Internet Safety

The Internet provides online learners with a great opportunity to earn a degree, connect with others, and share information. Whether enrolled in online K-12 or higher education courses, you should take advantage of the Internet as powerful tool to help you reach your goals.  You should also take responsibility in knowing how to safely navigate the Internet to protect yourself, your family, and your information.

We recommend using the simple guidelines for Internet Safety for Online Learning by iSEEK to protect yourself online. In addition, the USAA Educational Foundation offers a comprehensive online Internet Safety for Adults publication with topics including passwords, safeguarding your privacy, social networking and more.

Be safe!

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Loan Forgiveness for Public Service Employees

Working as a public service employee and buried in student loans? Well then, a portion of the College Cost Reduction and Access Act of 2007 called the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program may be just what you’re looking for.

The Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program  is meant to encourage individuals to find and continue full-time employment as a public service employee after college graduation.  You may qualify for forgiveness of your remaining balance due on eligible federal student loans after making 120 payments under certain repayment plans while employed full-time. Your payment count starts after October 1, 2007, so the soonest your remaining student loan debt could be erased is October 2017.

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Student Responsibilities in Online Learning

Earning your online degree or taking online education courses is a positive experience for most students. You’ll be most successful if you are knowledgeable about online learning prior to enrolling in online courses.

It is important to understand your responsibilities as a student when it comes to your education. Your responsibilities as an online learner include, but are not limited to:

  • Contacting your instructor and visiting your course site. We recommend logging into your course on Day 1 and emailing your instructor to introduce yourself.
  • Reading the course syllabus and any other documents related to the course to be sure that you are aware of any and all instructor policies.
  • Adhering to course schedules and deadlines. Distance learning courses are not typically designed to be self-paced. Continue reading

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Military Education Benefits and Services

Created in 2006, the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs Higher Education Veterans Programs connects Veterans, Service Members, and their families with educational benefits and services available to help them succeed in college. As part of the program’s valuable resources, MyMilitaryEducation.org was developed to offer information about military education benefits, Minnesota higher education institutions, and related issues from an experienced and professional support term.  Support services include:

  • 24/7 access to answers to over 250 “Frequently Asked Questions”
  • 7 day a week telephone assistance from support staff at 1.888.LINKVET (546.5838)
  • 7 days a week live-time help via web chat with support staff

At MyMilitaryEducation.org an individual can also be connected with other program services such as the Higher Education Veterans Programs Regional Coordinators and Veterans Resource Centers.

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Advising in the Fast-Lane

Online Advisors at the Online Support Center are continually looking for new ways to promote online learning. In an effort to find new ways to deliver information regarding online education, advisors have launched new webinars for prospective and current students called “High-Speed Advising” events. Adapted from similar campus-based events, these events are hosted by an Online Advisor via WebEx to relay information in a speedy format.

Each event features a guest speaker who can offer expert advice on the webinar topic. Events are free and typically last under 30 minutes.  Guests can join the event online, by telephone, or both. While no questions are taken during the event, Online Advisors do make TinyChat rooms available for attendees to log onto after the event to ask questions and chat with advisors or speakers.

For prospective online learners, Online Advisors offer events featuring information on:

  • Enrolling in online programs and degrees (i.e. specific curriculum and career information)
  • Determining online college readiness
  • Preparing to finance college

For current online learners, Online Advisors offer events featuring information on:

  • Changing program requirements (for Distance Minnesota programs only)
  • Using online resources and tools

Previously recorded events have highlighted information regarding online degrees in the Energy field, using an online personal portfolio (eFolio), and more.

To aid in better preparing prospective students for online courses, as well as retaining current students in online programs and/or degrees, Online Advisors are preparing to expand these High-Speed Advising events to incorporate tips for college success, including “soft skills” required by online learners.  In addition, Online Advisors plan to increase event offerings to include evening and weekend webinars for attendee convenience.

Learn more about these High-Speed Advising events sponsored by Minnesota Online or sign up today for an upcoming event!

Contributor: Nicole Seifert, Online Student Advisor

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7 Things Every Online Learner Should Do DAILY

1. Log into your course(s). No matter which course management software your college or instructor is using (Desire2Learn, Moodle, Blackboard, etc), you should make time every day to log into your course(s) and check things out. Especially watch any news feeds or discussion boards for updated information regarding your course, assignments, or deadlines.

2. Review the course syllabus. Make sure you understand what your instructor requires of you to be successful in your course(s). Instructor expectations may vary based on teaching style, so refer to your syllabus often to be sure you haven’t missed anything.

3. Check your college email. Your college email account is the official means of communication between you and your college. Check your email for updates or important announcements from your college or instructors.

4. Update your calendar. As new assignments or tests come up in your course(s), update your calendar to be sure you stay on top of things. Missing a deadline could mean big trouble. Keep a master calendar for all of your courses and check it every day.

5. Open the book. Most online courses will have a textbook requirement. Instead of trying to find time to read 10 chapters before the test, read a little every day to stay caught up. This should help you retain what you’ve read and make studying that much easier.

6. Visit the college website. Even though you are learning from a distance, it’s important that you know what your college is up to. There may be events or information that you’d be interested in knowing about. Check your college’s website and any social networking tools (Facebook, Twitter, etc) to see what’s happening.

7. Connect with classmates. Most online classrooms will have a classlist or discussion board for you to connect with classmates. Sometimes profiles of your classmates will be available for you to view as well. Get to know your classmates. They can be great resources for information and support. And…you’re likely to have them in another online class before you finish your degree.

Contributor: Nicole Seifert, Online Student Advisor

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The Great Scholarship Search

Cash for college doesn’t grow on trees, but there are a ton of scholarship opportunities available for you if you’re willing to put in some time and effort.

When searching for scholarships, we suggest you:

• Start early
• Only use FREE searches
• Apply to as many as possible
• Seek out less competitive scholarships
• Beware of scams
• Exhaust all your options

Where to look:

Your College – Most colleges have a certain amount of money allocated for student scholarships. You’ll likely need to be admitted to the college to qualify. Check with the student services office for additional information. Don’t forget about checking within your department too. If you have a specific degree in mind, there could be specific scholarship monies available for students in that program.

Charities & Foundations – National and local organizations sometimes have scholarship funds available. ScholarshipAmerica.org has private scholarships listed through these types of organizations. Check in with local organizations that you are affiliated with: your church, etc.

Organizations – Start with you (or your spouse’s) employer to see if scholarship funds are available there. Large organizations like Target and others offer national scholarships in large sums. For something less competitive, look locally at businesses in your region. Your local chamber of commerce might have a list of this information for you. Again, if you have a specific career path in mind, professional organizations within that field may offer scholarships to students enrolling in those programs.

High School Counselor – Even if you haven’t been enrolled in high school recently, the high school counselor might be willing to help you out. They likely get email notifications of available scholarships. Stop in and ask about scholarships for non-traditional or first-generation students.

Library or Bookstore – Publishers have put together scholarship guides that can be easier to search than websites. Check locally or online for these types of books.

Online – There are hundreds of websites for you to search for scholarships. Finding scholarships you qualify for can be time and labor intensive. Never pay a website to do scholarship searches. We suggest these free (and reputable) search sites:
o FastWeb
o AmeriCorps
o CollegeScholarships.org
o The SallieMae Fund
o CollegeBoard

Contributor: Nicole Seifert, Online Student Advisor

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