Education is the most important investment you can make in your future. But how do you decide what educational path to pursue? As online degree programs have become more popular, people have started to wonder if a degree from one of these institutions is equally acceptable as that of a traditional degree program. Depending on the industry you are looking to go into, this answer may vary. There are a few things you need to look into before you decide to get an online degree.
Field of Study
Depending on what you want to study, your choice of programs may be limited. There are only so many full degrees offered online, so you will be stuck with those options. However, the options offered online tend to be some of the most popular degrees and they have the best post-graduation employment rate. The most important thing to look for with these online degrees is their accreditation. Many professional industries require certain certifications and a degree from an accredited institution. This accreditation means that their program has been examined by an outside group of professionals and they have decided that it gives adequate preparation for that career.
When considering what type of school you should attend, it is important to understand what your learning style is. If you do best with face-to-face learning and working in groups, getting an online degree will be fairly difficult for you to do well with. On the other hand, if you are good at pacing yourself and learning on your own, online courses will be wonderful. You will still have a professor you can interact with and ask questions to, but you will be more in control of the pace that you go at and how you structure your learning.
Traditional on-campus programs generally have strict schedules with set start and end dates. Their schedule is not very flexible, which can make it hard to work part or full-time while studying. Travel time to campus, parking, and mandatory group projects can eat into what free time you have left outside of attending class. If time is a big concern for you, it may be better to look into online programs, as they generally offer more flexibility for “attending” class and how many classes you have to take at a time. If you have a full-time job with an irregular schedule, an online program would allow you to not miss any content. There are still deadlines for completing classes, assignments, and tests, but you can usually move at your own pace, which means you could potentially finish a class much faster than you would at a regular university.
If cost is your main concern, then online college classes are probably your best option when it comes to keeping expenses low. While traditional universities must pay for buildings and amenities, online programs can cut costs by not having very many overhead expenses. It is important, however, to consider if the cheaper price is the only thing that matters to you. Traditional colleges offer a wide variety of social events and services, including career and internship fairs that can help you land the perfect job when you graduate. You will also not have the same support system that you would develop by interacting with your classmates regularly. You should also look into the school’s status as a for-profit or a non-profit school. While a for-profit online school isn’t necessarily bad, it is important to make sure that you aren’t being scammed.
After evaluating your personal goals, needs, and wants, it should be easier to decide what type of program is best for you. As you assess different programs, make sure they are accredited, well respected, and have positive alumni feedback.