05 Apr Online Education
With all the options available today for education, one opportunity you have likely come across is online education. The increasing accessibility and subsequent popularity of the Internet has paved the way for distance learning via the Web, creating an abundance of institutions that now offer online degree programs. This leaves many students wondering how to choose an online college that is right for them.
Why Students are Choosing Online Education?
It was only a few years ago that the “typical” college experience involved a campus, sports teams, residence halls, cafeterias, and a student center. How times have changed! Today, many students are choosing online education over the typical college experience because they are not looking for that traditional experience. Not every prospective college student is a recent high school graduate, or of a similar age. Many adults interested in obtaining a degree are well beyond their early 20s, already have established careers, and have other obligations, such as children or elderly parents to care for. Flexibility and convenience are key for these types of students.
Another reason many individuals are choosing online education is because of the flexibility it provides. Students can enroll part-time or full-time based on their existing schedules. With the typical college enrollment, your only option is to go to classes five days a week for hours on end. Also, some of the classes at these universities can be overcrowded, often in a lecture hall, which often accommodates more than 200…at one time!
What if a student does not live near a college or university that offers the degree or certification they want to pursue? Proximity is another reason why students are turning to online education. If people live in a smaller suburb or far from a major city, commuting for hours to get to the nearest college can be a challenge. Even if there is a college nearby, there is no guarantee that they even offer the degree the prospective student is looking to obtain. With many people working full-time or who have other commitments and obligations, not everyone can get to a college to attend a class.
How to Choose Your Online College?
Identify Your Needs
Asking yourself a few questions prior to researching different online colleges will help keep you focused on your ultimate career goals. It is important to identify what you want so that you can choose the college that is right for you. Write down your answers to the following questions so that you can reference them throughout your search:
- Do I want to continue education in my current field or obtain a new degree to further my knowledge?
- What qualifications must I meet to be eligible for admission? Are there exams to take as part of the application process?
- Will I need financial assistance to enroll in a degree program?
Explore the Institutions
Before you settle on a particular online institution, be sure to thoroughly examine the school’s requirements and course offerings. Exploring all facets of the organization will not only assist you in narrowing your search, it can also offer valuable insight into degrees that may guide you in selecting a program.
- Is the college accredited or reputable?
- How many students are allowed to be enrolled in each class? Are there class attendance minimums, and if so, will the class be cancelled if the minimum is not met?
- What courses are offered? Is there a variety of classes and times (or lack thereof)? Do these courses support your personal or career goals?
- Does the online college provide opportunities for flexible payments or financial aid or assistance?
Research the Faculty
Another very important aspect of choosing an online college is researching the credentials of the instructors and professors that teach there. Investigating the qualifications of the instructors, as well as examining their teaching and communication styles, can further ensure that an online college will align with your needs and goals. For example, some professors will only be available via an email address provided, while others might provide a phone number so they can be contacted directly.
Contact the Institution
Once you know what you want and have done some investigative work, contact the school through the request forms on this site. Someone from the school will contact you as soon as possible to answer any questions you might have. Prepare a list of questions ahead of time that will help you remember all of the information you need to obtain. Finding out as much information as possible about each institution you are considering is crucial in this process and will help you ultimately choose the best online college for you.
Remember, there are many options for online colleges out there. Equipped with this methodical approach to identifying your personal goals and examining different elements of the institutions that offer online degree programs, you will be well on your way to earning a degree.
How to Choose Your Online Degree?
With so many choices, you may be having some difficulty deciding what online degree to pursue. This is, after all, a tremendous investment, and you want to be certain you’ve chosen a career path that will interest and support you for years to come.
While research is always important when choosing an online program, it is just as important to make some decisions prior to looking into your options. Before you dive too far into the details of choosing a concentration, you need to first ask yourself the following:
- Why do I want to obtain a degree?
- Which is more important—that I enjoy my job, or that I earn a high salary?
- How critical is it that I finish this degree as quickly as possible?
- What are my strengths and weaknesses and how might they affect this endeavor?
Research Your Interests
After asking those questions, you then need to decide what degree you’d like to pursue. Is it a degree in Accounting, Culinary Arts, or Criminal Justice that interests you? Or is it a Nursing Program or a Business degree that you would like to obtain? Work through the following exercises in order to get a better understanding of what field of study you should undertake.
- Think of the people who have most influenced you, and write down the top three characteristics that you admire most in them.
- Identify one or two occupations that intrigued you as a child and write what you most liked about those careers.
- Think of five successful people that you know and write down their positions.
- Write down what your dream job would be if money did not matter.
- Now you should have a list of some characteristics—decide if you would like to aspire to the same traits you admire in others, and then determine what types of jobs benefit from those characteristics.
- With the list of jobs that you wrote down, make a list of pros and cons for each.
Sometimes brainstorming on paper can help you to envision your goals. Once you’ve done your research and have determined what direction you would like to go, you can begin to research a specific area of study.
Don’t be worried if you’ve enrolled in an online college prior to determining your degree. Many online schools offer a multitude of degrees for those who are looking to further their level of education, but simply cannot decide the career path that is best for them. Also, many institutions provide a flexible credit transfer program. Be sure to inquire with the admissions representative in case you later choose to change your online degree program or even transfer to a different online university.