Online learning

I used to think that getting into a university, especially that of the US, is an extremely tough act, enough to spawn a small publishing  as well as consulting industry, dedicated to GRE, TOEFL, GMAT, essays, interview, whatever.
Recently I have been considering taking a certificate or degree related to my speciality, technical communication, and sent out several inquiries to universities offering distance learning.
One graphic design university immediately sent me a catalog by email. Not the brochure. A thick, dictionary-like catalog, beautifully designed. The one that you can spot in a soap opera, when the girl is invited to her prospect’s apartment for the first time. The one that is placed on the transparent coffee table next to the Spanish sofa, carefully arranged to give a "rough-handling" atmosphere but always the title facing the guest.
The catalog was followed up by a personal email (= only my email address in the "To" bar), an invitation to a speech by an alumni held in Taipei, and a DVD showing full details of glorious campus life.
And I have not even started formal application. Too, too bad I stopped considering graphic design.
Another university, technical writing course, gave a detailed reply to my inquiry on the next day, which was Sunday. The professor himself filled in all the information.
These are only two cases, but I suspect the tide has already been reversed. Less applicant, more university. Or the international students are becoming the primal source of their income.
I found out that the certificate courses might provide an ideal step toward full Graduate degree. In the ideal case,

  • Reasonable tuition
  • Short period of time (one or two years)
  • Equal educational level (sharing classes with the graduate students)
  • Lower admission requirements
  • The credits can contribute to the master’s course