So you have been thinking about going back to college, but don’t know how you would find time for classes. With work, maybe kids, and just life in general, it is hard to find those extra hours for class and homework. Maybe you should consider online or correspondence courses. There are many to choose from and, depending on what type of degree or certificate you are looking for, it may be possible to complete without ever stepping into a classroom again.
Many highly regarded universities provide online classes. The majority shadow the semester and are taken right along with those that are physically in the classroom. You don’t necessarily have to log on at a specific time of day, but you do have to meet the same deadlines as far as turning in assignments and taking tests. Some of these classes also require you attend orientation or a class or two, but it is much easier to schedule one day within a few months than it is once or twice a week.
With online classes you often have contact with the instructor through email and may even be able to set up study sessions with other online students. This can be done in a chat room or actually in person. These classes tend to have a faster pace than other independent study, such as correspondence courses, as you will see.
Some schools have video courses, which are similar to online classes but the lessons are done either on video tapes (or DVDs) or on a local cable channel. One drawback to this type of course is that you have to choose courses from a local school, instead of the numerous schools across the country. Oh, and you have to be able to spring for cable too. No Dish Network for you. Still, these are convenient courses that give you college credit without having to leave the comfort of your living room.
Correspondence courses can be one of a couple ways. The traditional correspondence course is done through the mail and testing is done at a qualifying testing center. The requirements for testing centers may be different for every school, some allow you to have a library proctor your test, others require it be a college or university proctor. Once you have signed up for a class, you should be sent a syllabus and course requirements explaining all this and advised which textbook you will need. Once you receive your materials, you’re on your way!
Most schools have a time limit of nine months to one year to complete the course. You are often allowed one extension too, but always read through the rules and regulations so you know exactly how long you have to learn your new subject. This might sound like an excessive amount of time, but it all depends on what type of study habits you have. Since these types of courses are only loosely monitored – you send your assignments in to be graded, but you don’t usually have a instructor reminding you to complete them in a timely manner – it is easy to become lazy about completing your homework and you may find yourself running behind schedule.
Before starting this type of course it is a good idea to evaluate your study habits. Do you procrastinate? Is the subject of the class one that interests you, or will you be reluctant to pick up the book? Are you an independent learner, or do you need an instructor to help guide you? If you decide that this is the way to go, this is the perfect time to figure out where your study area will be. There is nothing worse than trying to learn new subject matter and finding yourself uncomfortable or distracted. Also having a designated study area may be helpful in reminding you that you have not yet finished that assignment and really need to start cracking down.
There are also classes that combine online classes and traditional correspondence courses. Although most of your course will be learned from a textbook, the assignments will be submitted through email instead of snail mail. There are also some courses that have a website dedicated to them and assist the student with each chapter or even have a portion of the lesson online. It is very helpful to be able to see something explained in animation or video or be able to ask your instructor a question via email before submitting your assignments.
Another type of class are those that award you with a certificate of completion at the end. You have probably seen commercials for these. They can be anything from Web Site Design to Interior Decorating to Paralegal. They claim that these certificates are equivalent to one that would be awarded at a traditional school, just be sure to research the school thoroughly to ensure proper credentials. Also, if this is a career you truly want to pursue, you might want to contact some of the local businesses and see if they will accept this type of certificate before spending a lot of money on something that will be of no use. These classes are closely related to the way that correspondence courses are run. You will receive your materials through the mail and that is how you turn in your assignments. One difference being that there usually isn’t a test involved with these types of courses, or if there is, it is open-book.
There are many reasons to choose a correspondence course instead of attending classes regularly. One is that they often can be started at any time of the year. You might want to start a new class while you are on vacation, or recovering from surgery, or even while on maternity leave, but you can’t always guarantee that that will coincide with the beginning of a new semester. Or there may be a specific class you want to take, but the one at your local college is full. Or one that is not even offered in your area, such as Texas History if you live in California. If you do choose to pursue a correspondence or online course, do a little research beforehand, find a school that has a large course load and see what the requirements are for each class. If after finishing your first course you decide that this is the way to go, then you will know what to expect from your school and be able to choose another course to tackle.