Online Degree Decision Priorities
To assist in deciding which degree suits your aspirations and to help when considering your priorities, I have listed some of the questions I looked into when making a decision about the degree path I wanted. I strongly suggest you look into them prior to making your decision:
1. Will I need a computer to take a degree?
A computer is required for this type of degree course as DVD's and CD's make up part of the content and some Internet research is to be expected. They offer a Comprehensive PC for Beginners course which can bring you up to speed in using a PC for database, charts, graphs and calculations.
2. Will a degree help my present or future job prospects?
This is the reason many folks opt for an online degree. I retired due to ill health so I thought that getting a degree would help get me back to work. Since gaining mine, I have had several good job offers, and I am over 60 years old!
However, due to deterioration in health, I have not taken them up. But I do write for Brighthub in the Environmental, Engineering, Education and Renewable Energy channels, so having a degree in these subjects definitely helps. I am always hopeful of getting well enough to get a part-time job with the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) who have offered me several full-time jobs. Unfortunately, most involve sewage farm and river water sampling and testing; but with my balance problems I would probably end up in the river, or worse in the sewage!
3. How many courses will I need to complete for a degree and how is each one assessed. How much time will need to be devoted to the coursework?
The different courses are given points and you need 360 points for a degree. I took ten courses over five years as I felt I could handle two a year (remember, I was off work at the time).
Each course is given either 30 or 60 points. You need at least 180 points from three mandatory 60 point level 3 courses and the rest from recommended level 2 ones, of which there is a good selection to choose from.
The courses last nine months usually starting in February and finishing with an exam or final assessment in October, you will need to dedicate two or three hours a day plus a full day on the weekend.
4. Do they offer any facilities for disabled people?
This was very important to me as I am disabled due to arthritis. I spoke to an advisor who assured me that everything possible was done to help the disabled regardless of their affliction, which included advice and financial help with aids to help you study as well as ensuring disabled access to any campus or residential school buildings.
5. Does the open study college offer low interest loans or grants towards fees and what are the methods of payment?
Both interest-free loans and various open college and government grants are available, grants being subject to status. Payment is per course over nine months at an average of $75 a month, my degree cost around $7000.
6. Can my present qualifications be counted towards a degree?
Depending on the level and relevance of your existing qualifications, some may earn points towards your degree.
7. Is there an exam at the end of each course?
Most courses have an exam in October, but some have an assignment which consists of a roundup of the years work.
8. How many years will it take to achieve a degree and will it be internationally recognized?
Mine took 5 years, but it can take longer depending on the time you have to accumulate the required points. An open study college Bachelor of Science degree is internationally recognized.
9. Is there a residential school or campus requirement and is it mandatory?
Some courses require two weeks at a campus, usually in July, but are not mandatory. I for one was able to pick courses where no campus attendance was required.
10. Do I have a dedicated tutor for each subject?
Yes, a tutor is dedicated to your course, who may be contacted by phone or email. Tutors also hold face-to face tutorials locally, where any coursework queries can be addressed.
11. How many assignments are there in a course and how do I submit and receive marked assignments?
There is normally an assignment every month and latterly, the open college went paperless, the assignments being sent to the tutor for marking and received back via email. You need over 40% to pass an assignment.
12. Can I take a break and come back to the degree program?
Yes, as long as you have finished any current open study courses.
13. Are exams held locally?
Yes, all examinations are held locally within a thirty mile radius if possible. I lived fifteen miles from my exam center.