Morag Foudy, Head of Courses, writes……
It fascinates me how candidates select a CIM Accredited Study Centre (ASC) when embarking on a distance learning course. There seems to be a common assumption that all study centres will provide the same type of experience when it comes to both materials and support.
If you are considering embarking on a distance learning programme, here are four key questions, which you should ask all study centres in your shortlist:
- What level is most suitable for me?
Any study centre should give you advice to help you select the right course. They should be asking you about your professional experience (in detail) as well as your academic achievements. You need to be sure that you are studying at the right level so you need to be confident that the ASC has asked you enough questions to provide you with the correct advice.
- When can I start?
It sounds obvious, but check when you can start! Some study centres have specific start dates/windows and others allow you to start whenever you please. Do be careful, however, as CIM set deadlines for registering for assessments. Check these dates so that you don’t miss out on your preferred exam board.
- How are the materials presented?
The quality of the materials varies greatly here between study centres. Some have simply produced PowerPoint presentations with voiceover. Others have a fully interactive purpose built programme on a distance-learning platform. This allows you to read material, watch videos, listen to podcasts, try activities – all built into the programme, making a great user experience.
- How will I be supported?
Again this varies from study centre to study centre. Some will provide you with a named tutor, others not! Some will be UK based, others outsource overseas. It is important here to make the selection that best suits you. A named tutor, on the whole, should not only provide feedback on your assignment but keep track of your progress to help you along the way. Also, some study centres provide additional support in the form of webinars, which allow you the opportunity to talk to other delegates and ask questions of the tutor. Do check if your proposed study centre offers this.
Buying a course is a big financial commitment, so do grill any prospective study centre! Just like any major purchase, I suggest you contact at least 3 study centres (to see The Marketers’ Forum distance learning courses, click here) before selecting the one that suits your needs best. Good luck!