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10 things to ask when starting an online course
Starting an online course can be rather daunting but its also a great way to learn and improve your career prospects! Here we look at 10 things you should research prior to starting an online courses, qualification or degree.
1) What courses do the company offer?
Some companies like to offer loads of courses and will use the same tutors for many different ones. You might be taught be a highly qualified industry expert, but what use is that if its not the right industry? Don’t be wooed easily by a tutor who has a doctorate or degree despite the fact that this shows they are intelligent. A doctor of medicine will rarely know anything about the beauty course you are interested in.
2) Do they know their stuff?
Ask specific questions about the course- Who is it for? What experience does the tutor have in the industry? Why are they better than the competition? If these cant be answered then I suggest asking yourself a question- why should you give these people your hard-earned cash?
3) Who is the course accredited by?
Courses with no accreditation are not necessarily a waste of time. They can give you a much better knowledge in a specific area, which is the whole point of studying anyway. However, if you are looking for industry specific qualifications (the sorts that get you jobs/promotions) then you need them to be accredited. And accredited by a reputable company too! Search the web for the best awarding bodies in the sector and do a course accredited by them. Otherwise you can wind up as just another schmuck with a worthless piece of paper awarded by someone that nobody has ever heard of.
Check ofqual to make sure the accreditation is registered: https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/ofqual
4) Will this help to progress my career?
This is the whole point of doing a course in the first place- to become better qualified. Don’t get sucked into a course which is worth less than the qualifications you already have. You need to move up the career ladder, and for that to happen you also need to move up in qualifications.
A painter and decorator doesn’t need a piece of paper telling people that he can do the job. He needs experience. This is the same with many jobs, so you have to ask yourself- is this course something which is going to benefit me?
Check careers sites to see the potential earnings you could achieve with a qualification: https://nationalcareersservice.direct.gov.uk/Pages/Home.aspx
5) Is the course suited to distance learning?
Studying online can be great. It fits in around other commitments such as family and current jobs, and best of all it can be done on the sofa! However, sometimes it can be difficult to study on a screen and so you need to make sure that the course is going to be in the right format.
6) How will the teaching be done?
Paper based courses can be nice but it completely depends if you are going to be sent a folder and then left to your own devices! Online tuition is definitely the future, however if you aren’t great with technology then make sure that you find a company that uses simple, user friendly systems so that you can benefit from the tech, rather than be hindered by it. Systems which enable you to speak with your tutor will always be the best as a knowledgeable tutor will be your best asset in education.
7) What learning system will be used?
There are many different platforms for teaching online. Some are great and can incorporate many different functions, but others are not very user friendly and can become an obstacle in your learning. Read about which platforms are used by the different countries and then do a bit of research into which is the best.
8) How is feedback given to students?
Is feedback given at all?? Some online colleges will make many promises when you are signing up but may leave you to it once they have your money. Find one that gives you direct contact to your tutor so that you can email them personally. This will stop any excuses for late feedback and allow you to ask direct questions and get the most from your studies.
9) Why are they so cheap/expensive?
Everyone loves a good deal. But, as the old saying goes, if something sounds too good to be true then it usually is. If a college is offering a course for way less than their competitors then call them up ad ask why. Like with most things, you get what you pay for with education. However, that does not mean that you should be paying through the nose for courses so find a reputable company with fair prices.
10) How long is the course and is it manageable for you?
The last thing you want to do is start a course and not finish it. Make sure you have the time in your life to dedicate the recommended hours to the course. Online colleges are not a way of buying qualifications- you still have to work for them! Set yourself strict study hours and stick to them. Starting the course early is always your best bet, so if you don’t have time to do the course right now then do not enroll. Trying to cram all of the work of a 2 year course into the last week of enrolment simply cannot be done- so make sure you are prepared from the first day you enrol.