The Pioneer Post

The Pioneer Post is a resource for online students that provides tips and information about distance education.


Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Part V of "Going back to school: Step by step"

By Les Hollingsworth

Once you’ve selected the program that is right for you, it’s time to get started. Admission processes and guidelines will vary in detail from school to school but they should follow a similar process overall.
  1. Submit an application. Some institutions (especially the private, for-profit schools) will run promotions that allow you to waive the application fee. Many will not. You simply have to ask your enrollment counselor.
  2. Submit official transcripts from your previous institutions. For undergraduate students, this helps get you transfer credits. For master’s students, this proves that you’ve earned a bachelor’s degree and might qualify for admission. Any respectable institution will require you to have a bachelor’s degree before you can enroll in a master’s program. If they don’t, be wary.
  3. Investigate scholarships that you might qualify for. My favorite is You can build a profile and it spits out a list of potential scholarships. The more detailed you can be in your profile the better the results for your scholarship search. Also check with your local high school. The guidance counselor there might know of opportunities for your specific situation.
  4. Decide if you should apply for Federal Financial Aid. The government has certain requirements you must meet to qualify, such as enrolling in a minimum number of credits per semester. Males: If you didn’t register for selective service when you turned 18, no luck for you. Here’s a red flag to watch for: if a school doesn’t qualify for Title IV Federal Financial Aid, you need to select another school. For one reason or another, Uncle Sam is wary of this school. You should be too. Many will offer loans through private lenders but interest will be higher and they generally won’t be subsidized (i.e. you’re loans interest will begin to accrue as soon as monies are dispersed).
  5. Pick a start date and enroll.
I hope this series has been helpful. My recommendation overall is to be cautious. There are a lot of shady organizations that will try to boiler room you into a decision. Don’t rush, do your research, and you’ll get the education you deserve at the best possible price.

If you have additional questions, please feel free to contact me at . My goal is to be a resource for anyone who seeks to improve themselves through education. Good luck!

About this series

Whether you're a new graduate with a bachelor’s degree, a blue-collar employee looking to strengthen your resume, or a skilled professional looking to climb the corporate ladder, it’s likely that you’ve thought about continuing your education. The odds are also good that you’ve wondered about doing it online. This five-part series will provide a few tips and thoughts over the next two weeks to help you decide.



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