Q&A: Counseling in online programs
Question: If I enroll in an online program, will I have access to an academic counselor?
Answer: If you enroll in an online program, you will have access to staff that can assist you with your academic questions and planning. Depending on where you attend, the person may have the title of Academic Counselor, Student Specialist, Academic or Student Advisor, etc.
There are many misconceptions about online education. One myth is that online students are "on their own" and receive little college support. However, credible education institutions provide staff to assist students with transitioning into the school, with their program and with completing their academic goals.
Let's review the responsibilities of this person to the student and what you should expect in an online environment. Academic counselors should be your first, point-of-contact when you have questions about a class or your class schedule. They help students create an appropriate schedule for a specific academic program, and the order of courses. Some academic counselors assist with actually registering students in the correct classes. However, the most important role is serving as a "bridge" between the student and/or instructor.
If any personal or academic questions, concerns and/or barriers arise, the academic counselor is the first person a student should contact. For example, if you have a personal or family emergency that may effect your attendance in a class, you would call or email your academic counselor (and if you were in a class, your instructor, also). He/she would help you develop a plan for remaining in class or taking a break.
Let's say a student's work schedule changed and they were concerned about their ability to participate in their classes and complete assignments. Again, counselor would work with the student on the best option for their situation.
An academic counselor would also point you in the direction of other staff you may need to communication with, such as the registrar, finance counselor and other individuals or departments that integral to your education. When looking for an online school, make sure you choose an institution with academic counselors and/or designated staff to assist and encourage students. As a student, it's important that you have academic and personal support.