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How To Prepare For College

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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.

Resource Tip: Are you an international student considering UCF? Make sure to get an official course-by-course evaluation from Josef Silny & Associates or World Education Services for all international post-secondary (college or university) coursework you have completed.

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.

Added Bonus: UCF offers success coaches for its online students as resources who are knowledgeable about university procedures and resources (Learn more in Step 5.)

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.

Resource Tip: Interested in learning what financial aid and scholarships UCF offers? Click here to visit our financial aid website.

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.

Resource Tip: You can use the MyPlan research tool or others like it to look up college majors and degrees and the careers they lead to.

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.

Don’t forget: Program brochures also tell prerequisites and other criteria that students must meet to be eligible for the program. Remember to consider if you meet these criteria before you apply.

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.

Extra TIP: How to prepare for your success coaching appointment? It’s easy. Bring your questions, any outstanding enrollment tasks, and a willingness to participate in open and honest conversation about your academic self, your interests, and your goals.

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

Jama Riley
Jama Riley
UCF Blogger