Highest Degree Level
Kaplan University offers academic programs on campuses across the country and online. Regardless of program, the admissions process at Kaplan consists of five distinct steps: speaking with an advisor, an informational interview, planning and verifying funding, enrollment, and acceptance.
“At Kaplan Online, everything is done 100% online,” said Yolanda Thomas, an admissions advisor at Kaplan Online. “The admission process is very similar to brick and mortar colleges. It’s pretty much the same scenario. You have an academic advisor that you speak with and a financial aid advisor. You undergo testing and register for classes in the same way,” she said.
Applicants must first request information by phone or on the website and then speak with an admissions advisor. During this initial conversation, the admissions advisor will explain the application process and help the student prepare to move through each step. According to College Navigator, Kaplan has an open admissions policy. This means that the University accepts any student who wishes to attend, as long as they meet a few general requirements.
Although Kaplan allows any student with a high school education to apply, all students must pass an academic evaluation in order to be accepted. This usually happens during or before the interview portion of the admissions process. “All students must take an assessment,” said Thomas. “The assessment is a logic and reasoning evaluation, and it helps Kaplan determine which classes would be best for the student,” she said.
The admissions interview will consist of a conversation with the admissions advisor about the student’s academic and career goals and, according to Kaplan, how acquiring a degree may help the student achieve those goals. The student and advisor will discuss any questions or concerns about the program, and they will work together to figure out when the student would like start.
Once the interview is completed, students will be assigned a financial aid officer who will help them set up a tuition payment plan. Students will begin to complete the application during this time and work with the financial aid advisor to apply for financial aid and submit a FAFSA, if applicable. After a financial plan is secured, students will be allowed to enroll.
All students applying to the undergraduate program must provide certification of high school graduation or be a high school senior. Students may submit a high school diploma, high school transcript, a GED certificate, or a college transcript with the date of high school graduation. Graduate students must have a bachelor’s degree and submit an unofficial transcript from an accredited college or university. They must then submit their official transcript by the fifth week of course work.
Admissions advisor Thomas said that students will not need to submit SAT or ACT scores, and, “if [they] are transferring in credits from another college, [they] will need to have a passing average for [Kaplan] to accept the credits.”
The Online Classroom
The online learning platform used at Kaplan is called eCollege. Students log in to the online course management system using their user name and password. From there, students see all of their courses listed and can click on the course they wish to access. Once they are logged into a course, they can view the syllabus, listen to lectures, access study materials, find out what their assignments are, and participate in online discussions. Students communicate primarily through email and message boards. They may also interact via live chat, video chat, or phone to work on group projects. For a tour of the online learning environment at Kaplan, see the video here.
Each class will have an established time frame for turning in assignments and/or taking scheduled quizzes and exams. According to Thomas, many classes allow students to see all course information and incoming assignments ahead of schedule, and students may choose to finish assignments early. “Some students do choose to work ahead,” said Thomas, “but, at the same time, everything is structured [to be turned in at a certain time].” Thomas suggests that students who do work ahead turn in assignments around the scheduled deadline, rather than before, in order to participate fully in class. Once assignments are turned in, professors give students feedback on their work over email or the eCollege site and let them know how they could improve.
According to Thomas, most course materials are available online. “As for books,” she said, “Those are ordered online and delivered to the student’s home. Some courses will require e-books while some will require physical textbooks.” Thomas said that some courses are presented in a slide format, which are usually downloadable and can be reviewed online as many times as the student wishes. “There is never a time when material is presented where you can’t review it again and again,” said Thomas, “You never miss anything.”
In order to enroll and participate in courses, students are required to have the proper technology in place. Some of the technology requirements include access to a PC with a Microsoft Windows Operating System or a Mac OS X with the operating system’s minimum processor, memory, and hard drive requirements. They must also have at least 10.0 GB of free hard-drive space, Microsoft Office 2003 or a more recent version, and a reliable Internet connection of at least 128 Kbps.
Professors at Kaplan must hold either a master’s or doctorate in order to teach, according to admissions advisor Thomas. They must also have professional experience at the management level and have a demonstrated background in their field.
“[All professors] must complete a 21-day training course that trains them for online teaching, understanding Kaplan values, and understanding the needs of students,” said Thomas. She also explained that professors are required to complete 15 hours of training and development activities every year, remain up-to-date in their field and maintain any professional qualifications.
According to Thomas, 42% of professors at Kaplan have doctoral degrees. “This does distinguish us from others,” said Thomas, “We give details about professors’ backgrounds.”
What Makes Kaplan University Stand Out?
- Students who are accepted must not only have passed the entrance examination, they will be expected to maintain the Kaplan Commitment. According to College Navigator, “undergraduate students must show a minimum level of academic performance in their initial classes before they will be fully accepted into their programs.”Under the Kaplan Commitment, students begin their first classes as part of a five-week introductory period. Then, after the fifth week, students are able to opt out of the program and have all costs (other than the application fee) refunded, or, if they have met University academic standards, they may simply continue the program and earn credit for those classes upon completion of the course in the 10th week. “If they find it’s too much for them,” said Thomas, “We have the Kaplan Commitment that will let them take classes for five weeks with no tuition obligation,” Thomas said. That way, students can “see if Kaplan is right for [them].”
- Professors can see when students make an effort. Students log in to courses using a username. According to Thomas, there is no need to formally “report in” because the system is set up so the professor knows when the student has been online. Professors can see if students are currently logged in, view their log-in dates and the length of each session. Students are not graded based upon how long they are logged in to the platform, but, according to Thomas, the fact that professors can see the efforts students make, it is a benefit to students who are truly trying but may be struggling.
- Kaplan University was designed to be flexible and available 24/7. No campus visits are required and students have constant access to all course materials. “We have live seminars from time to time that students get to enjoy,” said Thomas. “And, if you miss one, you can go back and watch it in archives. You never have to miss a seminar,” she said. The constant access and lack of on-campus requirements make the Kaplan program extremely accommodating to a work schedule. Some programs, such as nursing, will most likely have on-site requirements in the form of internships or clinical hours. These may or may not take place on a school campus, but they will require students to report to a physical location for some amount of time.
- Kaplan provides networking opportunities and an alumni mentorship program to graduates and current students. The mentoring network allows Kaplan students to connect with other alumni who have found professional work and can offer encouragement and guidance.
- According to Thomas, the departments at Kaplan work so closely that admissions advisors are able to monitor student progress and help when needed. In her role as an admissions advisor, Thomas said, “If we see that a student is failing [we can reach out to them].” She said, “We have alternative assignments. We have one-on-one meetings with professors. If the student is falling behind, and there is something we can do about it, we make every effort to do so.” Admissions advisors help students figure out how to get back on track and can help set up tutoring or appointments with professors.
- Kaplan offers a full complement of library services through the online library. Students have access to more than 50,000 e-books, the university on-site library catalog, and articles from professional, scholarly, and trade journals. Services include book delivery and inter-library loan, reference assistance via toll-free phone, email, and live chat, real-time and multimedia instructional materials, and research collaboration with online library staff.
Kaplan University assigns every student a financial aid advisor who will walk them through setting up financial aid and creating a payment plan. Kaplan offers various financial aid options, including federal aid, private education loans, military benefits, and outside scholarships.
Students can apply for federal aid by filling out a FAFSA. Federal aid is provided to students who qualify in the form of loans and grants, such as the Stafford Loan and the Pell Grant. Kaplan students can also apply for a number of institutional scholarships. “We have numerous scholarships, including both merit-based and need-based scholarships,” said Thomas. “It just depends on what the students qualify for,” she said. According to the Kaplan website, Kaplan’s scholarships can lower the price of earning a degree by as much as 20% for eligible students.
Pursuing as many scholarship opportunities as possible will help offset the cost of education. According to FinAid.org, students should only pursue private loans to pay for college if they have maxed out all possible federal aid, including loans and grants, because federal loans usually offer borrowers lower interest rates and more flexible repayment options.
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