COMMON QUESTIONS & ANSWERS

Q. If I do a shorter course first can I get credits towards a certificate or diploma later?
A. Yes. We will assess previous studies to give you appropriate credits. Doing it this way will probably take a little longer and cost more in fees though.

Q. When can I start my course?
A. Any time of the year

Q. Can I pay in installments?
A. Yes, however full payment up front is the cheapest option.
All courses can be paid in two installments, some can be paid in three or more. (Please refer to fee schedule on enrollment form for more information.)


Q. Do we get a discount if two of us enroll together?
A. You may claim a 5% discount on fees if you both enroll in courses at the same time.

Q. Do we get a discount if we enroll in a second course?
A. Yes, you may claim a 5% fee discount when you enroll in a second course.
(This does not apply however to the second stage or part of the same certificate or diploma.)


Q. What happens if I have to stop studying for a while?
(e.g. Get sick, go on holidays, have a baby).
A. Apply for an extension. It's OK to take a break and start up your study at a later point in time. Just let us know.

Q. Do I need any extra books?
A. You are supplied with all "essential" references. Extra books are always useful though, especially for special projects. Tutors will advise you what to buy if you decide you would like to get any extra books.

Q. How do I contact my Academic Officer?
A. Write, fax, email or phone the school. Leave a message if your tutor isn't available and they will phone, write or fax back; whatever suits you.

Q. How long does a shorter course (ie. 80-120 hrs) take to complete?
A. Commonly no more than one year. Some students finish in less than 6 months.

Q. How long does a certificate take to complete?
A. Commonly around 6-9 months, if studying full time, or around two years if studying part time. With dedication, part time students can complete a certificate in one year.

Q. What do I get as a student?
A. You need to understand that a course is "an experience that makes you into a different (more capable) person". If a course does it's job properly; you will graduate with a different mind set, and a different perspective on the subject you studied. To bring about these changes involves presenting you with information of course; but it's a great deal more than that. Some people enter study, thinking it's all about collecting information; but that's not study (that's building a library).
As a student, we provide you with things to read, selected information about the subject -but not too much information for the duration of the course. If we gave you too much, the important things could not be emphasised as easily and you could not experience the reinforcement  and reflection which is critical to a learning experience.
We also guide you through experiences, whether observation and reflection; research; or practical tasks. These experiences are designed with input from highly experienced psychologists and educators; to achieve the learning which we aim to develop.
We believe an important part of this whole learning process is to provide support; whether through automated services and extra resources (eg. in the student room) or through generous access to
academic specialists who can guide and mentor the student as needed. Your fees are paying not only for a set of notes; but for a whole process of learning to be designed, maintained and supported by having resources standing ready to support you whenever we detect you straying off course; or whenever you approach us seeking assistance.

Q. Do you offer Degrees?
A. Courses are written to and delivered at a standard that is equal to or higher than degrees offered by some institutions; however, being largely applied or vocationally oriented studies, these cannot be called degrees. Our diploma graduates however have been highly competitive with degree graduates in the workplace. We often hear of graduates who have been given exemptions from subjects in degrees by universities (in many countries); but ultimately, the credit that is granted by any institution is on a case by case basis at the time it is granted; and nothing can be certain with us or any other institution, until that time comes.

ACS is however affiliated with some degree granting institutions including Warwickshire College; a large multi campus government institution in the UK.

Q. How important is a Degree?
A. Not as important as most people think. Country Life Magazine in the UK (Aug 25, 2010, pg 31) commented: " We have too many under educated students at too many second rate universities."  "For years now, we have subscribed to the myth that at least half the population needs a university education. Yet, in the real world, employers long ago discounted degrees from many institutions,,,,"

Comment on 18/5/2011 -UK –
A new study has found that half of all new graduates are either unemployed or in underpaid work six months after graduating.
A survey by The Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) found that 52% of the 15,655 people who left university last year had not found jobs or been forced to undertake menial work.
Around 59,000 (20%) of graduates had not had a job this year, the highest percentage in a decade and twice as many as at the beginning of the recession in 2008. 
http://www.linkedin.com/news?viewArticle=&articleID=534451305&gid=1910741&type=member&item=54827581&articleURL=http%3A%2F%2Fwww%2Epabnews%2Ecom%2F9365%2Fhalf-of-graduates-unemployed-or-underpaid%2F&urlhash=70Mx&goback=%2Egde_1910741_member_54827581
Quite obviously -getting a "qualification" is no guarantee to success..... A degree is only as good as the learning it gives you.

Q. Can I obtain Professional Indemnity insurance as a graduate of any of your courses?
A. ACS has an arrangment with OAMPS (formerly AMP) who welcome Professional Indemnity applications from Australian and New Zealand graduates across all disciplines . Ph: 1800 222 012 Email: acs@oamps.com.au.

Will an accredited Qualification increase my Career or Business Prospects?
A. No!!!!
Consider: 
     - UK Unemployment rate Jan 2011 was 7.9%
     - The Daily Mail newspaper on 27/1/11 reported 20% of uni graduates unemployed.

We rarely hear of graduates having difficulty getting a job; and when we do, it is almost always that the person is very fussy about what they want to do; or perhaps has other serious issues (eg. health, mental issues, disability, etc)
Sure, a qualification might get a little interest from an employer on a job application; but when it comes to selecting an employee, a boss will make their choice based on presentation in an interview, communication skills, problem solving skills, networks the person has developed, knowledge of their industry, etc.... in other words, what they learned and how they have been able to apply learning is far more important than any qualification!.

Q. How does recognition of the school compare with other colleges?
A. Exceptionally well; but different. We do have a range of different accreditations; but avoid government accreditations (as they increase costs greatly and limit the emphasis we can place on learning) We are internationally recognised by the International Accreditation and Recognition Council (IARC). In addition, in many respects we are more widely recognised, due to the fact that we have been established and trained students for so long, through all states, and many overseas countries. (Most other colleges tend to operate only in one state or region, and may be poorly recognised outside that area.) Close involvement with industry has seen many employers sponsor staff through our courses, and many graduates develop strong careers as leaders in their respective industries.

Consider the following extract from the Higher Education Editor of the Australian Newspaper (Wed Oct 27, 2010) - "A Skills Australia paper released last week calls for a rethink on how the sector is funded, managed and delivers training.   It says completion rates are poor, training is often poorly focused, and skills too often wasted in unrelated jobs"    

These are comments about mainstream, government endorsed education! Compare us to that?

Q. What do people think of the school?
Here are just a few of the many unsolicited comments we receive every year:
"Having completed the Advanced Hydroponics Course I have since gone on to open my own successful hydroponics retail shop, now in it's third year of trading."
Ted, Sydney, NSW.

"Thanks for the tips you gave me on the journalist job....I was given the job of writing an article....the experience was great, and at least I will be published for the first time."
Gavin, VIC, studying Journalism.

"My time with ACS has been extremely beneficial....and I would recommend the school to anyone seeking to study by Distant Education."
Victor , QLD, studying Adv.Certificate Applied Management (Horses)

"I complement you on the quality of the course. It has helped me immensely, already, in my job with the local council's parks & gardens department."
Lester , QLD, studying Certificate in Horticulture-Landscaping.

"...it is very informative and worthwhile. I am glad I started the course. Of the many available from different schools, this offers the best value for money."
Sonia, QLD , studying Human Biology .

"This course was one of the best."
Rhonda, NSW , studying Garden Centre Management.

"Clients...that have completed courses with The Australian Correspondence Schools that we have spoken to, have all been extremely happy. Leanne & myself are more than happy with the assistance we receive and the prompt attention."
Dynamic Workforce Solutions, Sydney, NSW.

"I wanted to study herbs but I could not find a course at my closest TAFE, and travelling to Adelaide each day was not practical. The Australian Correspondence School offered the best option - study at home, at my own pace and still tutor contact when I needed it. I was undecided in the facet of herbs that I wanted to specialise in - that was until I completed an assignment to produce three herbal products. My tutor tested my products and encouraged me to set up a small business making and distributing a range of natural herbal cosmetic and household products. His guidance has helped me establish an interesting and profitable business from my studies."
Catherine, SA, studying Certificate in Applied Management.

Q. How do your diplomas compare with other Australian colleges, such as TAFE?
A. In the past, accredited diplomas involved well over 2000 hours of study, however, under the governments new Australian Qualifications Framework, many TAFE diplomas can be completed in much less time. We believe that the time you spend studying is important to the quality and long term recognition of a qualification. As such, we are maintaining old standards and distinguishing our graduates from those undertaking diplomas in this new system. Short qualifications from other Colleges may in the long term prove meaningless.

Q. How do I do workshops if I reside outside Australia?
A.  We've now developed workshop modules that can be done in any place in the world. The "workshop"modules have highly specified, very practical, projects (Problem Based Learning Projects), which have been designed to achieve exactly the same outcomes as were approved by industry committees established and operated in the past by the school. The concept is one that has been tried and proven in leading universities in the USA, Canada and elsewhere.    Alternatively we can appoint an appropriately qualified person anywhere to work through curriculum documentation supplied by us, to satisfy the requirements set down in a course.

Q. How is Practical Work Done?
A lot of people find it hard to understand how a distance education course can be anything more than reading and answering questions. Some are, and if that’s your experience with distance education in the past, this is unfortunate. In reality, distance education has a great deal of flexibility and today can be more practical and relevant to real life than classroom education.

There are a few things to consider:

  1. New technologies (internet, video, digital photography, cheaper & mobile telecommunications etc) make it possible to overcome many of the isolation and communication problems that used to exist with distance education. 
  2. Funding pressures that have often resulted in a decrease in quantity and quality of practical components in traditional classroom education
  3. People today are better networked than ever, and more exposed to visual images than ever (e.g. In the past if someone was studying an animal they had never before seen, the options to see an image of that animal would be virtually nil, unless supplied by their teacher in the classroom. Today people are bombarded by images of virtually everything they could imagine through cable TV, YouTube, web sites, magazines, etc.
  4. Be aware that no course will ever teach you everything! Wherever you study, your course should lay a foundation and framework for you to build on. It should open up opportunities for further learning –to further develop your practical skills, problem solving skills, knowledge, networking, communication abilities etc, within your field of study. Some courses focus heavily on the information; some on assessment more than learning, others focus heavier on the problem solving, and others perhaps on the practical, etc.
  5. No course can have it’s emphasis on everything; because to emphasise one thing is to de-emphasise something else.
  6. Our courses are “experiential” learning (i.e. a concept in education that focuses on learning through experience). Over more than 2 decades, these courses have been developed using feedback and suggestions from both staff and students to create a variety of different ways of building all sorts of learning experiences into the courses. Some are integral and compulsory experiences within a course, others are optional facilities (such as student interaction through the student room directory), which some students use, while others do not use.
  7. We get our students to do all sorts of hands on and observational tasks throughout courses. Examples may be:

  • To visit a farm and observe things (for students who have a problem with a real farm, they might take a “virtual tour” on a web site or using a video).
  • To study the anatomical structure of a bone or piece of meat obtained from a butchers shop.
  • To collect pieces off a plant, and from those pieces, create and propagate cuttings.
  • To undertake a well structured PBL project. (NB: PBL is a highly structured, tried & proven learning system based on dealing with hypothetical problems. This system is widely used world wide in medical schools, and increasingly in other disciplines.)
  • To undertake a role play.
  • To interview someone from industry.
  • To video or photograph things performed or created by the student.

…There are of course many other things that could also be added to this list.

Q.  What level is a certificate?
A. We do not use levels on certificates.
Levels I, II, III etc are systems used for Competency Based Training in both Australia and the UK. (The levels also mean different things in different countries.)

We operate with a more sophisticated system: experiential learning.
 
E.g.  Level III for instance means you are competent to perform certain tasks under limited supervision.
Our certificate develops a foundation within the discipline that enables you to develop and grow your capacity to work and solve problems within the discipline. You learn through experience as you study; and the study sets you on a path that encourages ongoing learning through experience after graduation. Our graduates are better prepared to advance in their career, to work alone or with others, etc. This concept is more in keeping with some of the more cutting edge education systems around the world. This contrasts with the CBT system which was popular throughout the 1980's and perhaps 90's but is often criticised today by leading educators around the world.
We take this approach because it works better; and on all reports, our graduates are in fact very successful.

 Q. I am a practical Person: I am not sure if Distance Education will work for me?

 A. We are practical people too; but practical learning is not something that happens as fast or as well, unless there is a strong theoretical foundation first. Learning is actually a procedure that never stops; and the never reaches a conclusion. Learning something is quite different to just gathering information, or carrying out a task. People can gather information and forget it. They can perform a task properly one day, but not understand what they are doing; or forget how they did it a few months later. If someone learns something, the essence of what they learn should be retained. Good learning is not a matter of "quantity" -sometimes it is better to learn less, but have a solid foundation. With a solid foundation....you will understand and retain things you encounter after you finish a course. With proper learning, you will make sense of problems and devise practical solutions.
Often a student doesn't really understand what they need to learn and how they need to learn in order to have a solid foundation of working and growing within their chosen discipline.
If they did understand though; maybe there wouldn't really be the need for them to be studying anyway.
For a student to really achieve properly in a course; it is important that they recognise the expertise of their teachers and have faith in the study program mapped out for them -even if they don't always understand the logic behind what they are being asked to do.
The school and it's teachers are never perfect (of course); but if you look at the credentials and experience of your teachers, and are confident that you can learn from them, then you need to have faith as you travel along the learning pathway they map out
Our courses will expose you to practical applications in many ways; maybe not always the way you might presume; but based on feedback from thousands of past students; these courses work and get you started on a pathway to a life of proper, practical and useful learning.
 
 
Q. It seems that 800-1000 words would be far too little for an in-depth explanation for a question I saw you asking in an assignment?

A. One thing about learning is that everything you learn will expose you to other thoughts that you don't know about. Many of the greatest minds throughout history, have said that "the more you learn, the more you realize you do not know"

In todays world, where everything in the workplace is so sensitive to time; it is important to not only learn about the subject you study; but also to kearn how to be concise in your communications and to be able to work to specification. One of the most common complaints of employers today, is "people not following orders or instructions"

We often specify a limit on the duration of an answer, because in doing so, we are teaching a student to be selective and concise in what they say; and we are forcing them to focus more clearly and work to specification.

This approach is widely used by some of the most successful education institutions in the world; and research has shown that "specifying limits on assignment questions" has a big impact upon the success of graduates in business or career.

Q. How can someone who is isolated, deal with practical tasks?
 
A. For all of our standard modules and short courses, we often give options.]
Courses are as far as possible written to cope with the widest range of
situations, from people living in antarctica to someone confined to their
home due to illness.
Example -We may ask you to visit a workplace and observe something; but also
say or if you have restricted mobility make a virtual visit, on the internet, if possible,
or if not, by reviewing a place through an article in a magazine. If you can't find
an article, ask the school and we will send you one.
If the course does not provide an option that is achievable, you should contact an
academic officer at the school. If your situation prevents you from doing something
(eg. being disabled, ill, living in isolation, or in prison), we will set an alternative task.
This must be dealt with on a case by case basis though, as every situation is
different.
A small number of modules (eg. Workplace Project, Industry experience) however,
cannot be satisfactorily completed without certaion practical tasks in the field.
Certificates or diplomas that encompass these are problematic; but we can still
find substitutes; however, in this case the diploma or certificate may need to
be renamed to reflect the change; perhaps to be a "theory diploma"

Q. Do I need to learn CAD for Garden Design? 

A. Computer Aided Design (CAD) should only ever be viewed as a tool.

We do not sell or endorse anything with CAD. Our Photoshop course can provide a good introduction to using computer graphics, and you can even use this program for CAD, however it can be a mistake to buy any garden design software before learning to design gardens first. I say this for several reasons....

1. Many skilled garden designers find using CAD to be limiting to the accuracy and creativity of their designs -even the best software is limiting.

2. There are many options for CAD, and new CAD systems emerging all the time. The most appropriate CAD software will depend upon the application. You need to know what type of business you are operating & what services you are providing, before you get the tools to do the job

3. If you buy a system before changing, then spend 2 years studying, it may be out of date before you graduate and are ready to start using it.

One of our affiliates (Garden Design Academy, in France) is a specialist when it comes to CAD. If someone is more strongly focused on CAD, they should consider studying our courses with these people, who also do a CAD course See www.gardendesignacademy.com



ANY MORE QUESTIONS?
 
Use our free counselling service to get them answered.