October 28, 2010, 6:00 am

What You Need To Know About Earning An Online Degree

by: MD    Category: Career
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What you need to know about online college

Your career is stagnant and you’re looking to upgrade your current skills or pick up new skills. You could be working in a blue collar position and you feel that the best move at this time is to go back to school. You could just want to increase your current salary to improve the lifestyle of you and your family. You know that education is the best option. You know that you’re ready to go back to college. The only problem is that you really don’t have the time nor do you want to become a full-time student.

Is there a viable solution to this? Yes there is. You could take online courses to earn an online degree. Today’s article will attempt to look at every facet of this option.

First we need to look at important information on an online college degree program:

School is still school.

Just because you conduct your studies online this doesn’t inherently make the studies any easier. You still have to purchase a textbook, do weekly readings, work on assignments, and write exams. The major difference is that all of this will be delegated from the internet. At the end of the day the material will be the same, just presented differently.

Your learning style.

How do you learn best? Do you need a lecture to process a thought or do you prefer to read out of a textbook? You need to be positive that your learning style will match what is required to do well in an online course. Some of us simply can’t learn unless there’s a classroom setting present.

Once you’ve processed the two thoughts above, we can look at the benefits of an online degree:

Flexibility.

You no longer have to worry about sleeping through your alarm clock or trying to attend class when your kid just came down with a bad flue. An online degree program is extremely flexible. You do the work when you want to. You can listen to the lecture at noon while still in your pyjamas. The only constants are that you have strict deadlines and you sometimes might have to go to a physical location to write an exam.

Work at your own pace.

An online education can provide you with the ability to balance work/school. This of course completely relies on your time management skills. If your time management skills are up to par then you could work on your school studies whenever you feel like it essentially. The major benefit here is that you dictate your own schedule, not the college. This is perfect for anyone that needs to maintain a full-time job or feed a family while studying. You don’t have to worry about quitting your job or scaling back your hours at work when it comes to taking an online program. Unfortunately, you’re either going to have to become a productivity ninja or simply sleep less at night.

You don’t have to be a “student.”

I’m not going to lie, I’ve had some frustrated older folks in classes before. Likely frustrated because they have to be surrounded by a bunch of 20 year old punks. One of the major issues with going back to school is that you have to surround yourself with the college crowd. If you’re pursuing undergraduate studies, then this crowd could be very youthful. As a 40-year old you might not want to be listening to who chugged how many beers last Saturday while trying to focus during a lecture. With online studies you can complete your work from the convenience of your own home without having to live the typical student lifestyle.

We understand the important information about an online degree. We also understand the benefits of these programs. At this point you might be thinking that pursuing an online education is a viable option for you. Before you make any decisions, it’s only fair to now look at the setbacks of distance education:

Reputation.

An online college or an online program simply doesn’t have the same reputation as a major university. If your employer suggests that you pursue your studies through an online college, then you’ll be alright. However, if you decide to take online courses on your own then you run the risk of having a difficult time with finding work after you’re done due to the reputation. While some online colleges have managed to improve their reputations, it’s going to take sometime until the reputation is where it should be.

Workload.

The fact that you never have to go to a physical classroom will make the online program seem easier than it is. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case. You still have to complete the same amount of work with an online college, you just have to complete it on your own time. That lingering term paper will creep on you quicker than ever, especially since you won’t have an annoying professor reminding you on a weekly basis. The finals will come out of no where and you might realize that you only read half of the book. The workload with an online college will definitely surprise many.

Networking.

Some say that 50% of college is all about networking and meeting new people. With an online college program you’re not going to meet any new people. If you’re already working in a relevant field then this might not matter to you. On the other hand, if you’re looking to upgrade your skills and enter a new field, you’ll miss out on valuable opportunities that exist in the college classroom. Some of the relationships that we form in college are priceless. From life long friends to future spouses. If this doesn’t matter to you then you’ll have no problem with online courses.

Now that we looked at every aspect of an online education, where do you stand? Would you go back to school if you knew you could do it on the internet? Have you tried taking online courses?

(photo credit: Andrew Stawarz)

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Comments

I’m 20 and I’m going to be finishing my schooling online. I tried a university for 2 years and I just didn’t like it. I’m on the computer all the time anyways, and now that I work full time, I definitely want to finish my degree. I start in a few weeks and I’m definitely looking forward to it. Since I already have some great time management skills, I’m looking forward to the experience.

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Another thing to keep in mind is the price of education. i did an online course at Athabasca University and it wasn’t cheap. It’s more affordable if you are a resident of that province, but I think a degree would cost an arm and a leg there.

Nice thread.