According to the National Center for Education Statistics, close to 3 million college students are enrolled in at least one online course and 14 percent were enrolled exclusively in online courses. The appeal for online college is growing.
Completing a college class in your pajamas while sitting on the sofa in your own home sounds very enticing. Having control over when you complete assignments and how you progress through the course is truly an advantage.
With the cost and quality of online colleges improving, this may be the right path for you. There are an increasing number of scholarships and loans available for taking online courses. Depending on the college you choose, the credentials of your professors will be recognized and appreciated.
Taking courses online is found to be more convenient by many students today.
Although you do not have contact directly with your professor, he or she is accessible through several forms of communication
And even though you do not form a traditional type of community with classroom peers, there are various online ways to achieve support with classmates and other student groups if you need it. Many online courses also offer opportunities for you to participate in discussion forums and group projects.
Once you consider all the pros and cons, there are additional questions you can ask yourself to determine whether online college is right for you.
Do You Enjoy Working Online?
Online college is exactly that, online. You can expect all aspects of the coursework, from communicating with professors to turning in assignments, to be online.
Fortunately, good online colleges have implemented systems that make all the online components simple and easy to follow. You will need to have some items in place on your end before you can begin.
Do you enjoy being online? Do you find yourself looking forward to researching topics on the internet? Are you comfortable downloading documents, installing needed programs, emailing and even watching videos online?
If so, you will most likely enjoy attending an online college.
Do You Have the Right Technology?
While you can take an online course from anywhere in the world, you still need to have access to the right technology. You will need a desktop or laptop computer that has the right word document programs, ability to watch videos, email, and access the college’s web-based software.
You will also need to acquaint yourself with the IT technicians working for the online college so that if anything were to happen with the system, you will know who to contact and how.
What is Your Ultimate Educational Goal?
Being able to answer the question of why you want to attend college is a huge step towards deciding if online or brick and mortar college is best for you.
Are you hoping to finish a degree you started once before but due to unexpected circumstances, you couldn’t complete? Are you just looking to take extra courses to increase your knowledge in a certain topic area?
Are you looking to add extra qualifications to your resume? Are you wanting to switch careers altogether?
Set your goal so you can decide the best type of college to help you reach that goal.
What is Your Preferred Course of Study?
Most quality online colleges offer targeted, specific degrees that can be obtained in a relatively shorter period, and that caters to some of the most popular fields of study.
Some of these popular fields of study include healthcare, accounting, business, information technologies or computers. Many online colleges also focus on helping students achieve certifications and degrees in specialized trades.
What Financial Support is Available?
Financial aid is now available for online college students. Just like traditional colleges, financial advising staff are available to help you find a way to reach your academic goals.
Your enrollment status, whether you are a full or part time student, may affect the amount of financial aid you can receive. However, there are many alternatives to help you enroll in a degree program.
Another factor affecting financial aid is the accreditation of the online college to which you are applying. You want to find online colleges with the right credentials, like what you look for in professors.
What Type of Professor Do You Prefer?
Today, you will find online colleges hire credentialed professors with similar backgrounds you will find in traditional professors. Often, the same professors teach both online and in-person classes. Most professors have a master’s level degree or higher.
They are hired through an extensive interview process and must show experience in research and teaching.
It is important for you to do your research before enrolling in a course. Most online courses can offer you feedback on instructors and usually offer biographies of each professor. You may even be able to reach out to the professor before you enroll in a course for a question and answer session.
What Type of Lifestyle Do You Have?
Are you a single parent with a full-time job hoping to fit an online course into your busy schedule? Or, are you just finishing high school hoping to find yourself before committing to a career? Do you travel a lot? Do you have other commitments that take priority over education?
Organizing priorities regarding your lifestyle can help you determine if attending an online course or in-person classroom fits your lifestyle best.
Are You Self-Motivated?
Many people think getting a degree online means you have more flexibility. This is partly true. However, you still need to have a great amount of self-discipline to complete assignments on time. Succeeding with online courses means you do not procrastinate using valuable time management techniques.
The time you spend in an online course can often equal the time spent in a traditional course. Being able to direct yourself through every step of the process, including working with other online students and your professor, is a necessity for success.
Answering the questions above is a great first start in helping you decide if online college is the best way to help you reach your educational goals.