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Distance learning online: Is the course of study really recognized?
With so many offers for distance learning programs buzzing around the web or landing in your mailbox as junk mail, it's often not obvious at first glance to what extent a particular course of study will be recognized. But if you are taking your distance learning course not only out of pleasure and interest in the subject, but also to advance professionally, you are unlikely to want to invest any amount of time and energy for several years, only to end up holding a relatively worthless piece of paper in your hand.
If you are looking for state or international recognition of your course and degree, you should look for state recognition and certification of the distance learning university or college you are enrolling in. A distance or online degree program at a state-recognized college or university has the same status as a face-to-face degree program, and consequently the degree is also equivalent. You can earn bachelor's or master's degrees, and in some cases you may even be able to earn a doctorate.
Quite a few regular colleges and universities now also offer virtual degree programs, seminars or online workshops. But here, too, the same questions arise: Is the degree I can achieve a household name outside the industry? Is it recognized in all German states? How does it fare in the international arena? If you decide to study by distance learning or online, you should find out in advance from the various providers about the degree program you are interested in.
Also look out for accreditation seals from various agencies (such as AQUAS, ACQUIN, FIBAA), which are under the overall supervision of the ministries of education and higher education rectors, as well as the seal of the ZFU (Central Office for Distance Learning). This means that you can rely on the high quality of the distance learning program.
A successfully completed distance learning course will definitely look good in your application documents and earn you recognition from your employer. After all, you will be demonstrating qualities such as determination, perseverance, self-management and diligence - skills that are welcome in any company.
Online studies: How high is the dropout rate?
The great advantage of a distance or online study program is obvious: the relatively free and flexible time management. This is also the reason why more and more people are opting for this type of study. A family man cannot interrupt or give up his job in favor of studying, a mother has small children to care for, another may have health problems - there are many factors that make regular studies at a face-to-face university or university of applied sciences difficult or even impossible.
No matter what your reasons are, distance learning requires a high degree of self-discipline and good time management. When others have long since finished work or are enjoying the weekend, you are sitting at your PC, working your way through the week's course material, or discussing the latest work in a chat with your online fellow students. If you're studying part-time, you should plan on spending about fifteen to twenty hours a week - putting in that much time alongside your job and family requires a high level of self-motivation and willpower.
Since regular student life is missing and you are alone with the study material most of the time, it takes quite a bit of energy to really see the planned course of study through to the end. If you are a career changer taking a particular course of study, you may have to study the material even more intensively because you may lack the necessary prior knowledge. Therefore, it is unfortunately the case that the dropout rate for distance learning is usually higher than for face-to-face studies. It is difficult to estimate how the numbers look in detail, but the success rates of 95%, with which many an institute for distance learning advertises, are probably to be seen rather in the very optimistic range.
However, if you have enough motivation, stamina and a good time and study plan, you will certainly not be among the dropouts in your study program.
Online studies: what costs will I incur?
Unfortunately, if you want to do something for your education or training, you sometimes have to dig deep into your pocket. For example, both regular degree programs and online studies incur costs such as enrollment and tuition fees. However, depending on which course of study and which university you choose, and which degree you are aiming for, the costs for online studies can vary greatly. They range from less than a hundred euros to several hundred euros per month, depending on the length of study, subject and provider.
Private universities generally charge higher fees, but offer better services. Therefore, you should compare the fees and services of the individual educational institutions before you start your studies.
However, the obvious course fees are usually not enough. Many hidden costs can quickly add up to a considerable factor. Think about a PC or notebook for your online studies, the cost of the Internet connection, programs that make your work easier, teaching materials, textbooks and printouts. Your course of study may require you to attend classes, and you may have to pay for travel and accommodation, or you may have to pay examination fees.
But be careful. Don't save money at the wrong end. Don't blindly go for the cheapest offer just to save money. Inform yourself thoroughly about the desired course of study, consider what requirements you have in terms of support and teaching materials, and then select the offer that best meets your wishes and needs. After all, with a distance or online degree program, you're investing not only in your education, but also in your career.
Online study funding: Are there funding opportunities?
The costs for online studies can be considerable. Private universities in particular often incur very high tuition and course fees. However, as with face-to-face studies, there are various ways to receive funding for distance or online studies.
If, for example, distance learning is planned as further education alongside your regular job, ask your boss. Perhaps the company sees an opportunity to support you financially in your studies and to cover part of the costs - or even the entire costs. Point out the benefits the company can expect from your continuing education. Of course, you must make it clear that your regular work will not be affected by your studies. Arm yourself with good arguments and talk to your supervisor - it doesn't cost anything to ask.
Distance learning courses that correspond to a first degree can also be supported with BAföG. However, the prerequisite for this is that the course of study is completed as a full-time course of study and that it is a state-recognized university. Then the usual criteria for applying for BAföG apply. However, if you are completing your studies while working, you will unfortunately have to forgo this funding option.
Instead, you could perhaps take advantage of a low-interest student loan, which can also be granted for distance or online studies. Student loans are offered by various banks at different conditions - a comparison is worthwhile. However, you should be aware in advance of the debts you will have after completing your studies and the financial burden that awaits you then.
For particularly talented and committed students, there is the possibility of receiving a scholarship. Information and an overview of the foundations in Germany to which you can apply can be found in the scholarship database of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). The individual federal states also have various programs that support further education and training measures. Education premium, education voucher, education check - in some federal states you can get up to € 500,-- per year. Here, too, you can obtain information from the BMBF.
If you can't find a sponsor for your studies, you should check whether you can at least claim the costs for distance or online studies against tax. The prerequisite for this, however, is that the studies represent further education or training for your professional activity. In this case, you can deduct course and tuition fees, learning materials, travel expenses for seminars, technical literature, notebook or examination fees, among other things. Your tax advisor can certainly advise you in detail about this possibility.
Online study: Is lateral entry possible?
If you want to study at a college or university, you need a so-called university entrance qualification. This means that you either have your Abitur (high school diploma) in your pocket or a subject-specific university entrance qualification so that you can study a specific subject at a university or university of applied sciences. But what if you didn't have the opportunity to take the Abitur during your school years and if, for whatever reason, you haven't been able to catch up on it until now? Is there still a chance to study at a college or university?
Yes. In the meantime, opportunities have also been created for such cases to complete a course of study. However, the conditions for this vary depending on the college or university and the federal state. In general, however, you must have completed vocational training and have several years of work experience (usually two to five years). If you then pass the entrance exam, nothing stands in the way of studying.
But even without prior professional training, all is not lost. You can prove your ability to study in a placement, entrance or assessment exam. To prepare for these exams, various courses and seminars are offered that are specially tailored to the requirements of universities of applied sciences or universities. You can choose between different majors such as engineering, economics, social sciences, languages or artistic subjects.
Here, too, it is important to inform yourself well in advance. An assessment test for a university, for example, does not entitle you to study at a university. In addition, the exam only qualifies you to study a specific subject. This means that you should be sure in advance which subject you actually want to study.
Are there already experiences of students?
More and more people are opting for education or training by distance learning. Here you are independent of time and place and can adapt your studies to your personal needs. These are precisely the decisive advantages that students cite as one of the main reasons for their decision to study by distance learning. This makes it possible to do something for education and career despite having a job or family responsibilities. However, the balancing act between job and learning, children and exams is often not easy to manage.
Particularly when distance learning is completed on a part-time basis, students are unanimous in reporting that it is very time-consuming. The course material usually has to be studied in the evenings and on weekends, which drastically reduces free time. After all, at least fifteen hours per week should be planned for part-time study. Many students mention the great support they have received from their families and friends during their studies, without which such a feat would not have been possible.
However, some find it difficult, especially in the early days, to study alone and to get used to this sometimes impersonal way of teaching. Contact with lecturers or fellow students usually only takes place in chat or in a forum. Occasional face-to-face events are then perceived as a pleasant change and enrichment. Those who have no difficulty working very independently and prefer to determine their own learning pace anyway often get along very well with the methods of online study.
In any case, most online students agree that although this type of study is very strenuous and energy-sapping, it is still worth it. After all, for many, distance learning is the only way to study at all.
Online studies: How is the support provided?
An online study program has the disadvantage that you have to work alone most of the time. Personal contact with lecturers and fellow students rarely takes place, and you also do not participate directly in lectures. After you have chosen a course of study and registered, you will be provided with the material for a study unit. Either in written form by mail, as an e-mail or you can download the material from the Internet. Then you are responsible for working through the study material and solving assignments on your own.
There may also be study modules that have to be worked on directly online. In this case, however, you can freely divide your time. At regular intervals, you will prepare and submit homework assignments, which will then be corrected by your lecturer or tutor. This gives you the opportunity to monitor your personal learning progress. All this can be done via the Internet. If you have any questions, tutors and lecturers are of course available to help you, and you can keep in touch with them by e-mail, chat or telephone.
In online study, discussions or lessons will also be held as a chat or in a forum. In this way, you can exchange ideas with your fellow students and lecturers, course material can be reviewed together, questions can be answered - a very important form of mutual support. Many degree programs include occasional face-to-face seminars, a good opportunity to get to know your lecturers and fellow students in person.
One or two exams may be written each semester, the passing of which is crucial for your continued studies. At the end of certain study units or a semester, you will receive a certificate of attendance. Sometimes it may also be necessary to take an exam in order to participate in the next study module. Examinations are usually held in the examination centers of the providers or other official institutions, and you usually have the option of choosing between several examination dates.
What are the requirements for participation in online study?
Depending on which degree program you choose, a certain level of prior education is also required for online study. High school diploma, advanced technical college entrance qualification or vocational training with several years of work experience entitle you to study at a university; other courses of study can also be completed with other school diplomas. If you would first like to catch up on a certain school-leaving qualification, such as Realschulabschluss or Abitur, this is also possible within the framework of distance learning.
Apart from that, the basic requirement for online studies is, of course, the confident use of computers and the Internet. Of course, this also means that you must have unrestricted access to the appropriate hardware and software so that you can really work on your study material at any time that suits you. If you do not have your own PC, you should think about purchasing this basic working device. Since you may have to attend special seminars or exams in person at the university or college, flexibility and mobility are also required. Consider in advance how you will be able to get to the relevant venues and what travel costs you will incur as a result.
The most important prerequisites for a successful study program, however, are your personal strengths. Most of the time you will have to study alone and independently, and you will also have to work out the more difficult learning content mainly on your own. If you come home tired from work in the evening, when friends or family are waiting or the beautiful weather beckons you outside, qualities such as self-motivation and self-discipline are essential. To do this, you need to be able to manage yourself and your time well. Self-learning skills, perseverance and determination are other important factors on the road to success.
Is it possible to extend a distance learning program?
As with face-to-face study, there are a certain number of semesters that must be completed in order to graduate from the various degree programs. With many institutes that offer distance or online studies, you are completely free to manage your time. You decide when to start, how long to study, and when to take your exam.
Of course, individual courses will have recommendations for how long they should be completed in, and with the typically much higher cost of distance or online study, there will certainly be far fewer "continuous students" than at a face-to-face university.
But what if you might be sick for several weeks? If financial difficulties arise and you are forced to work longer hours? If you simply can't clear your head due to stressful family situations? These or even other reasons can sometimes cause significant delays in your schedule. Unfortunately, many then give up studying altogether due to the heavy workload. But this does not have to be the case.
In such cases, an extension or even interruption of the study period is usually possible without any problems. At many educational institutions, you will not even incur extra costs as a result. However, since there are no uniform regulations on this point, it certainly makes sense to clarify this issue in advance. The
Application or registration documents of the individual institutes should contain such information.
However, also keep in mind that if you interrupt your studies for a longer period of time, you may find it difficult to get back into it. Therefore, it is best to create a good and realistic schedule for yourself before you start your studies, which also takes into account minor emergencies.
How much time do I have to plan for distance learning online?
How long your distance or online studies will take depends primarily on you. Of course, a certain number of semesters are allotted for the various degree programs, but distance learning providers in particular offer the option of extending the study time depending on the student's individual needs.
If you are pursuing your distance learning program as a full-time course of study, it should be possible to complete the program in the same amount of time as it would take to complete a face-to-face course of study. That means - depending on the program and your degree goal - up to ten or even more semesters. However, most online or distance learning programs are completed alongside a normal job, i.e. as part-time study, which can double the study time.
How much time you need to study the material is also up to you. It depends crucially on how well you can organize and manage yourself. In general, you should expect to spend up to forty hours per week on full-time studies, and correspondingly less on part-time studies. Depending on how long you work, for example, or how busy your family is or how you have other commitments, you may have more or less time to study.
Realistically, however, you should plan on 15 to 20 hours per week for part-time study so as not to unnecessarily drag out your overall study time. However, this means that your evenings, weekends, and even many a vacation will be devoted to studying. The more time you invest in studying, the more confident you will be in mastering the study material, which means better performance on exams and tests. As a result, you won't have to retake exams or study units, and you can shorten your study time.
Which courses can you study online at all, and which not yet?
There will certainly always be some subjects that cannot be taken as part of a distance or online study program. For example, it is difficult to imagine studying medicine by distance learning, even though preparatory courses are already offered for this. Subjects such as chemistry, astrophysics, pharmacy or sports are also not offered as distance learning courses. Subjects that require a lot of practical exercises are probably better studied in a face-to-face course. But apart from that, there is hardly a subject area that cannot be covered by one of the numerous distance learning institutes, with the emphasis certainly being on the fields of economics and computer science. Many educational institutes and universities also specialize in certain subject areas.
Whether you like languages or love art, whether you want to study humanities or finance, whether you are interested in business or law - there is a seemingly endless number of courses that will help you to graduate with a bachelor's or master's degree. Here is just a really small sample of the list of possible degree programs:
Construction Physics, Business Administration, Education and Media, Education and Social Management, Electrical Engineering, Energy Management, Health Economics, Computer Science, Engineering, Cultural Studies, Logistics, Mathematics, Mechatronics, Political and Administrative Sciences, Periodontology, Philosophy, Psychology, Law, Environmental Sciences, Industrial Engineering, Business Law, Business Translator and, and, and ...
Distance or online study has the advantage that you are not tied to a specific location. You are free to choose the university of applied sciences or the educational institute that offers exactly the right course of studies for you and that comes closest to your ideas and wishes. Ask for non-binding information material from the various institutions, or find out more on the Internet. However, make sure that the institute is state-approved or accredited so that you can be sure that your degree will be recognized.
Overview: Online universities / distance learning universities
In the meantime, the number of continuing education institutes in Germany has increased to such an extent that it is difficult to keep track of them all. All the more important to inform yourself in detail about the individual institutes before starting a distance or online study program.
Online studies are no longer limited to special distance learning institutes. Today, many presence universities or colleges also offer online study programs. Others offer individual online seminars or workshops that can be combined with face-to-face studies. Anyone wishing to complete a complete course of study as a distance or online study should find out in advance to what extent the degree is also recognized at the desired educational institute. Information about this can be found in an accreditation seal or the seal of the ZFU (Central Office for Distance Learning).
There are a number of distance learning colleges in Germany. For example, the Euro-FH, the European Distance Learning University Hamburg, where you can earn a bachelor's degree in business administration, business psychology or business law, the AKAD-Privat-Hochschule, which offers courses in business administration, engineering, languages and much more, as well as the Willhelm-Büchner-Hochschule, the ILS or the SGD (Studiengemeinschaft Darmstadt). There are only two real distance learning universities in Germany. These are the state-run Fernuni Hagen and the private DUW Berlin.
Distance learning university or university of applied sciences? State or private? Which is ultimately more suitable for you depends on various factors. An important point is, of course, the costs, which are usually considerably higher at a private provider than at a state institution. On the other hand, you can count on high-quality teaching materials at a private UAS or university, which is of great importance for distance learning. The question of whether to attend a university or a university of applied sciences, on the other hand, depends more on the field of study you want to pursue. Universities of applied sciences often specialize in fields such as business administration, engineering or social sciences, while humanities, for example, are more likely to be taken at a university.
With distance learning programs, you have a 14-day right of withdrawal, which many providers extend to a trial study period of one month. This gives you the opportunity to get to know the teaching material and methods first. If you inform yourself in advance in detail about your desired study program, and use the possibilities of a trial study, you will surely find the right college or university with which you can go through your online studies.