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Student Services Tips

Read these 29 Student Services Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Bachelor Degree tips and hundreds of other topics.

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What is a dean's list?

Making The Dean's List

One of the greatest achievements a college student can accomplish is making the dean's list. The dean's list is a roster of students who have reached the highest academic rank for the semester. Usually, a student must be enrolled for at least part time and must have a GPA of at least 3.5 to make the list. Online bachelor degree programs have dean's lists just like regular campus programs and the lists are often posted on the Internet after each semester. It is a nice way for the school to recognize its hardest working students, and for online students to receive the same recognition as in-class students working toward the same goal.

What should I ask an academic advisor in a meeting?

Planning With Your Academic Advisor

Academic advisors are specially trained to provide students with the online bachelors degree resources they need. When you meet with your academic advisor, you should be prepared to have a planning session about your courses and your career goals. Here are some tips to get you started on your first advising session:

- Have an idea of your course curriculum, and what classes interest you. If some of your courses are e-learning or virtual classrooms, make sure you get the full amount of credits for that course.
- If you're taking online courses, map out your online degree plan with your academic advisor to make sure you stay on schedule.
- Ask any questions, thoughts or concerns about the online degree program
- Share your goals and hopes for the future of your career. Your advisor should know as much about your personal and professional goals as possible to help guide you in your course curriculum.

Your academic advisor should:

- Assist you in making plans for your education and career
- Help you chart a realistic and complete degree plan
- Have references and suggestions available for you upon graduation
- Keep all of your information private, as required by law

What kind of benefits does an online education offer?

Save Money Through Distance Learning

One of the many benefits of obtaining an online bachelor degree is the money you will save by taking classes over the Internet. Not driving to school means no more gas money wasted, parking fees, or eating out. Thousands of dollars a year can be saved this way, especially if you live far from your college of choice. Even better is the time saved by cutting out the commute. You can use that spare time by studying or even taking additional courses to ensure an earlier graduation.

How do I apply for financial aid online?

Applying For Financial Aid Online

Financial aid is available for most online students enrolled in a recognized and accredited school. You should apply for financial assistance in advance of your school year beginning, and applications can be done online. A FAFSA, or free application for federal student aid, is the form that all students must fill out in order to qualify for federal, state, or institutional aid. It is to be completed each year that you are enrolled in college and wish to be assisted. For completing an online FAFSA form, go to There you will be given a PIN number to sign on with each time you visit the site. Be sure to print off any pertinent documents for your records, as they may be needed for reference in the future.

What kind of scholarships are available to me?

Look Into Scholarships

Most online universities offer financial aid, including scholarships. Scholarships are available to a wide range of students, and as a student you can qualify for more than one scholarship.

Like grants, scholarships offer financial assistance without the requirement of repayment. It's a good idea to rsearch the types of scholarships available - many students are unaware of the various scholarships awarded each year to deserving students. Contact your university's financial aid counselor and ask him or her for online bachelors degree scholarship reference material. Next, go to your local library and ask the help desk for the same information. Start applying as soon as you can, preferably several months before enrolling in school. Pay attention to deadlines and be sure to contact a financial aid counselor if you need help filling out any forms.

How can I get motivated to study?

Self-motivation for online students

It's so easy to get distracted and lose sight of your goals in the day-to-day craziness of life. Use a simple visualization exercise to get yourself in the frame of mind for online study. Sit at your desk and close you eyes. Breathe deeply and easily. Now picture yourself in a cap and gown with a diploma in your hand. Or imagine yourself in your ideal job. If those goals are too far away for you, imagine how relieved and proud you will feel when that big research paper is done. Add details to your visualization. What color is the tassle on your cap? What does the stamp look like on the envelope with your paper in it? Concentrate on your visualization for a few minutes until you're feeling calm and ready to begin working.

How should I write for online courses?

Internet writing for online students

If you've grown up with computers, cell phones and instant messaging you may have gotten in the habit of using "Netspeak" in your internet writing. Do you substitute "U" for the word "you?" Do you use a lot of acronyms like YMMV and IMHO? If so, you might want to make a few changes in your Internet writing when you take an online course. Using proper spelling and grammar may take a little more typing time, but it builds an image of you as a serious student. You never know what kind of professional contacts you may make in the online classroom. Also, students from all over the world participate in online courses and they may not understand what you're trying to say.

Should I contact an academic advisor before I start college?

The Benefits of Academic Advising

Working toward an online degree requires quite a bit of self-sufficiency. However, when it comes to getting the most out your education and staying on track with your degree program, it's a good idea to get online degree support in the form of academic advising. In most cases, there are specific advisors for each major field of study. These academic advisors are well-informed and educated about your degree plan, and can provide helpful information on class choices, graduating credits, and potential career choices. It is recommended that you meet with an advisor either by phone, email, or chat room at least twice during your tenure in the program( during the beginning and close to the end of your degree). It is advisable that you check in periodically with your academic advisor and make sure your degree is on track before each new semester.

What do I do if I have writer's block?

Writer's Block

Everyone gets it, but what do you do? I call it "crazy-write". I let my fingers go all over the keyboard until my screen looks like a bunch of scrambled words. Then I try to make as many words as I can out of my mess. It distracts you long enough to get you mind back on writing. Other writing games are just as effective.

Why is my story important?

True stories

Everyone has a story to tell, and if you write down enough of your own, somebody will glean from your experience way after you're gone.

Is there a certain style applied to journal writing?

Personal Journal Writing

Write like you talk. Here is the one place you can get away with it. Write those things you wouldn't say out loud (even if you erase them later). This is a great de-stresser.

What is the best way to write so readers will remember what I wrote?

Topical Writing

Once you choose a topic, see how many words you can think of about that topic that all start with the same letter. This helps continuity and flow.

Is there a way to proofread that works every time?

Backward reading.

Start with the last word of your piece and read it backward, real slow and choppy. This helps you find words that you might want to change because you will be paying very close attention to each word as you read the sentences backwards.

Is there an easy way to proofread?

Robotic Proofreading

When checking your work for errors, read-one-word-at-a-time-like-you-were-a-robot. You will find this will help you discover both spelling and punctuation problems.

How do I generate ideas about my topic?


Pick a topic you want to write about and write it in the center of an 8.5 X 11 piece of paper. Draw a circle around it. Now, as quickly as you can, write every word you think of when you think about your topic.

What about that topic that simply has you stumped?


Try writing as the words pop into your mind. It may not make sense at first, but you will soon see how your thoughts guide your writing. Remember, though, this is just for fun.

I missed the deadline for financial aid. Can I still apply?

Financial aid for online students

No matter when you decide to start an online degree program, be sure to apply for Federal Financial Aid by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Even if the application deadline has passed, your application will still be processed and loan proceeds disbursed to you if you qualify. So even if you have to pay your tuition out-of-pocket, you can be reimbursed once your financial aid is approved. The FAFSA is available online or in the financial aid office of your university.

Do I have to participate in discussions online?

Participation for online students in group learning courses

Some online courses are designed to be group learning experiences, similar to a traditional classroom. Like a traditional classroom, there will be students who participate and students who are quiet. However, in an online course it's easier to get lost in the crowd if you don't participate. Make a point of joining in chat discussions and post questions and comments to the class message boards. You don't need to be the chattiest person in class, but don't let shyness stop you from taking advantage of participating. Also, some professors require a minimum amount of participation from their students (a certain number of message board posts, attendance at chats, etc.)

Who do I contact about technical difficulties with my online schooling?

Technical Support

If technical difficulties arise during your online class or exam, immediately call your school's tech support department. Technical support for online courses is available through several channels:

- Call a toll free number

- Email a helpdesk

- Refer to a troubleshooting guide.

If at any time your technical problems prevent you from making a deadline or finishing an assignment, contact your professor as well as technical support.

Where do I conduct research when I attend an online college?

Library Resources

Without the convenience of a campus library, doing research for an online university can be tricky. Try online libraries, which are steadily growing in selection and reputation. Some of the larger online libraries cost a nominal membership fee, which will be well worth the money if you are going to school fulltime. Also, your online university should have some sort of offering in the way of library resources. There is even the occasional professor that will purchase online library memberships for his or her students.

What questions should I ask about myself before I make a study plan?

Self-assessment for online students

A thorough self-assessment can help you plan the best way to approach your online studies. Do you work better in the morning or at night? Do you like music while you work, or silence? Can you work at home without distractions or do you need to find a library or coffee shop where you can work? How's your back? Have you had your eyes checked recently? Assess your health, comfort level and emotional needs before you begin planning where, when and how you will work. Then, construct an online study plan that takes all those things into account. If you're not working against yourself, you'll be more motivated in the long run.

Where can I learn about various online universities?

Online Bachelor Degree Resources

Just as college catalogs can flood your mailbox, online bachelor degree programs are plentiful. With so many options available for your career, the choices can be a bit overwheming.

When deciding which college to go with, be sure that you take your time and research the schools. Many online bachelor degree resources sites will provide you the necessary information, course listings and comparison charts of online universities through their Web site. You can find contact information and official Web addresses for the various schools, which will aid you in your research. Don't be hesitant to contact advisors at the very schools you are interested in, as they will have additional resources available for you.

How do I know which online universities are legitimate?

Watch Out For Scams

With the Internet comes online scams. If you're enrolling in an online degree program, make sure your program is registered through an accredited university.
Before enrolling in an online degree program, ask the following questions:

*Is this program affiliated with a college you have heard of before?
*Is this online university accredited?
*Is there a physical address listed for this university?
*What kind of payment plans are they offering?

Can I transfer credits to an online university?

Transferring Credits

Earning credits for an Online Bachelors degree is achieved by enrolling in and completing a full semester course. Most online bachelor degree programs require at least 120 credits to be earned before a degree is awarded and some require upwards to 190.

If you are transferring schools mid-semester or mid-year, make sure to get all the necessary information regarding transferring credits. In some cases, specific courses do not transfer over to the next school's curriculum and must be either counted as an elective or put aside. To ensure that you are taking classes that transfer over to other school or for any questions regarding credit transfer, make an appointment to speak with an academic advisor. Be sure to have your transcript, curriculum chart, and other vital information on hand.

Who do I talk to about job placement after I receive my bachelor degree?

Career Services

Online and campus universities provide enrolled students with the benefits of academic and career advisors. Academic advisors are intended to help with your degree plan as it relates to your education and career.

The Online Bachelors Degree Career Services department is available via phone, email or chat room to discuss potential career choices, alert you about job fairs in your area and help you with references and contact information for job leads. While it's common to meet with a career advisor close to the graduation date, it's advisable to touch base with career services at the beginning of your online education. Career services can assist you in job placement after graduation as well as internships during college.

Will I apply to an online university through the Internet as well?

Online Application And Registration

For online bachelor degree programs, you will almost always be required to apply for the course/program online. The school's official site should have clear instructions, guidelines and deadlines for application. Be sure to apply in advance if you plan on looking into financial aid. A one-time application fee is usually charged and is standard for most colleges. If you are accepted into a program, you will use the same secure site to sign up for classes.

Can I qualify for financial aid if I attend online courses?

Qualifying For Financial Aid

Whether you're a stay-at-home student or on-campus socialite, college can be expensive. Seeking out online bachelors degree financial aid is recommended for students in any degree program.

Financial aid is available from most online universities. Whether you are seeking a grant, scholarship or loan, you should contact your school's financial aid department several months in advance of enrolling to ensure the best opportunities. If financial aid is not available, seek out scholarships and loans that are designed for a variety of students and financial situations. Research on various independent scholarships can be done at the library in addition to speaking with a financial aid counselor.

How is work submitted for online courses?

Submitting Work For Online Courses

Online courses have specific requirements set up for submitting homework and class projects. Usually, submitting work for an online course can be done electronically, through a secure database like WebCT. Programs like WebCT require users to log in with a Username and password. Once signed in, you will be able to view your assignments and upload coursework that has been saved on your hard drive or a disk/flash drive. Another method of submitting work for online classes is by mailing or faxing it. Although this may feel a bit antiquated for you, it certainly works and some professors prefer these methods. Lastly, you may want to physically hand in your work, should your university have a physical address and campus near you. This is, of course, the best way to ensure that the proper personnel have received your work.

How are tests taken for online courses?

Taking Exams Online

Online exams are something new to the education industry and students. Before taking an exam online, familiarize yourself with the exam program/site you will be using. Read the directions thoroughly and acquaint yourself with the process before the test so you are comfortable and confident with the site when it's time to take the exam.

In most cases, you will be asked to log onto a secure site with a username and password. Your exam will likely be timed as a further measure to ensure you are the one taking the test. Review your answers carefully, and pay attention to commands, as some online tests will not allow you to hit the “back” button on your browser or minimize/maximize the screen. Be absolutely certain you are finished with your exam before you finsh and submit. If you make an error on your test or have technical difficulties, alert both the IT helpdesk and your professor.

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Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.