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Interview: Jessica Brown, MA, Columbia Southern University

Jessica Brown, MA, Public Relations for Columbia Southern University joins us today to discuss distance education.

Tell us about the distance learning programs offered at Columbia Southern University.

One of the nation's first completely online universities, Columbia Southern University (CSU) offers associate, bachelor, masters and doctoral programs in a variety of fields including business administration, information technology, human resource management, fire science, criminal justice, and occupational safety and health. Undergraduate and graduate certificate programs are also available.

In addition to offering and promoting its own programs, CSU also promotes online programs for three state universities " The University of West Alabama, University of North Alabama, and University of West Florida.

What is the typical duration of each of your programs?

CSU students can set their own pace for completing a degree program. Students are allowed 10 weeks to complete each course, but may finish a course in as little as three weeks depending on how quickly they complete the coursework. Following completion of the required Student Orientation course, students are also given the option to complete one course at a time or two courses simultaneously.

What would you say makes Columbia Southern University programs different and better than other comparable online programs?

All our degree programs are offered completely online, giving students the flexibility to fit their education around career and family commitments. CSU also features open enrollment and self-paced programs eliminating the need for students to rearrange their life to attend a class or take a test. Forget the days of scheduled online sessions and on-site test taking; at CSU, residency is not a requirement and coursework can be completed at times that are most convenient for our students.

How important would you say accreditation is when choosing an online college?

Accreditation should be a determining factor in every student's online university selection. CSU is accredited by the Distance Education and Training Council (DETC), the standard-setting agency for distance education institutions since it was established more than eight decades ago. DETC is a nationally recognized accrediting agency approved by the U.S. Department of Education. Only accredited universities and colleges are eligible to participate in the Montgomery G.I. Bill and DANTES tuition assistance program.

There is some debate as to whether or not online degrees are as worthwhile as traditional degrees. What steps does Columbia Southern University take to ensure that online students are receiving the same education that they'd receive in a classroom?

All CSU courses combine the very best of online delivery and traditional university textbooks. Just like red brick and mortar universities, course specific faculty members are assigned at the beginning of each course to provide students with the academic support they need to successfully complete their degree. Our students are also assigned a student services representative who will offer personal guidance and advice throughout their degree program. Students learn on their own times and their own terms, but they are never on their own.

What would you say are some of the benefits of earning a degree online rather than in a traditional classroom?

Earning a degree online gives students the flexibility to fit their education around career and family commitments. The firefighter with an unpredictable schedule, the soldier shifting from place to place to preserve our freedom, the single mother working hard to advance her career and support her children " everyone deserves access to a quality education. With benefits like 24 hour access to course assignments, online forums, web lectures, and interactive software, online education makes completing a degree more realistic. Students eliminate the need to rearrange their life to attend a class or take a test.

Does Columbia Southern University offer any job placement services to your students and graduates?

We have recently implemented a new social networking platform, the CSU Click, that allows our alumni to browse career opportunities from around the world, post professional profiles, and network with the more than 9,000 other CSU alumni. Job postings are updated every 30 days and include listings from companies such as Apple, Bank of America, Ford Motor Company, Google, and Intel. CSU Click also offers alumni the ability to reach out to graduates employed with companies they're interested in working for.

Do you have any advice for students enrolling in online classes for the first time?

Completing a degree through distance learning requires the highest level of self-discipline and motivation. You must be an independent thinker and have full dedication to the end result " achieving your dreams of higher education.

What do you enjoy most about your position at Columbia Southern University?

Seeing students you know have struggled to accomplish their dreams of higher education graduate is one of the most rewarding professional experiences I've ever had. To know that our online degree programs make a major difference in the lives of so many makes coming to work each day a privilege.

To Request more information about the distance learning programs available through Columbia Southern University, Go here to visit them online.

Thank you Jessica, for sharing and participating in this piece for Online Degrees 2.0

That concludes our interview!

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