What I Have Learned
for Older Students Entering
Program in English at CSUS
to school as an older, reentry student has been an experience.
Things have certainly changed since my undergraduate days in the
late 80’s and early 90’s. All the kids on campus have cell
phones now—and use them constantly. Backpacks can either go
on your back or be pulled behind you like rolling luggage.
And the Internet is used for everything. Gone are the days
of arena registration, where I would go to the campus gym to find
out which (if any) of the classes I registered for I received.
Then I would stand in an arena of department booths with my catalog
and list of program requirements and try to reconstruct my schedule.
the 21st century, you register for your classes online,
and you find out immediately whether you succeeded in getting into
the class you registered for. You also pay your fees online,
do some of your coursework, get your grades, and correspond with
professors and students.
that I’ve survived the application process, applying for financial
aid, registering for classes, and (almost) my first semester, here
are a few tips that may be helpful to other older students entering
the graduate program in English.
AND WRITING RESOURCES AND TECHNOLOGY
Speaking of the Internet, you will need to have both a knowledge
of and regular access to the World Wide Web. High-speed Internet
access, such as DSL, is imperative. In addition to applying
for admission, paying fees, registering for courses, etc. (which
I will discuss later), you will also use the Internet to complete
my English 120A (Advanced Composition) class, for example, each
student was required to select an essay that he/she felt represented
“good” writing and distribute copies of that essay to the class.
The class was then required to comment individually on the effectiveness
of the essay in terms of tone, voice, organization, etc. on a discussion
board on CSUS’s WebCT.
following instructions for accessing WebCT are taken from a handout
distributed by my English 120A instructor, Dr. Dan Melzer:
http://online.csus.edu and click on the “Login my WebCT” button.
your WebCT ID (your Sac Link username) and password (your Sac Link
on the name of your course, which is listed under the name of the
semester (e.g., Fall 2005).
here, you can access various elements of the course, depending on
how much your instructor utilizes WebCT. In my English 120A
course, for example, we could access the syllabus, course calendar,
assignments, and the discussion board by clicking on the appropriate
access a discussion board, for instance, click on the discussions
icon and then click on the link to the topic thread. From
there, click on “compose message.”
a subject in the subject line and a response in the box.
You can write your response in Word and copy it into the box if
you’d like. If you need to attach a file, click on “browse”
to find the file in your computer and click on “attach file” after
you’ve selected a file. When you’ve finished your message,
click on the “post” button. (NOTE: I would recommend clicking
on the HTML editor button when entering a response. When previewing
my responses prior to posting, I discovered that some of my formatting—such
as hard returns, underlining, italics, and bolding—was lost if I
didn’t use the HTML editor first.)
message should appear under the thread. If you want to check
to make sure it’s there, you need to refresh the page.
are books and Internet resources that have helped me this semester.
Theory Today: A User-Friendly Guide
by Lois Tyson: As a graduate student, you will be required to take
English 200A, Methods and Materials of Literary Research.
A large part of this course is devoted to literary approaches, such
as psychoanalytic, feminist, Marxist, etc. In addition, if
you are planning to pursue a Ph.D., you are advised to take a contemporary
theory course as well.
text has really helped me in my ongoing quest to understand literary
approaches. When I read the following excerpt in Tyson’s introduction,
I knew I’d found a kindred soul:
I first read Jacques Derrida’s “Structure, Sign and Play”—possibly
the most widely reprinted introduction to his theory of deconstruction—I
was sitting in my ’64 Chevy, stuck in a parking lot during a violent
thunderstorm. I was just beginning to learn about critical
theory, and my reaction was a burst of tears, not because I was
moved by the essay or by the sublime nature of the thunderstorm
but because I couldn’t understand what I’d just read (10).
by Line: How to Edit Your Own Writing
by Claire Kehrwald Cook: This is an excellent resource for
editing your own writing and includes a very helpful section on
Handbook for Writers of Research Papers Sixth Edition
by Joseph Gibaldi: I don’t think any English major can be without
OWL at Purdue:
http://owl.english.purdue.edu/oldindex.html: This is a
wonderful online resource for questions about punctuation, grammar,
documentation of sources, conducting research, etc. In addition,
if you can’t find the answer to your particular question on the
website, you can email the OWL tutors using the following online
GRADUATE PROGRAM IN ENGLISH AT CSUS
For more information about the English graduate program at Sac State, please visit http://www.csus.edu/engl/grad.htm.
INFORMATION AND TIPS
English-L List Proc
English-L list proc is a network of faculty, staff, and students
in the CSUS English Department. It is an invaluable resource.
Jennifer Manthey, who runs the list proc, sends out a weekly announcement
with information about everything from course updates (such as when
another section of an English course opens up during Casper registration);
scholarships; and job opportunities, including internship and teaching
stated on the CSUS English Department website:
send an e-mail message in plain text (not HTML or Rich Text) to:
With the two
If you have
any questions or difficulties, contact the English department office at email@example.com.
can also use the list proc to send out your own messages.
When registering for classes this fall, for example, I sent out
a message stating that I was a first-semester grad student who was
returning to school after a 13-year absence and needed some advice
about registering for classes. I received over 20 responses
from students, and the information was invaluable.
SENDING MESSAGES TO ENGLISH-L
your email to
messages DEAR ENGLISH-L to help subscribers recognize that
this is a listproc message.
your email address in the body of the message, and remind subscribers
to send replies directly to you.
This will cut down on replies being sent to the whole list.
sure your email is appropriate for ALL SUBSCRIBERS,
which includes English Department FACULTY, STAFF, and STUDENTS.
(i.e., refrain from saying negative things about people in the Department.)
not ask questions of the list that are more appropriate for an English
Department staff or faculty member
(i.e. Professor contact information, specific advising questions,
etc.). Instead, call the department (278-6586) or email me
We can either answer your question, or put you in contact
with someone who can.
RECEIVING/REPLYING TO ENGLISH-L MESSAGES
carefully at your messages.
English-L messages look a lot like other messages (that is why numbers
2 and 3 in the above list are so helpful). When an English-L
message is opened, the FROM will say: Owner-ENGLISH-L @ CSUS.EDU
on behalf of Sender’s Name [Sender’s Email].
you open an email message, take a moment to look at the “from” BEFORE
If you hit reply to an English-L message, your reply will be sent
to ALL subscribers.
NOT HIT REPLY if your message is appropriate only for one person.
Instead, START A NEW EMAIL, and address it using the sender’s
email in the “from.” Or, use the email address included in
the body of the message (if applicable).
spread bad advice!!! Make
sure that the information you are giving is correct before replying
to someone’s message.
send in unnecessary messages
(i.e. Thanks!; That was great!; I totally agree!)
English-L is primarily INFORMATIONAL. It is meant to
disseminate important information more than to carry on conversations.
A discussion-based list is simply not feasible for a list of this
size. Any email conversations that result from English-L messages
should be conducted off-list.
the listowner, I review all English-L messages and decide whether
to accept or discard them. On a regular basis, I discard the
following types of messages:
Messages meant for just one person
Messages containing negative remarks about students, faculty,
Messages containing faulty information
provides an extremely important service to the department.
Following these guidelines takes only a little bit of effort.
But that little bit of effort will really pay off!!! It will
help guarantee that subscribers stay subscribed, AND it will make
my life a lot easier. If you have any questions, don’t
hesitate to contact me.
am using a Federal Student Loan to finance my education this time
around. When you apply for a student loan, you apply for a
full year (fall and spring); however, the Financial Aid Office determines
when your loan is dispersed. In the fall, you are able to
register for classes without paying for your registration fees in
advance. This is beneficial, because you typically have to
register for classes before you receive your financial aid.
However, in the spring, you are required to pay before you register.
In my case, I had to make two installments on my fees (and pay for
my parking permit) a month-and-a-half before receiving my financial
aid check. This is something to keep in mind when budgeting
for the year.
information about applying for a student loan, visit the CSUS Financial
Aid Office website at
qualify for a student loan, I am required to take 6 units a semester.
I work full-time and go to school at night, which I admit is much
tougher than I anticipated. If you are in the graduate program,
I would recommend pairing a graduate level course with an undergraduate
level course (you have 9 units of undergraduate level electives)
when you can.
Sacramento State OneCard is invaluable. You can purchase one
for $9 at the Sacramento State OneCard center. As stated on
the CSUS website, the OneCard center “is located on the south side
of Brighton Hall, facing the Library Quad. Our entrance is
outside, on the south side of the building. The phone number
is 916-278-7878 and the email address is
OneCard serves as your library card at the CSUS library. In
addition, as noted on the CSUS website, the OneCard can also be
used in the following ways:
With your student OneCard and the current semester sticker applied
to the back, you can ride Sacramento Regional Transit buses and
Light Rail anywhere, anytime, for free! [Note:
You can obtain a transportation sticker at the OneCard center.
It is applied directly to the back of your OneCard.]
you sign up for a OneCard, you are automatically eligible to deposit
funds into your personal debit account. You can then use your
OneCard to purchase discounted photocopies from more than 50 campus
photocopy machines, purchase cold, refreshing beverages from Pepsi
vending machines, and buy
food from most
Machines are located in the CSUS library that allow you to “load”
cash onto your OneCard. You can then swipe your OneCard through
machines located on the library photocopiers to make copies.
The amount of each copy is automatically deducted from the balance
on your OneCard. Copies made using your OneCard are $.06/copy;
copies made using currency are $.10/copy. Believe me, it adds
OneCard also has a
PrintSmart account that
allows you limited number of free printing in Sacramento State computer
labs only. After you run out of free prints all you need to do is
deposit to your OneCard capitol cash debit account and you are able
to print at anytime. This account is a separate account from your
debit account and does not roll over to the next semester.
permits can be purchased when you pay your registration fees or
through the University Transportation and Parking Services office.
A semester permit (as of Spring 2006) is $108.
semester permit is a plastic placard that hangs on your rear view
mirror. Remember to hang the permit so that the printed side
is facing your front windshield. I received a citation this
semester because my permit was facing the other direction (a $24
stated on the CSUS website, the Reentry Services office “provides
counseling to help you make effective educational choices based
on accurate information and to find the most efficient way to move
through the system.” Services provided include:
more information, visit the Reentry Services Office’s website at
stated on the CSUS website, “SacLink
California State University, Sacramento universal authentication,
e-mail, and Internet access mechanism available to all students,
faculty, and staff. It is your computing and networking electronic
Your SacLink account also allows you access to My Sac State (https://my.csus.edu),
where you can, as the University states in its registration materials:
pay registration fees and register for your classes
buy books online
change your address
clear financial holds or check account balance
check your financial aid status
check your grades or your current schedule
search for open courses by ID, subject, day & time, faculty,
or even GE category.
Information about setting up a SacLink account is available at