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Introduction to Taking a BSC Online
Most online study establishments offer a wide choice of subjects from which you can obtain your degree.
When choosing this subject, you will need to have an interest in it, maybe it is one that you enjoyed at school or a subject that would benefit you job or if unemployed, enhances your job prospects.
Before signing up for a degree course you must research some of the numerous online learning institutions. Once chosen, you need to make sure you can fulfill the commitments required for study that you are able to complete monthly assignments in a timely manner. This is especially important if you are already running a busy home or have a full time job.
You will need to set aside a couple of nights and at least one day per weekend on a regular basis, to ensure adequate time is allocated to the coursework. Financial outlay over the years to complete an online degree is another big consideration.
This is an article about my experiences when pursuing a Bachelor of Science Degree (BSC) through an online correspondence course within an open study college.
We will examine the different hurdles and pitfalls that lie ahead of you, and hopefully will encourage you to obtain a degree by allaying some of your apprehensions.
We begin with an overview of what a typical online provider has to offer in the way of open study courses and degree subjects.
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Online Degree Courses
I achieved a degree with honors in Environmental Science from an open study college here in Scotland. However, there are many online companies offering degree courses in Europe and the USA, with much the same subjects but with different overall costs, grants and financial arrangements.
So depending on where you live, it is best to check out a few of these establishments before deciding which one to use, although word of mouth is usually the best method. I shall include a few Internet site addresses at the end of the article for you to visit and check out.
Having to retire due to rheumatoid arthritis, I was looking at ways of changing my career from being an engineer in Oil Rig Construction to something less physically demanding. My next door neighbour was attending an open college , aiming for a diploma in social work to better his job prospects.
I had a look at the literature supplied to him by the college, which consisted of very high quality text books, DVD and CD's, and immediately I sent off for a prospectus.
The open study college offered courses at three levels:
- Level 1 – For those new to open study.
- Level 2&3 – For those who have studied in an open study college program previously, but need to talk things over with an advisor overseeing their program.
The range of courses for the different degrees was vast, over 600 leading to over 60 degrees in different subjects, some of which I have noted below:
- Arts and Humanities
- Health and Social Care
- Business Management
- Computing and IT
- Mathematics and Statistics
- Social Sciences
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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.
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While studying for a degree through an open study college has its ups and downs, you will often find that the advantages outweigh the disadvantages. Speaking from personal experience, you can learn for yourself about some of the benefits associated with open colleges and why you should look into studying for an online degree offered through these institutions. You will find information on financial aid and grant options and how these open study colleges handle students with disabilities.
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Personal Experience Studying Through an Open Study College
As I was unable to work when I took my degree at the open study college, I was on government benefits which enabled the school to waive entire degree fees. This was a great assistance to us as money was tight with me not earning.
Once again, I did have help in this department. A Disability Adviser visited me at home and carried out an assessment on my disabilities, recommending that I was eligible for an OC/Scottish Government grant to purchase the following aids:
- Laptop PC and color printer - laptop meant I could use a computer if I was laid up in bed.
- Voice Recognition Software - these programs are great innovations; you just speak slowly into a mic connected to the PC and the words appear like magic on the screen. (This was because it was painful and difficult for me to type, some of the essays were expected to be 2000 words.)
- Examination Venues - My arthritis had me virtually housebound, but the open college sent an invigilator to my home. As I was not allowed to use a computer in the exam, the invigilator also acted as a scribe, writing down my answers to the questions and leaving spaces for my calculations and drawings.
I was fortunate that I had the full support of my wife when completing my degree (she confessed afterwards that I really picked up with having something to take my mind off the dreaded arthritis).
My only regret is that I never made the graduation ceremony in Edinburgh as I wasn’t fit to travel, but the open college has said that I can attend any subsequent ceremony when I am able to get up and about again.
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This article has explored the option of open study college courses, and it has contained information on obtaining a Bachelors of Science Degree within an open study college.
I found it to be one of the most satisfying achievements I have experienced. The institution's staff was professional and helpful from day one, guiding me through the various degree subjects, which open study courses I should take and provided general advice on online study.
I found their knowledge on disabled people’s problems to be incredible, as they pinpointed my problem areas with ease, especially my difficulties in typing and using my tower PC located upstairs in the spare room.
Their disabled financial aid grant enabled me to purchase the latest laptop, printer and software and gave me the option to take two courses a year. As my medical condition deteriorated and I was unable to travel to the exam center, the open college made provisions for a scribe/invigilator to come to my house, enabling me take the exams at home. This meant doing no handwriting, having only to jot down my calculations and draw sketches in the spaces she left between the text.
All in all, due to my experience in online study with an open study college, I can personally recommend this method of obtaining a BSC and hope that this "review" of open study college courses will help others to consider taking an online degree.