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Top Financial Aid Questions to Ask When Choosing a School

by South University
December 31, 2018
A photo of a student shaking hands with a support professional, perhaps a financial aid counselor.

Once you’ve selected your top school and found the right degree program for you, the question of how to pay for college is still top of mind for almost every student. Your school’s financial aid team will be key in helping you apply for financial aid and create a financial plan that fits your needs. Here are some of the critical financial aid questions to ask this college department.

What types financial aid options are offered?

Among the most obvious financial aid questions to ask a college, this is also the most important. Below are common types of financial aid for college students your school should mention.

Federal grants: Grants are a form of a federal financial aid that eligible students do not have to repay as long as they remain in school. “A student may have to pay back all or part of a grant if they withdraw from school before finishing an enrollment period,” explains South University Student Services Manager, Brent Whigham.

Federal student loans: “Federal student loans are borrowed funds that must be paid back to the Department of Education, with interest,” says Whigham. “Students are required to begin making payments 6 months after graduating, leaving school, or dropping below half time enrollment.”

To apply for federal student loans and grants, you must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

State aid: State-funded financial aid may be available for some students. Eligibility varies based on the individual state requirements.

Institutional scholarships & grants: Schools may offer institutional grants and college scholarships based on merit or need. Speak with your school to see what’s currently available.

Outside sources: Many non-profit and private organizations offer grants, scholarships, and loans that can help you to pay for college. Even your employer may offer tuition assistance or reimbursement. While many legitimate grants, college scholarships, and lenders exist, do be suspicious of offers that seem too good to be true and particularly those that require a fee. “Be cautious of online scams and consult with a financial aid counselor at your school if you are concerned with a certain online offer,” recommends Whigham.

Who will assist me with financial planning and paperwork?

Being unsure of how to pay for college is normal, and you shouldn’t be left to figure it out on your own. Make sure your school offers a dedicated financial aid advisor who can walk you through applying for financial aid, help you understand your financial aid options, and answer questions as they come up. At South University, this person will be your Student Finance Counselor, who will support you through all aspects of the financial process.

What transfer of credit options are available?

Transfer of credit can be a great way to reduce the cost of your education. Your school may accept transfer credit from:

  • Prior college credit
  • Military experience
  • Military training
  • Defense Activity for Non-Traditional Education Support (DSST)
  • College Level Examination Program (CLEP)
  • American Council on Education (ACE) certifications

At South University, our admissions team will work you with to secure prior transcripts and any related documentation that we can evaluate for potential transfer credit.

What benefits are offered to military members, veterans, and family members?

For military personnel, veterans, and military family members, this is a must-ask financial aid question. Eligible institutions may offer programs such as Tuition Assistance, GI Bill® benefits*, the Yellow Ribbon program, and more.

“South University is proud to accept most military benefits available. Finance counselors can direct students to resources to determine what benefits may be available,” says Whigham. “We are also glad to offer a 10% tuition scholarship for qualifying military personnel, veterans, and active duty military spouses.”

When will I find out about and receive a financial aid award?

If you complete the FAFSA online, you may receive a Student Aid Report with basic details about financial aid eligibility in as little as 3 days. For a paper FAFSA submission, this may take up to 3 weeks. If you entered a school code in your FAFSA, that school will receive your FAFSA information and, depending on their processes, should be able to discuss your college financial aid options with you shortly.

Timelines for dispensing aid vary by school. At South University, once all of your documents are on file and your financial aid plan is approved, your aid typically pays around 4 weeks from the start of class. You can check financial aid status anytime on the My Finances page of your online portal.

Connect with the Financial Aid Team at South University
Our financial aid counselors are here to answer all of your college financial aid questions. To speak with our admissions and financial aid teams, request information online or call us at 1.888.444.3404.

*GI Bill® is a registered trademark of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). More information about education benefits offered by VA is available at the official U.S. government Web site at https://www.benefits.va.gov/GIBILL/Trademark_Terms_of_Use.asp.

by South University
December 31, 2018
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5 Questions to Ask Admissions During Your College Search

by South University
December 21, 2018
A photo of a young man looking at a letter.

When you’re considering going to college, knowing where to start and even what questions to ask can be difficult. It’s normal to be unfamiliar with the college admission process and with what to expect from college courses. Researching college degrees and programs online is a good start, but it can only go so far. You’ll learn the most by talking with college admission staff. When you do, here are 5 questions to ask about the school and program.

  1. How will this program help me achieve my goals?

    After you start your research online, Admissions can help you confirm whether a program’s outcomes actually match your professional goals. Your plan may be to enter an entirely new field or instead to grow in your current career.

    “Education is an influential step in staying competitive while enhancing your knowledge in the field you are in,” says Orlinda Brown, an Enrollment Counselor for South University, Online Programs. “In any career path you choose, you have to put in the work to develop your skills.”

    Whatever your goals, make sure you know the specific skills and abilities the program teaches and the jobs graduates are prepared to pursue. Ask about their alumni’s success and the career planning and job search services offered to students. For some programs, you may even get data on job placement or exam pass rates for recent graduates.

  2. What will my college courses be like?

    Your college courses should be rooted in industry needs. They should teach practical, in-demand skills, with assignments, discussions, and case studies based on the real world. In many careers, employers value hands-on experiences gained through practicums, labs, course projects, or internships. Another important aspect is how much you’ll interact with faculty and how experienced the instructors are in the fields they teach.

    To get a feel for the college culture and courses, plan a visit to tour the campus and meet faculty and staff. If you’re interested in online classes, the school should offer an online demo or virtual classroom tour. At South University, after you are accepted into our online programs, your admissions representative can walk you through an online orientation course to help you get more comfortable and confident with online learning.

  3. How does your admissions process work?

    The college admission team will likely be your first contact with the school. They should be friendly, helpful, and take the time to learn about you. Having one dedicated admissions contact to assist you is best, so that you don’t have to keep repeating your background to different people.

    “I like to build rapport and get to know my potential students before they apply. We chat a bit and I learn what program you are looking for, how it will benefit you, and your 5-year plan,” explains Brown. “This process helps me get you on the right track towards obtaining your career goals.”

    Once admissions helps you select a program and answers your questions, schools typically need a completed college application and proof of prior education. Graduate programs may have more complex admissions requirements. At South University, your admissions representative will guide you in acquiring all required documents, including transcripts, at this stage. “My goal is to make this process as smooth as possible for all of my students,” Brown says.

  4. How will this program fit into my life?

    If convenience and flexibility are important to you, this is a must-ask question. Look for schools that are used to working with students with family and professional commitments. Search for evening and online course options. If you prefer fully online classes, find out whether you’ll be required to attend classes at set times or on your own schedule. For example, our online classes let you login and learn anytime, with 24/7 access to your syllabi, discussions boards, and course content.

    “Because of our asynchronous environment,” says Brown, “school can coexist with your job, family commitments, and other daily responsibilities.” In addition to our fully online programs, many on-campus classes include online components, and students often take both in-person and online courses.

  5. What will the school do to help me succeed as a student?

    This question is key to knowing that your school will support you throughout your academic journey. Listen to see what student services they mention. You want things like library resources, academic advising, tutoring, faculty office hours, financial aid planning, career planning, and job search assistance. At South University, we provide all of these resources as well as assign dedicated staff to assist with everything from the admissions process through to finding and pursuing the right job for you.

Want to learn more about South University?

Explore our programs or contact our admissions team at 1.888.444.3404.

For tips on what to ask about financial aid, stay tuned for our next blog post.

by South University
December 21, 2018
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Where can a pharmacy degree take you?

by South University
December 17, 2018
A photo of two South University physical therapist assistant students.

The role of pharmacists in the healthcare system is evolving to meet the demands of the profession and society. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, around 60% of pharmacists work in independent or chain pharmacies, while about 25% work in hospital systems. However, a Doctor of Pharmacy degree can also lead to careers you’re less familiar with. Here are some of the other interesting ways you can use your professional pharmacy training.

Nuclear pharmacy

Nuclear pharmacists compound, measure, and deliver the radioactive materials used in diagnostic imaging (MRI, CT, etc.) and other procedures. Preparing radioactive materials is done in specialized containment rooms. The materials are then transported to hospitals and medical offices. Instead of working with patients, nuclear pharmacists interact primarily with healthcare technologists and physicians.

Primary care practice settings

Many clinical pharmacists are now embedded in primary care practice settings. These pharmacists manage the medication therapy for the practice. Embedded clinical pharmacists are more involved in drug therapy initiation and management than pharmacists in other community-based settings.

Government

Government agencies at the local, state, and federal level employ pharmacists in organizations such as the Food & Drug Administration, National Institute of Health, Federal Bureau of Prisons, the Veterans Administration, and even NASA. Pharmacists are also integral to the military.

Within these organizations, a pharmacist may conduct many tasks, including dispensing medications, counseling on medication usage and side effects, managing medication storage and procurement, conducting research, developing drug policies, and reviewing new drug applications.

Long-term care and consulting

Long-term care facilities are places where the elderly or individuals unable to care for themselves receive ongoing care from others. These facilities include nursing homes, mental institutions, correctional institutions, rehabilitation centers, and adult day care centers.

Often working as consultants, pharmacists review the medications of long-term care patients and provide recommendations and information to the other members of the healthcare team. In many cases, pharmacists provide specialized compliance packaging and medication administration training to care givers.

Home health care

Pharmacists who work in home health care serve patients in their home, preparing intravenous medications for people who require such products as antibiotics, parenteral nutrition, pain management, and chemotherapy. These pharmacists may monitor the patient’s reactions and progress and adjust treatment as necessary. In their work, they collaborate with home health nurses, hospice organizations, and social services team members.

Higher education

Working in higher education can also be a rewarding opportunity that allows you to help mentor future pharmacists. Pharmacy faculty teach in the classroom and also serve as preceptors for students completing experiential rotations. These pharmacists conduct research and publish scholarly literature as well.

Pharmaceutical industry

Pharmacists perform vital roles in the development, testing, sales, and marketing of new and existing drugs. They conduct clinical research, educate other professionals, and advise prescribers on the appropriate use of drug products.

Entrepreneurship

Pharmacists have a long history of entrepreneurship. They have developed products and businesses in a variety of industries including soft drinks, software, online and brick and mortar stores, medical devices, and much more. There really is no limit on how you can utilize your professional pharmacy training to create valuable products and services in the marketplace.

Planning Your Pharmacy Career

As you can see, the pharmacy world has a wealth of career opportunities. Even beyond the eight areas, pharmacists may be involved in pharmaceutical benefit management, regulatory affairs, poison control, medical writing, managed care, and more. No matter what your pharmaceutical interests, the right position can be out there for you!

Get started on pursuing your goals with South University’s 3-year accelerated Doctor of Pharmacy program offered at our campuses in Savannah, GA, and Columbia, SC. To speak with an admissions representative, request information or call 1.888.444.3404 today.

by South University
December 17, 2018
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Physical Therapist Assistant Career Overview

by South University
December 11, 2018
A photo of two South University physical therapist assistant students.

Physical therapist assistants apply their skills and knowledge to make a difference in their patient’s lives. It’s a rewarding, rapidly growing career in which you can work with people one-on-one to help them regain movement and manage pain after an injury or illness. To be a physical therapy assistant (sometimes called PTA or PT assistant), you need compassion, communication skills, an interest in anatomy and physiology, and, of course, the proper training. Physical therapist assistants work under the guidance and supervision of physical therapists.

Before deciding if a physical therapy assistant career is right for you, read on to learn about everything from this role’s responsibilities to work hours and settings.

What Does a Physical Therapist Assistant Do?

In a typical day, a physical therapy assistant may see new and repeat patients. All new patients must first meet with a physical therapist. The physical therapist evaluates the patient, determines a treatment plan with short- and long-term goals, and may assign a physical therapy assistant to work with that client.

After meeting with a physical therapist and other healthcare staff to discuss their patients’ needs, a physical therapy assistant may:

  • Treat patients using exercise, traction, electrotherapy, gait and balance training, massage, and other therapeutic interventions
  • Modify treatments to match the client’s abilities and progress
  • Encourage and motivate people during difficult activities
  • Assist patients with movements or exercises, ensuring activities are done safely and correctly
  • Monitor patients before, during, and after therapy, measuring and documenting things like a patients’ range-of-motion or vital signs.

Physical therapy assistants must also educate patients and family members on

  • The purpose and importance of physical therapy interventions
  • How to use devices and equipment, such as wheelchairs, crutches, or orthotics
  • Daily activities and movement outside therapy that can promote rehabilitation success. <.i>

Following a session, the physical therapist assistant reports patient progress to the physical therapist.

What is a Typical Work Day for a Physical Therapist Assistant?

A photo of South University Physical Therapist Assistant students.

Physical therapist assistants generally work full time with set schedules. They primarily work during the day with some evening and weekend hours required to accommodate patients’ schedules. Their work requires stamina, as physical therapist assistants are on their feet most of the day as they set up and put away equipment, assist patients moving between treatment areas, and help people move into required positions.

What Patients Go to Physical Therapy?

Physical therapy can help people of all ages achieve rehabilitation after an injury or change in health status has impacted their mobility or other physical functions. Client conditions are vast and may include:

  • Arthritis
  • Burns
  • Back injuries/pain
  • Balance issues
  • Fractures
  • Dislocations
  • Head or brain injuries
  • Osteoporosis
  • Stroke.

Where Do Physical Therapist Assistants Work?

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, 56% of physical therapy assistants work in the offices or clinics of physical, occupational and speech therapists, and audiologists. At 23%, hospitals are the second most common place of work, where a physical therapist assistant might help patients recovering from surgery, illness, or an accident.

Physical therapy assistants may also work in physicians’ offices and for government organizations such as the Veterans Health Administration, the Department of Defense, and the Indian Health Service. In nursing care facilities or skilled nursing facilities, a physical therapy assistant might help the elderly or those in need of intense rehabilitation therapy. Those employed by home healthcare services will treat patients in their homes.

Some physical therapy professionals specialize in a particular area such as sports medicine, school activities, or elder care.

What is the Career Outlook for Physical Therapist Assistants?

An image of a bar graph.

Physical therapy assistant is an in-demand career, expected to grow 31% between 2016 and 2026, with a median annual wage of $57,430 in 2017.

Employment growth in the PTA field will be fueled by the health needs of aging baby boomers, an increase in patients with chronic conditions, and medical and technological developments that increase survival rates among trauma victims and newborns with birth defects. These populations will all likely benefit from physical rehabilitation services.

Prepare for Your Physical Therapist Assistant Career

To enter this growing career, you’ll need to first earn an associate’s degree from an accredited physical therapy assistant program. At South University, our Physical Therapy Assistant programs can be completed in as little as 2 years and can provide you with the chance to gain 600+ hours of hands-on experience working with local physical therapists. After earning your degree, you’ll be prepared to pursue licensure or certification in your state*.

*South University does not guarantee third-party certification/licensure. Outside agencies control the requirements for taking and passing certification/licensing exams and are subject to change without notice to South University.

by South University
December 11, 2018
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Why Choose a Medical Assisting Career

by South University
November 28, 2018
A photo of a woman talking with a healthcare professional, perhaps a medical assistant.

If you're considering pursuing a career in healthcare, medical assisting can allow you to do meaningful work that matters in your community. Medical assistants play an essential role in the day-to-day operations of healthcare facilities and are often among the first and last people a patient sees at a check-up or doctor's appointment. If you are compassionate, detailed-oriented, and are interested in working in the healthcare field, here are four reasons why medical assisting is a great place to start.

Medical assistant employment is growing faster than average.

Medical assistant employment growth follows the general growth of the healthcare industry and the increasing need for support workers at healthcare facilities.

An image of a bar graph.

According to the BLS, employment of medical assistants in the US is expected to increase 29% from 2016 to 2026, much faster than the 7% average across all occupations.

By 2026, the BLS projects that 818,400 medical assistants will be employed in the US, compared to the 634,400 medical assistants counted in 2016. Such an increase in demand can provider workers with increased career stability and the knowledge that, no matter where they are in the country, medical assistants will be needed.

Medical assisting is more than just a job. It’s a rewarding healthcare career.

As a medical assistant, you’ll have the chance to contribute directly to patient health and medical care. You may interact often with patients and, with an upbeat attitude and positive demeanor, you can help to keep patients feeling at ease and smiling during a physician’s visit that might otherwise be stressful.

An image of a blue cross representing the medical field.

Medical assistants are valued members of the health care team who support physicians, nurses, and other medical professionals.

As a medical assistant, you'll also be learning a lot about the healthcare field. With experience and continued education, you may find opportunities for advancement into roles like medical office or records manager, healthcare administrator, or other related jobs.

Medical assisting encompasses diverse and engaging responsibilities.

As a medical assistant, you may perform a wide mix of administrative and clinical duties, so that you’re always busy and never bored.

On the administrative side, you might:

  • schedule appointments
  • greet patients
  • update electronics
  • manage health records
  • handle billing and insurance.

Clinical duties can include:

  • recording patient information and history
  • instructing patients on medications
  • checking vital signs
  • preparing blood samples
  • conducting basic lab tests
  • assisting the doctor before and during a patient exam.

In some states, medical assistants may also give patients injections or medications as instructed by the physician.

Many healthcare facilities need medical assistants.

Medical assistants can work in a variety of care facilities.  Most medical assistants have full-time schedules while others have the option to work part-time instead. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in 2016, physicians’ offices (at 57% of medical assistants), hospitals (at 15%), outpatient care centers (10%) and chiropractors’ offices (4%) were the biggest employers.

If you work in a physician’s or other health care practitioner’s office, you may work a relatively predictable schedule since most clinics and offices open during standard business hours, making it easier for you to plan and schedule time with family and friends.

How to Prepare for Your Medical Assisting Career

At South University, our Associate of Science in Medical Assisting degree program can prepare you with the technical training, interpersonal skills, and medical knowledge needed to begin working as a medical assistant in as little as 2 years. Your program will cover topics such as:

  • Medical terminology
  • Clinical competencies
  • Clinical laboratory competencies
  • Medical office procedures
  • Medical insurance and coding
  • Computers in the medical office
  • Human pathophysiology
  • Business communications
  • Medical assisting certification
  • And more
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South University's medical assisting program curriculum can prepare you well to start your career, and when South University checked in with our 2015 and 2016 Associate of Science in Medical Assisting graduates, 100% reported high satisfaction.*

In addition to hands-on coursework and one-on-one faculty attention, our program includes the opportunity to gain on-site experience and practice performing supervised medical assistant duties in a local medical organization.

Learn more today about South University’s medical assisting program available at our Columbia, Montgomery, and Savannah campuses.

*See program outcomes pages for more details: Columbia, Montgomery, and Savannah.

See suprograms.info for program duration, tuition, fees and other costs, median debt, alumni success, and other important info.

Note: This post was originally published on August 30, 2017 and was updated with new information in November 2018.

by South University
November 28, 2018
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