Online Courses: Frequently Asked Questions

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What are these online courses?
AmeriCorps VISTA offers online courses designed specifically for currently serving VISTAs. You must be in service during the entire course, with your last day of service falling after the last day of class. 

What does it cost?
The courses are available to eligible VISTAs at no cost. If you earn a passing grade in a course and want to access your transferable college credit recommendations, however, you are responsible for the transcript fee to the credit recommending organization. Please note that college credit recommendations are not currently available for the Poverty In Your Community or Community Engagement courses.

How do I apply?
The application window is open only in the weeks prior to the beginning of a course, so check the online courses page on the VISTA Campus for upcoming offerings or sign up for notification of future course schedules. The application is online and when open, will be found linked from the main page of our website

What do I need to do before I apply?
Prior to applying, you’ll need to read the course syllabus and an article called "How Students Develop Online Learning Skills" to determine if an online environment is right for you.  Also, talk with your supervisor and confirm that the course will not interfere with your VISTA duties. You will be asked to confirm on the application that you have completed these activities. You must check all the boxes or your application will be considered incomplete.

Will everyone who applies get in?
Course enrollment is limited. Students will be admitted through a random lottery. Applicants not admitted will be placed on a waiting list. If you are placed on a waiting list but do not make it into a course, AND apply the following term, you will be given priority over those who are applying for the first time.

I am a VISTA Leader. May I apply?
VISTA Leaders are welcome to apply for these online courses, though currently-serving VISTAs receive priority enrollment. Leaders will be enrolled as space is available.

Can my VISTA Supervisor take this course?
Enrollment in these courses is not open to VISTA Supervisors at this time.

If my term ends before the end of the class, can I still enroll?
No. In order to be eligible to take a class, the end date of your service term must fall after the course ends. The intention is that you will still have time left in your term to apply what you learn. 

When are courses offered?
Currently, we offer classes three times a year - Fall, Winter and Spring. We offer several “sections” of each course during each term to serve as many students as possible.

When will I find out if I’ve got a spot in the course?
You will be notified no later than the Friday prior the first day of class. Course dates are located on each course application page that links from our main page.

Where does the class take place?
Admitted students will be given access to an Online Learning Center where courses are hosted. Please note: the courses are not located on the VISTA Campus.

Are there mandatory meeting times?
While the courses are self-paced, there are weekly deadlines for course activities on Sunday nights. Otherwise, you will be able to work on course activities around your own weekly schedule.

How much of my time will this course take?
In the past, students have spent 2-4 hours per week in participation and course activities. Some weeks are busier than others.

What should my supervisor know about this course?
You can share this FAQ with your supervisor to help answer any questions they might have.

Can I take more than one online course?
You may not be enrolled in more than one of our online courses at a time, but are welcome to take the other course during a different course term within your service year.

Is there someone I can contact with questions before I sign up?
Yes, email vistacourses@cns.gov with questions.