COMMON QUESTIONS ANSWERED (FAQ's)
Please read below for a list of commonly asked questions, but if we haven't answered your questions on the website, then please don't hesitate to get in touch with us. Click here to email us.
Q. Why choose to study with ACS?
A. Any or all of the following reasons:
Q. When can I start my course?
A. Any time -we have people enrol and start virtually every day of the year.
Q. What learning methods do you offer?
A. All of our courses are offered via distance learning. But we offer three different methods of learning.
Q. How long does the course take -What does "a self paced 100 hour course" mean?
A. We leave it up to the student to decide how many hours they study, when and where they study. You can do more hours one week than the next if you want. You can take a break in studies, slow down, speed up, or vary the amount of work you are doing if you need to. Some students will take 2 years to do a 100 hour course, others taking only a couple of months. Some complete a 600 hour certificate in 6 months, while others take many years. These courses are as flexible as you will get anywhere!
Q. What qualification will I achieve after taking a course?
A. This depends on which course you take. If you take a certificate course, for example, then you will achieve a certificate qualification on passing the course. If you take an individual module course, such as Cut Flower Production or Introduction to Psychology, you will have the option of taking an exam at the end of the course. If you do not wish to take the exam, but pass all assignments, you will receive a Course Completion Letter. If you take, and pass, the examination, you will receive a Statement of Attainment. If you wish to take a certificate course or higher course, you will be required to take the examinations to achieve the qualification. Some courses also have additional recognition. You can find more information on this for each individual course on the course details.
Q. If I do a shorter course first will I get credit towards a qualification? What is involved in upgrading later?
A. We do give credits in this way; but every situation needs to be looked at after you complete the first course. The credit you are granted will depend upon lots of things; including how you performed in the shorter course, what that course was and what the qualification is that you want credit in.
Generally, a 100 hour short course will count for 100 hrs being exempted from studies in a proficiency award or certificate; but a 600 hour certificate might not always give you 600 hours off a proficiency award -it all depends what the proficiency award is and what the certificate is.
Click here to see details of the different qualifications.
Q. Can I pay in instalments?
A. Yes, but the total fee will be greater if you pay in instalments. (Refer to fee schedule on enrolment form for more information.)
Q. Will you give a discount if two or more people enrol together?
A. You may claim a 5% discount on fees if multiple people enrol in courses at the same time.
Q. Does a discount apply if we enrol in a second course?
A. Yes, you may claim a 5% fee discount when you enrol in a second course.
(This does not apply however to the second stage or part of the same certificate or proficiency award.)
Q. What happens if I have to stop studying for a while? (e.g. Due to illness, change of circumstance, etc).
A. You can 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" reading in the course notes. Extra books can be useful in some courses; especially for special projects; but we have also found that they can sometimes distract the student from focussing on the most important things they need to absorb and remember. There is a danger of having too much information in a course. Remember "a course is all about learning"; not just collecting information. If you do need extra books; you can buy books through the schools bookshop with the confidence that they have been reviewed annd recommended by staff. (see www.acsbookshop.com ) Tutors will advise you what to buy if you decide you would like to get any extra books.
Q. How do I contact a tutor?
A. Email, write, fax or phone the school. We have tutors on duty 5 days a week, both in the UK and in Australia who can answer most questions straight away. If an appropriate tutor is not on duty; we will take a message and arrange for someone to phone back within 24 hours (normally much faster). If they cannot get you on the phone, they will write or fax back - whatever suits you.
Q. What do I get as a student?
A. All the information necessary to learn, a carefully conceived pathway to follow, and lots of guidence from expert tutors.
Your course will start with a short video presentation, (orientation), that explains how the courses work and how you can get support from the school as you work your way through a course.
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 or Post Graduate Studies?
A. The RHS Master of Horticulture is a degree level course offered through ACS. ACS also offers self design, post graduate certificates and dioplomas in all disciplines. ACS is however affiliated with some degree granting institutions including Warnborough College and Warwickshire College; a large multi campus government institution in the UK.
Many of the 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 proficiency award 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.
Q. How important is a Degree?
A degree (for example) helps get you a job interview, but it is the knowledge you have and the way that you present that gets you the job. After you get a job, employers rarely ever consider your qualifications -your future depends on your performance, not the qualifications you hold. This is why people in many of the top positions in business are not the most highly qualified -but they are generally very knowledgeable and highly skilled.
Do not make the mistake of persuing qualifications first and learning second.
If you want to be successful; get the best learning ....that is what will make the big difference throughout your career. Qualifications you pick up along the way are secondary to that.
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,,,,"
Q. How does recognition of the school compare with other colleges?
A. Exceptionally well; but different. We have a reputation for putting learning first; and that has resulted in our graduates doing exceptionally well.
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 focussed, and skills too often wasted in unrelated jobs"
These are comments about mainstream, government endorsed education! Compare us to that?
Click here for more information on our Recognition and Accreditation
Q. What if I want your course by want government recognition?
A. ACS is affiliated with several other institutions in both Australia and the UK, who are government recognised, and can offer our courses (WE have developed the courses but license them to these institutions). Each of these institutions will offer a different mix of support services to what ACS does. Some offer different qualifications. The modules can however be done with these if that is your specific need. Ask if you need to know this.
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."
"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, 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 , 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 , 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, studying Human Biology .
"This course was one of the best."
Rhonda, studying Garden Centre Management.
Click here to read more.
Q. How do your proficiency awards compare with other colleges?
A. Generally our courses are longer, teach you more; but as a result are held in high regard. 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 proficiency awards 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 the country?
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. Click here for more information on workshops
and industry projects.
Q. I am well qualified in horticulture - What should I Study to Improve Career Prospects
A. Here is some advice for horticulture graduates who feel their career may have stalled, and are wondering what extra studies are needed.
You may not need more qualifications to be successful, but you may benefit from more learning.
Learning can be formal or informal. We can help with formal learning; and our systems are very flexible in what they can offer; but there are other ways of learning too - becoming active with industry bodies and interacting with professionals is very valuable. I've learned a lot from attending conferences and seminars, but to be honest, more by talking informally with colleagues, then visiting them at work perhaps. The lectures at the conferences were always good, but to be honest, they left less of a lasting and useful impression. By getting to know industry leaders such, knowledge can be expanded greatly.
Any study is always useful. Going over old ground helps expand or deepen your understanding of a subject and sometimes give you new perspectives; however, covering old ground can be more frustrating to some people than others.
Over the 80's, 90's and beyond though, many of the horticultural qualifications started to become more specialised. In the 60's and 70's, most people studied everything - vegetables, fruit, ornamentals, sciences, propagation, plant culture, engineering, landscaping, and much more. This has not been the case with many of our current industry professionals.
It is important to first determine any deficiencies in your knowledge; then I would focus your studies on those areas of deficiency.
ACS can create qualifications by combining modules into certificates or proficiency awards, if appropriate; but the real starting point for you should be to identify the gaps in your knowledge (scope or depth). Consider if you are weak in your understanding of any underpinning sciences, such as chemistry, physics, statistics etc. Are you weak in specific areas of horticulture, perhaps plant knowledge (if so what plants); propagation, plant health, pruning, soils, irrigation, engineering? Do you have weaknesses with communication or writing skills, educational psychology, management or anything else.
Some graduates have lots of book learning, and lack practical learning. If so, we do have practical hort subjects -developed from RHS curriculum.
You may determine areas to study, or maybe your greater need is to engage with the profession. Consider getting active with bodies like the Institute of Horticulture, Nursery or Landscape Industry associations, International Plant Propagators Society, etc.
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