Online Special Students FAQ

The information on this page is provided as a courtesy for our online Special Students and for prospective online Special Students. The term “Special Student” refers to individuals who wish to take coursework but who are not currently enrolled in a degree or certificate program at Starr King. Learn more about becoming a Special Student.


Where can I find the syllabus for my course?

To protect SKSM and faculty intellectual rights, the full Syllabi for the courses will be posted only on Populi, our learning management system. People can find a list of any required books posted beneath the associated course descriptions in our online course descriptions.

How do I register for an online course?

Fill out and submit a Special Student SKSM Course Registration online form and pay the $25 non-refundable processing fee. Take note of registration dates as listed on Starr King’s Academic Calendar.

What computer equipment and software do I need in order to take an online course?
  1. Regular access to a computer with internet capabilities; a webcam; microphone, and audio abilities;
  2. Up-to-date internet browser, such as Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox;
  3. Latest version of the free Adobe Acrobat Reader; and
  4. An audio/video player (some courses incorporate audio or video and most computers come with players. They also can be downloaded for free from WindowsApple, and elsewhere. See SKSM Online Education Technical Support for more information.
Is there any additional assistance for learning Populi?

Yes. We have a very comprehensive Populi manual for students.

How will I log in?

You will be given a Populi login from the Registrar upon confirmation of enrollment. The Registrar will also enroll you in all necessary Populi courses.

How can I contact my Instructor?

Your instructor will provide contact information to enrolled students either by email at the start of the semester, or by clarifying preferred contact information through your particular Populi course site. We ask that all faculty use their official SKSM addresses to communicate. SKSM does not give out faculty home phone numbers. Adjunct Faculty, Visiting Scholars and Student Teachers do not have offices or voicemail boxes at the school, and cannot be reached by phone via the school. Please do not contact instructors outside of the SKSM scheduled registration periods or after a semester/course has ended. During registration periods, follow the information at How To Register.

What will be expected of me?

One thing is consistent across all SKSM courses: Full participation is required. In terms of simply “showing up,” students are allowed 1 week off ~ the equivalent of 1 absence per semester. More than that must be arranged with the instructor. Sometimes terms can be negotiated. If not, a student may be encouraged to withdraw from the course.

Going back to make up a missed unit does not erase an unexcused absence.

Apart from that, be sure to look for a clear and detailed set of expectations that’s been posted by your instructor. If you don’t see one, ask for one. It might go something like this:

– As this is a graduate course, you will be expected to do a substantial amount of reading. Students are expected to complete all assigned readings and to complete them on time.

– Each student is expected to post to the Web a one-page-or-less written reflection based on readings and course materials pertinent to that week; to be posted by midnight Wednesday of each week in the discussion forum (midnight Pacific Time, where Starr King is located).

– Participate in weekly online discussion (forums) by responding to peer reflections. Each student is expected to respond to the substance of the reflections of two of their peers each week. The length of an average forum post for this course is 250 words.

Starr King works to maintain absolute safety for our students. During your online courses, you may have the opportunity to use public online services ~ for example wikis, blogs external to Populi. Required assignments do not require you to make any personally identifying information public; coursework requiring personal reflection and posted publicly does not obligate you to disclose personally identifiable or sensitive information. Or, having made prior arrangements with your instructor, you may use a pseudonym wherever appropriate. If you have any concerns about this, please see SKSM FERPA: Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act and contact your instructor as well.

How can I upload a large file?

The maximum file upload size for Populi is 5 GB. Most files uploaded to Populi are smaller than that, but PowerPoint files or images might exceed the threshold. Here are some links to help you keep your file sizes manageable:

Reduce image sizes in Microsoft Office files (Word, PowerPoint)

Resize images before uploading them to Populi by using Microsoft Picture Manager

If you are using Adobe Acrobat to make PDFs from scanned images, compress the file

Is there a way to go right to the week of class without scrolling all the way down from the top? That gets to be a pain as weeks pass and the course page grows longer and longer.

Yes! You can click on the Lessons Tab and look for the appropriate week.

Is there a way to download or save all of my postings?

The best way to do this is to create a Word document and keep it available during your reading and writing sessions. Copy everything you post into the document as you go. By semester’s end, you’ll have everything. It is good in any case to save all of your online coursework not only to Word docs, but to a folder backed up externally (to the Cloud, to CD, flash drive or other external drive) so would do not lose your work if your computer crashed.

Can I get a library card?

Special students are not automatically given a DTL2 library log-in, but you may request one by contacting the Registrar at .

What if my Instructor doesn't post on time or as expected?

If during the semester your Instructor should seem to break pattern – either not posting for an unusual interval or replying to emails normally – contact the Academic Dean, Rev. Dr. Gabriella Lettini, .

Tell me about grading.

The norm for grading at Starr King is narrative evaluation and pass/fail, but if you need or prefer a letter grade, simply tell your instructor. Be sure to do this in the first two weeks of the course.

Okay, so if I had to drop out or withdraw from my course, what would I do?

Special Students may request to be dropped from a class after having registered. This is generally done during the registration phase: early registration, general registration, or late registration. The student is required to send an email to the instructor, copying the Registrar’s office at , requesting to be dropped from the course. Any requests to drop courses made after late registration must also be submitted via email to the instructor, copying the Registrar’s office and the Dean’s office at . The instructor is then required to submit the decision to the student, copying the same two offices. (You need the Academic Dean’s signature after late registration only.)

Once these changes of enrollment are approved, the Registrar can remove a student from the course. No change of enrollment will be permitted after the tenth week of the term, except under circumstances approved by the Academic Dean.

My brother said Incompletes are never an option; that it's pass or fail and that's that. Is it true?

Incompletes are an important option for students dealing with extraordinary circumstances; however, it should not be an option that is to be encouraged. Students are responsible for finishing their work within the term. In order to take an incomplete, students must submit a completed petition for an incomplete to their registrar before the last Wednesday of the term – no exceptions. Incomplete work is due to the instructor three weeks after the term. The instructor is required to submit a new grade by the 6th Friday after the end of the term. If, however, no new grade is received by the end of the 6th week, the incomplete grade becomes an “F”.

Given exceptional circumstances, Instructors may, at their discretion, agree to a time frame beyond the six weeks with approval from the Dean of the Faculty. Time frames must be documented as part of the original petition. It is the responsibility of the SKSM students to make sure a “Change of Grade” form is completed with all necessary signatures and given to the Registrar to update the grade by the end of the semester in which the incomplete work is due, or it will automatically be converted to an “F” by the Registrar.

I heard online learning lends itself to acts of plagiarism. Is that true?

Instructors who suspect that a student has plagiarized should address the issue with the student. If plagiarism is confirmed, the teacher will work with the core faculty to determine the best course of action which could include Academic Probation. If the matter is disputed, the student or teacher may follow the procedures listed in the Student Handbook under “Academic or Personality Disputes.” Special Students who are placed on Academic Probation twice may be dismissed and not allowed to register for Starr King courses again..

Although plagiarism and copyright are not the same thing, it should also be noted that before a course begins, all online Instructors and Students are asked to read and abide by the copyright guidelines as instructed by federal law.

Will someone send me a transcript once my course is over?

Starr King produces transcripts only upon request. Students can request a transcript by filling out and submitting an online request form: Transcript Request Form.

It takes approximately 5-7 business days to process a request. Due to the Covid pandemic, some institutions now allow for emailed official transcripts. Please confirm with the institution before requesting an emailed transcript.

How long after the class ends will I be able to access it?

Online courses remain available until the end of the term. Please save your own writing. Additionally, professors’ obligations terminate at the semester’s end and they hand in their evaluations.

Will you all please notify me when it's time to register for that one course I really, really need?

Alas, at the present time we don’t have resources for maintaining alert lists for everyone who request them. We suggest you keep checking our online course descriptions page [as above; see first question] for next-up registration periods. Then write yourself a reminder or mark a calendar you use on a daily basis. Also remind yourself to keep checking our website for changes in registration procedures.

I am taking an online class for the first time. When do I receive my Populi login and password?

You will receive your Populi login from the Registrar as soon as your enrollment is confirmed.