Ca e Ass choo                                                                                         wit                 ...
Contents            Why Choose Online Education?    The Benefits of Online Education.........................................
Why Choose Online Education?Need Help Finding the                                           In Going the Distance: Online ...
Is Online Education Right for You?                                           There are a variety of traits that can help y...
Perhaps more importantly, military tuition assistance (TA) can be applied to                                           onl...
Myth 5 – Online learning is less personal. With today’s state-of-the-                                           art techno...
How to Choose an OnlineNeed Help Finding the                      ProgramRight Online School?                             ...
2. National Accreditation. National accreditation is acceptable for                                           vocational s...
How Online Learning WorksNeed Help Finding the                      Once you have determined you’re a good fit for online ...
Communication usually takes place in chat rooms, over the telephone or                                             via voi...
Technology ConsiderationsNeed Help Finding the                       There is some hardware and software that is absolutel...
GradesNeed Help Finding the                       Most online classes are graded just like on-campus classes: You willRigh...
Paying for Online EducationNeed Help Finding the                       CostsRight Online School?                          ...
ScholarshipsNeed Help Finding the                       College scholarships can provide large awards and are available at...
LoansNeed Help Finding theRight Online School?                         Federal student loans – both subsidized and unsubsi...
Need Help Finding the                                            How to Succeed in an YourRight Online School?            ...
Time ManagementNeed Help Finding the                       In all likelihood, one of the reasons you chose to earn your de...
2. Ask lots of questions. You will probably interact with your instructor                                            and f...
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U.S News University Directory Guide to Online Education


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U.S News University Directory Guide to Online Education

  1. 1. Ca e Ass choo wit Fre our S 7-2 ll N ist l Se hY 85 ow anc ar f e c or 5-2 3 h 18 Build Your Plan 4With the #1 Authority on the Nation’s Best Colleges Why Choose How to Choose an How Online Paying for How to Succeed in anOnline Education? Online Program Learning Works Online Education Your Online Program
  2. 2. Contents Why Choose Online Education? The Benefits of Online Education...................................................................3 Is Online Education Right for You?................................................................4 Online Education and Active Duty Military Personnel..................................4 Online Education Myths.................................................................................5 How to Choose an Online Program Accreditation...................................................................................................7 Comparing Online Education Programs.........................................................8 How Online Learning Works The Online Classroom....................................................................................9 Technology Considerations. ...........................................................................11 . Grades.............................................................................................................12 Paying for Online Education Costs...............................................................................................................13 . The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)................................13 Pell Grants......................................................................................................13 . Scholarships....................................................................................................14 Loans...............................................................................................................15 Military Education Benefits............................................................................15 How to Succeed in an Your Online Program Getting Started................................................................................................16 Time Management..........................................................................................17 Study Tips.......................................................................................................172
  3. 3. Why Choose Online Education?Need Help Finding the In Going the Distance: Online Education in the United States, 2011, TheRight Online School? Sloan Consortium reports that more than 6.1 million college students – 31% of all those enrolled in higher education – took at least one online class Your Search Starts Right Here during the fall 2010 term. This represents 10% growth in the number of online students, far exceeding the less than 1% growth in overall collegeCall 855-237-2184 for FREE Assistance attendance. Clearly, distance learning is now a successful and widely accepted educational format. But why take web-based classes? Why Choose Online Education? The Benefits of Online Education 1. Convenience. Distance learning classes allow you to do coursework from anywhere you have a reliable Internet connection. This means you can study in your home office or at your kitchen table – or even while you’re How to Choose an at the airport waiting for a plane or in the breakroom at work. Anywhere, Online Program anytime access is a huge advantage of online education. Additionally, distance learning programs generally let you set your own pace. Some require you to complete assignments and take tests periodically (one exam per week, for example) while others simply require you to have How Online all work done by the end of the course. Either way, the pace is almost Learning Works always more forgiving than the regimented style of on-campus classes. 2. Flexibility. Earning a degree can be very difficult for adults who have work, family or other responsibilities. If you have to be in the office 40 hours a week or care for several children 24/7, a regular college schedule isn’t going to be possible for you. But online courses generally allow you to Paying for study as your schedule allows – evenings, weekends, late night or whenever. Online Education Of all the benefits of online learning, flexibility is probably the one that has the greatest impact for most students. 3. Affordability. Depending on what kind of credentials you’re earning, How to Succeed in an online courses are often less expensive than on-campus courses. This is Your Online Program especially true for students who would otherwise be paying out-of-state or private college tuition, which can be extremely costly. Though it varies from program to program, the pricing of online courses is generally competitive with in-state public university tuition rates.3
  4. 4. Is Online Education Right for You? There are a variety of traits that can help you excel in an online learningNeed Help Finding the environment. Here are some of the most important:Right Online School? 1. Self motivation. In traditional on-campus courses, instructors typically Your Search Starts Right Here keep everyone on a tight schedule. But online classes usually provide only a loose, flexible framework; you have to make study time, completeCall 855-237-2184 for FREE Assistance assignments and take exams on your own. Therefore, it is important that you’re able to motivate yourself. There will be no teacher standing over your shoulder to make sure you stay on task. 2. Technological aptitude. You don’t have to be a computer whiz to take Why Choose online classes, but you do need to be comfortable with technology. You should Online Education? own a computer and have a reliable Internet connection. The ability to use a web browser, word processing software and email is essential. Familiarity with instant messaging (IM), chat rooms, Internet forums, social media and voice over Internet protocol (VOIP) software can also be important. How to Choose an 3. Reading comprehension. In most web-based courses, there will be a lot to Online Program read. Instead of a physical textbook, the reading material may be online articles, blog entries and other website content. Either way, the ability to learn by reading is critical, since you can’t count on live classroom lectures as your primary source of instruction. How Online 4. Written communication. Communication between you, your teacher and Learning Works your classmates will often be in writing – emails, chat rooms, instant messaging and online forums. You don’t have to be a master wordsmith, but you need to be able to make points and convey ideas in writing with reasonable clarity. And remember that online college courses are still college courses; texting shortcuts (“ur” instead of “you are”, “gr8” instead of “great”) are not appropriate. Paying for If you possess most or all of these traits, you’re a good fit for online education. Online Education Online Education and Active Duty Military Personnel How to Succeed in an Military personnel on active duty are often ideal candidates for online education. Your Online Program Location is typically the greatest hardship for servicemen and servicewomen who want an education; if you are frequently being relocated or deployed, you cannot count on being able to attend class at a traditional on-campus school. However, taking classes online is a different story. You can take them anywhere at any time, and can suspend your studies when necessary.4
  5. 5. Perhaps more importantly, military tuition assistance (TA) can be applied to online education, as long as the school you choose is regionally accredited –Need Help Finding the which is recommended under most circumstances anyway. Though details vary between branches of service, TA benefits generally cover up to $250Right Online School? per credit hour, to a maximum of $4,500 annually. Your Search Starts Right Here Online Education MythsCall 855-237-2184 for FREE Assistance Today, online and on-campus education are similar in more ways than they are different. Many brick-and-mortar universities offer online programs that cover the exact same material and award the exact same degree as their campus-based programs. That said, there are some persistent myths about Why Choose online learning. Online Education? Myth 1 – Online education isn’t as good as traditional education. Recent studies have found that this actually isn’t the case. In a paper and collection of articles entitled “The No Significant Difference Phenomenon,” Thomas Russell found there is “no significant difference in student outcomes based on the mode of How to Choose an education delivery (face-to-face or at a distance).” This means that students earn Online Program the same education regardless of whether they learn on-campus or online. To find a quality program, look for courses that allow you to interact with both teachers and other students, and support learning through a wide variety of multimedia software. How Online Learning Works Myth 2 – Employers don’t place the same value on online degrees and certificates. Accreditation matters far more than whether you studied online or on-campus. Almost every employer will recognize a degree from an institution that is accredited with the proper regional and/or national agencies. Colleges that offer both face-to-face and distance programs do not distinguish between the two, so no one knows that you studied online but you! Paying for Online Education Myth 3 – Online learning is easier. Online coursework is as challenging and substantive as traditional coursework because the programs feature the same curriculum as on-campus courses. So much classroom communication occurs online that students are even expected to prepare in advance for discussions. They are also expected to communicate effectively in writing and present ideas How to Succeed in an that are well-researched and on-point. Your Online Program Myth 4 – Online learning is less effective. Programs from nationally recognized, accredited, online universities are no less effective than their campus counterparts. You’ll study with the same teachers, complete the same coursework and be expected to earn the same good grades. Because most online students are adult professionals with a shared focus and desire to study for financial or personal gain, the learning experience is frequently more robust.5
  6. 6. Myth 5 – Online learning is less personal. With today’s state-of-the- art technology, there are many ways to keep online learning engaging andNeed Help Finding the rewarding. The best universities will make you feel just like you’re there. MakeRight Online School? sure that the university you choose provides ample opportunity for real-time interaction between fellow students and instructors, utilizing some or all of the Your Search Starts Right Here following: whiteboards, online chat rooms, email discussions, collaborative projects that build team skills and virtual office hours for faculty.Call 855-237-2184 for FREE Assistance   Myth 6 – Online instructors are less qualified. It takes skill and commitment to keep learners engaged and focused outside a classroom setting. Students are taught by the same experienced teachers or business professionals as campus students. Not only are they qualified to teach in Why Choose their field, they are also uniquely committed – preparing thorough, on-target Online Education? lectures, planning ahead for potential problems and providing supplemental resources to help students gain the most from each class. Myth 7 – Online learning requires less time and effort. Most online courses are designed to require approximately the same amount of time as traditional classes. How to Choose an A good rule of thumb is to allow two to three hours of homework time for every Online Program hour of class time, whether you attend class online or on campus. In a typical three-credit course, expect to spend nine to 12 hours per week or one to two hours per day, six days a week, to fulfill course requirements. How Online Learning Works Paying for Online Education How to Succeed in an Your Online Program6
  7. 7. How to Choose an OnlineNeed Help Finding the ProgramRight Online School? If you want to advance your education by earning a degree online, there Your Search Starts Right Here are now a wide variety of programs that can offer you valuable and convenient options. But how can you make sure those you’re consideringCall 855-237-2184 for FREE Assistance are good choices? Accreditation Why Choose Accreditation is your number-one concern. There are two types of Online Education? legitimate accreditation – regional and national. 1. Regional Accreditation. Only colleges and universities that hold regional accreditation – the highest form of accreditation available – are guaranteed to meet the rigorous standards of the U.S. Department of How to Choose an Education. Furthermore, regionally accredited schools generally accept Online Program transfer credits only from other regionally accredited schools. This can become important if circumstances demand you change institutions while completing your online degree program. Finally, many employers consider only degrees from accredited colleges and universities legitimate, which can have a huge impact on your ability to make use of your degree once How Online you graduate. Learning Works The seven regional U.S. accrediting bodies are the only accrediting organizations recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. Any degree-granting college or university you attend should be accredited by one of them. They are the: Paying for • Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools Online Education • New England Association of Colleges and Schools • North Central Association of Colleges and Schools • Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools • Western Association of Schools and Colleges How to Succeed in an (Community and Junior Colleges) Your Online Program • Western Association of Schools and Colleges (Senior Colleges and Universities) These associations accredit online colleges and universities as long as they meet the same standards that are set for campus-based schools. But if a degree-granting institution instead touts credentials from some other group – or no group at all – then it is not regionally accredited.7
  8. 8. 2. National Accreditation. National accreditation is acceptable for vocational schools, technical schools and institutions that grant credentials for specific trades (culinary schools and cosmetology schools, for example).Need Help Finding the National accrediting bodies are often themselves field-specific; theyRight Online School? accredit only schools or programs that teach a particular profession. Any certificate- or diploma-granting school you attend should be accredited by Your Search Starts Right Here an appropriate national accrediting agency.Call 855-237-2184 for FREE Assistance Sometimes, national accreditation is granted to certain schools and programs within a university. For example, the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) is a national organization that accredits business schools. The vast majority of business schools accredited by the AACSB are part of larger universities that hold regional accreditation. Why Choose Online Education? Comparing Online Education Programs Beyond accreditation, there are a few secondary considerations. You’ll want to compare different online schools for: How to Choose an 1. Admissions requirements. Some institutions allow you to sign up Online Program for and begin classes in the same week. Others have lengthy admissions requirements that may include a written application (perhaps with an essay), letters of recommendation and an interview. As a general rule, online programs run by large public universities tend to have a longer, more complicated processes. For-profit schools that specialize in online How Online education tend to have faster, more flexible procedures in place. Learning Works 2. Residency requirements. Some online programs are only available to students who take a certain amount of traditional classes at the institution’s physical campus, which will generally require you to live in the same state. Others allow you to complete 100% of your coursework over the Internet, Paying for in which case where you live is largely irrelevant. It is also possible, though Online Education unusual, for a school to expect you to pay out-of-state tuition for their online courses if you don’t live in the state where the school is located. 3. Hardware requirements. A moderately-priced laptop, a word processing program to write with and a reliable Internet connection are all that most online How to Succeed in an education courses require. However, some use advanced multimedia tools that Your Online Program demand more processing power, or expensive software needed to complete certain types of coursework. The latter is more often true of design and technology classes. When selecting an accredited online school, compare their admissions, residency and hardware requirements. Your ability to meet them can have enormous impact on which is ultimately best for you.8
  9. 9. How Online Learning WorksNeed Help Finding the Once you have determined you’re a good fit for online education and haveRight Online School? narrowed (or perhaps even completed) your selection process, you should start thinking about how to go about your studies. Here on some tips on Your Search Starts Right Here what to expect when you begin your coursework.Call 855-237-2184 for FREE Assistance The Online Classroom Not all online classes are the same. Some use different tools and methods than others, and even those that use the same ones often do so in different Why Choose ways. Here is a breakdown of the three general types of online classrooms: Online Education? 1. Asynchronous: Asynchronous online education does not take place in real time. You typically view pre-recorded lectures, either streaming them from the web, downloading them onto your own computer or watching DVDs shipped to you along with other class materials. Textbooks are sometimes used as well, but online articles, essays and other works are now How to Choose an more common. Online Program Communication is usually done via email and Internet forums. Deadlines are given for completing assignments and taking exams, but you are typically free to work at your own pace within that timeframe. How Online • Advantages: Asynchronous online education allows for maximum Learning Works scheduling flexibility, since you can study and watch lectures whenever you have the time. And communicating though email and web forums gives both teachers and students ample opportunity to frame questions carefully, give answers thoroughly and communicate ideas precisely. Paying for • Disadvantages: Some students feel disconnected from their instructors Online Education and fellow students when not interacting in real time. In addition, it can take anywhere from several hours to a few days to receive feedback – including grades – from your instructor. You should choose asynchronous online college courses if being able to How to Succeed in an create your own schedule and set your own pace is your primary concern. Your Online Program 2. Synchronous: Synchronous online education takes place in real time, with students and teachers simultaneously logged into web or video conferences. Lectures are given live and are typically followed by a Q&A session. Additional reading from textbooks or online sources might also be assigned.9
  10. 10. Communication usually takes place in chat rooms, over the telephone or via voice over Internet protocol (VOIP) software. Exams are given online at a designated time, and grades may be returned to you immediately.Need Help Finding the • Advantages: The primary advantage of synchronous online educationRight Online School? is the ability of your instructors to provide instant feedback. Questions are answered in seconds or minutes instead of hours or days. Teachers Your Search Starts Right Here can tell right away when students are having a hard time and adjustCall 855-237-2184 for FREE Assistance their methods accordingly. Also, students tend to feel more engaged when they can interact with instructors and peers in real time. • Disadvantages: Synchronous online education does not provide the same scheduling flexibility that an asynchronous format does. For Why Choose many adult students who have work and family responsibilities, this Online Education? can largely defeat the purpose of distance learning. In addition, it can sometimes be difficult to coordinate live class activities across different time zones. You should take synchronous online college courses if live interaction How to Choose an with your instructors and fellow students is your primary concern. Online Program 3. Blended: By far the most common form of online education, the blended format combines aspects of asynchronous and synchronous learning. Generally, lectures and exams are provided asynchronously to allow for maximum scheduling flexibility. More informal class activities, such as group projects and study sessions, are conducted live via chat How Online rooms or VOIP software. Learning Works Communication is usually conducted by whatever means is most convenient. Email and Internet forums are used for day-to-day interaction, while important matters like grades might be discussed over the phone. Paying for • Advantages: Blended online education often provides the best of Online Education both worlds – the scheduling flexibility of asynchronous learning combined with the live interaction of synchronous learning. Everyday concerns can be handled conveniently through email, while more critical communication is conducted live. How to Succeed in an • Disadvantages: All participants might not always agree on which parts Your Online Program of class should be conducted live and which should not. However, it is the instructor’s duty to create a workable solution. Those with experience typically excel at making sure their blended courses provide both quality and convenience for the majority of students. You should take blended online college courses if you want both scheduling flexibility and live interaction, but neither are absolutely necessary 100% of the time.10
  11. 11. Technology ConsiderationsNeed Help Finding the There is some hardware and software that is absolutely essential for the online student. Other technology is nice to have, but not 100% necessary.Right Online School? 1. Hardware. A desktop or laptop computer with at least a 3.4 GHz Your Search Starts Right Here processor, 512 MB of RAM and 10 GB of free hard drive space is generallyCall 855-237-2184 for FREE Assistance considered the minimum requirement for most online education programs. Any computer built after 2005 (and many that are even a few years older) should suffice. Your monitor should be at least 15” wide to accommodate everything you need to see on your screen at standard display sizes. Speakers and a sound card will be necessary to listen to lectures. Why Choose Online Education? A headset can be beneficial when participating in discussions using VOIP software. Both a scanner and printer can be helpful for reviewing, editing, storing and submitting assignments. And a mobile device that provides anywhere, anytime access to email, instant messaging and social media is usually a good idea for online students. How to Choose an Online Program 2. Software. An operating system no older than Windows XP (OS X 10.0 for Mac users) is essential. You will also need an email address; one that provides you with remote storage space, such as Gmail or Yahoo, is ideal. Some type of word processing software, such as MS Word, is also necessary. Adobe Reader is required for reading PDF files, and you’ll need a media player to watch video lectures. Some online education programs How Online may require additional software. For example, a spreadsheet program like Learning Works MS Excel is necessary in many business courses. Software “nice to haves” include a newer OS (Windows 7 or OS X 10.7), a suite of office software (Microsoft Office) and a powerful media player (Real Player or QuickTime). VOIP programs like Skype or Ventrilo can Paying for also be very useful for online students. Online Education How to Succeed in an Your Online Program11
  12. 12. GradesNeed Help Finding the Most online classes are graded just like on-campus classes: You willRight Online School? have a combination of exams, papers and projects that all count toward your final grade. Your Search Starts Right Here 1. Exams. In most online courses, exams are taken when you feel youCall 855-237-2184 for FREE Assistance have mastered the material in a particular section. You simply log in to your classroom, take the exam and submit it for grading. Many programs that use this testing method will allow you to take exams several times and submit your best grade. However, online courses that are strictly synchronous may require you to Why Choose log in and take your exam at a certain time. In classes of this type, exams Online Education? are usually announced weeks or months ahead of time and practice tests are often available beforehand. Much more uncommon are proctored exams. This type of testing requires you to visit a testing center in your area, provide identification and then How to Choose an sit for the exam under the supervision of a proctor. If you want to avoid Online Program having to take this type of exam, inquire with your online program about proctored testing before you enroll. Most do not use this type of testing, but it’s good to check ahead of time. 2. Papers. Most papers you submit in an online program will be in essay How Online format. These are relatively short papers in which you express an opinion, Learning Works summarize a longer piece or critique the work of another person. Opinion essays require you to advance a position based on your own beliefs, education or experience. Summary or critical essays involve referencing the work of others and require you to cite scholarly sources. Research papers are usually longer and more in-depth than essays. They require you Paying for to select a topic, create an outline, perform research, and write a paper that explains Online Education and/or answers questions about your topic. You may not only be graded on the paper itself, but also on your research methods and writing/editing process. 3. Projects. What type of projects you do varies greatly depending on the type of online courses you are taking. If you’re studying web development, then your class How to Succeed in an project may be to design a new website. If you’re in culinary school, your project Your Online Program may be to create a new desert recipe from scratch. Projects are generally an opportunity to get creative. Stay within the assigned parameters, but otherwise be as innovative and original as you can. Review your progress with your instructor periodically; this will help you stay on track and benefit from their advice and experience.12
  13. 13. Paying for Online EducationNeed Help Finding the CostsRight Online School? Surprisingly, the cost of tuition at accredited online colleges is not all that Your Search Starts Right Here different from what traditional public universities charge in-state students: both average about $300 per credit hour. Trends in College Pricing 2011,Call 855-237-2184 for FREE Assistance the latest cost report by The College Board, indicates that once you add in other fees, this translates to $8,244 per year. However, this is significantly better than what public universities charge out-of-state students (about $20,770 per year) or the cost of a private college (about $28,500 annually). Why Choose Where you can really save money by studying online is in housing and Online Education? transportation costs. Distance learning students do not have to pay dorm fees, purchase meal plans or drive to class – which, depending on your living situation, can mean big savings. How to Choose an The Free Application for Federal Student Online Program Aid (FAFSA) Fill out and submit your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which can be found at A copy is also included in U.S. News University Directory’s free, downloadable How Online financial aid guide. The information on your FAFSA forms will help the Learning Works Department of Education determine how much aid you qualify for. This includes grants and subsidized student loans, which are available to almost anyone who can demonstrate need. Every year there are qualified students who lose grant money because they Paying for miss the deadline. The FAFSA due date generally falls at the end of June, Online Education and deadlines for state aid can be considerably earlier. Pell Grants Pell grants are available to undergraduate students who have not earned How to Succeed in an a bachelor’s or professional degree. The U.S. Department of Education Your Online Program website notes that the maximum award is currently $5,500. However, the amount you actually receive depends on your financial need, your cost to attend school, how long you will be there, and whether you are a full-time or part-time student. To be considered for a Pell Grant you must submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).13
  14. 14. ScholarshipsNeed Help Finding the College scholarships can provide large awards and are available at allRight Online School? levels of study, but you have to compete against other applicants to get them. Some may not be available to students studying online; check with Your Search Starts Right Here the scholarship provider to make sure you are eligible.  Call 855-237-2184 for FREE Assistance Most scholarships are awarded for merit – high grades, exceptional athleticism, engaging in extracurricular activities, winning academic competitions and other notable achievements. A few are given out based on other criteria, such as studying an unusual major or belonging to a Why Choose minority group that is underrepresented in higher education. If you have Online Education? even a slim chance of being awarded any college scholarships, take the time to apply for them. Every dollar you get is a dollar you don’t have to pay back when you graduate. How to Choose an Online Program How Online Learning Works Paying for Online Education How to Succeed in an Your Online Program14
  15. 15. LoansNeed Help Finding theRight Online School? Federal student loans – both subsidized and unsubsidized – are your go-to resource if you can’t cover your costs with grants and scholarships. Your Search Starts Right Here They don’t require a credit check and have much lower interest rates than private loans. Take subsidized federal student loans if possible, as theCall 855-237-2184 for FREE Assistance government pays the interest on them while you’re in school. This can significantly reduce your final debt burden. Dependent undergraduate students can borrow $5,500 (up to $3,500 subsidized) in Direct Stafford Loans their first year of college, $6,500 (up to Why Choose $4,500 subsidized) their second year and $7,500 (up to $5,500 subsidized) Online Education? their third year. Independent undergraduates can borrow significantly more, but the maximum amount that can be subsidized is the same. Graduate and professional degree students can borrow $20,500 per year. Take private loans only if you have no other choice. Private lenders How to Choose an rarely offer the generous terms that the government does. They almost Online Program always require a credit check – which can eliminate many students from eligibility right off the bat – and tend to have high interest rates. Private lenders may also require you to start paying interest while you’re still in school, which can be a big hardship for full-time students even if you’re studying online. How Online Learning Works Military Education Benefits Both tuition assistance (TA) benefits for active-duty personnel and G.I. Bill benefits for veterans can be used for online education. However, not all schools and programs are eligible. If you want to use military Paying for education benefits to earn a degree online, your program must be Online Education provided by a regionally accredited university. Certificate and diploma programs must be certified by an appropriate national accredited body. Since you generally want to choose an accredited program anyway, this isn’t a hindrance for most students. How to Succeed in an Your Online Program15
  16. 16. Need Help Finding the How to Succeed in an YourRight Online School? Online Program Your Search Starts Right Here Getting StartedCall 855-237-2184 for FREE Assistance To get started in your online education program, make sure you have taken care of these essentials. We’ve already discussed them, but they are so important that they bear reviewing: Why Choose 1. Choose an accredited school. The importance of regional Online Education? accreditation – the highest form of accreditation in the country – cannot be stressed enough. Colleges and universities that are certified by one of the six regional U.S. accrediting agencies meet the rigorous standards set by the Department of Education. Online schools are no different. Select one that is regionally accredited to make sure that you receive a quality How to Choose an education, that the credits you earn are transferable and that the credentials Online Program you graduate with are considered legitimate. National accreditation is acceptable for vocational, technical and trade schools. How Online 2. Meet the system requirements. Different online education programs Learning Works require different levels of technology. Some will run fine on older computers and with slower Internet access, while others require newer systems with high-speed cable connections and the latest software. Either choose online courses that will run on your existing computer, or make sure you can afford to upgrade to the appropriate system requirements. Paying for 3. Submit your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Online Education Financial aid is available, especially to first-time students and low-income students. You can download a free financial aid guide from U.S. News University Directory that contains the FAFSA. Once you have it, fill out the required information and then send it in. The Department of Education will use your completed FAFSA forms to determine how much aid – How to Succeed in an including grants and subsidized student loans – you qualify for. Your Online Program16
  17. 17. Time ManagementNeed Help Finding the In all likelihood, one of the reasons you chose to earn your degree orRight Online School? certificate online is because of the flexibility that distance learning provides. To take full advantage of this, create a schedule that allocates Your Search Starts Right Here time for each of your responsibilities. For students with families, this might mean that you study after the kids have gone to bed – perhaps 9 pmCall 855-237-2184 for FREE Assistance to 11 pm every week night. If you are a working student, you might want to do your coursework in the after-dinner hours, or maybe on Saturday afternoons. The goal is to create a schedule that consistently helps you meet all of your commitments. Why Choose Also, make sure the people in your life understand the importance of Online Education? the time you set aside for coursework. Spouses, children, roommates and others should know when your study time is and that they are not to disturb you during it.   The instructor of your online class will probably never give a pop quiz just How to Choose an to make sure you’re keeping up. It is your responsibility – and yours alone Online Program – to stay on top of assignments, participate in discussions and projects, and make sure your are ready for exams. Getting behind is a recipe for failure; online courses generally move fast, so missing even one or two study sessions can make it extremely difficult to get back on track. How Online The time that you schedule for your coursework should be spent actually Learning Works doing that coursework. Your chances of success are greatly increased if you complete each week’s assignments on time. Study Tips Paying for Once you are properly prepared and have establish a schedule, follow these Online Education guidelines for success: 1. Find good study space. The place you choose to do your online learning must have a computer with an Internet connection. Beyond that, it should also be clean, comfortable and free of distractions. A home office How to Succeed in an that can be closed off from the rest of your house is ideal, and a desk in Your Online Program your bedroom is almost as good. A spot at the kitchen or dining room table can work if you live alone, but if you have a family or roommates such high-traffic areas often leave you prone to interruptions. Avoid the living room and any other space that is loaded with tempting distractions like television, music and video games.17
  18. 18. 2. Ask lots of questions. You will probably interact with your instructor and fellow students through email, and might use a variety of otherNeed Help Finding the methods to communicate as well. Web forums, chat rooms and VOIPRight Online School? applications (such as Skype) are all common in the online learning environment. Take advantage of these tools to ask plenty of questions. Your Search Starts Right Here Your instructor should be an authority on the subject you’re studying, andCall 855-237-2184 for FREE Assistance you’re paying for access to their knowledge and experience. Any time you have a question or need something clarified, take the time to ask about it. If you can do so in a group environment such as a chat room, so much the better. Other students in your online course might well be wondering about the same thing! Why Choose Online Education? 3. Learn the subject thoroughly. Too many students learn what they need to know to pass necessary exams, then promptly forget the information once they receive their degree or certificate. Only later do they discover that prospective employers expect them to have a thorough understanding of their field, leaving them unprepared to compete in the job How to Choose an market. Online Program While you’re earning your credentials online, take the time to learn each subject thoroughly. Read your course materials completely, ask your instructors and fellow students lots of questions, and practice what you learn to ensure you retain the information. When the time comes to enter How Online the job market with your new skills, you’ll be confident that you’re more Learning Works than a match for other job-seekers! Paying for Online Education How to Succeed in an Your Online Program18