion of the program was missed. We wanted to invite Erik Bergrud (’94) to share his remarks. Erik serves as associate vice president for constituent engagement at Park University, and worked for Dr. Hauptmann from 1992-98.

So a funny thing happened at the end of Wednesday night’s Dr. Jerzy Hauptmann Distinguished Guest Lecture at the Kansas City Central Public Library. I was set to deliver closing remarks, but following an abbreviated question and answer session with speaker Robert Jervis, the audience began filing out. Without anyone remaining to hear me, I slowly departed as well.

I had not prepared formal remarks but would like to express what Dr. Hauptmann would think about the evening’s events were he still alive.

I told Dr. Jervis that Dr. Hauptmann would have relished the opportunity to discuss Francis Fukuyama’s The End of History and the Last Man, cited in the lecture and a required textbook for Park MPA students in the early 1990s. Dr. Hauptmann would have been honored to have his name associated with Dr. Jervis.

Dr. Hauptmann would have been proud to know that three organizations, to which he had a powerful connection, co-sponsored the event.

Finally, he would have been amazed to see such a large turnout at the lecture. When he and I staged the inaugural lecture on the Parkville campus in 1993, we frankly did not know what to expect. We did not anticipate the growth of the lecture series, now in its 22nd year.

I want to thank:

  • Park President Michael Droge for his continued support;
  • Hauptmann School Dean Laurie DiPadova-Stocks and MPA Program Director Becky Stuteville for their tremendous stewardship of the lecture series; and
  • Vice President of University Advancement Laurie McCormack who had the vision to partner with the Kansas City Public Library four years ago, dramatically expanding the series’ visibility and audience.

While listening to Dr. Jervis, I sat next to Natalie Hauptmann, granddaughter of my mentor and the series’ namesake, who now works at the university her grandfather served so honorably for 52 years. The values and principles which Dr. Hauptmann passionately upheld live on in Natalie, the Dr. Jerzy Hauptmann Distinguished Guest Lecture, the Hauptmann School of Public Affairs, and his beloved Park. Fides et labor, my teacher.

Panoramic picture of lecture audience.

A large crowd attended the 22nd Annual Dr. Jerzy Hauptmann Distinguished Guest Lecture on Wednesday evening.


Financial Literacy Center Makes Tax Time Easy For Students

If you’ve been walking around the Parkville campus the past few days, you’ve probably heard that there will be a FREE Income Tax Preparation Day at Park University next week. While the April 15th date still carries a bit of foreboding reputation, it doesn’t have to be something that intimidates or confuses you. In fact, income tax returns can be a student’s best friend. It can help pay for future education expenses or be used to purchase transportation or a computer. And here is a novel idea: it can be put in savings or used to pay back your student loans early. Regardless of how you spend it, it’s nice to receive a chunk of change from Uncle Sam. Taking advantage of the various Education Credits that exist for students only fattens the amount.

Outside of refunds, income tax season represents another important piece of the financial planning pie for students. The federal income tax return is the main document students will use to file their 2014-2015 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The earlier you file your FAFSA, the better, because it opens access to more sources of free funding. Sources like the Missouri Access Grant (April 1st Deadline), Perkins Loans, Supplemental Opportunity Grants, and Work Study are all limited funding resources whose availability is dependent on how early you file your FAFSA – which you can only do after you’ve filed an income tax return.

This can cause some confusion for many students because they don’t know if they need to file an income tax return or not. This is largely due to the fact that students, traditional ones especially, don’t earn much money and are claimed as dependents on their parent’s tax returns. While the threshold for legally filing a tax return is $10,000 in earnings, it may be to your advantage to file a tax return even if you have made significantly less than that amount. The combination of education credits, tuition and fees deductions, student loan interest deductions, scholarships, work study earnings, etc., can make it well worth your time. For a traditional student, the decision to file or not should be explored with their family and tax questions should be referred to a professional service.

As a Park student, you’re lucky, as you will have a professional service at your disposal at Park University’s Tax Preparation Day. Qualified tax representatives will be on site to help students complete and file their 2013 Federal tax returns, as well as to answer any questions students might have regarding taxes. Join us between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. on March 25th and 26th in Mabee Learning Center Room 600. This is a free service hosted by the Financial Literacy Center and the generous support of NextStepKC. As an added bonus, students who RSVP by 03/21/14 and attend a session will be entered into a drawing for a $50.00 Target Gift Card.

For more information about education credits and benefits that exist for students, visit the IRS Tax Benefits for Education: Information Center website.

Staff Profile – Jackie Campbell

Park has nearly 700 full-time faculty and staff members, all sharing a commitment to Park’s Promise. Each of them has a story to tell, and as we wrap up Spring Break we’d like to introduce you to Jackie Campbell. Currently in her sixth year at Park, Jackie started as an administrative assistant and now serves as the Assistant MBA Director for Park University’s School of Business. She also holds a master’s degree in healthcare administration from Park.

To learn more about our Pirate Profiles series, contact John Roushkolb, Social Media Manager at

Helping You Tell YOUR Story

The world is filled with stories, great and small. You may not fancy yourself the next George R. R. Martin, J. K. Rowling, Stephen King or Danielle Steel, but the Department of English and Modern Languages at Park University can help you develop your idea into a publication-ready manuscript.

The Graduate Certificate in Creative and Life Writing is a year-long online program designed to help storytellers learn the craft of writing. An undergraduate degree is required for admission, but no particular field of study is necessary. Whether you’ve got an English Literature degree or a Mechanical Engineering degree, this program will be a fit for you.

Comprised of four courses over a one-year period, the CCLW will take students through a process to learn the craft of writing. Instead of focusing on hitting a certain number of words over a short span without real concern for developing quality or a personal voice, this program will offer a supportive and constructive community for the continuous improvement of the author’s storytelling ability.

The four-course online program begins with an introductory course for all students, whether they are interested in fiction or nonfiction writing. The course sets the foundation for the genre-specific courses that follow, where students will focus on the techniques specific to their preferred genre of writing. The final course covers the final touches necessary to prepare a publication-ready work.

Applications for the first cohort of this program are being accepted until March 15. For more information, visit the program website or contact Brian Shawver, MFA, Chair of the Department of English.

An International Flavor

We hope you are all enjoying the Winter Olympics. The pinnacle of athletic competition, watched by millions of people worldwide, the games draw nearly 3,000 competitors from 88 different nations. With more than 600 international students, Park University doesn’t have quite the depth of representation, but with students representing 103 countries, we have a slightly broader footprint. Among the top ten countries (aside from the United States) by student representation at Park, only two (Saudi Arabia and Micronesia) have never competed in the Winter Olympics.

A few other notes about Park’s international flavor:
- Our Parkville campus is home to just over half (57 percent) of our international student population.
- Kenya, China, Mexico and Brazil have been most consistent among the top-ten, with Mexico ranked either second or third for the past four years. Additionally, neither Kenya nor China has been ranked lower than fourth since 2010.
- Saudi Arabia is currently the most-represented country among Park’s international student population.
- Park’s International Student Admissions and Services office hosts the “Coming To America” series, sharing the culture – and more importantly, cuisine – of the various nations from which Park’s students hail.
- Park hosts one of only three Person To Person International University Chapters in the United States. Oklahoma City University and Rutgers University are the only other schools in the country to sponsor a chapter at the institutional level.