Online programs allow people to continue working at their current position while attending school. It also makes college possible for people who live in rural areas without access to local college. However, an online degree may not be the best option for every single student. If you are considering attending school online you need to make sure that it is the best option for your education.
Do You Have Access to Technology?
You will need to have access to a computer and high speed Internet if you want to attend college online. Although most homes now have a computer and Internet, you may need a newer model computer so that you can meet all of the software requirements for your courses. It also makes sense to have high speed Internet, not just the basic service your cable Internet service provider offers. You will be downloading courses, watching lectures online and completing your tests online, which means you need reliable service. Using the Internet at the library or coffee house is not going to cut it if you are attending classes full time.
Are You Self-Motivated?
When you are attending class online, you are working independently. If you work best in groups or you like finding study partners, this option may not be the best one for your situation. Many online college students juggle work, family and friends with their courses, and it can be difficult to sit down and work on your classes every day. There is always something more fun to do. You need to make sure that you commit time to completing your assignments each week, and that you can stay focused n completing your classes.
Does Your Course of Study Allow for an Online Degree?
Some degrees allow you to take all of the classes online, but some degrees require you to have actual experience out in the field. Some of these programs may not allow you to complete your entire degree online. For example nurses need to spend a set number of hours working with actual patients to gain clinical hours needed to earn their license. People pursuing a teaching degree face the same problem. Some of the online programs will work with you and a local clinic or school to allow you to get the hours. Others will have you come onto campus for a semester so that you can meet those requirements. If you are pursuing a degree that has these requirements, you will need to find an online college that allows you to complete the hours locally. This may mean choosing a college based in your state. You do not want to get through the majority of your program and then realize you will not be able to graduate because you cannot move to complete the last few classes.
Before You Apply
Once you have determined that an online degree is a good option, you need to take the time to find a good school. Your online college should be accredited and well respected. Many traditional universities are now offering online programs, especially for Master’s degrees. Many community colleges also offer online degrees at a lower cost than private universities.