[an error occurred while processing this directive] ZEPHYR Magazine
                              T H E
                           Z E P H Y R
                  __     M A G A Z I N E
                 Issue #23                 8-7-86
            A weekly electronic magazine for users of 
                        THE ZEPHYR II BBS 
                    (Mesa, AZ - 602-894-6526)
                owned and operated by T. H. Smith
                    Editor - Gene B. Williams 
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                            (c) 1986

   This week we have Bob E.shtmlan back with us as guest author. 
And he has done the usual fine job, making my own job of editing 
sooooooo easy!
   The topic this week is an alternative to formal, classroom 
education - namely learning at home by mail.



                         Robert E.shtmlan

   John A. graduated from high school 5 years ago. Since that
time he has worked in a local machine shop as a milling
machine operator. Recently his employer has started to
replace the old manual milling machines with a new type that
are numerically controlled and are programed from a central
microcomputer. John felt that with the changeover to
automation numbered his days on the job as an operator.
   While at home one evening with his wife, he told her how
worried he was about the possibility of losing his job. With
only a high school diploma there are just not enough jobs
available.  His wife recommended that he enroll in an
electronics program at the community college. "After all,"
she said, "someone will have to repair all that new equipment
at the shop."
   John had considered going back to school, but with the
local community college being 30 miles away, commuting back
and forth several times a week did not appeal to him.
   One day, while at home and reading a do-it-yourself maga-
zine, John came upon an ad from a correspondence school. The
ad stated that anyone could learn electronics in the comfort
of their own home, progressing at his or her own speed.  He
liked the thought of learning at home. He could still be with
his family and study when he wanted to. The school even had a
course in computer repair. Thinking this could be the
solution to his dilemma, he mailed in the reply card.


   The National Home Study Council defines home study as "the
enrollment and study with an educational institution which
provides lesson materials prepared in a sequential and logi-
cal order for study by a student on his own". Home study
programs vary a great deal in scope, level, and length. Some
have a few lessons and can be completed in a number of weeks,
while others have over a hundred individual lessons requiring
three to four years to complete.
   Several home study schools claim to provide complete voca-
tional training. Some offer avocational and hobby courses.
Most home study schools are accredited by the NHSC while
others have additional accreditation through the Board of
Education of the state in which they reside.


   The main reason for choosing home study is that you can
get an education while staying at home. Courses taken through
correspondence are usually less difficult than an equivalent
college curriculum. Students can study where and when they
want to.
   Anyone considering enrolling in a home study program
should keep this one fact in mind - you must be able to moti-
vate yourself. The reason a large percentage of enrollees
fail to complete a home study program is because they did not
adhere to a time each day in which to study.


   The cost of home study courses vary depending on the
school and the course taken. One school teaches a course on
effective writing offered for $125. Another offers a complete
four year electronics program for an Associate in Applied
Science diploma at the cost of $6000.
   When you send in the enrollment application, you have a
choice of paying the full tuition amount or making monthly
payments with a finance charge added, usually at or below the
prevailing interest rate. Some employers will reimburse all
or part of the tuition cost. So, you should check first
before signing any contract. Some employers will only
reimburse the tuition amount after the employee has
successfully completed the course.

   Lets compare the tuition cost of a two year Associate
degree program at a community college with a typical home
study program in electronics. Tuition at most junior colleges
run about $15 per credit hour. Assuming a total of 64 credit
hours to obtain an Associates of Art/Science degree, this
comes to a total of $960 plus cost of textbooks. A similar
course of study taken through a leading technical home study
school will cost $5900.  On the other hand, average tuition
at four-year universities run anywhere from $25 to $60 per
credit hour.
   Tuition cost of a home study course depends on what it is
you wish to learn. One school offers a course in writing for
$125. Another offers a course in microcomputers for $2500.
If you are planning to enroll to learn some basic fundamental
knowledge of a subject that interests you, home study is the
way to go. On the other hand, if you plan on taking courses
that contain higher mathematics or advanced electronics, it
might be best to consider attending college to learn these
subjects. Courses like these are difficult enough to learn in
classroom sessions. Trying to go it alone can be rather
tortuous no matter how well written the lessons are.
   You will probably be required to sign a contract. If
sometime during your course of study you decide to cancel,
you may have to pay all or part of the unpaid balance.
Standard procedure among many correspondence schools is to
require the total tuition to be paid if the student has
completed over 50% of the lessons.


   Whether your reason for considering a home study course is
prompted by wanting to obtain college level training at low
cost, a need to upgrade your present job skills or a change
in career path, or you just lack the time to attend formal
classroom sessions, there are two categories of schools to
choose from: proprietary and postsecondary.
   Proprietary educational institutions are schools that are
privately owned and are in business to make a profit. These
schools provide programs of a technical or vocational nature.
Courses offered by proprietary schools include subjects such
as basic writing skills, bookkeeping, and basic mathematics
as well as the unconventional, such as truck driving, bee-
keeping and boat design.
   Postsecondary schools are those that include public and
private colleges and universities. Home study courses offered
by this category can lead to a degree. The tuition for this
type of home study program, in most cases, is charged the
same as for regular classroom attendance.


   The biggest factor in deciding which school to enroll with
is it's reputation. How long has it been in business? Is it
accredited?  One of the best ways to help you choose is to
talk to someone who has taken a course through the school
you are considering enrolling in. One thing to remember is
this.  Just because a school is not accredited with the
National Home Study Council does not mean that it is
disreputable. Out of a total of 375 proprietary schools in
operation, only 77 hold NHSC accreditation.
   If you're planning to enroll with a school that is not
accredited, check with your local Better Business Bureau or
the state department of education. Also, stay away from any
proprietary school that promises job placement.

   Selecting the right school need not be difficult if
reliable standards are used. Important facts to be considered

1) How long has the school been in business? Check it's

2) Are it's courses up-to-date? Technical study material
shouldn't be over 5 years old.

3) Does the school maintain a staff of qualified instructors?

4) When you have a problem does the school give attentive,
personal service?

5) Does it provide full educational services for tuition

   Education through home study has come a long way since the
days of matchbook advertising. Employers are recognizing the
value of an employee who has the determination and self-
motivation to advance in his or her career.

   Franklin D. Roosevelt, Charles Shultz, Walter Cronkite,
Berry Goldwater, and Walter P. Chrysler are but a few of the
well-known Americans who know the value of, and have bene-
fited from, home study.


   As Bob mentioned, home study *can* be a viable alternative 
to classroom education. Also as he mentioned, it brings with 
it some disadvantages that you have to keep in mind.
   First you must determine if the course will do what you 
require of it. Imagine yourself as the employer. Two people 
come in to apply for the job of computer technician. One has 
learned his stuff from a correspondence course. The other has 
studied in a trade school (such as DeVry). As the employer, 
which one would you be more likely to hire?
   Second, determine your reason for opting for home study. 
There are valid reasons - such as being employed full time 
(although evening classes are available) or living a great 
distance from the appropriate school. It should NOT be under-
taken because you are too lazy are don't care to spend the 
time to attend a formal class.
   Which brings up the third point - motivation. Someone who 
doesn't care to bother attending a class is unlikely to 
suceed with home study. In a home study course, you're on 
your own. That means self-discipline, and a lot of it!
   I've written courses for several home study schools in the 
past. One of the things told to me by the various owners is 
that well over half of all those who enroll (and pay their fee) 
never bother to complete the course. In fact, relatively few 
ever go farther than about halfway through the material.
   Which brings up my final addition - be realistic. *Will* 
the course provide what you need, or does it merely seem to 
be the "easy way?" *Do* you have the self-discipline demanded? 
Do you have the requisite background to handle the material? 
(Even if the school offers student assistance, by the time you 
get your question off, answered, and back, several weeks will 
have gone by.)
   Home study *is* a valid option. But it requires, if anything, 
even more care and thought than undertaking a more formal kind 
of schooling.

Until Next Time

   Thus endeth another guest issue. My thanks to Bob for providing 
it. He did his usual fine job. With the beginning of school coming 
up again quite soon, the subject is quite appropriate.
   It might be interesting to hear from readers who have taken 
home study courses. So, if you're one of those, tell us something 
about it and how you feel about home study in general.

   Next time? Maybe I should put it to a vote. More fiction? How 
about a companion article to this one, on "How to Study"? Or 
perhaps an article on finding a job? Maybe you'd prefer something 
on astronomy and strange objects in space? Or the long promised 
issue on the martial arts?
   Keep in mind that it takes a while to write up one of these 
issues. So cast your vote early. (Don't be afraid to suggest 
something not mentioned above.)

   Meanwhile, don't forget that "Chilton's Guide to Small 
Computer Repair and Maintenance" is now available (along with 
5 other books in that series). If the bookstore doesn't have 
it, ask. They can special order it, if you wish. Or, if you 
have a credit card, you can order directly from Chilton. Their 
number is 1-800-345-1214.

Zephyr Magazine is © Gene Williams. All rights reserved.