If you are considering taking one or more online courses, you may have some questions to which you'd like answers before you jump in with both feet. You're not alone. That's why we've compiled a list of the questions we've been asked most frequently about Internet-based learning at Southwest Tech. Just click on those questions that apply to you. If you need further answers or explanation, don't hesitate to contact our online learning assistants directly.

Click on a question to show the answer.

What is an online course like?

Students use a computer to connect to a course site on the World Wide Web. Standard classroom books and printed materials are typically used in combination with online lectures, assignments, and supplementary course materials. Some courses have formal lectures, similar in length and content to lectures given in face-to-face classes. Online lectures may be entirely text-based or consist of some combination of text, graphics, sound and video. Group discussion and others types of learning activities are incorporated into the learning environment.

Is an online course right for me?

Online learning is not for everyone. To see if you have the tools for success in this learning environment, access the Orientation for Online Learning.

Are online courses easier than traditional on-campus courses?

No. Online courses meet the identical outcomes of on-site classes. However, with the flexibility of the online environment comes an added responsibility to the student. Online students must be self-directed and motivated to complete the courses successfully.

Are online courses open entry/open exit?

No. Online courses are subject to the school calendar. Although the course materials can be accessed at the student's convenience, there are deadlines and due dates for assignments and tests throughout the term. Each course has a definite start and stop date. Online students are expected to log on to their courses during the first week of classes and continue active participation throughout the semester.

How much time should I plan to invest in an online course?

You will need to schedule sufficient time to participate in the course each week. It is recommended that you allow a minimum of 10 hours per week (for each 3-credit course) to be online for each online course you are taking. Reading and written assignments, studying for tests, and other class-related activities will take additional time.

Can I get financial aid for online courses?

  • Distance learning students must be pursuing a technical or associate degree to be eligible for financial aid.
  • Online students may register for some courses any time during the semester. However, ALL courses that the student registers for during a semester will be counted in meeting continued financial aid academic progress eligibility. Satisfactory progress will be reviewed at the end of each semester.
  • Students enrolled in only online courses must be 30 percent completed with coursework in ALL their classes to receive their disbursement of grants each semester. Dates for grant disbursement for online courses will be made based on the school calendar. Verification that 30 percent of coursework has been completed will be done for each course by the instructor for that course. Regardless of your start date in the online course, you must be 30 percent completed by a specified date in order to receive your financial aid. The disbursement dates change each semester based on the school calendar.

Is the College accredited?

Click on the following link for accreditation information:

Are courses transferable?

Do I have to come to campus?

Online classes do not require a student to come to the campus. Many online students participate in on-campus classes at the same time. For distance-bound students, you can visit with your instructor via email, telephone, or virtual chats.

What ISP (Internet Service Provider) do you recommend?

The choice of an Internet Service Provider is up to the student. You will want to choose a provider who offers unlimited access at a reasonable rate, has the highest possible connection speed, and offers superior customer service and technical support.

How can I find out what technology skills I need?

  • Taking a course over the Internet requires the ability to work independently and to devise your own schedule for "attending" class and completing assignments.
  • Students learning online have a greater responsibility for their own success than students in traditional classroom settings. It is important that you have the self-discipline and self-motivation to work on a flexible schedule without getting behind.
  • It is also important for students to be comfortable using e-mail, the World Wide Web, and word processors.
  • The Orientation to Online Learning addresses the technology skills needed and gives you an opportunity to practice those skills in an online environment.

Are there scheduled times for students to be online?

No, but you are required to keep up with the class schedule and to complete assignments before the posted due dates. You can choose the time of day or night you want to log on to the Internet to work on an assignment, but you must complete it and submit it by the specified date and time.

Can I start earlier than the first day of the term?

Students are given access to their online class on the first day of the term provided they have completed the Orientation to Online Learning.

Can I finish this course after the last day of the term?

All coursework must be completed and submitted to your instructor according to the dates listed in the course syllabus. Incomplete grades must be negotiated with your course instructor.

Will there be an advisor available to help me?

If you are working toward a degree, you'll want to talk to an Academic Advisor

Will it cost me more to take online classes?

There is an additional $10 fee per credit for online classes. For the tuition schedule, please refer to the course listing. Remember that online classes allow students greater flexibility to balance their work, school, home, travel and social schedule; therefore, travel costs are less.

I dropped my online class. Why do I still owe tuition?

If a class is not dropped within the initial add/drop period, students will not receive tuition reimbursement. For complete refund information, click here.

What student services and resources are available?

How do I get a transcript?

Contact Student Services to request your transcript.

How do I get my textbooks and other course materials?

Books may be purchased through Southwest Tech's Bookstore. Your instructor will provide other course materials.

May I take both online and traditional classes at the same time?

Yes! Many students find that distance education courses allow them to accelerate the progress they make toward earning a degree by enrolling in a combination of classroom and distance learning courses.

What is Schoology?

Schoology is a Web-based course management system designed to allow students and faculty to participate in classes delivered online or use online materials and activities to complement face-to-face teaching. Schoology courses are secure. Each student receives a unique logon and password, and only students that are registered can access the system. Schoology enables instructors to provide students with course materials, discussion boards, virtual classrooms (chat), online quizzes, and more!

How are tests administered?

Tests are taken and administered in a variety of ways. They can be taken online by, as a take home exam where a hard copy is printed out and returned to the instructor, or proctored by designated personnel (local college, library or place of employment)

When will I have access to my online courses?

Access to your online courses will begin on the first day of the semester. Upon logging into Schoology on this day, you will see your semester courses listed.

Who can I contact if I have questions?

Beth Cummins, Online Learning Assistant, 608.822.2302 or 800.362.3322, extension 2302; bcummins@swtc.edu.