Have you been considering earning an online degree? Online learning has seen a major increase in recent years. In fact, for the 2019-2020 school year more than half of all college students in the US took at least one online class . Below, we aim to equip you with the knowledge you’ll need to get started.
When starting out a new course of study, there can be a lot of excitement. This excitement may fill you with energy and momentum, but it is important not to get too carried away in the beginning stages of online learning. While working toward a degree is an incredibly exciting prospect, you need to first do your homework and make sure you understand exactly what you are getting into. Researching and vetting potential online colleges is going to be a crucial step in this process.
These days, there are an overwhelming amount of online colleges to pick from. Of course, this can be a good thing. Plenty of choice means you shouldn’t have a hard time finding something that exactly aligns in with your needs. However, so many options does mean it can be easy to fall in with a program that isn’t on the up and up. Look for red flags and make sure you choose an accredited program. If you can, read online reviews from past students to ensure the online college you pick is legitimate.
Consider Your Experience
Aiming to earn an online degree means you likely want to better yourself in some way, but don’t count out the past experiences you already have. There is a good chance that some of the work you have already done in your life can count in some way toward earning a degree. For example, if you are studying to be an accountant, perhaps some honors math classes you took in high school can count as some credits. Or if you are studying to be a social worker, some community service hours you’ve worked in the past could also be considered an asset.
It’s also possible to “test out” of certain required classes. If for example basic English classes are a requirement for an online degree you are considering, and you feel confident you don’t need them, you can often take an online test to prove your proficiency and opt out of taking that particular class .
Even if your past works can’t contribute to your degree in the form of credits, it can serve you in other ways. Online learning is self-motivated, so it makes sense to choose an area of study where you’ve already shown interest. Have you participated in debate club? Perhaps you’d be interested in law. Do you enjoy spending time with kids? Maybe teaching is for you. Consider your strengths and use that information to inform your choices when moving ahead with an online degree. In this way, it can be helpful to really understand your own strengths and weaknesses.
Choose Your Field Carefully
So we’ve touched on the concept of using your strengths to help you choose an area of study, but let’s expand on that. Online learning is a very unique thing, and if you are aiming to earn a degree remotely, you need to think carefully about your course of studies. The fact is, not all areas of education lend themselves naturally to online learning. Of course, if there’s a will there’s a way, but you are going to be setting yourself up for better success if you first consider what type of degree you might realistically be able to earn at home, in your own time.
Some of the best degrees to earn online are liberal arts and English degrees, business degrees, criminal justice, psychology, and computer science degrees . These work well for online learning because much of the information you’ll need comes from reading and testing, not from hands on practice. Therefore, some of the harder degrees to earn online are going to be anything where you need practical experience, like medical degrees, mechanical, and or certain sciences. Consider this carefully when setting out an education path for yourself.
Set Your Own Pace
And finally, be realistic with yourself about the time you can commit to this. One of the best things about online studies is that you can often set your own pace, but piling up courses on yourself in an aim to finish quickly is not going to help you if you aren’t able to balance the workload. If you are a single parent, or if you are already working more than one job, it could make sense to set a slower pace, so that you can really take in the learning and earn high marks for yourself. Remember, in most cases you are going to be paying for these classes yourself, and you will want to get your money’s worth.
However, if you are confident in your ability to move quicker, by all means set a faster pace for yourself. That’s part of the beauty of online learning. It is a very customizable system that you can make work for you.
The world of online learning has been a game changer when it comes to the ability to earn a degree. Now, more people than ever have the option of higher learning, right at their fingertips. Do your research, however, and pick an accredited school that is on the up and up. Carefully consider your new major, and then set a pace for yourself that works best for your needs. And be proud of yourself. Earning an online degree can be the first step in a new path toward success!