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Western Kentucky University

WKU Online

Orientation for Online Learners

Frequently Asked Questions

About Online Courses
Generally speaking, how do online classes work?
The majority of WKU web-based classes are delivered through Blackboard. Once you register for your course and the semester begins, you will be able to login to Blackboard and view all of your course materials. When you login, you will see links to the Discussion Board, Course Information, Assignments, Grades and more depending on how the instructor chose to design the course. If you're unfamiliar with Blackboard we recommend that you review the Blackboard tutorial to help get you started.
How much time do online courses require?
College course rule of thumb: three hours of online time with nine hours of offline work per week. Online courses take at least the same amount of time as face-to-face classes. The convenience of being able to choose when you spend those hours is the best part, but time is still a factor!
How do I find online course listings so I can sign up?
To register for courses, check your schedule, see your grades or transcript, etc. log in to TopNet. Click on "Student Services" and select the option you want. You will need your WKU ID number and PIN to log in to TopNet. If you are unsure about your WKU ID number, PIN, or how to set up your TopNet account visit the TopNet FAQ. Log-in help is also available on the TopNet log-in page.
When can I start a web-based course?
Online courses at WKU are semester-based and follow the same start and end dates as face-to-face classes. Registration for classes begins and ends on certain dates. Check the Academic Calendar for registration dates and to find the date that courses begin and end at WKU for each term. Web-based independent learning courses can be started as soon as you enroll in the course. Independent Learning courses are not subject to the traditional academic calendar.
Can I withdraw from a web-based course?
Yes, you may withdraw from a web-based course. Check the Academic Calendar for deadlines for registering and dropping courses.
Do I have to be admitted to WKU to take Web-based courses?
Yes, you must be admitted to WKU prior to enrolling in any university course, except those offered through Independent Learning. For admission criteria visit www.wku.edu/admissions. After admission, you may register for courses using TopNet . Registration for independent learning courses is handled by the Office of Independent Learning (www.wku.edu/il).
Is it possible to complete a degree completely online?
Yes. WKU now offers Associate, Bachelor, and Master degree programs online. Follow the "Online Programs" links on the top menu of this page.
Paying For Your Courses
Will financial aid cover the cost of courses?
Check with Student Financial Assistance to see if your current form of financial aid will cover you if you choose to take a web-based course from WKU. The Office of Student Financial Assistance may also be able to suggest other forms of aid that will help you pay for courses. WKU employees and their dependents may use the Tuition Waiver Program for web-based and independent learning courses. You can reach the Office of Financial Assistance at (270) 745-2755 or visit them online. You can also visit www.wku.edu/online/financial-aid.php for more information on how to get started.
How do I apply for financial aid?
Nearly all students are eligible for some form of financial assistance. In fact, over 90% of the students who applied for financial aid in recent years received an award offer. Every effort is made to assist you and your family in obtaining the resources necessary to meet the difference between the total cost of attending Western Kentucky University and your ability to contribute toward your education. More information is available on the WKU Financial Aid website. You can also visit www.wku.edu/online/financial-aid.php for more information on how to get started.
How much does it cost ?
Tuition and fee information is available here. If you are not admitted to WKU and wish to take an independent learning course, payment will be expected at the start of the course. If you are a WKU student, The Office of the Bursar will bill you for the courses you wish to take.
What are the different types of tuition payment options available?
Tuition payment options can be found at the Office of the Bursar website.
Advising Questions
Do I need advisement?
Yes, you should check with your academic advisor about the course you wish to enroll in.
Why do I need advisement?
To make sure that the course you wish to enroll in will fit in your degree program and that you meet the prerequisites for the course.
How do I get advised?
Contact the departmental office where your major is located to have an advisor assigned. If your major is undeclared you may visit Academic Advising or call (270) 745-5065.
What course should I take?
Course requirements for all majors are located in the Undergraduate and Graduate catalogs which may be purchased from the WKU bookstore or may be viewed online at www.collegesource.org. You should check with your advisor to make sure that the course you wish to enroll in will fit in your degree program and that you meet the prerequisites for the course.
What do I have to do if I have an ATP hold or an advising hold?
If you are a degree-seeking distance learning student, you may call the ATP office at (270) 745-4242 to let them know that you will be taking all of your classes on-line and will not be attending classes at the main campus. One of the advantages of ATP is that you meet with an advisor who will discuss your academic program with you and help you decide which classes you will need to take to meet your degree goal.

If you cannot come to ATP, you will need to have an advisor to discuss this with via email or phone. Contact the person listed on the "Programs" page connected to the online program that you are interested in. Please be aware that some programs require additional admissions in order to be accepted into that program. If you have an advising hold on your registration record, you should contact Academic Advising at (270) 745-5065.
Using University Resources
Do distance learners have access to university resources/services?
Yes, as a WKU student you have access to a variety of services designed to meet the needs of students studying at a distance such as WKU Library resources, Online Tutoring, Academic Advising, Career Services, Testing, and much more.
Where do I get my textbooks?
Textbooks for web-based courses are available at the WKU Bookstore in Downing University Center. You may order online at www.wkustore.com or by calling (270) 745-2466 or 800-444-5155.
Where can I take my examinations?
Some instructors require that examinations for web-based courses be taken at a proctored site. This can be a college, university, community college or even a local library. For information and help in setting up a proctored exam or finding other testing locations visit the DELO Testing Center.
How do I use the Library?
You can go to the Library website and search the Local Catalog or Remote Libraries and databases. To look for your patron information you will use your WKU ID Number and your password (It’s your email password). Additional information about library resources for distance learners is available herePDF document.
Technology Related Questions
Where can I find my username and password for my Blackboard and e-mail (Webmail) accounts?
As soon as you were admitted to Western Kentucky University, you were issued a WKU e-mail account. At WKU it is called Webmail. This is an important e-mail account because all of the messages from your classes will come to this account as well as messages from WKU. You can use this account just as you would your other personal e-mail accounts. You will also be able to keep the account after you graduate from WKU. *You will also use your WKU webmail username and password to login to Blackboard to access your classes. Videos are available here to explain how to find out how to access your Webmail account. Look under "Accounts" and "TopperMail"
How do I get my WKU ID number and PIN to use with TopNet? (TopNet contains student information, course registration, transcripts, financial aid notification, etc.)
Your WKU ID number was assigned to you as soon as you applied to WKU. To look up your WKU ID number go to the TopNet log in page and click on "wku ID lookup" link. This will allow you to find out what your ID number is. Write this down! It will be used for nearly all transactions on campus instead of social security numbers.

The first time you log in to TopNet you will use your WKU ID number and your PIN will be the last 6 digits of your social security number. You will immediately be asked to establish a new PIN number. It will need to be 6 digits. Be sure to pick something you will remember. If you need additional help setting up your TopNet account, you can call the IT Dept. Helpdesk at (270) 745-7000.

Now that you have set up your TopNet and Webmail accounts, you may want to log in to Blackboard using your Webmail log in and password to start familiarizing yourself with the Blackboard learning environment.
Why do I need a WKU e-mail account?
Most communication with instructors who teach online courses is done though e-mail. Most instructors prefer to use your WKU Webmail address since this is tied to your name and is easily recognized. If your instructor is using Blackboard for course delivery, the e-mail sent through Blackboard will automatically go to your WKU Webmail account.
What type of computer do I need to take online classes?
At least a Pentium-class computer, printer, Acrobat Reader (a free download), and Windows Media Player (usually comes with your computer, but also a free download). The Firefox browser is best; Internet Explorer is okay, too. All free downloads are available through our Online Community in Blackboard. If you are interested in becoming part of our community email us at learn.online@wku.edu. Additional information regarding technology requirements for online learners is here.
What type of software do I need to take online classes?
Internet access via cable, broadband, or DSL is recommended. These options provide access to courses much faster and will allow for smoother viewing of videos if your instructor uses them in your course.

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 Last Modified 9/24/14