When Instructors go MIA: 6 Things Students can accomplish during Faculty No Appointment Periods

By Layla Abdullah-Poulos '10, graduate student, SUNY Empire State College

March 5, 2015

clip art of a detective with a flashlightYou’ve seen it on college calendars and in your student organizer. The Faculty No Appointment (FNA) period is a time during the academic year when access to instructors is extremely limited. However, there still are opportunities to reach academic goals.

According to the Empire State College Faculty Handbook, the FNA period provides instructors time to “further their own professional development, to complete documentation of student work and to engage in service and scholarly activities.” Consequently, Empire State College mentors will not be available for appointments or direct service to students.

There are three FNA periods at Empire State College during the 2014-2015 Academic Year:

TermFNA Period

Fall (1 & 2)

12/22/14 – 01/02/15

Spring (1 & 2)

05/04/15 – 05/08/15

Summer (1 & 2)

07/27/15 – 08/21/15

The thought of not having access to mentors may be stressful, but all is not lost. There are things students can do to successfully continue their studies.

1. Prepare for next term.

Students who registered and contacted course mentors for Learning Contracts prior to the FNA period can use this time to prepare for upcoming courses. Gathering course material can be a long process. If you have the Learning Contracts for next term, start searching for titles. If you are ordering used books, delivery can take two weeks or more. Ordering early minimizes the risk of having to wait for materials after the term has begun.

The FNA period also is a great time to organize your studies for the next term. This is especially important for students with multiple studies. Undergraduate students should anticipate spending 10 hours/week per course. Graduate students should estimate dedicating more hours toward studies (approximately 15+). Determine which course will be the most challenging or which one has the most extensive reading list. The earlier you get things going, the greater the potential for completing studies before the end of the term.

2. Work on those Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) essays.

Students seeking to have their life learning evaluated as college credit must write a PLA essay. If you are waiting to meet with your course mentor before completing the next assignment, review any PLA essays you may have started or need to start writing. Go over the essays you have decided to write after collaborating with your primary mentor. You can begin or continue writing them, and you can always schedule a tutoring session with a learning coach to assist you.

3. Speak to a Learning Coach.

Academic Support Services are available year-round at SUNY Empire State College. Coaches can assist students with understanding basic computer features, navigating the college’s website and Learning Contracts. Check out your location’s weekly writing workshops. If you are anticipating challenges with a particular course, schedule a one-to-one tutoring session with a Learning Coach. By getting help early, students are better prepared when the term begins.

4. Meet with college support and staff.

Although mentors are not available, the college’s professional staff are prepared to offer assistance at all SUNY Empire State College locations. Get valuable information about the many things the college offers you as a student, including: services, events, financial aid and disability services. Student services coordinators also are extremely helpful in knowing your options if a life event occurs that can jeopardize your ability to continue your studies. Take some time to talk to your location’s student services coordinator about any concerns you have about the present term, past experiences and your future studies.

5. Start looking for some funding.

A major issue for college students is acquiring the necessary funds to pay for their education. The no appointment period is a great time to start searching for grants and scholarships. There are numerous scholarships and fellowships available collegewide and through organizations outside the college. Visit the Empire State College Foundation to find scholarships for which you may be eligible, and talk to your student services coordinator about them when you meet.

6. Take some time to decompress.

You’ve accomplished a lot this past term. Managing studies along with multiple personal and professional demands can take their toll. Plan time to relieve some of the tension that has built up over the past few weeks. Read the latest issue of Student Health 101. Unwinding from the last term will make you ready for the all the great learning ahead. 

Don’t worry, the Faculty No Appointment period will be over before you know it!

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Article Contributors

Layla Abdullah-Poulous

Danielle Boardman

Kristina Delbridge

Heather Shalhoub

Susan Eve Tepper Leclair

Samantha Williams

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