Correspondence Courses

by Waller Jamison

Correspondence courses have been in existence for many years and have always been popular.

These days, correspondence courses fall under the title of distance learning, which can mean a variety of different approaches to learning, often with an online component.

Depending on the type of course you are taking, you will be presented with materials in different media – from interactive websites, online discussions with tutors, to videos which can be watched online or on DV and audios on CD or the internet. And of course, you might even have to read some books!

So although distance learning courses have evolved from the traditional correspondence courses to the online learning experience, they still retain the same basic characteristics and many of the same advantages and disadvantages.

Whatever form your course materials take, you are learning at home and submitting work to a tutor you do not meet on a regular basis,, although you may have a few tutorials online using video conferencing technology and so will be “face to face” although still at a distance.

And learning at home, whether online or from a textbook, means you have to motivate yourself to do the work. This can be difficult, especially if you are studying after a long day at work. But on the other hand, it is a flexible option, which is a big advantage if you don't want to accumulate a load of student debt.

Choosing Correspondence Courses

Nowadays, the choice of online degree and online diploma courses is extensive – you can study just about anything. Of course, there are certain professions which require hands on training and for the most part, it won't be possible to do these online. Obvious examples are medicine and nursing, although you may find you can take modules in certain theoretical aspects online and often continuing eduction in this fields is possible via the internet.

When taking a correspondence course or online degree, the first thing you must do is establish your goal. You can then work backwards and find out which course is most suitable for you. Don't make the mistake of finding a course, completing it and then finding out that you can't get a job because the course or the college isn't recognized by the profession.

So, decide what your long and short term goals are and then look for the best path to reach those goals. If you are taking a course to help you get a university place, check with the university you want to attend, whether on or offline, to make sure that they accept students with the exact qualifications from the exact online school you are considering.

If you have a particular profession or job in mind, check the validity of the qualifications with the professional society or with the type of company or organization you want to work for. If your course isn't recognized, these professionals should be able to tell you which ones are, saving you a bit of work and a lot of potential heartache.

Comparing Correspondence Courses

You must also check that the correspondence college or online university is properly accredited (link) this is absolutely essential if you are studying as part of your career strategy. If you are studying for pure enjoyment, it is less important, but you might want to use your knowledge to earn money further down the line and so it is worth going for an accredited course if you can.

Course Content

Once you have established which courses are both accredited and suitable for your needs, take a close look at the course content. If you want to study history, it's important to make sure the course covers the periods and regions which interest you or which are relevant to your future career.

Although the course may be well established and well thought of, you want to make sure you will actually enjoy it.

Some careers may just specify a degree in history, English or French and not have any requirements about the coursework. In this case, you should choose your favourite options.

If you love French literature, you won't want to spend all your time studying French politics or geography and if you hate literature, you won't want to plough through a long list of novels and plays.

If you are planning to do any studying through correspondence courses or online courses, it is crucial to do your homework first. Make sure you research all aspects of the correspondence courses and don't just opt for the cheapest or the one which looks easiest.