With the current COVID-19 pandemic causing disruption with on-campus learning, online learning in the US is gaining more attention especially for international students. If the situation continues, there is a chance students will have to start their first university semester online and then travel to their destination university at a later date. While this is different and relates particularly to the pandemic, many families in Kenya are wondering what exactly is an online degree?
So what is Online Learning?
Distance learning also called e-learning, and online learning is a form of education in which includes physical separation of teachers and students during instruction and the use of various technologies such as a laptop or computer to facilitate student-teacher and student-student communication.
Online learning in the US covers a wide range of degrees and subjects and are offered by several different universities throughout the United States. Whether a student is looking to pursue undergraduate studies or graduate, there are options for both!
However, in the United States, even though a university may offer these classes, regulations give strict limits to the amount of online or distance learning an F1 student must follow. The following are rules given by the official website of the Department of Homeland Security:
- An F-1 student may only count one online or distance education course without the physical oversight of a school employee (or the equivalent of three credits) toward a full course of study per academic term.
- F-1 students may be eligible to take more than one online class to maintain their status as long as the class is physically proctored or monitored by a school employee.
- English language program students may not count online or distance education courses toward a full course of study.
So it is possible as an international student to pursue online distance learning but it has to be monitored by official employees of the university i.e the professors or the admissions team in place.
Factors to consider
When it comes to online learning in the US, as an international student it is important to be very keen as not all universities are accredited for this type of learning. When doing your research, seek advice from your high school counselors or your trusted higher education consultants to assist you through the process. Some online schools may target international students who don’t understand accreditation and will trick them into paying tuition to a business that prints out diplomas and enrolls you in classes that have no academic or training value. Here are a few tips to help you identify if the school is trustworthy:
- Accreditation from an accrediting agency recognized by the US Department of Education
- Application requirements, such as proof of previous education and test scores
- A good reputation from graduates
- Strong graduation and job placement rate
Application Requirements for Online Learning
While many colleges have similar applications and application requirements, there is merit in visiting each school’s website so as to understand what they require in order for you to enroll. Some of the documentation that may be required from you would be things like:
- Copy of your current passport
- Marital status if married
- Proof of bank statements to show that you are able to afford to pay for your tuition
- Official high school transcripts for undergrads and previous university transcripts for masters
- Plans to visit or move to the United States for school
- Background information
What are the benefits?
- Students get to still learn most of their units as they would still do in the traditional class set up with the exact same schedule.
- The online classes, especially with the current pandemic, gives students the flexibility to interact with family and their pets during free periods.
- Online distance learning will also give parents a chance to engage and understand more about the various courses their children are taking.
- It will give the students a chance to get a kick start on how it is learning in an American classroom set up.
Online distance learning is a big change for everyone especially when it comes to the social aspect of learning. It can get lonely, missing out on the hallway interactions with friends, social gatherings that make college fun, for some parents, it might be considered as a waste of time and money, but when you look at the positive side, what matters most that it is only for a season and when things do get back to normal, you will get to experience the college experience as an international student!
Online Learning Options For Fall 2020
AHEC is proud to partner with innovative and forward thinking education providers. In light of the possibility of an online start to Fall 2020, our partners are offering the following solutions: