Frequently Asked Questions

What are the science prerequisites for this course?

While having Earth Science or an AP or IB Environmental Science course would benefit your understanding of some course content and completion of scenario-based problems, it is not a requirement.


How much time will I be spending each week on the course?

This answer depends on how much time you want to invest in the course. On average, past participants reported spending an average of 10-12 hours on the assignments that are contained within each course module. Think of these modules as units of study. Module assignments are due every two weeks by Sunday night at 11:55 PM (EST). The more you want to read and explore links and resources provided within the course as a supplement to the basic course content, the more time you will spend on the course every two weeks.


Can I get high school credit for my participation in the course?

This depends on the decision of your school/division. In the summer, after grades are submitted, you can request your transcript from VPCC or verification from VSGC.  Please note it is up to your school district if they grant course credit or dual enrollment credit. Receiving college credit is more beneficial to your future college career as it shows commitment to a path of study as a high school student.

Geology 105 course falls under the guidelines of Virginia as an Earth Science Level II course.


Can I receive college credit for this course?

Yes, upon successful completion of the VESSS online course, you can receive four college credits in GOL 105, Physical Geology, from Virginia Peninsula Community College (VPCC). It is up to the college that you attend as to how they accept the credits. If you attend the Summer Academy and successfully complete the course, you will receive one transferable college credit in GOL 199 Supervised Studies in Geology from VPCC.  Students are not required to take VESSS for college credit to participate in the VESSS experience.


What is the online teacher-to-student ratio?

There are approximately 30-35 students assigned to each Master Teacher’s group for the online course.


What software should I use to submit my assignments?

Students chosen for the program will be provided a log-in to the VESSS Online Course “Moodle” site. Students will have access to the lesson material through this system and can submit assignments in the file formats requested in each specific assignment.


The following formats are required for various assignments throughout the Online Course:

Microsoft Word document (*.doc or *.docx), Microsoft Excel spreadsheet (*.xls or *.xlsx), JPEG Image (*.jpg or *.jpeg). Submissions in Adobe PDF file format are required in place of Documents or Images, but not for spreadsheets.


How long will it take to receive feedback and grades once my work is submitted?

Master Teachers are required to provide feedback and evaluation within 7 days of the assignments being submitted. Note – if you submit work late, please do not expect to have the work graded within one week.  It is the students who are responsible for notifying their teachers when late work has been submitted.


Is late work accepted, or can I resubmit assignments?

Late work is accepted with a grade penalty. The course requirements and syllabus detail the number of points deducted per day. Caution: if you are more than two modules behind (that is one month!), those late assignments will not be accepted, and you will receive “zeroes.”


For instance, if Module 7 assignments are due on a Saturday and you’ve only submitted assignments for Modules 1 through 3, then you MAY NOT submit module 4 assignments. However, you can still submit Modules 5 and 6 and Module 7 assignments by the same Sunday.


You may resubmit assignments based on the feedback the Master Teacher gives you. You must communicate with your Master Teacher to agree on a date by which you will resubmit the assignment. After that date, if you have not resubmitted, then you will receive the original grade. If you resubmitted, the two grades would be averaged together for your final grade on the assignment. Grades will not be replaced.


When are my online assignments due?

Assignments should be turned in (in sequential order) as you complete them. Assignments within each module are due every two weeks by the designated Sunday at 11:55 PM (EST). The first module is due December 18, 2022. The module due dates are under Important Dates. Students who do not successfully complete all assignments will not be invited to participate in the Summer Academy. Master Teachers will grade your assignments and the final project.


What is the withdrawal/drop policy for the VESSS course?

Dual Enrollment Drop Dates


January 12, 2024, is the Dual Enrollment Drop Date. After this date, you will receive an “F” on your transcript.


You may request to be dropped from the course by contacting Kari Espada in writing ( You will be withdrawn from the course if you have not submitted work for 3 consecutive modules and/or you have not logged in to the website in over 30 days unless you have prior approval from the VESSS Program Manager and the online Master Teacher.

By the drop date, if your work is not current, you will be dropped from the credit-earning portion of the course. You can continue in the course without credit and will still be considered for selection to the Summer Academy.