Q&A: Support for Online Students

Q: What kind of support can I expect in an online school?

A: The goal of online schools is to provide students with the same support you would find in a "ground"-style class. When attending school in a more traditional setting, you would be in a classroom or lab with an instructor. Hopefully, your resources would also go beyond the classroom.

In high school, you have a guidance counselor. The guidance counselor provides both personal and academic assistance. This person helps you choose and schedule your classes and makes sure you are on track to graduate. Doing the work and actually graduating is the responsibility of the student. Also, if issues arise with your teacher, the guidance counselor may step in to assist.

In post-secondary education (technical/trade school, college or university), you will have an academic counselor (essentially the same as a guidance counselor) who provides support at this upper level. Your academic counselor will help you chose the correct classes for your program and provide academic guidance when needed.

Also in post-secondary education, you may have a financial counselor. Many students pay for college/trade school through private and/or federal loans known as financial aid. For students who utilize financial aid, there are specific guidelines that must be followed to remain in "good standing." For example, students have to be enrolled in, and in good standing, in a specific number of classes each term or semester. Most schools provide a financial counselor to assist students with payment arrangements and/or to understand the type of loans they are using to make sure they are enrolled in the correct number of classes and so on.

Often, the finance and academic counselors provide tandem support to help inform and keep students on track. Some larger schools, mostly colleges and universities, offer professional counseling. Students might find that they need to address issues that arise in college; these issues may be relational, financial or personal in nature. In these situations, students may be able to attend a specific amount of counseling sessions at the school without charge.

Lastly, but most importantly, remember to utilize your class teacher/instructor when you need assistance. It's possible the teacher may be able to help or, at least, point you in the right direction.

Dr. Beverley BrowningDr. Beverly A. Browning has been consulting in the areas of grant writing, contract bid responses, and organizational development for nearly four decades. Her clients have included chambers of commerce, faith-based organizations, units of local and county municipal governments, state and federal government agencies, school districts and colleges, social and human service agencies, hospitals, fire departments, service associations, and Fortune 500 corporations. Dr. Browning has assisted clients and workshop participants throughout the United States in receiving awards of more than $250 million. Dr. Browning is the author of over 37 grants-related publications, including Grant Writing For Dummies™, Grant Writing for Educators, How to Become a Grant Writing Consultant, Faith-Based Grants: Aligning Your Church to Receive Abundance, and Perfect Phrases for Writing Grant Proposals. She holds degrees in Organizational Development, Public Administration, and Business Administration. Dr. Browning is a grant writing course developer and online facilitator for Ed2Go.com; former faculty member at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Institute for Organization Management and a current member of the American Association of Grant Professionals. She is CEO of Bev Browning & Associates (BBA, Inc.); Founder and Director of the Grant Writing Training, and most recently, the new Vice President for Grants Professional Services at eCivis Inc. (www.ecivis.com)