It happens to everyone. You’re going right along and… life happens; an unexpected illness or a family member needs your help. Or perhaps, on a brighter note, your best friend or family offers you an all-expense paid vacation to Italy for a month. How could you pass that up, right? If a life event takes you away from your studies for a bit, most likely, you can put them off for just a little while. Before you take a leave of absence, you will need to research the policies on pausing, interruption, or temporary discontinuance that applies specifically to your online program, for they all differ.
Typically, if you need a break, you can obtain approval from your online college or university. You will be reminded of the time frame within which you can go back and complete your classes and perhaps earn your degree without affecting your academic standing. The length of time you take away from your online courses varies from one online school to another. Generally, each school will have their own set of rules indicating when you will be marked as incomplete, or your chances for resumption will be forfeited.
Completing an online program typically means passing the examinations and meeting the minimum required credits, which could be in the form of hours spent or sessions attended. However, you must remember that each online school factors in different rules on what constitutes a completed unit. Again, do careful research on this before using a leave of absence.
One of the good things about distance learning, particularly in higher education, is that your college may not even ask you to state your reason for pausing school. But common courtesy dictates that you should inform your professors and plan accordingly when possible, so they know what to expect. It is also much more convenient to file a temporary pause through an online program, whereas you can readily reach out to your school administration. In a conventional college, you may have to adhere to standard formalities and procedures.
Online schools are generally lenient, especially with graduate students. They are likely to grant your request. However, depending on the duration of your absence, they may suggest that you postpone your graduation. If the administration thinks you can quickly catch up to get back on track, they may ask that you earn your credits ahead of time, usually around two weeks before the graduation rites so that you can comply with graduation requirements.
Also, check your school’s accreditation affiliation, as it also dictates the rules on temporary discontinuance. As some colleges own numerous campuses, not all their certifications are awarded by the same accrediting body. Specific rules may or may not apply to you and affect your chances of completing school when you put it on hold.
Taking a leave of absence is not the end of your academic life; a lot of graduate students and even faculty members take a sabbatical, a leave from their academic work, to either pursue further studies or focus on their research. For online students, the best chance of success lies in consistent attendance to class.
So, follow through with your online distance learning program as soon as you can get back to it. Chances are, you can always come back to school and earn your college degree. You’ll be glad you did!
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