Mar 24, 2012

Journey into Distance Learning

I've heard and read about online learning. Distance learning universities called it and to be completely honest, it didn't interest me all that much when I first read about it a few years back. I knew I could do distance learning for my degree but I wasn't interested. Mainly because there's really nothing more I'd like to learn from my old university.

But a few days ago, I realized that I was a little bit burnt out from being in post for the past 2 years. I know it's a short time but if you've been through what I have -- late paychecks, long painful projects, 6 to 7 day work week -- you'll get the idea why I'm tired. Then I realize it's probably about time to maybe put something new under my belt.

I had dreams of going for single university classes - subjects that I was really interested in. The stuff you see in American movies/TV shows or read. As far as I know, they don't have that here in Malaysia. If you wanna take a class, you have to take the whole damn course.

And then I stumbled upon this. And rather timely too:

University of California Los Angeles offers online Summer classes at their Theater, Film & TV Department, Art Department and I think their Engineering department. The classes available aren't complete degree courses (it could be I think), but they are actual classes available during the normal academic year. The class are credited, transcripts and actual grade will be given and yes, credit transfer wherever available.
Although it still cost quite a bit for us (goddamn currency exchange), it doesn't cost nearly as much as having to apply for a student visa to the US, medical check-up, student housing, flight tickets and international student processing fee. 

Fee is counted per unit and per unit costs US$339. The class I took was Screenwriting Fundamentals which carries 2 units. That comes up to US$678.

When you register, there'll be a processing fee you have to pay. International students normally would have to pay US$400 as processing fee because of their visa and medical records but because the online nature of these classes, there's no need for that. Instead, the processing fee is $150. That $150 is charged to your credit card at the beginning of the registration process and it'll be applied to your BruinBill account within 24 hours or enrollment. 

But here's a kicker, processing fee is NOT the same as registration fee, which is an additional US$550. Truth to be told I couldn't believe the number I was looking at. There was another service charge or something fee of US$16. 

So what I had to pay for C132 Screenwriting Fundamentals was:
$150 + ($339x2 units) +  $550 + $16 = $1394
Summer processing fee + Summer course fee + Summer Group Registration Fee + Instr Enhancement

At present, that would amount to RM4291. Which is still cheaper than a one way flight to Los Angeles. And for a complete 6 weeks credited course.

UPDATED: So I emailed UCLA last night about explaining the fees to me and they said that yes, they accidentally charged me as though I was an international student coming to UCLA. And they accidentally charged the processing fee AGAIN. 

So what I have to pay for C132 Screenwriting Fundamentals are:
$150 (which has already been charged) + ($339 x 2 units) + $16 = $844 (RM2599.35)

How am I going to pay for this when I'm being blacklisted for not being able to repay my previous student loan? I'm taking a loan from someone who won't impose ridiculous interest rates: my father.

I honestly felt HORRIBLE when I saw the final payment amount, and I thought of just backing out and repay the nonrefundable $150 processing fee to my dad. But he told me to go ahead and take but also focus, do well and see it all the way through. Which I fully intend to. Because I'm finally about to learn something I'm interested in from a school.

I can't thank my dad enough for giving me this opportunity. I can't stop apologizing and thanking him for it. My class will only start in June but I will start paying next month and every month after that. 

I'm going back to school!

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