October 16, 2018

Distance Education FAQs


Are you curious about Distance Education? Well, if you have a need to study from home and have flexibility with your course timetable then online learning is the best way to achieve your education goals.

Online courses and colleges are gaining in popularity because many students are either unable to commit to full-time study, restricted by geographical limits or have insufficient funds to pay for full-time school fees. Such students choose to join Distance Education Programs.

Listed below are some of the most frequently asked questions about Distance Education.

Q. How do I apply for an online learning course?

A. Most distance education websites will have an enrollment section that will help you with the application process. Depending on the institutions requirements you may be required to provide your personal details, contact information, high school grades, GPA, SAT or ACT scores, proof of school diploma or graduation or any references from teachers or counselors.

You may find that some websites require you to put in a request before the application details are mailed to you. If you are considering a bachelor’s degree course then the prerequisite for entry is a high school diploma or GED, for graduate courses schools will expect at least a bachelor’s degree or similar qualification for admission.

Q. Am I eligible for financial assistance if I join an online college?
A. Providing you choose an accredited online education program then you should be eligible for some form of financial aid. Ensure that the online course you enroll into is one that is recognized by regional accredited agencies. Online schools that do not meet basic quality standards or provide unrecognized courses are not awarded grants or scholarships. You can also inquire about your eligibility for financial assistance through (FAFSA), Free Application for Federal Student Aid.

Note. If you are not a U.S. citizen or an eligible noncitizen, then you are not eligible for federal student aid. However, many state agencies, schools, and even some scholarships will consider you for non-federal aid.

If you are seeking financial aid then it is important that you inform the provider that you require assistance for an online education program. You will find a number of providers decline applications for financial aid to support distance education programs.

Q. Can I apply for an online learning course if I happen to live in another country?
A. Yes. International students can apply for online courses. However, it is a good idea to ensure that the courses are accredited and the training sessions are valuable. If you want to join an American University, a Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) score is a must. You may also be required to provide proof that you can pay the required tuition fees and additional details about your international status.

Note. Beware of institutions that offer ‘low cost’ degrees, diplomas or certificates, also steer clear of schools that do not demand  proof of previous education or qualifications or requires little or no education or coursework to obtain your qualification.These institutions are known as Diploma Mills.

The dictionary defines a diploma mill as: An institution of higher education operating without supervision of a state or professional agency and granting diplomas which are either fraudulent or because of the lack of proper standards worthless. – Webster’s Third New International Dictionary

Q. Do online courses cost less than traditional courses?
A. You will find online learning courses are generally lower priced than conventional college or university courses. However the cost that you will incur is dependent on many factors, such as the college itself, whether you are enrolled for an undergraduate or graduate course, the supplies and books that you need to equip yourself with, etc.

The one big saving you will make by studying online is through the saving of  accommodation costs and the fees associated with living on campus.  Living at home during studies should allow you to save enough to pay off your tuition fees and be debt free.

Q. Do professors handle the online classes?

A. This can be a difficult question to answer. Generally only qualified instructors with a masters degree and certified to teach will provide online tuition, they may not be professors in the strict sense of the word but will have expert knowledge in their field.

Higher level courses are almost always handled by professors. These professors generally manage graduate level learning and administer lectures.

You will also find online colleges provide qualified  support staff that are there to help students through their course work, provide advice on Career Pathways and help solve any issues the student may have.

Q. What are the attendance requirements for online courses?
A. Just like traditional college courses, online colleges require you to log in to the course a set number of times every week. Colleges do use management software programs to monitor the attendance of students, so just because you’re not physically seen does not mean you’re not being monitored.

Q. How are tests conducted for online courses?
A. Whereas some colleges conduct physical tests in campuses for online courses, there are others who conduct the tests online. Some of the courses conduct open book tests whereas others impose restrictions that keep students from using dishonest means. At other times, students may have to hire approved proctors to supervise while they sit the exam.

It is important to check with the college before you enroll on their exam testing requirements, depending on the system they use your compliance with their testing policy will be unquestionable.

Q. How long does it take to complete an online course?

A. It is entirely up to you. If you have a lot of free time then you can choose to finish it as fast as you want, or depending on your circumstances you may want to take it easy and fit it around your other work/home/social commitments.

However, there are some factors that will determine the length of the program, the nature of the course, the number of courses that you have enrolled in and the academic level that you wish to achieve.

Here is a guide to the time required to attain qualification.

Certificate: 6 – 12 months

Associate Degree: 2 -3 years

Bachelor’s Degree: 3 – 5 years

Master’s Degree: 2 – 3 years

Doctorate Degree: 2 – 10 years

The above guide is only an estimation, every person and their circumstances are different, one of the main Benefits of Online Education is in the choice to tailor the course to suit your individual requirements.

Q. What assistance can an online student get with their coursework?
A. Just because you’re an online student the level of support should be similar to what you would expect from traditional universities. Many prospective students believe online learning lacks personal communication, although this is true to a certain degree there is still a large resource for online students to communicate with their college, teachers and other students.

The learning resources available to online students include the use of electronic libraries, contact with teachers/professors through email, phone, lectures and webinars, college counselors, fellow students and the student services dept, school administrators and for any technical issues the college technical support dept.

Q. How acceptable are these online courses in the industry?
A. This largely depends on the academic qualification and the field of commerce the student is aiming for. Some employers readily accept students with accredited online degrees while others will always select someone with a traditional degree over those with an online degree.

It is important that the student does not choose to attain their degree through the ‘easy route’. A qualification from a diploma mill or similar will only result in the student ending up with a qualification that has no academic value and is meaningless to future employers.

You will find that providing your academic qualification was bestowed through the online department of a well known, and respected college or university, your online degree should not prevent you from achieving your career objective.

Q. Is there some kind of career counseling offered for students of online courses? What about placement services?
A. Many universities that offer courses online also offer extensive career counseling and placement help, this ensures that students are provided with relevant workplace information after they complete the course.

Q. What professions are most likely to accept online degrees?
Obviously there are some industries that are more likely to accept an online degree than others. Professions that are based mainly on academic studies would be more willing to accept online degrees than professions which  require a level of practical proficiency and would be less likely to accept online degrees.

  • Professions most likely to accept online degrees include Accounting, IT, Administration, Actuaries, Education, Humanities, Business Management, Health Sciences, Graphic Design, Economics and Finance, Social and Behavioral Sciences
  • Professions less likely to embrace online degrees include Engineering, Construction, Medicine, Agriculture, Law, Sciences, Veterinarian, Catering, Journalism, Coaching

The reality is as Distance Education becomes more accepted you will find increasingly employers accepting online qualifications, that is not to say that you won’t face difficulties, it just means that until online learning becomes standard practice you may find yourself having to justify the validity of your degree.


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    • paula says:

      I can answer a couple of your questions. Distance learning (and I think this includes courses through the mail) are courses you can do from your home, where the teacher is a fair distance from where the student is. There are some situations, where, for instance, a whole class might meet in one location, and the teacher is in another, sometimes with another group, and there are video and computer links. People take these classes to fulfill all sorts of requirements and interests, especially when they can’t get to another location every week or two or three times a week to take a class. For instance, I once took a whole degree where I had to drive, daily, three hours each way to classes, spend all day, then come home, because I didn’t want to relocate altogether. I would much rather have done the whole degree long-distance, but that wasn’t an option at the time. I live in a rural area, and getting on advanced courses is often difficult, and all we have here is a community college, so, if I want an advanced class, I have to do something else, and that can be done through distance education and online courses. I can’t help you out with any specifics, but there are some very good online colleges and universities, but I’d be willing to bet there are some scams out there as well. Do your research and make sure you actually can TALK to someone who has taken courses through whatever institution you want to send money to good luck!

  3. Career ideas says:

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    • Steven says:

      Is An MBA Relevant for Starting BAs?Absolutely yes, an MBA is relevant for starting a BA career. But so are other post-graduate degrees including: Business Administration, Accounting, Finance, Business Information Systems, Management Information Systems, Computer Science etc. Is Business Analysis Only for Information Technology (IT) Students? Absolutely NOT, the Business Analysis profession has domain business analysts and Information Technology Business Analysis. Domain Business Analysts are not hired primarily for their IT Skills but for their domain industry experience. Examples of these are Finance Business Analysts, Telco Business Analysts, CRM Business Analysts, Insurance Business Analysts, etc. What Courses Should a Business Analyst Take? A Business Analyst should pay attention to courses on Requirements Elicitation, Requirements Validation, Requirements Management, Use Cases, UML, etc. Was this answer helpful?

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