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Achieve Palm Beach County Offers Online Workshops to Help College Students Destress and Find Success

Stress and online struggles are recurring themes among young people navigating a future that seems uncertain today and unimaginable just a year ago.

In fact, the same topics came up so frequently that an organization whose mission is to ensure post-graduate success for students in Palm Beach County has created a series of workshops as an immediate resource to those students.

Achieve Palm Beach County’s Achieve Your Success series begins on Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2021, with a program titled, Techniques to Maintain Your Mental Health.

The series of five workshops is open to any college-age student in Palm Beach County, whether they’re enrolled, looking to enroll, or taking a break from education all together right now.

Achieve PBC is a collective impact initiative with more than 80 nonprofit, education, and corporate partners, including Johnson Scholarship Foundation, who work toward the common mission of helping students access and complete an education beyond high school. Achieve PBC’s vision is to see all students in Palm Beach County earn a credential or degree that leads to a job with a sustainable wage within six years of high school graduation.

“Students face challenges all the time. With the pandemic and social unrest, mental health is one of the large issues we’re hearing about – whether it’s financial strains, feelings of loneliness, or stress of online learning,” said Jennifer Bebergal, Associate Dean for Retention and Academic Support at FAU and co-chair of Achieve PBC’s Post-High School Advising & Guidance strategy team. “We put together this calendar of workshops, and our hope is for students to understand that what they’re going through is what a whole lot of students are experiencing. We’ll also talk about some strategies and resources available to them.”

The workshops will take place at 4 p.m. on Tuesdays every other week through April 13. Each one-hour workshop will be offered via Zoom, and there is no cost to attend. The full schedule and topics are:

Feb. 9 – Techniques to Maintain Your Mental Health

Feb. 23 – How to be Successful in Science, Math and Other Online Courses

March 9 – Self Care for Our Mental Health

March 23 – Ask an Advisor and Resource Fair

April 13 – Tips for Getting A Job and Jump-Starting Your Career

The first workshop will be conducted by Dr. Kathryn Kominars, Director of Counseling from Florida Atlantic University and Sandra Obas of Educate Tomorrow, a nonprofit that facilitates individualized coaching to improve students’ academics and economic stability. It will include strategies and resources available for dealing with mental health issues.

The second workshop will begin with a brief presentation, and then offer break-out rooms so students can work on specific areas, including tutorials in math and science.

For one-click access to any of the workshops, visit, or use the meeting ID 841 6972 7665 and passcode 206767.

For more information about Achieve PBC’s impact, or to learn how to get involved, visit or send an email to

Angie Francalancia is a communications specialist for Johnson Scholarship Foundation

Online Learning and the Impact on Students – Will Some Students Get Left behind?

I believe that the pandemic created by the coronavirus is causing some significant learning issues at all levels of the education system. Early in my career I was the Director of an Upward Bound program that prepared American Indian students for college. During that time, I learned about students’ learning styles and modalities. I found that it was common for American Indian students to rely on kinesthetic learning as their preferred learning style. American Indian students also learned better in darkened environments and were equally strong as visual and auditory learners. Many students had photographic memories that were geographically based. The most effective strategy we utilized was informal peer teaching. Peer teaching worked because the students were able to communicate with each other more effectively at their level of comprehension. There are a multitude of factors that enhance peer teaching success, including language, cultural backgrounds, cultural norms, ability to interact and understand communicative instruction at various levels and many others. Perhaps we need to learn more about peer teaching strategies given our current crisis.

man holding a baseball batMany of the American Indian students were gifted athletes having exceptional eye-hand coordination. This probably was inherited from a day when they had to survive using a bow and arrow, atlatl or spears. Total geographic recall was absolutely necessary for survival in the environments that they lived in at the time. Back then getting lost would have been fatal in almost every instance. It was very important for us to know the cultural backgrounds of our students and the mode in which they learned best. One approach was not congruent to success given the varied backgrounds or our students. Our approaches to learning styles were individually focused to better help the students maximize their learning potential. Fast forward to today, where there is a considerable body of research that suggests that learning styles are questionable. I am not intimately involved in education as I was 20 years ago, thus my expertise on this matter may be somewhat dated. However, a compendium of research suggests online learning is less effective than face-to-face classroom experiences.

In those early years in Upward Bound the majority of our students were bilingual, speaking their Native language from birth and later learning English when they attended boarding schools. The primary methodology involved writing and reading following the western methodological theories and pedagogical practices which often times created learning challenges for many of the Native students. Many bilingual Native students overcame the educational challenges by creating their own internal cognitive processes and methods. Many of these students mastered both their world of learning and the educational challenges of Western pedagogical approaches. These students excelled in college because they were able to use multiple ways to process and evaluate information within their learning styles and modalities.

This was equally true for American Indian students who primarily followed their natural learning styles. Being able to learn using both methodologies enhanced their cognitive processing skills and generally created a student who was better prepared when they went on to college.

The reason that I have concerns is that almost every college has moved to online learning. This could hinder students who rely on alternative learning modalities, styles and differing world views to be successful in the classroom. Peer interaction is diminished in virtual interactions and the opportunity to socially interact while teaching and learning from each other hurts some students. As educators who have been thrust into a new learning/teaching reality, we must not lose sight of how we can best help our students.

girl at computer pc workplace home officeIt is clear that the coronavirus is not going away soon and it is imperative that we implement strategies and identify new resources to help students who need additional support during this period of time. One of the things that is helpful would be a review of strategies that were developed over the last decade to assist all students with disabilities. For example, the Center for Online Learning and Students with Disabilities has an excellent website with updated information and promising practices that will help our students achieve. If you are a teacher, it is important to be more interactive with your students. Teachers should be looking for behavioral changes, increased frustration and any other indication that the student is being distracted from learning. The website for the National Disability Rights Network is another resource for information to help guide your performance while working with our students with disabilities.

We have to continue to find ways to reach those students who are not learning and growing in this new reality. I know this first-hand as my little 2nd grade granddaughter is struggling and I know she is brilliant, no bias here. She is exactly the kind of student who could face challenges going forward. THINK!

Tips for Learning Online

This content was republished with permission from the Florida State University Tips for Learning Online webpage at and based on an adaption of original content 1) by Glenn Pillsbury at Stanislaus State, which was published freely under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license at and 2) from Penn State University’s Online Readiness Questionnaire, which was also published freely under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 license at

While this document contains links to resources at FSU, students may want to seek out similar resources at their own university.

Online learning offers a level of flexibility and convenience that a classroom environment can’t. It’s also a very different experience than traditional, face-to-face learning. What’s required of you will differ than what’s required of on-campus students. Learning online will take motivation, self-direction, and a realistic knowledge of your personal learning preferences and abilities. To thrive online, it’s important you know what’s expected and what it takes to succeed.

Self-Direction | Being proactive is key to successful online learning. You need to be able to solve problems and reach out for help when you need it. It’s up to you to set goals and deadlines for yourself, developing strategies that help you stay on task and avoid distractions while studying.

Learning Preferences | Do you retain information well by reading it, or do you do better if you hear it spoken directly to you? Do you rely on face-to-face interaction with peers or your instructor to learn well? In an online course, you’ll need to learn from a variety of media, like podcasts, videos, and conferencing. You’ll also need to be comfortable reading and studying independently. Because you won’t be interacting with classmates and your instructor face-to-face, be prepared to dialogue through email, chats, and online discussions. These are key to staying connected and performing well in an online course.

Study Habits | Good study habits are essential to success online. Set aside a space where you can study without distraction, and expect to dedicate from 7-12 hours a week for one online course. It takes planning and good time management to make sure work is completed by the deadline. Have a way of tracking assignments and due dates, and when you have questions, be willing to contact classmates and instructors. Make use of available study resources like the FSU Academic Center for Excellence which provides a wide range of study tools and tips and can help you design a study plan based on your academic goals.

 Writing Skills | Writing skills are essential to learning online, and it’s important that you’re able to express yourself using formal grammar and spelling. Brush up on skills before you start an online course. Once you’re in your course, take advantage of our online tutoring resources, like the RWC-Online, FSU’s online reading-writing center.

Technical Skills | It’s important you have experience using a computer and common software programs for email, word processing, spreadsheets, and presentations. You’ll also need to be comfortable conducting internet searches, downloading files, installing software, and adjusting settings on your computer. Be sure to have a plan in case your computer or internet connection fail, and be sure to back up your work regularly.

Hardware and Software| Make sure your computer and operating system are as up-to-date as possible (less than 3 years old), with a stable, high-speed internet connection and virus protection software. Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox are the recommended browsers for FSU’s online courses. To optimize your learning experience, we also recommend you have headphones, a microphone, and a webcam. Make use of the myFSUVLab which provides FSU students free, 24/7 web access to over 30 common and specialty software applications.