What You Need to Know Before You Hit ‘Apply’

Image is of student success specialist

You know you’re ready to take the next step toward achieving your goals, which involves continuing your education. But, before you hit “apply,” do you know what else you should consider? Reach out to your program student success specialist or advisor to discuss the following three items more in-depth.

1.   Program Options

It can be overwhelming looking at all the degrees, certificates, and licenses available to you. First, you’ll want to consider your state licensing or board certification requirements before you apply. Then, make sure your selected program is the best fit for your personal and professional goals. Find out if additional certificates or minors complement the program and will make you more marketable in the long-run.

2. Cost

You can estimate how much your program may cost; however, there are many factors to determine the total cost of a program, including:

  • The number of semesters to complete your degree
  • How many courses you take each term
  • Additional expenses, such as technology or course fees

Be sure to check if financial aid is available for your program. If it is, then you’ll want to submit your FAFSA in addition to your application as soon as possible.

3.  Application Process

Application deadlines tend to sneak up on students, especially when they vary by program. With that said, it’s best to review the admission requirements and plan weeks before submitting your application, allowing enough time to gather all of the materials needed. For example, transcripts can take anywhere from days to a few weeks to arrive, depending on your prior institution’s delivery method.

Note that not all programs require additional materials, but it can be a time-consuming task for the programs that do. The materials that often require time to gather and review include:

  • Entrance exam scores
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Portfolios
  • Resumes
  • Placement test scores

If you are an international applicant, you may have different materials to gather other than what is above. International applicants will find additional information here.

Once all of your materials are ready to submit, you may find yourself staring at the screen thinking, What type of application do I select now? There are a few different applications based on your program and background. For graduate programs, follow the prompts here. For undergraduate programs, you will find instructions here. For each program application, you’ll also need to pay a $60 fee, unless you’re a Ball State University alumnus or were enrolled in a Ball State degree-seeking program in the past. Whether you were an online or on-campus student, all previous Ball State students can apply for free.

After submitting your application, the decision process will take some time. Again, this process varies depending on the program you’ve selected, but you can always check your status on your applicant portal.

If, at any point during the application and admissions process, you have questions or need help, remember that you have a student success specialist or advisor who will always have your back. All you need to do is ask!

For more tips, advice, and resources, remember to visit Ball State Online’s blog, FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

And Now Presenting…A Work, Life, and School Balancing Act

I remember posting online when I finished my master’s degree in 2015 that I was submitting my last assignment EVER! and I would NEVER be in school ever again! Every year when those memories pop up on social media, I can’t help but laugh at Past Casey while looking at the pile of work I have to do.

Since then, I’ve completed a graduate certificate, started another one (which, I ultimately did not finish), and have now started my second semester for my EdD in higher education.

For every program that I worked on after my bachelor’s degree, I also worked full-time in addition to pursuing a degree. During my master’s degree, I worked in a position that required three months of recruitment travel. Which meant I had to be careful to pack all of my textbooks in addition to everything else as I left for Missouri for two weeks at a time.

For the first graduate certificate, I was actually working a full-time job as a Student Success Specialist, a part-time job at a jewelry store, and completing coursework. There were times when I truly questioned my sanity at that point. And, I wasn’t alone in that. My friends and family couldn’t believe that I was able to balance all of that and continue to have some semblance of a social life as well. It certainly wasn’t always easy. But, I’ve always felt that it was worth it.

My master’s degree opened the doors for me to get my current position in advising, which had been a dream of mine since I was an undergraduate student.

The first graduate certificate strengthened my resume enough for me to start teaching. The second graduate certificate helped me to develop some management skills, which have been incredibly helpful after a recent promotion to a supervisory position. I’m not clear yet on which doors the EdD will open, but I love that the possibilities are so vast!

Those possibilities, and the strong desire to someday be Dr. Schultz, are what keep me motivated to continue, even when things feel overwhelming. I’ve had to really work to budget out my time each week to make sure everything is done on time. Wednesday and Thursday evenings are each dedicated to reading for each class. And whenever possible, assignments should be completed one day ahead of the deadline (in case anything were to pop up, I have a grace period).

At the beginning of each semester, I carefully read through my syllabi and highlight due dates, so I have an idea of which weeks will be busier than others for me.

I’ve also learned not to be afraid to reach out to my instructors.

If ever I think that I might be in jeopardy of missing a deadline, I’m sure to reach out to my instructors early to open that line of communication and see what my options are and what assistance they can offer.

When all goes well, and I’ve met or beaten all of my self-imposed deadlines for the week, I can reward myself by watching a couple episodes of my newest obsession: “Alone” on the History Channel—a survival competition show, on which I would last all of one hour on as a competitor. As I watch, I’m realizing just how grateful I am that I’m not alone on my academic journey!

Study Tips for Students New to Online

If you’re brand new to online classes, or even if you’re back after a brief pause in your education, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed when it comes to studying at your own pace.  Nothing a few useful tips and planning can’t overcome! These are some of the top tips I give to the students I advise to study successfully.

Get Organized

An easy trap is to forget when assignments or exams are due as you’re trying to balance classes with home and/or work life. It’s always a great idea to compare course syllabi and schedules provided by your instructors with the Canvas calendars. This should help to ensure you don’t miss anything.

Time Management is Huge

Our online courses are just as rigorous as our main campus courses. It can be easy to procrastinate on your coursework due to the more independent nature of online learning. It’s vital to set aside time to dedicate to your reading, assignments, discussions, quizzes, and exams the same as if attending in person. You’ll be amazed at how much more manageable and beneficial online learning is with strong time management skills and a regular (as possible) schedule.

Reach Out Early and Often

Your instructor, advisor, and other academic support offices are here to help, and it is never a bother to assist you. When you are confused or unsure who to reach out to, contact your advisor or instructor, and we can help guide you. If you have questions about course content, it’s always better to talk with your instructor early in the semester so that they can provide you with tips, advice, and guidance for success.

Discover How You Learn Best

Every person learns in different ways and is most successful in various formats. Maybe you need to do your work early in the morning with a cup of coffee and no background noise. Or perhaps your best work is done in the evening with some soft music as white noise. If you can identify the time and way you learn best and are most productive, it will have exponential benefits as you go through your courses.

Change Topics and Take Breaks

This may seem a little counterintuitive considering all the things pulling on your time, but your brain can only focus on one thing for so long. Sometimes to refresh and revitalize, you need to switch subjects or step away for a few minutes. The variety will allow your brain to rest and help you come back stronger as you continue your coursework.

Participate as Much as Possible

Take full advantage of any discussion groups, forums, virtual office hours from your instructors, and any other chances to engage. By connecting with others, you will reinforce your learning while also filling in gaps from their perspectives. The more your instructor sees you actively taking ownership of your learning through engagement, the more they can assist you and guide you through the process. You’ll build camaraderie with students and instructors and get so much more out of your courses!

Take Care of Yourself

This might be one of the most important tips while also being the one you may least prioritize. Between studying, working, family, and several other things, it can be challenging to take time for yourself and focus on remaining healthy. Make sure to set aside time to focus on your health—and this doesn’t just mean exercising. Whatever you need to stay in a positive and healthy state of being: prioritize those things as well!

Remember to visit the Ball State Online blog, Facebook, and Twitter for more tips, advice, and resources.

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