The Pioneer Post

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


Wednesday, May 5, 2010

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

By Les Hollingsworth

We have all experienced a situation where we didn’t ask the right questions or didn’t even know what questions to ask. Don’t let this happen with your education. A degree is both expensive and time-consuming — be an informed consumer.
  1. Ask about the weekly time commitment. Let’s face it; college is supposed to be hard. If an admissions rep tells you that it will take less than 15 hours per week to complete the coursework, warning lights should be going off like a trooper in a high-speed chase. This brings into question the real amount of learning from the courses and the reputability of the school.
  2. Be sure you understand the program’s on-campus residency requirements. These go by many different names: residencies, colloquia, time-savers, etc. At the end of the day, they all mean the same thing; you have to come to campus and that costs you additional money for travel/expenses/time off work. There are many schools now that do not require on-site time and you should be aware of these lesser-known requirements prior to enrolling.
  3. Know what you need from a program and move through the admissions process at your pace. Many institutions hire professional salespeople as their admissions counselors. It’s important to know what you need so you can stick to your guns when an enrollment person starts calling. Save yourself time and money by not letting a counselor hurry you through the process.
  4. Overall, if a program seems too good to be true, it almost certainly is. Be wary of schools that give you credit for just about anything. Don’t get me wrong, credit for life experience is good and legitimate in many cases, but question the legitimacy of the school if you get credit for that underwater basket weaving conference you attended.
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!

Next week: Starting the admission process.

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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