What is it like to go to school full-time online?
Over the years I knew that I wanted to go back to school but, I didn’t know how I would find the time or what I wanted to do exactly. I took a few courses at Community College about 6 years ago both online and at the college. I found that the online classes were much easier for me because I was not constricted to be somewhere at a certain time and place. At that time online classes were just beginning to get popular so most of the communication was done through a website setup like a forum. The one class I had to actually go to the school to take the tests.
I considered taking more online classes but, as any student knows, it costs a lot. Even going to Community College and purchasing books was several hundred dollars for just one class. I couldn’t get aid because I was only going part-time. So, I stopped going and every once and awhile would check out online programs through different schools. After high school I attended a trade school, not a traditional college. I got my Associate’s Degree in 15 months. Even though trade schools are accredited many of the credits do not actually transfer. So, I was hesitant to start an online program because all of the ones I researched were “for-profit” schools. Which basically means the schools are owned usually by a corporation that makes a profit from the school but pays money on the taxes. Whereas non-profit schools are usually owned by the government free from taxes and the IRS allows many tax deductions. I had once heard that for-profit schools were a joke compared to regular colleges. Honestly, that is not the case.
I ended up taking the plunge a few months ago starting at Full Sail University enrolling in their graphic design program, I mentioned this several times already on the blog.I researched other schools and programs as well as read reviews online about each school. Both had the same amount of comments both negative and positive. Full Sail offered the first class, 30 days, without any obligation. If it was just not your thing, you weren’t required to stay enrolled.
The enrollment process was simple. I made a phone call to the school and spoke to an admissions representative for about an hour just discussing the program and requirements. After that several other people from the school such as the financial aid department contacted me and took care of everything.
So, what is it like?
It is A LOT of work! Some reviewers mentioned that they failed certain classes several times. As long as you do the work and put effort into it, I think it is impossible to fail! It requires a lot of discipline and time management. When I get my weekly assignments I begin to plan my week out around the due dates. Some assignments can take hours. Seriously. There have been times I worked on a single assignment for 10+. Breaking it down into a few hours a day really helps.
I have found that some of the classes are less engaging. At Full Sail they have live lectures that all students in that class can participate in. Usually the teacher goes through a PowerPoint type presentation and you can communicate with your classmates via a chat box. If you cannot make the live session they do record it and make it available for others to watch. Honestly, it was hard for me to pay attention because the video is less engaging.
The teachers have been really great as far as availability. They are reachable on AIM, email, and by phone. A few times the assignment instructions were a little cloudy but the instructor responded to me within 24 hours.
Is it for you?
I think online learning requires a person who is incredibly self-motivated. If you are capable of guiding yourself through the materials that the school provides and sometimes teaching yourself, it may work for you. It can be really overwhelming, especially when you take on this responsibility in addition to your everyday responsibilities.
Do you recommend Full Sail University?
As I mentioned, I obtained a degree from another for-profit school which pales in comparison to Full Sail. While I can understand the hang ups that some people have said, I think it is a great school. The curriculum is unique and streamlined towards your specific major. I think it may be beneficial for new high school graduates to attend an actual college for the experience. Additionally, take some core classes that are transferable. Generally for-profit schools credits do not transfer. For someone like me who has been in the job market several years now and knows what they want to do, it is a great opportunity!