GETTING STARTED. Applying for the Integrated Social Sciences Online Bachelor's Program

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1 GETTING STARTED Applying for the Integrated Social Sciences Online Bachelor's Program

2 DARE TO DO Finish Your Bachelor s in Integrated Social Sciences Now it s possible to complete your bachelor s degree from a top university, no matter when you began or where you live. Custom built from the ground up by leading UW faculty and instructional designers, the Bachelor of Arts in Integrated Social Sciences online degree program uses premier educational technology for an engaging and effective online learning experience. In the ISS degree program, you ll have an opportunity to explore connections across a range of social sciences while tailoring your education to your personal interests. You ll learn about social relations, social research and social justice, as well as intercultural communication and social media skills. And a team of academic advisers and technical professionals stand ready to give personal support to help you succeed. Synthesizing information across disciplines. Collaborating across cultures. Communicating effectively. These skills are crucial in our fast-changing, globalized world. And they are the skills that you ll build in the Integrated Social Sciences online B.A. program and take into the workplace, your communities and your life University of Washington

3 TABLE OF CONTENTS ABOUT THIS E-BOOK This collection of articles from the University of Washington provides answers to common questions about the program and gives tips on how to make your application process go more smoothly. If you have questions at any point, we encourage you to contact our advisers by phone at or or by at Our advisers have helped students in a wide variety of situations and may have just the answer you need. CONTENTS Finishing Your Bachelor's Degree Online What to Expect...4 Preparing to Apply Tips for Figuring Out Credit Gaps and Clearing Up Transfer Credit Confusion...9 Tips for Writing a Winning Personal Statement Telling Your Story...13

4 FINISHING YOUR BACHELOR S DEGREE ONLINE What to Expect

5 FINISHING YOUR BACHELOR'S DEGREE ONLINE Chapter 01 f you ve attended college before but didn t finish your bachelor s degree, you re not alone. Almost half of the U.S. population over age 25 has taken college classes or even earned an associate degree but has not completed their bachelor s. 1 Some students take a break to work, raise kids, serve in the military, travel or fulfill other obligations. For others, attending school in a classroom is not convenient or even possible given their location or work and family responsibilities. The University of Washington is excited to provide a path to a bachelor s degree that is tailored to these students. The UW Bachelor of Arts Integrated Social Sciences program offers a way for you to graduate with your bachelor s degree from a top-ranked university, no matter where you live or what your schedule. And, with this program, you earn your degree at a lower cost than you would if you were attending on campus or through many other online bachelor s degree completion programs. You may have particular concerns, however, about returning to school after several years away or about attending an online program. Let us help ease your mind. Here are some of the common questions around attending the ISS online bachelor's program and their answers. WILL I RECEIVE A HIGH-QUALITY EDUCATION ONLINE? Just like the education you receive on a college campus, the quality of an online education depends on the school and faculty delivering it. Top universities like the UW have changed the game for the standards of online learning. The UW offers hundreds of options online, including individual courses, certificate programs and bachelor s and master s degrees. In the ISS program, you ll get a rigorous education equal to an oncampus experience. Your classes are taught by the same outstanding faculty who teach on-campus students. The curriculum is specialized to provide online students with the high-quality education the UW is known for around the world. And you'll graduate with the same well-respected UW degree on-campus students earn. 1 Some College, No Degree: A National View of Students with Some College Enrollment, but No Completion. National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. July 28,

6 FINISHING YOUR BACHELOR'S DEGREE ONLINE Chapter 01 Here are a few benefits of finishing your degree through the UW ISS online degree program: Get a world-class education. In its 2014 rankings, U.S. News & World Report rated the University of Washington 16th among national public universities in the United States. Earn a respected credential. Graduates of the ISS online bachelor's program earn the same, well-respected UW degree that on-campus students receive. Save on costs. Credits for the ISS online degree program cost almost half of what on-campus students pay. This program also costs less than most other online bachelor s degree completion programs. Plus, without the need to commute, you save both time and money. Attend around your schedule, wherever you are. Online delivery means the flexibility and convenience to fit school in with work and family commitments, no matter where you live. IS THE APPLICATION PROCESS COMPLICATED? The application process for returning to college can be a little more complicated than when you applied to college the first time. You might have transcripts from several schools to gather and submit. And then there s the question of whether the college credits you ve already earned will count toward the minimum requirements for the program you re applying to. But, even with all of these things to consider, there s no need to worry. We have resources readily available to help you through the process. To start, check out the next article in this guide, Preparing to Apply: Tips for Figuring Out Credit Gaps and Clearing Up Transfer Credit Confusion. 6

7 FINISHING YOUR BACHELOR'S DEGREE ONLINE Chapter 01 Our advisers have in-depth knowledge of the process and have helped students in a wide variety of situations. You can contact an adviser by phone at or or by at uw.edu. Don t hesitate to reach out. They re here to help. Also, as you consider the ISS degree, keep in mind that this is an online program, which creates more space for qualified applicants to be accepted than a physical classroom would. WHAT S THE VIRTUAL CLASSROOM LIKE? In many ways, online courses are similar to classroom courses. You and your classmates will start each course at the beginning of a quarter and be expected to complete all work by quarter's end. You will need to keep up with all lectures, readings, discussions, activities and assignments. Unlike on-campus students, however, you can generally choose when and where to do your work. From your computer, you ll use a robust online learning management system that will allow you to review weekly lessons; read, watch or listen to online materials; communicate with instructors and other students on discussion boards; take quizzes and exams; and submit your assignments. And, if you re working on projects with your classmates, you might also use and other online tools. Instead of feeling isolated by the physical distance from instructors and classmates, many students find they participate even more in an online setting than in a traditional classroom environment and still develop rewarding and long-lasting relationships with their cohort. They also appreciate being able to attend school around their family and work schedules, with no time wasted commuting to campus. 7

8 FINISHING YOUR BACHELOR'S DEGREE ONLINE Chapter 01 IS THE TECHNOLOGY DIFFICULT TO USE? The ISS online degree program intentionally uses technology to enhance your learning and also offers support to help you use this technology effectively. While it s recommended that you have a basic comfort level using computers and the Internet, you don t need to be a computer whiz to use the technology in this program. Almost all students are unfamiliar with online classroom technology when they start. Once they get the hang of it, though, many find that mastering the technical tools used in their classes is yet another benefit of online learning. And advances in both general and online learning technology have made the experience smooth and reliable. WILL I FIT IN? People going back to college after a break sometimes wonder if they ll be out of place because they don t fit the profile of an year old traditional student, living on campus with few responsibilities outside of school. That s not a concern in the UW ISS online bachelor's program. This program was created specifically for students who might be older, living far from campus, perhaps with children or jobs. Because of its flexibility in terms of location and schedule, the ISS online degree program attracts people from all walks of life people with diverse ages, locations, backgrounds and experiences. Online learning offers an environment that a traditional classroom can t provide, and its student population is varied by nature. The reasons people return to college are as various as the reasons they left it. People might go back to school on a quest for knowledge or personal growth, to complete a goal or expand their career opportunities or some combination of these or other reasons. The UW ISS online bachelor s program gives you a way to fulfill your goals and finish your bachelor s degree at a world-renowned university, no matter where you live. 8

9 PREPARING TO APPLY Tips for Figuring Out Credit Gaps and Clearing Up Transfer Credit Confusion

10 PREPARING TO APPLY Chapter 02 efore you apply to the ISS online bachelor s program, one of the first things you ll want to do is determine if you meet the admissions requirements. Taking time to figure out and fill in any credit gaps before you apply will significantly strengthen your application, upping the odds that you ll be accepted into the program. Figuring out what credits will transfer, however, can be confusing. So we ve put together a short list of tips to help you prepare. ATTEND AN INFO SESSION A great way to start figuring out where you stand in terms of admissions requirements is to attend one of our weekly online information sessions. During these live presentations, you ll learn about the application process and have a chance to chat with the presenters, ask questions and benefit from hearing the questions other attendees ask. To participate, all you need is a phone, an Internet connection and a computer with Adobe Flash Player. All the webinars are held from 5:30 6:30 p.m. Pacific time. If you can t attend an info session or would rather talk with someone one-on-one, you can contact an adviser by phone at or or by at GET COPIES OF YOUR TRANSCRIPTS Having a list of all the classes you ve taken at the high school and college level can be helpful when determining if you ve met admissions requirements. To get copies of your transcripts, contact your last high school and all the colleges you ve attended and ask them to send unofficial transcripts to you. You can also check your schools websites to see if you can get your transcripts online. 10

11 PREPARING TO APPLY Chapter 02 When you re ready to apply to the UW, you ll need to request that your last high school and all the colleges you ve attended mail official copies of your transcripts to the UW. To learn more about this process, visit admit.washington.edu/admission/transfer/transcripts. DETERMINE IF YOU VE COMPLETED YOUR COLLEGE ACADEMIC DISTRIBUTION REQUIREMENTS To apply to the UW, you need to complete a minimum level of preparation in six subject areas: English, Math, Social Sciences/Social Studies, World Languages, Lab Science and the Arts. These requirements are known as college academic distribution requirements, or CADR. Often CADR are completed during high school, but not always. Even if you ve been admitted to other colleges or have earned an associate degree, you may still be missing CADR for the UW. Be sure to review the UW requirements. Two areas you ll need to pay special attention to are Math and World Languages (foreign language) subject area requirements. For more information on CADR and descriptions of classes that fulfill these requirements, visit admit.washington.edu/admission/transfer/cadr or contact one of our advisers. You can contact our advisers by phone at or or by at COMPLETE ANY MISSING COLLEGE ACADEMIC DISTRIBUTION REQUIREMENTS If you discover that you re missing college academic distribution requirements, or CADR, you ll need to complete those before applying to the UW. Try checking out what s available at your local community college. Community colleges are a great place to finish up missing requirements. 11

12 PREPARING TO APPLY Chapter 02 EVALUATE THE TRANSFER CREDIT REQUIREMENTS FOR THE PROGRAM To apply for the Bachelor of Arts in Integrated Social Sciences online bachelor's program, you ll need to have a certain number of transferrable college credits beyond CADR. You should have completed a minimum of 75 transferable quarter credits. We also strongly recommend that you complete your World Languages (foreign language) requirement before you start the program. If you re not sure what credits will transfer, our advisers can help. Program advisers have in-depth knowledge about credit requirements and can help you make sure you re on the right track. Contact an adviser by phone at or or by at Visit admit.washington.edu/admission/transfer/creditpolicies to learn more about what will transfer. COMPLETE ANY MISSING TRANSFER CREDIT REQUIREMENTS If you discover that you re missing transferrable credits, you ll need to complete those before applying to the UW. As with missing CADR, community colleges are a great place to finish up missing transfer credits. QUESTIONS? TALK WITH AN ADVISER If you have questions at any point, don t hesitate to call an adviser. You can reach our advisers by phone at or or by at Advisers are your best resource for getting quick, clear answers about transfer credits. Note: Former and current UW students should contact an adviser for instructions on how to apply. 12

13 TIPS FOR WRITING A WINNING PERSONAL STATEMENT Telling Your Story

14 TIPS FOR WRITING A WINNING PERSONAL STATEMENT Chapter 03 s part of the application process for the UW Bachelor of Arts in Integrated Social Sciences online bachelor's program, you ll need to submit two pieces of writing: a personal statement, which is part of your UW application, and an ISS application essay that acts as your application to the major. Here we ll dive into the personal statement. For details on the ISS application essay, please visit the ISS website or contact one of our advisers. The personal statement is your chance to talk about your educational, professional and personal background and why you want to attend the UW ISS online bachelor's program. It s your chance to give context for your academic achievements and educational choices. To help you make the most of this opportunity, we ve put together some tips to help you write your best personal statement. WHAT TO WRITE ABOUT 1. Your Academic Experience In your personal statement, you'll be asked to write about different aspects of your academic experience. You ll want to show the admissions committee why you would be a good fit academically for the ISS program. If you ve had bumps along the way in your education, don t let that discourage you. Take this chance to explain the circumstances. Your personal statement should cover the following elements: Academic History: Tell us about your college career to date, describing your performance, educational path and choices. Explain any situations that may have had a significant positive or negative impact on your academic progress or curricular choices. If you transferred multiple times, had a significant break in your education or changed career paths, be sure to explain. 14

15 TIPS FOR WRITING A WINNING PERSONAL STATEMENT Chapter 03 Education and Career Goals: Tell us about why you chose to apply to the Integrated Social Sciences program. Describe your career aspirations and share how attending the UW will help you reach your academic, career and/or personal goals. Preparedness for the Program: Describe how you re prepared to enter the program. If you're not fully prepared yet, discuss how you plan to prepare. For example, you might share what classes you intend to take before the program begins. If you have serious concerns about your academic eligibility or GPA, contact one of our program advisers by phone at or or by at Our advisers can help you create an academic plan to strengthen your position to apply later. 2. Your Personal Experience Grades and test scores tell only a fraction of your story. Your background and work, family, volunteer and other experiences are also a part of your education and what you bring to the UW student body. In your personal statement, you'll be asked to write about your personal experience. This is your chance to talk about the unique path you ve taken and how your life lessons help make you a good candidate for the program. Your personal statement should cover the following elements: Cultural Understanding: Thoughtfully describe how culture has affected your life and what you ve learned about yourself and society as a result. How has your own cultural history enriched or challenged you? Keep in mind that culture can be defined broadly. Cultural understanding is often drawn from the ethnic background, customs, values and ideas of a person s immediate family, community and/or the social environment they live in. 15

16 TIPS FOR WRITING A WINNING PERSONAL STATEMENT Chapter 03 Educational Challenges and Personal Hardships: Describe any personal or imposed challenges or hardships you have overcome in pursuing your education. Examples include: serious illness, a disability, first generation in your family to attend college, significant financial hardship, and responsibilities associated with balancing work, family and school. Community, Military and Volunteer Service: Describe any community, military or volunteer service you ve had, including leadership roles, awards and increased levels of responsibility. Experiential Learning: Describe any involvement you've had in research, artistic, family, work or volunteer opportunities that have contributed to your academic, career or personal goals. Additional Comments: Do you have a compelling academic or personal need to attend the UW ISS bachelor s program? Is there anything else you would like us to know? You can include additional comments in your personal statement. HOW TO WRITE IT Write your personal statement in essay format, using full sentences and paragraph breaks to denote changes in topic. You might be familiar with essays that are written with a thesis statement, supporting paragraphs and a closing. There s no need to create that type of essay for your personal statement. Just write in complete sentences and in a way that makes it clear that you re addressing the topics and questions. Follow the order of the topics and questions as they are provided, and use paragraph breaks to designate when you change topics. Because of the high volume of applications reviewers must read, it s to your advantage to make it clear and easy for them to see that you ve addressed all the topics and questions. Use first-person point of view ( I ). 16

17 TIPS FOR WRITING A WINNING PERSONAL STATEMENT Chapter 03 The suggested length is 750 1,000 words. If you re using 12-point font size and double spacing, that s three to four pages. Content as well as form, spelling, grammar and punctuation will be considered, so be sure to give yourself plenty of time for brainstorming, writing drafts, revising and fixing typos and errors. For more tips, check out what writing coach Debby Bacharach has to say at pce.uw.edu/career-insights/purpose-statement or, for a video, visit pce.uw.edu/videos/10tips-effective-statement-purpose.html. These tips were created for students writing similar documents for entering UW graduate programs, but the advice is excellent and applicable to the ISS online bachelor s program as well. HOW TO FORMAT IT Here are instructions for formatting your personal statement, whether you re applying online or through the mail: Applying Online: Write your statement first in a word processing program (such as Word) or a text editor, and then copy and paste it into the text box provided during the online application process. You ll notice your line breaks will remain, but some formatting may be lost, such as bold, italics and underlining. Formatting changes will not affect the evaluation of your application. Applying Through the Mail: Type your statement on white paper. Double-space your lines, and only print on one side of each sheet. Print your name, the words Personal Statement and the date at the top of each page, and attach all of these pages to your application. 17

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