Is AHT Distance for you?
Technology has allowed educators to develop distance courses that are equal to campus courses in many disciplines. However, the student must realize that training by distance does not suit all learning styles and that many individuals do not do well learning in this manner. The distance student needs to be someone who does not mind working alone and who is highly organized and self motivated. In our distance program we require that the student be working in a full-service veterinary clinic (small or mixed practice) during their studies so there are opportunities for discussion and guidance but it is not the same as learning in a classroom environment surrounded by your peers. In all university courses, time lines and keeping up with your studies are important, but they are even more so in distance education courses. Many situations can arise in your day, week or month that have the potential of keeping you from your course work.
Another myth of distance education courses is that they are easier and are less of an academic challenge. This is definitely not the case. As you will see in our information on the program, the student will take two courses per 12-week semester for three semesters per year for three years to complete the program. This course work is in addition to working (paid employment) a minimum of 20 hours per week in a veterinary clinic plus, in many cases significant personal responsibilities such as raising a family. Dr. Guy Hancock of St. Petersburg Junior College's Veterinary Technician Distance Training program (the longest running program in North America) states that their distance students perform 10 percent better on the VTNE than the students trained in their on campus program. He feels that the successful distance student is highly motivated and self disciplined.
Distance education is not substantially less expensive than on-campus training. Programs have to be developed, administered and taught and these are all expenses covered by the student fees. There are savings, however, in areas such as:
- The cost of and time involved in relocating to a training centre.
- Loss of work income.
- In some cases, the cost of maintaining two residences.
- The emotional cost of being separated from family and friends.
- Exemption from on campus student fees, lab levies, parking fees, etc.
There are several excellent books and manuals written on distance education and the distance education student. Most post-secondary institutions offer distance programs and have counsellors knowledgeable about the skills needed to be a successful student. Please do some research before you commit to a very interesting but demanding program.
Please note: We have found that in order to be successful in this program, the student has already been working in a veterinary clinic for a period of at least six months. It is crucial that you have the support of your clinic and coworkers during your time in this program. Starting our program and a new job does not allow time to build up a rapport with your coworkers which could lead to conflicts and a lack of co-operation.