Are you considering going back to college and finally completing your degree? An online degree program is ideal for working professionals who want to switch careers or move ahead in their existing careers. Though you won’t work face to face with instructors and classmates, earning a degree online isn’t an isolating experience. Yes, you will learn from home. No, you won’t be alone.
Like all higher education programs, online degree programs vary from one area of study to the next. Fortunately, if you can navigate the Internet, you can navigate your way through an online college experience. Here’s what to expect when you get a degree online.
Find an Online Degree Program – First, find a degree program offered by an accredited online university. This involves a great deal of research and introspection on your part. Once you’ve decided on the ideal degree or certification and have found a reputable online college offering it, the enrollment process begins. Just as you had to take placement tests and fill out college applications in high school, the same is true when applying to an online college. Allow plenty of time for registration, transcript processing, testing and related formalities.
Double Check Requirements – Once accepted into the program, a counselor will help finalize arrangements such as financial aid and transfer credits. Depending on the college, you may be assigned a personal representative who will guide you through the enrollment and orientation processes of getting an online degree. If not, familiarize yourself with the course formats as well as computer requirements before beginning the course. If your computer isn’t up to the standards, you may need to invest in a new one.
Arrange Login Credentials – Part of the orientation process involves obtaining your student credentials. You’ll be issued a unique user name and password. Once you have the appropriate credentials, you can access the online degree program. Again, different universities use different systems; however, you should be able to see your current courses, download course syllabuses and other resources. Explore the user interface and familiarize yourself with the controls and options available.
Participate in Online Class – Online courses are flexible and allow you to learn at your convenience, most courses have some sort of a structure. For example, your course will have a beginning and end date and will most likely have deadlines for completing each lesson. You might log in on Monday to download the week’s assignments and then have all week to watch videos, read course content, and perform interactive lab work at your own pace. However, you will be expected to complete these tasks by the following week. In addition, most instructors do not release assignments ahead of time, thus ensuring that students remain involved according to the predetermined schedule.
Use Technology – Online classes use a variety of technologies to deliver the course to your computer including:
Interactive technology delivers tests, quizzes and exams online, often providing immediate feedback. Simulations are commonly used in online classes, making it possible to master networking, security and applications on your existing computer.
As you get a degree online, you will interact with the instructor and the other students via forums, chat rooms, threaded discussions, instant messaging and other online avenues. This interaction allows you to ask questions, get to know one another, pitch ideas, debate and learn.
While much of the work takes place at your discretion, the instructor may schedule online lectures or discussions with all students expected to attend at the same time. In addition, some online degree programs offer “hybrid” classes where you may need to attend a live class periodically.
Enrolling in an online college or university allows you to earn a certificate or college degree from the convenience of your home. Many working professionals simply can’t commit to night or weekend classes due to unpredictable schedules. The flexibility of an online class allows you to participate in college courses without having to travel to classes or commit to a rigid schedule. In addition, you can earn your degree while keeping your current job.
Attending college while working full time requires hard work and dedication. If you’re currently employed, your employer may be more supportive of your efforts than you think. Share your plans with your supervisor and find out if the company offers any tuition reimbursement or assistance. In addition, you’ll impress supervisor with your commitment to your career, thus improving your prospects of better work assignments or opportunities.
Online college degree programs are available for hundreds of professions. Enroll, log in and learn!