FAQ for STUDENTS

What else do you need to know?

Check back often for updates and new information.

When do classes start this fall?


Cal U has adjusted its academic calendar for the Fall 2020 semester.

Classes start on August 24. There are no classes on September 7 (Labor Day) and November 24-27 (Thanksgiving break); classes resume Nov. 30.

Classes end December 4. Final exams will be held December 7-11.

How do I get started using online learning tools like D2L and ZOOM?

This page has information for students about the D2L Brightspace learning tool, including how to find your courses, student help videos, and a useful D2L Brightspace Student Orientation.

The page also has tips for video assignments and using ZOOM web conferencing technology.

What is remote learning? How is it different from online courses?
 

Most online courses are “asynchronous,” so you can complete assignments on your own schedule each week. In contrast, remote learning is real-time instruction – you and your classmates will participate in classes at a scheduled day and time, usually through Zoom.

Think of remote learning as a virtual classroom where you, your classmates and your professor meet on a regular schedule to engage in teaching and learning.

How will I know if my class is “online” or “remote learning”?
 

Online classes will be asynchronous (you complete assignments on your own schedule) and delivered through D2L/Brightspace, our learning management system. These are courses are identified on your schedule with either “G” or “W” as the first character in the section code. 

Remote learning classes will be synchronous (you and your classmates meet with the instructor at an assigned day and time) and held using Zoom. These courses are identified on your schedule with "R” as the first character in the section code. You will also note that the building is identified as “REMOTE.”

Are all remote learning classes held using Zoom?
 

Zoom web conferencing technology will be used for most real-time remote learning. Zoom is easy for most people to use. Learn how to log in with the Zoom app here.

Will my remote classes be held at the same time and day(s) each week?


Yes, real-time remote learning is a lot like on-campus classes – you, your classmates and your professor get together at the same time and day(s) each week.

I haven’t heard from my professor. What should I do?

Email your professor directly. (Use the “People Finder” at the bottom of the Cal U homepage to find email addresses for faculty and staff.) If the faculty member does not respond within a few days, contact the department chairperson.

What if I don’t have internet access at home?


Check in with your local internet provider. Some companies are providing internet access free or at a reduced rate during this national emergency.

What if my computer doesn’t meet minimum requirements?


A limited number of “loaner” laptops are available from UTech Services. Students who need to borrow a laptop for the Fall 2020 semester may email eichelberger@calu.edu to request an application.

Will I be required to use Respondus Lockdown Browser for quizzes or tests?

You may be required to use Respondus Lockdown Browser for major exams. Watch for more information on this topic.

Is the UTech Helpdesk open?


The UTech Helpdesk is available from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Friday. Staff are working remotely, so an email to UTechRequests@calu.edu is the most efficient way to reach the Helpdesk. The phone number is 724-938-5911.

Before you email or phone, see if one of our UTech Tutorials can answer your technology question.

 

What if I need textbooks or other academic resources?


The Cal U Bookstore will be processing orders online daily and shipping items to students’ homes. You can visit the campus store website at: www.calupa.bkstr.com  

Financial aid can be used online to purchase required course materials and academic supplies – including laptops and other technology to support remote learning – from August 3 to August 31. The Bookstore Authorization form is no longer required.  

Cal U Bookstore staff will be available by phone (724-938-4324) from 8 a.m.-2 p.m. weekdays and by email (nash@calu.edu) any time to answer questions and assist with online ordering.

I don’t have a computer. What can I do?
 

University Technology Services (UTech) has a limited number of laptops that can be borrowed for short-term use. To request a “loaner” laptop, email eichelberger@calu.edu.

I need to do some research. Is the library open?


Library database resources are available 24/7 via the library’s website for assigned research papers and other assignments. You can also schedule librarian research assistance and chat with a librarian. Check the library website for hours. 

Can I borrow books or other physical materials from the library?


Yes! No-contact curbside pickup is available so students, faculty and staff can borrow materials (books, DVDs, realia/teaching aids, etc.) without leaving their vehicles. For details about how to request a book or other loanable materials, visit the library website.

Can I complete my internship or student teaching experience?


Internships, externships, field experiences, and student teaching will continue as long as the host site is accepting students at their location.

Will faculty still hold office hours?


Yes, faculty will be available to meet with students online during virtual office hours. Check with your professor(s) to find out when they are scheduling office hours, or use Starfish to make an appointment.

How will I know how I’m doing in class?


Faculty will post grades regularly on D2L/Brightspace. If you have concerns, contact your professor directly or use Starfish to “raise your hand” and ask for help.

I’m struggling with online classes. Can I get help?
 

Our Vulcan Learning Commons (VLC) tutors are available to work with you. To schedule an appointment, email vlc@calu.edu or  boukaabar@calu.edu. You also can use the WCOnline scheduling software at https://calu.mywconline.com/.

In addition, Cal U has partnered with Pearson’s Smarthinking, an online tutoring service. Cal U students can request and receive FREE online tutorial assistance from Smarthinking tutors, 24/7, in reading, writing and several other subjects and disciplines. Learn how to get started.

What is ‘Pass/No Credit’ grading?


Pass/No Credit is an alternative to letter grades (A, B, C, D or F). It can be helpful for students who are having difficulty with a particular course or adjusting to remote learning. You must apply for this option toward the end of the semester.

Here's how the P/NC grading option works:

  1. At the end of the semester, faculty will grade your coursework and give you a final letter grade (A, B, C, D or F) for your course.
  2. You can apply for Pass/No Credit grading before you see your final letter grade, or up to one week after your final letter grade is posted.
  3. You must complete a P/NC Grade Request Form for each course to request the change to Pass/No Credit grading for that course. The form to use will be posted here.
  4. Your faculty adviser or department chair and the College dean must approve your P/NC request. (Note: Some courses cannot be graded Pass/No Credit because of accreditation requirements or other reasons.)
  5. Once final grades are received in the Registrar’s Office, those with Pass/No Credit requests that are approved by your faculty adviser/department chair and dean will be converted to P/NC grades. Grades of A, B, C and D will be converted to Pass; grades of F will be converted to No Credit.
  6. A grade of NC (No Credit) will not adversely affect your GPA, but you will not receive credit for the course.
How can I change my schedule?
 

Contact the Scheduling Center at schedulingcenter@calu.edu and ask to connect with a staff member. They are experts at scheduling!

How do I reach my faculty advisor?


Check the tutorials in VIP for useful information like how to find your advisor. The “People Finder” at the bottom of the Cal U homepage is a useful tool for finding faculty and staff email addresses.

Can I defer my classes for a semester or more?

Incoming first-year students can defer admission and start classes in Spring 2021. This will not affect your state or federal financial aid, and scholarships will not be affected. To request a deferred start, incoming students should contact the Admissions Office at 724-938-4404 or admissions@calu.edu.

Current students should contact the Scheduling Center at schedulingcenter@calu.edu and ask to have their schedule deleted.

Will tuition be different since classes are online?
 

You can expect to learn just as much and earn the same credits as you would in face-to-face courses. For this reason, tuition will NOT be reduced or refunded. However, some fees will be reduced; others will not be charged. Check the Guide to Operations: Fall 2020 for details about financial adjustments.

Will my financial aid, grants or scholarships change because classes will be online?


Any scholarships or grants you received will NOT be reduced because courses are being provided remotely. Depending on your situation, there may be a small change in your financial aid award based on the lower cost of attendance. This will be reflected in your updated bill.

Will fees be different now that all classes are online?

Cal U maintains its facilities and provides high-quality education and a variety of student services whether it is operating within an in-person, blended or remote learning environment.

As such, these fees are NOT refundable: Academic Support Fee, Lab/Private Instruction Fee, Special Program Fee, Technology Fee and University Services Fee.

Because the University has shifted to remote operations, fees associated with the Herron Recreation and Fitness Center and the Natali Student Center are reduced by 50%, saving students enrolled for 12 or more credits a total of $254.50 per semester. Although these facilities are not open while campus is operating remotely, the reduced fees cover costs to maintain the buildings, pay for utilities, etc.

The Student Association Fee has been reduced to $140 (from $300) this fall. The reduced rate supports services provided virtually while in-person activities are suspended.

Some services for on-campus students (those enrolled in programs other than Global Online) will not be provided while Cal U is operating remotely. These fees will NOT be charged during the Fall 2020 semester: Dining Fee, Housing Fee, Parking Fee and Transportation Fee. Your student account will be adjusted to reflect this change. Students who paid a housing deposit will receive a credit to their account.

To learn more about University fees and what they pay for, read the Guide to Operations: Fall 2020

With all the changes being made, will I receive a revised bill for the Fall 2020 semester?


Yes, you will! Revised bills will be issued Aug. 18, 2020. Payments are due Sept. 11, 2020.

Payment plans are available. For details about your bill or payments, contact the Student Accounts Office at StudentAccountsOffice@calu.edu.

For financial aid information, contact the Financial Aid Office at finaid@calu.edu.

I already paid for my parking pass. Will I get a refund?


Yes. If you paid through your student account, the amount will be credited. If you paid in another manner, your payment will be refunded.

Can I apply for a work-study position this fall?


A limited number of remote work-study positions are available. Check Handshake for information about open positions.

Will Commencement ceremonies be held?


It’s difficult to predict what the public health situation will look like by November or December. We are working on plans to celebrate and recognize our graduates, based on evolving conditions. We will provide more information later in the semester.

My family’s financial situation has changed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Can my financial aid be adjusted?


Contact the Financial Aid Office (finaid@calu.edu) if medical expenses, job loss or other effects of the pandemic have made a significant change in your family’s income. Financial Aid staff can advise you about updating your FAFSA to ask for an adjustment in your financial aid.

How do I reach the Financial Aid Office?


The Financial Aid staff is working remotely, but they are here to help you! Email questions or concerns to finaid@calu.edu. If you need to speak with someone by phone, provide a callback number and someone will call you back.

Are residence halls and Vulcan Village open? What about dining services?


Residence halls and all dining services are CLOSED for the fall semester.

Vulcan Village, which is owned and operated by the Student Association Inc., remains open this fall. All Vulcan Village apartments have a full kitchen and laundry room. The Mid Mon Valley Transit Authority provides bus service to Walmart and other locations for students who do not have a vehicle.

I need housing near campus. What can I do?


Vulcan Village, which is owned and operated by the Student Association Inc., remains open this fall. All Vulcan Village apartments have a full kitchen and laundry room. The Mid Mon Valley Transit Authority provides access to Walmart and other locations for students who do not have a vehicle.

This apartment complex is located about 1.5 miles from campus. Contact Vulcan Village at 724-938-8990.

Am I allowed to visit campus?


To mitigate risks associated with COVID-19, all campus buildings are closed. Student services are being provided remotely. Employees seeking access to a campus building should contact their area’s vice president.

How can I reach the Student Affairs staff?
 

All Student Affairs departments are operating virtually and staff members are ready to assist you! Please call 724-938-5375 or email stuaffairs@calu.edu.

Where do I go if I feel sick?
 

If you have a fever, cough or other symptoms, please call your doctor. Professionals at the Student Health Center will be checking voicemail left at 724-938-4232 periodically.

Is the Counseling Center open?
 

The Counseling Center is accessible by email and telephone for scheduled consultations and tele-therapy appointments for Pennsylvania residents. Staff also can help you find a therapist or mental health resources close to your current location. To schedule a consultation, phone 724-938-4056.

The center is NOT open for in-person or walk-in counseling.

Are other resources available if I need support?


If you are struggling to find the resources you need to complete your coursework, maintain your mental or physical health, sustain your recovery (PARC), address food insecurity, or confront other issues that present as barriers to success, please contact Rachel Michaels, director of Student Wellness Support Services, at michaels_r@calu.edu.

If you need support for recovery, these websites can help you find online meetings:

Is the Vulcan Flyer running?
 

Vulcan Flyer service has been suspended. Check the Mid Mon Valley Transit Authority for information about bus service in the area.

How can I stay in touch with the Cal Times student newspaper?
 
  1.  Go to the Cal Times website
  2.  Find the panel on the homepage: "Get the Cal Times delivered to your Inbox."
  3.  Insert the email address where you want to receive the notifications.
  4. Enjoy your Cal Times subscription!