Making the decision to earn your college degree can be life-changing. Whether you completed a few courses in the past and are interested in completing a degree, just finished your associate degree, or are at the point where a graduate degree is on your mind, deciding to continue your education is major. So, what steps can you make to start off as smoothly as possible on your new path? This article will help you identify those steps and help you as you consider if UCF and an online program are the right fit for you.
Step 1: Think about your college/university needs.
One of the most important considerations when going back to school is choosing the right institution. Which one will fit your needs and academic situation at this time? Even when considering solely online schools, there are a variety of factors to consider such as:
Length of Classes: Some online universities offer 6- to 8-week terms for classes. Others, such as UCF, follow typical 16-week semesters and 6-, 8- and 12-week summer-session offerings. As a guideline, each credit hour of class requires 3 credit hours of work outside of class time.
GPA/GRE Requirements: Consider the college/university’s published GPA requirements. A 2.0 cumulative GPA is generally required by UCF and its partner institutions. Many graduate programs look for an undergraduate GPA of 3.0 and may also require a competitive score on the GRE.
Accreditation: Look at the accreditation of the institution. Most public four-year institutions are regionally accredited so credits are likely to transfer to another regionally accredited institution. The educational institution will be able to speak to its specific requirements, though. UCF typically accepts transfer credits from schools accredited by the following agencies:
- Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC)
- Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
- Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
- New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE)
- Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU)
- Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
- Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC)
- WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC)
Technology: What learning platform does your school use to facilitate learning? Do you have the technological know-how to manage your learning in them? UCF Online uses the CANVAS platform (Webcourses) to manage all online learning.
Support resources available: As an online student who is located remotely from the main campus in Orlando, support in your learning will be of the utmost importance. So consider: How does the institution and program help, motivate, and assist its online learners to be successful? UCF offers a wide variety of resources to its students. From the library and Writing Center, to Career Services, Experiential Learning and Student Accessibility Services, our online students are supported and aided every step of their university journey.
Step 2: Think Finances, Think FAFSA
One of the first things prospective students are encouraged to think about when deciding to further their education is finances. Namely, how will you finance your studies and your life during the time you are in school?
Your first step is filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, which will help the school determine how much, and what types of aid you qualify for. The FAFSA must be renewed annually, so even if you went to another school last year, you still need to renew it to attend UCF Online. The FAFSA should be completed early — as soon as you begin thinking about returning to school — and is available each year starting Oct. 1t for the next school year.
Not sure what school you are interested in quite yet? No worries. You can always go back into the FAFSA and put in a school’s code once you have determined for sure which institution you will attend. Your FAFSA information gets sent to UCF when you enter our school code: 003954.
Step 3: Consider your goals and interests.
Determining your goals and interest is one of the most important steps in the process of going back to school. Why? Your decision determines the path of your academic life and career for the foreseeable future. Still, many students lose interest in their degree program or can no longer see themselves working in the field in which they are pursuing education.
To avoid this later, spend time now considering where you see yourself in five years. Research a little. Look up your dream job and determine the minimum requirements to get it in both degrees and skills. Also, as you choose a major, consider what you can do with it.
Step 4: Choose your program.
Now that you have determined your area of interest, start exploring programs that meet or will allow you to develop and learn more about those areas. Here are a few resources we recommend to help you choose (or narrow down) your program of interest.
UCF Online website brochures. Choose the program you are interested in on UCF Online and then download a brochure after you have entered your contact information. Ideally, UCF Online will reach out to you within a few business days to discuss your educational background, direct you to program resources, and get you connected to your next steps.
The University Catalog System: Struggling to decide between two majors? Take a look at the undergraduate or graduate catalog to review program information for the current school year. Our online catalog system has information such as program descriptions, prerequisites, program mode, number of credit hours required, course descriptions, elective options, program contacts, application requirements and deadlines and additional information.
Transfer Student Resources: Wondering how your credits might transfer? UCF has an ever-expanding database of transfer-student resources that includes a transfer credit equivalency system through the Registrar’s Office. Check it out to get a general idea of how some of your credits might transfer.
Step 5: Connect with a coach.
Still have questions? Or need a little help in the process of choosing a program that is the right fit for you? Want to know more about your program or your specific case? Struggling at some point in the enrollment process? UCF Online has you covered!
After you have downloaded a brochure, the UCF Online Connect Center will contact you or you can reach out to get started on your next steps toward joining the Knight Nation.
Our connect specialists will get you registered and ready for your next step — joining an informational webinar that covers programs, application, admissions and services UCF Online offers to fully online students, graduate or undergraduate. Then we will match you to a success coach — a specially trained collaborator who will refer you to resources as you need them and help you in developing strategies and skills you need to complete your program.
From the time you show interest to graduation, UCF online supports students and prospective students to meet their educational goals and advance toward their degrees. We wish you the best as you start on this next phase of your academic journey. May you choose to become Knighted and Charge On!
About the Author
Online Degrees at UCF
- Anthropology, BA
- Career and Technical Education, BS
- Communication and Conflict, BA
- Criminal Justice, BA/BS
- English - Creative Writing, BA
- English - Literature, BA
- English - Technical Communication, BA
- Health Informatics and Information Management, BS
- Health Services Administration, BS
- History, BA
- Hospitality Management, BS
- Integrative General Studies, BGS
- Interdisciplinary Studies, BA (Diversity Studies)
- Interdisciplinary Studies, BA/BS
- International and Global Studies, BA
- Latin American Studies, BA
- Legal Studies, BA/BS
- Nursing, BS
- Political Science, BA
- Psychology, BS
- Religion and Cultural Studies, BA
- Restaurant & Foodservice Management, BS
- Senior Living Management, BS
- Social Sciences, BS
- Sociology, BA/BS
- Aerospace Engineering, MSAE
- Applied Learning and Instruction, MA
- Art Education, MAT
- Career and Technical Education, MA
- Civil Engineering, MS (Smart Cities)
- Civil Engineering, MS (Structural)
- Civil Engineering, MS (Transportation)
- Civil Engineering, MS (Water Resources)
- Civil Engineering, MSCE
- Criminal Justice, MS
- Digital Forensics, MS
- Educational Leadership, MA
- Emergency and Crisis Management, MECM
- Engineering Management, MS
- English - Technical Communication, MA
- Environmental Engineering, MS & MSVE
- Exceptional Student Education, MEd
- Executive Master of Health Administration, EMHA
- Forensic Science, MS
- Healthcare Systems Engineering, MS
- Hospitality and Tourism Management, MS
- Industrial Engineering, MS
- Industrial Engineering, MSIE
- Instructional Design and Technology, MA
- Master of Public Administration, MPA
- Master of Science in Healthcare Informatics
- Master of Social Work Online
- Materials Science and Engineering, MSMSE
- Mechanical Engineering, MSME
- Nonprofit Management (MNM) - Public Administration Dual Degree
- Nonprofit Management, MNM
- Nursing, MSN
- Optics and Photonics, MS
- Research Administration, MRA
- Systems Engineering, MSSE
- Travel Technology and Analytics, MS
- Applied Photonics
- Autism Spectrum Disorders
- College Teaching and Leadership
- Conflict Resolution and Analysis
- Corrections Leadership
- Crime Analysis
- Cyber Risk Management
- Data Analytics
- Data Modeling
- Destination Marketing and Management
- e-Learning Design, Development, & Delivery
- Event Management
- Financial Mathematics
- Gender Studies
- Gifted Education
- Healthcare Simulation
- Healthcare Systems Engineering Certificate
- Hospitality and Tourism Technologies
- Initial Teacher Professional Preparation
- Instructional / Educational Technology
- Instructional Design
- Instructional Design for Simulations
- Juvenile Justice Leadership
- Local Director of Career & Technical Education
- Mathematical Science
- Nonprofit Management
- Nursing Education
- Optical Image Systems
- Police Leadership
- Pre-Kindergarten Disabilities
- Professional Writing Graduate Certificate
- Project Engineering
- Public Administration
- Quality Assurance
- Research Administration Certificate
- Research Smarts
- Special Education
- Systems Engineering
- Theoretical and Applied Ethics