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How To Be Successful at Unity College

Your journey is just beginning.

We’ll help you find your way.

Maybe this is your first time in college, maybe you took a break and you’re coming back, or maybe you’re a graduate student who just hasn’t been in a classroom for a while—no matter who you are, attending college is a critical step in pursuing your personal and professional goals. Before you get started on your academic journey, it’s important to understand the academic skills that you will need in order to accomplish your goals at Unity DE.

Academic Skills for Success

The Basics: Reading and Writing
Although technology has changed nearly every aspect of education, to succeed in college there are two “traditional” academic skills that everyone must possess: the ability to read and to write. Your courses at Unity DE use a wide range of media and technology to engage learners, but reading and writing remain essential to successfully completing most learning activities, projects, and assessments.

What does it mean to be a college-ready reader?
In short, you will need to be capable of reading, analyzing, and applying ideas from a range of complex academic texts. Because your courses will be online and asynchronous (i.e. no mandatory videoconferences), many of the key ideas and concepts in your courses are presented through selected articles, textbook chapters, and other relevant texts.

In college, reading involves more than just basic comprehension—you must be able to read critically by evaluating the reliability of texts, identifying and responding to their arguments, asking questions, and comparing the ideas presented in one text with those presented in another. You will also be introduced to the technical and theoretical language of your chosen major or discipline. The ability to read, analyze, and apply the language of your discipline [or disciplines] will enable you to participate as a professional in your field beyond the classroom.

What does it mean to be a college-ready writer?
Most of your class participation at Unity DE will take place through the written word—from posting to discussion boards and writing reports to interacting with your instructors and peers, written communication is essential to completing an online degree.

A college-ready writer should be capable of writing for different audiences and in different forms. You must be able to write short essays, multi-page reports, argument essays, literature reviews, and research papers. You will be expected to incorporate ideas, arguments, and evidence from reliable academic sources and to document those sources through established referencing and citation styles [i.e., APA, Chicago, etc.].

In most courses at Unity DE, it is expected that written submissions will communicate ideas clearly and persuasively with supporting evidence from reliable academic sources. In many cases, the conventions of writing such as grammar, punctuation, word choice, and sentence fluency may be assessed by your instructor.

Learning Online: 21st Century Literacies for a Digital World
You’ve probably chosen Unity DE because we offer flexible, accelerated degree programs that enable you to study according to your own schedule. Taking classes that are fully online and asynchronous means that you can make decisions about when and where you want to study. But this also means that you will need to be comfortable with using a variety of web-based tools.

Unity DE degree programs are designed with a focus on solving real-world problems. The academic skills that you will need to succeed at Unity DE also happen to be the very same skills that you will need to succeed in the 21st century workplace. These skills are also called literacies. In the past, literacy might have simply meant the ability to read and to write proficiently. However, in a digital world, reading, writing, and consequently learning almost always involve the use of technology. Becoming proficient with modern technologies is a bit like learning a new language. You yourself might speak “Facebook” very well, or “Adobe Photoshop.” That’s why we use the word “literacy” to describe competence in many modern skills.

We use technology to gain as well as create knowledge at Unity DE. Therefore, you will need to possess and further develop the following literacies:

  • Develop proficiency and fluency with the tools of technology
  • Build intentional cross-cultural connections and relationships with others in order to pose and solve problems collaboratively and strengthen independent thought
  • Design and share information for global communities to meet a variety of purposes
  • Manage, analyze, and synthesize multiple streams of simultaneous information
  • Create, critique, analyze, and evaluate multimedia texts
  • Attend to the ethical responsibilities required by these complex environments

In addition to the points made above, we provide students with the following information on minimum academic requirements for acceptance into our undergraduate and graduate programs.

Undergraduate: To enroll in a Unity College Distance Education undergraduate program, applicants for admission must fit the following criteria:

  • Have a minimum of a 2.0 high school GPA on a 4.0 scale or
  • Proof of high school completion equivalent [GED]

Homeschooled Students: A homeschooled applicant for admission is required to submit the following for review:

  • A letter of recommendation from a non-relative that assesses the student’s academic ability;
  • Submission of an electronic portfolio that shows evidence that the applicant has met the typical high school academic distribution requirements; and
  • Any test scores available [but not required], e.g., SAT or ACT.

Graduate Students: To enroll in a Unity College Distance Education graduate program, applicants for admission must meet the following criteria:

  • Have a minimum of a 3.0 undergraduate GPA on a 4.0 scale (preferred)
    • Applicants with GPAs between 2.75 and 3.0 will need to submit a statement of circumstances that affected the student’s GPA and how these have been addressed to ensure success at Unity College [maximum of 500 words].
  • Completion of a bachelor’s degree

Academic Skills for Success | Time Commitment for Success | Financial Commitment for Success | Technology for Success | Technology Skills for Success

Time Commitment for Success

  • 3-credit courses require at least 27 hours per week for Undergraduate, 22.5 hours per week for Graduate.
  • Although courses are asynchronous, they are NOT self-paced. Course inactivity will result in administrative withdrawal after 6 days for Undergraduate and 10 days for Graduate courses.
  • Assignments are typically due on Sundays. Discussions often require initial posts by Wednesday, with responses to peers due by Sunday. Students are responsible for meeting all mid-week deadlines as described in the instructions for any given assignment.

Academic Skills for Success | Time Commitment for Success | Financial Commitment for Success | Technology for Success | Technology Skills for Success

Financial Commitment for Success

  • Financial aid can include grants and/or loans. If you are eligible for loans and decide to decline them, you are responsible for covering the remaining balance out of pocket.  Inclusive of all funding sources available to you, you should budget $11,200 – $14,100 per year for tuition expenses. For your exact amount contact your Concierge.
  • Out of pocket costs are recurring, you will be charged every 5 weeks (Undergraduate) or 8 weeks (Graduate) as long as you are enrolled.
  • If you have a balance after financial aid has been applied, you must pay the balance off prior to the start of the term or sign up for a payment plan in order for the fee to be completely paid by the end of the term.  Students may be unable to enroll if maximum balance amounts are exceeded.
  • Although minimal, there are additional costs for textbook, software, and course materials.
  • Failure to earn credits in any term increases your out-of-pocket costs and will delay completion time.
  • All non-degree seeking students are ineligible for financial aid and must pay the total cost of the course out of pocket before the term begins.  Failure to do so will result in an automatic course withdrawal.

Academic Skills for Success | Time Commitment for Success | Financial Commitment for Success | Technology for Success | Technology Skills for Success

Technology for Success

The skills and equipment listed below describe the minimum expectations of incoming students before taking courses online at Unity College. Students deficient in these skills should seek out local training opportunities, such as classes at a library, community college, or computer training center, to gain these skills and better prepare them for Unity College Distance Education coursework.

Technology Requirements for all Unity College DE Students
We require students in Unity Distance Education courses to own or have consistent access to a computer that is 5 yrs. old or newer, with the following minimum specifications:

Internet Speed (Speed Test) Minimum Speed:

  • Download 10 Mbps
  • Upload 2 Mbps

Recommended Speed:

  • Download 50+ Mbps
  • Upload 10+ Mbps

Required Hardware Configuration

Windows / PC: Recommended Operating Systems

  • Windows 10 (64-bit) or newer

Apple / Mac: Recommended Operating Systems

  • macOS Monterey (12.0 or newer)
  • macOS Big Sur (11.1 or newer)
  • macOS Catalina (10.15 or newer)

For Both Mac/Windows:

  • Hard Drive
    • 256 GB (SSD) [preferred] or greater
    • 500 GB (HDD) or greater
  • Memory/RAM
    • 8 GB minimum
    • 16 GB or more [preferred]
  • One of the following processors 
    • Intel Core i5 or better with Intel 8th generation or newer 
    • AMD Ryzen 5 or newer 
    • Dual-core processor, or better (quad-core preferred) 
  • Input/output accessories, including:
    • Headphones/earbuds
    • Webcam

Note: The following devices and operating systems do not meet the minimum requirements of our courses:

  • Chromebooks
  • Windows RT
  • iPads

Recommended Browsers:

  • Chrome 99 or newer
  • Firefox 98 or newer

Academic Skills for Success | Time Commitment for Success | Financial Commitment for Success | Technology for Success | Technology Skills for Success

Technology Skills for Success

These basic competencies are assumed on the first day of class. Students must assume responsibility for learning these skills if he/she does not already possess them. If an instructor finds that you do not have the required skills and knowledge, you may be asked to withdraw from the course.

Basic Knowledge of Computers

  • Understand basic computer hardware components and terminology
  • Understand the concepts and basic functions of a common computer operating system
  • Startup, log on, and shut down a computer system properly
  • Use a mouse pointing device and keyboard
  • Use Help and know how to troubleshoot routine problems
  • Identify and use icons (folders, files, applications, and shortcuts/aliases)
  • Minimize, maximize and move windows
  • Identify common types of file extensions (e.g. doc, docx, pdf, html, jpg, gif, xls, ppt, pptx, rtf, txt, exe)
  • Check how much space is left on a drive or other storage device
  • Backup files
  • Download and install software on a hard disk
  • Understand and manage the file structure of a computer
  • Check for and install operating system updates

Proficiency in Using Productivity Software

  • Create documents of various types and save in a desired location
  • Retrieve an existing document from the saved location
  • Select, copy, and paste text in a document or desired location
  • Print a document
  • Name, rename, copy and delete files
  • Understand and know how to use the following types of software programs:
  • Word processing (example: MS Word, Google Doc, Writer)
  • Presentation (example: PowerPoint, Impress)
  • Spreadsheet (example: Excel, Calc)
  • PDF reader (example: Acrobat Reader, Preview)
  • Compression software (example: WinZip, StuffIt, 7-Zip)

Electronic Communication Skills

  • Email, using a common email program (example: MS Outlook, Gmail, Apple Mail)
  • Compose, Send, Reply, Forward messages
  • Add attachments to a message
  • Retrieve attachments from an email message
  • Copy, paste and print message content

Internet Skills

  • Set up an Internet connection and connect to the Internet
  • Have a working knowledge of the World Wide Web and its functions, including basic site navigation, searching, and installing and upgrading a Web browser
  • Use a browser effectively, including bookmarks, history, toolbar, forward and back buttons
  • Use search engines and directories to find information on the Web
  • Download files and images from a Web page
  • Understand how to keep your information safe while using the Internet

Moving Files

  • Transfer files by uploading or downloading
  • View and change folder/document security settings
  • Copy files from hard disk to storage devices and vice versa

If you have specific questions concerning these competencies, please contact your concierge at or call (207) 509-7155.

GIScience Technology Requirements
NOTE: ArcGIS Pro is required for both the undergraduate and graduate GIS courses. Students enrolled in GIS courses will need to refer to the ArcGIS website for minimum specifications. ArcGIS Pro must be run using Windows software. Using a PC is recommended, although ArcGIS Pro can run on Mac products by installing Windows using the Boot Camp software. If you have any questions about requirements, please reach out to the Distance Education Concierge at (207) 509-7155 or

Other Requirements

  • Microsoft Office 2016 or newer – Students who do not have this can use Office 365, which is available on the home screen of the single sign-on portal
  • Speakers, headphones, microphone, and a web camera for video conferencing. Most computers/laptops that have a web camera come equipped with a built-in microphone
  • Consistent high-speed internet access. Public Wi-Fi (restaurants, libraries, etc.) may be slow and result in errors
  • Mobile devices and tablets can be used to view some of the course materials, but it is not recommended.
    A mouse and keyboard are required for certain graded activities.

Academic Skills for Success | Time Commitment for Success | Financial Commitment for Success | Technology for Success | Technology Skills for Success

Applying to Unity College Distance Education

Further your studies with an online degree from Unity. It’s easy and free to apply and will get you one step closer to fulfilling your professional goals.

Before you apply, we know you have a lot of questions. Whether it’s your first time going to college, you’re transferring schools, or you’re seeking a graduate degree, we’re here to help.

Explore the following resources. If you still have questions, don’t hesitate to contact a Distance Education concierge—they’ll work with you to create a personalized plan for admission, financial aid, and beyond.

  • Admission requirements. You’re more than a number. Check out our few admission requirements. Grad students—you don’t even have to send in a GRE score.
  • How to apply. Applying online has never been easier (or cheaper—it’s free!).
  • Tuition costs. Our costs are straight-forward and transparent. No hidden fees or costs.
  • Financial aid. Learn your options for financial aid. You may also speak with a Distance Education concierge for assistance.
  • Transfer students. Save time and money on your degree by transferring to Unity.
  • Military students. Learn about special military tuition rates, benefits, and support.

Questions? Get in touch with a distance concierge by emailing us at 

Distance Education Concierge

Last Updated on May 6, 2022

Last Updated on May 6, 2022