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Catholic Homeschool Articles, Advice & Resources

Going the Distance for a Higher Education


In Distance Education, success and satisfaction from the program is determined by engagement with your tutors and their feedback. Read on for six more tips.

The idea of studying abroad often arises from a mixture of cultural fascination and educational intrigue.

At least, that certainly was the case for me. Earning my state teaching certificate at a Virginia university provided a glimpse of what higher education in the United States seemed to offer in the subject of education. My teachers were skilled, but questions addressed to them about the further study of education at the graduate level did not yield inspiring responses.

But discussions with a wily Welshman named Gareth, however, did.

Gareth was one of my classmates also seeking a Virginia teaching certificate. A veteran middle school teacher with a fast wit and a big laugh, Gareth regularly demonstrated in both class and conversations outside of class a keen understanding of student needs and classroom and school demands. It did not take long for my classmates and me to realize he was likely a rock-star teacher.

Gareth and I talked much about the UK, its culture, and what school was like in Wales. Even though I considered him a natural educator, the positive impression he left also convinced me that he had excellent training as a teacher. I promised myself that if I ever did another degree, no matter the subject, undertaking it at a UK university would be the goal.

New Educational Horizons

Years later, I followed that commitment. I enrolled in the University of Bath MA in Education program for distance learners.

The experience, even as an off-campus student, was stellar. My teachers—called tutors—were bright and engaging. The university was always prompt and keen in responding to me. Even though I worked an ocean away, regular communication from the school and its social media operations provided me with an authentic connection to what felt like the everyday vicissitudes of campus life.

I was delightfully surprised that my virtual link to the school did not feel superficial or contrived. This sense was enhanced constructively by the tact and well-devised composition of the program’s curriculum.

While I would have thoroughly enjoyed learning on-site and the many wonderful distractions to my studies that situation would offer, going through the program solely as a distance learner yielded a very positive experience. It also has provided me with several points for further reflection.

Lessons for Homeschoolers

1. Success in and satisfaction from the program was determined mainly by my engagement with my tutors and their feedback. Their encouragement and expectations bolstered me when assignments seemed daunting.

2. A similar dynamic can emerge with Seton students who find it difficult to focus and finish. In such situations, it is time to call the Seton counseling department and talk to the academic counselor about the subject in question. It will help get you moving and on the right track.

3. Motivation and discipline are especially crucial in any distance learning program, as all homeschoolers know or soon discover. This does not change at the higher levels.

4. When it comes to schooling at a distance, interaction with fellow travelers along the academic pathway provides the essential context for learning. Reaching out to teachers, whether at Seton or elsewhere, should deepen your connection to the school, academic purpose, and sense of personal meaning.

Be Choosy

5. Another ingredient for success in distance education is setting high standards and being selective when choosing your program. Not all distance education programs are created equal. Some programs merely tick boxes. Others are quite challenging and worthwhile.

6. Consider as well your learning style and preferences. How will the program assess you? Will it be through creating projects or participation in an online forum? Or will it be solely through long research papers on a particular subject? The importance of picking a program that synchronizes with your favorite types of assignments cannot be overstated.

7. With all else being equal, follow your intuition when selecting a program, choosing the one that resonates the most with you as an individual.

Listen to Your Inner Voice

Sometimes it takes a while to recognize the subtleties that initially attract us to a school or learning pathway. A place or direction that strikes you as right or best is often the one that will provide the highest prospect of academic success and opportunity moving forward.

Had I not already had a positively meaningful on-campus learning experience as an undergraduate, being solely a distance learner at the college level would have felt less satisfying. The knowledge garnered may be the same, but the how and learning environment is still quite different.

As a homeschooler assessing future college or learning opportunities, it is vital to recognize that there are always good and bad trade-offs to the type of program you take and its location.

When considering life after Seton, parents and students should remember that being a distance learner or homeschooler is not for the faint of heart.

Your Seton Advantage

The Seton program is indeed challenging. Success at Seton is an indicator of both knowledge and the skill in navigating obstacles to personal motivation and learning.

The good news is that Seton students are thus often at an advantage when it comes to thriving in higher education.

So please reach out to Seton when you or your student needs help so we can continue to provide you with the support and tools you need.

Word to the Wise:

While valuable and potentially superior, a degree from a foreign country may not be accepted as equivalent to the same-named degree in your native country. There are several institutions whose primary purpose is to assess a foreign educational program in terms of its equivalency in the US.

In the case of Gareth, as far as the state of Virginia was concerned, his documented classroom experience and an undergraduate degree from a foreign country were not enough to provide him with a teaching certificate in the US. So be sure to do your due diligence on how a program will likely transfer to your native country.

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