If you are new to the distance learning scene, you will quickly find out that there are a number of factors that you must consider to ensure that your educational journey is a pleasant one. This is really no different than starting your education in a traditional “brick and mortar” college or university, except you are taking your classes online.
With a little common sense and some research, most students can find a school that is a good fit for their own study habits and lifestyle. This is a key factor to consider because you will be expected to manage your studies, work schedule, and home life in a way that will allow you to accomplish your education goals. This will be much easier if you select a school with a curriculum and study schedule that complements your lifestyle.
To help you get off on the ‘right’ foot with your online education, we thought the following tips would help you sidestep a few of the most common online student issues:
Finding the Right School
Probably the most daunting task the online student faces is selecting the right school. Avoid schools that have a reputation for being diploma mills. The degrees issued by these schools are generally worthless while potential employers are often well aware of the names of these questionable educational institutions. Luckily, these schools are the exception.
There are many credible colleges and universities that can provide you with a top-of-the-line education at reasonable tuition costs. Your first course of action in the selection of an online college or university is to request a school catalogue and review their programs, online courses, and student support activities. Of course, an extremely important step you MUST take is to verify that your prospective school is accredited and that your online courses also have the appropriate accreditation.
Keeping Your Online Education Costs Under Control
There is no way to avoid this fact of life – education can be pricy. But it doesn’t have to send you into bankruptcy either. Ask your prospective college if they have any programs, including student loans, to assist with educational costs.
And certainly don’t rule out scholarships and grants just because you are enrolling in online courses. There is a surprising amount of funding available for online education, and you don’t need to have a 4.0 grade point to be eligible. Receiving a scholarship or grant is an ideal way to dramatically reduce your education costs, but it will take some work to find all these funds.
Don’t Forget to Transfer All of Your Credits
In many cases, you will not have to start from scratch if you have earned credits at other schools. Be sure to send your transcripts from your previous school to your online college and request that your counselor review your records. Even if course equivalencies are not granted initially, you may be able to petition to receive credits anyways. Just state your case as clearly and logically as possible and leave the emotional aspects out.
There are a few schools that will grant life experience credits based on testing or a review of your portfolio. This may be a long shot, but a question that should be asked of your counselor. You may get a pleasant surprise!
We hope that these tips will help you on your way to a successful distance learning experience. Remember – doing a little research up front can save you a world of grief somewhere down the road. Don’t contemplate it – just do it!