Exploring the World of Online College Degrees

With the busy and hectic schedules of individuals around the globe, more and more people are warming up to the idea of pursuing their education from via higher education institutions that offer online college degrees.

The number of people that will attend virtual classes is said to reach a figure close to one million.

But is online distance learning right for you?

The Key Elements of Online Distance Learning

While some students settle into a campus dorm, meet with professors in a classroom setting, take tests in front of a proctor, and participate in group debates, online distance learning students approach their schooling in a different manner.

They may connect to the Internet to obtain pre-taped lectures, learn from tutorials, engage in collaborative online chat discussions, participate in simulations and deliver online presentations.

Depending on the online classes you take, the way coursework is submitted will vary.

While traditional schooling deals with handing papers into a professor, taking group tests, or presenting research findings in front of a classroom, students seeking online degrees may email term papers, submit assignments to websites, and videotape presentations.

The Advantages of Online Learning

As one contemplates the advantages associated with online college degrees, the convenient and flexible nature of distance learning are the main reasons why students flock to the Internet for their studies.

It is these factors that have led this form of learning to become an increasingly popular educational structure.

Students pursuing a college degree over the Internet are faced with the opportunity to learn without encountering the boundaries that time and location hold.

There is no worrying if you will make your 8am statistics class or be able to drive through a snowstorm to reach a required lecture on campus.

Online learning also allows students to learn at their own pace and at any location that offers an Internet connection.

When obtaining an online education, students often enjoy the chance to learn by the style that best complements their nature.

For some, the dialogue between faculty and student is enhanced through as communication may take place in an arena that provides a more comfortable environment for asking questions and holding discussion.

Others take pleasure in their online learning environment because it allows them to hold onto day jobs they may already have, while new and at-home mothers are able to tend to their little ones while taking college courses.

The benefits for each student will vary in importance.

For the most part, students are accountable for the way they manage their time, keep to schedules, and complete their required work.

Overall, the entire process involving online college degrees permits students to exercise a high level of self-direction, freedom, and responsibility.

Plan For College – Seven Summer Strategies For College-Bound Kids

Once a student reaches the eighth grade, in some ways summer needs to be more strategic. I’m not talking about adding yet more busy work to your soccer-filled schedules. I’m talking about developing a new filter through which you do things. I want you to start living in the “big picture” of being college-bound so you’ll start doing things now that will help shape your college experience later. Here are seven smart summer strategies for college-bound kids and their families:

  1. Visit a college campus. Before this summer is out, go to at least one campus – and do more than walk around. Craft more a personal visit by finding out in advance which classes and events actually connect to your current interests. In fact, between now and the first day of freshman year at college, every time your family takes you out of town for any reason, make sure a custom campus visit is part of that trip. “Big Picture” Plus: Your college-bound plans will be far more powerful once you know what that experience looks and sounds and feels like.
  2. Read a classic. A lot of kids hear “classic” and immediately think “old,” and we all know where old stuff ranks on the “Mom-can-I-do-that?” list. Listen – books become classics because decades, even centuries, of readers read them, fall in love with them and read them again. Jump into Alexandre Dumas’s Three Musketeers, Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird or Shakespeare’s As You Like It. The classics are the common cultural language that crosses all generations. They expose you to new worlds. And they are GREAT READS. “Big Picture” Plus: Committing to reading something unfamiliar is a great step towards building the academic discipline you’ll need in college.
  3. Go to camp. Making s’mores is great – but building a robot is amazing! Today’s summer camps have you climbing mountains, studying sea life, coding video games – and often living right on college campuses in dorms with fellow college-bound kids. If money is tight and the program you want is not free, make sure you check into scholarships they offer or work hard to raise the funds the year before through jobs, your church, friends and more. Summer camps dramatically expand the world in which you feel you belong – the bigger, the bolder, the better. “Big Picture” Plus: Camp is a fun way to learn how to live with people who are nothing like you, a strong start for college.
  4. Get your academic act together. Commit this to memory: what graduates you from high school does NOT always get you into college. If you have a “D” or worse in any subject, it’s like you never took that class when you apply to four-year institutions (only “C” grades or higher generally count). Head to community college over the summer and take the class again – and get college credit at the same time! In California, high school students can enroll at community college for free (check your state). Community colleges are also great places to take advanced classes your high school doesn’t offer or you can’t get into because of limited space. All of that will boost your college application’s impact. “Big Picture” Plus: Summer courses give you a taste of the academic challenges and independence to come in college.
  5. Commit. I’m a big fan of school year clubs and events, but an important – and fun! – part of growing up is developing long-term pursuits. By “long-term,” I mean two years or longer of engaging in: an academic interest (like journalism or math club); a personal passion (like music or sports); work experience (like internships or jobs); and public service (like scouting or local volunteering). Summer is a perfect to time to start. You don’t have to join a formal organization; you can explore your own interests. Just be sure an adult works with you, like a teacher, boss, pastor or program director. Their guidance will help you grow, and they’ll be well-equipped to write recommendations for you later. “Big Picture” Plus: Long-term commitments test you, stretch you and give you a valuable measuring stick of personal growth.
  6. Get fit. If you’re thirteen or older, it is time to be personally accountable for your general fitness. Forget that a “pooch,” “muffin top” or a full-on gut is not your idea of cute – it is truly dangerous. There will never be an easier time in your life to get in shape, schedule- or metabolism-wise, than right now. Decide this summer that you are going to work out every day and eat responsibly. Not because it’s fun or easy, but because it is the best thing to do for your body and your brain. Okay, and because you want to look good when you show up on campus this fall. Whatever gets you MOVING! “Big Picture” Plus: Becoming and staying fit is a life-changing step towards deciding to do things you don’t want to do – and coming out a winner in the process.
  7. Complete a college application. Do not let the first time you see a college application be the fall semester you are expecting to complete a dozen of them! Download the Common App or Universal App, or get a copy of a state school application from the library. Then sit with family or friends and fill one out. Take notes of any questions (trust me, you will have some), and call the admissions office and get the answers. Yes, they will answer your questions! Practice writing at least one essay response, as well – and ask a tutor, parent or teacher to review it. Yes, they will help you! “Big Picture” Plus: Filling out practice apps over the summer will flatten that part of the college-bound learning curve when the heat is on senior year.

All right, stop worrying that this sounds like a lot of work! Instead, really envision reading on your front porch, shooting serious hoops every day with your friends, and scheduling one day a week to work with a conservation group to beautify your town. Then imagine telling your roommate all about it freshman year in college. That’s a big picture you’ll want to frame.

What Motivates Students To Succeed In College?

In college, each student is motivated to succeed by a combination of things. That’s why it makes sense for students to discover and utilize the motivators that effectively push them forward, toward their most important goals. Here are some of the motivators that help students find success.

1. Self-Realization – College is a time when students can discover, become and experience the person they want to be. When they are motivated in this way, they will find college to be a fun and exciting time, a time when they can explore a variety of courses, join interesting clubs, participate in campus activities, meet interesting people, explore their capabilities and identify their passions. As they begin to learn and grow, they will be motivated to push those limits and find the person who resides inside.

2. Personal Satisfaction – Some students take pride in facing the challenges of college and coming through it all having done well. They are motivated internally and get a great deal of personal satisfaction from doing a good job.

3. Challenge – There are students are motivated by a challenge. They see college as a big challenge, one that requires them to fight for success. Students who have the personality, operating style and self-confidence to face and overcome challenges will do well in this environment because they won’t allow themselves to fail.

4. Fear – For some students, fear is a good motivator. These students do well in college because they don’t want to lose their scholarships, don’t want graduate without a job, don’t want to fail out and still have large loan repayments and don’t want to anger or embarrass their families.

5. Joy of Learning – Some students truly love the college environment. They enjoy learning and devour information on subjects that turn them on. They strive to become knowledge experts, thought leaders and information repositories. The need for information motivates them.

6. A Clear Purpose – When students head off to college with a clear and single-minded purpose, they are usually motivated to do well. They see college as a means to an end, one that is important to them. On the other hand, students who enter college with no clear purpose in mind are less likely to perform well. They don’t place a high value on a college education because they don’t see how a college education will help them get where they want to go. It serves no purpose for them.

7. Approval – Many students seek and are motivated by praise, encouragement and recognition for good work. When students are good at something and achieve exceptional results, their status in that environment goes up. When people compliment them, point them out as examples and look up to them, they shine.

8. Life Goals – Students frequently see their college education as a launching pad to their futures. A good education can lead to a good job, money, security and all of the trappings of success. They are motivated to do well because college will help them build a better future.

9. Aid Others – Some students are motivated by the need to help others. To reach their goal, they must perform well in college. A college education will to enable them fulfill their dream of serving others. They know that nurses, teachers, caregivers, counselors and other helpers can only get started with a good education.

Everyone is motivated by something. In fact, most college students are motivated by a combination of factors. Therefore, wise students recognize and utilize their own personal motivators. They understand that motivated students will always perform at a higher level than students who are unmotivated and uninspired.

Hidden College Costs: Roommate Conflict

Parents, if you’re already reeling from the costs of today’s college education, take a deep breath. According to one expert, if your kids lack conflict resolution skills, it could end up costing you even more.

“Students who can’t handle conflict run into trouble with roommates almost immediately,” said Susan Fee who is the author of My Roommate is Driving Me Crazy! Solve Conflicts, Set Boundaries, and Survive the College Roommate From Hell (Adams Media, 2005). “They avoid the issue rather than deal it, causing increased stress, lower grades, and additional moving and housing expenses,” said Fee, who is a licensed professional counselor. She said students who focus only on academic success do so at the expense of other life skills.

“Some students have spent so much time studying and fitting in extracurricular activities that they never develop necessary social skills. Well-intentioned parents have become overly-involved in their kids’ lives, planning their time, and solving their dilemmas. By the time these kids enter college, they have no confidence in speaking up for themselves,” said Fee.

Another factor leading to trouble adjusting is a sense of entitlement. “It’s not uncommon for students to come from homes where they had their own bedroom, bathroom, and TV,” said Fee. “They have unreasonable expectations about having things their way.”

The bottom line for parents: Children’s poor communication skills can hurt your wallet. Kids who can’t get along with their roommates request single dorm rooms, which are not only more costly, but usually unavailable. Others move off-campus, transfer to another school, or return home. Grades can be affected by the stress causing some students to repeat entire semesters. “The ultimate solution is for students to learn how to resolve their roommate differences rather than find ways to avoid them,” said Fee.

She offers these five tips to parents:

1. Offer suggestions, not solutions. Telling your child what to do, or worse, handling the problem yourself, does more harm than good. Conflict resolution is a skill that needs to be practiced and the more you do for your kids, the longer it will take them to become confident. Instead, help them become critical thinkers by imagining scenarios, brainstorming solutions, and considering possible outcomes and consequences.

2. Prepare for conflict. Students who assume things will be “perfect” get thrown for a loop when they’re not. Conflict is inevitable because people are different. Even best friends should expect to have differences in needs, living habits, stress levels, and communication skills. Teach your child that conflict does not have to be negative; it’s an opportunity to be creative and learn how to problem solve.

3. Share expectations. Roommate contracts are popular today and many universities require them as a way to get kids talking about their expectations. Even if your child’s school does not have formal contracts, encourage him to discuss things like sleep and study habits, bills, sharing items, cleaning, and the best times to have visitors. Just like pre-marital counseling, the more that’s discussed upfront, the better the relationship.

4. Encourage face-to-face conversations. More and more, kids today would rather communicate through e-mail, IM, and text messaging rather than talking face-to-face. Without the benefit of facial expressions, tone of voice, and body language, messages can be misunderstood. Also, warn kids that gossiping to others instead of talking to their roommate directly only escalates the problem.

5. Ask for help. Residence life staff will help to mediate, as long as the student has already tried problem solving face-to-face. (In reality, most students wait to mention there’s a problem until they want to move out, or at the first sign of trouble, they report it to their RA expecting that person to solve it.) Campus counseling centers are also available for help if a roommate is exhibiting signs of mental illness such as depression, substance abuse, or cutting. If nothing else, a counseling session can help your child learn to better deal with stress and find other ways to manage the situation.

Virginia Financial Aid – Making College Education Possible For Students

Some of the popular forms of student financial aids available in Virginia are:

o Need-based Scholarships – The most popular Virginia scholarships include Bayly-Tiffany Scholarship, V. Thomas Forehand, Jr. Scholarship, Kaprielian Memorial Scholarship, John Allen Love Scholarship, Skinner Scholarship, Charles Fred Wonson Scholarship and so on.

o State Grants and Scholarships – College Scholarship Assistance Program, Virginia Commonwealth Awards, Virginia Guaranteed Assistance Program, Virginia Higher Education Teacher Assistance Program, Virginia Teaching Scholarship Loan Program and many other financial aid programs are offered by the state.

o The University Grants offered by the University of Virginia are other significant sources of student.

o Private loans at different interest rates are also available for the students in the state.

Calculation of Financial Need

For every student applying for the financial aid, the need for financial aid determines the eligibility of the student. It can be calculated by subtracting the expected family contribution and scholarship from outside resources from the total cost of attendance in a particular degree program. In this way, the need for is calculated and used to determine whether a student should be awarded the financial aid or not.

A number of factors can affect the possibility of financial aid for a student in the state:

Degree program joined by the student in one of the state’s institutes.

Credit hours for the graduate and undergraduate students.

Availability of legal documents, if the student is not a US citizen.

Registration with a selective service.

Default on a previous loan

Academic records and so on.

You can learn about various student financial aids in Virginia with the help of an expert student counselor.