New to online education? You’re probably excited as well as a bit nervous about the academic adventure ahead. Online colleges frequently provide resources on their websites you can access before your courses start to help familiarize yourself with their environment or investigate other parts of the process.
For example, at American Public University (APU) there are a number of tools available to students, including virtual tours of the E-classroom and E-campus, which go over these virtual spaces where you’ll be spending a lot of time. It also has a transfer credit site, which provides information on the types of credit APU accepts as well as a searchable database of possible transfer credit options. If you are using federal student aid, APU has links to Financial aid TV, with short clips that explain various pieces of the process.
Virtual tours of the E-campus and E-classroom. Rather than filing into a school auditorium for presentations by school administrators who review campus procedures, or traipsing across a campus in the wake of an Admissions staffer who shows you the library, dorms, and a classroom, you can log in to your computer from the comfort of your home and get a personalized tour. In the E-Campus open house, see how to register for classes, begin the transfer credit process, change your program, print out a grade report, browse the online library, or join a student organization. In the E-classroom open house, learn how to post a discussion board comment, find your assignments and syllabus, check your grade book, locate course materials, contact your professor, and more. Your Admissions department hosts answer your questions throughout the presentation and provide downloadable links to checklists, catalogs, and other helpful campus resources. You can also request recorded versions of these Open Houses be emailed to you so you can refer to them any time you need a refresher.
Transfer Credit Evaluation (TCE) Center. Transferring in credits earned from previous schools or professional or military training can be one of the most important aspects of your enrollment process. APU provides a link to the TCE Center on its website, so you can check it out before you apply, and within your customized E-Campus, so you can access it after you apply. Click on the “TCE Results Resource” on the home page for a tutorial. You can see what’s accepted for Undergraduate and Graduate students, and the types of acceptable credit for a wide variety of Military and Civilian professional training, including certificates, articulation agreements, memorandum of understanding, and American Council of Education (ACE) courses. If you’ve taken exams such as AP, CLEP, or DSST, the site provides a list of transfer equivalencies. APU also has block transfer agreements with a long list of community colleges. The transfer equivalency database is useful for checking potential credit award–have a copy of your transcript on hand so you can enter your course information.
Financial aid videos. It’s probably an understatement to say that applying for financial aid is an overwhelming experience. Before starting educate yourself by watching helpful videos from your school, like APU’s Financial Aid TV, with short clips on several crucial topics, including:
- 2013-2014 Tutorial for First Time FAFSA users
- Understanding the FAFSA
- Understanding Financial Aid
- Grant Programs
- Loan Programs
- Loan Repayment
- Military Service Benefits
- Veterans Benefits
Make it a point to inquire about these types of resources as you move into your online education journey.
By Hunter Barrat
Senior Admissions Representative, American Public University System