Today, online education is growing in popularity, chosen mostly by people who want to get additional education (finishing college or getting another degree). The topmost reason is its flexibility.
Free of real-time constraints like attending on-campus classrooms, online education is tailor-made for people who are into full-time jobs, or engaged in other full-time commitments (housewives with children to care, etc.)
However, there are certain things to prepare yourself first before you consider getting an online education. They can help you balance things out and make the right decisions.
Questions to answer
If flexibility is your only reason for an online education, why not consider night school or weekend programs at regular schools? On the other hand, if wanting to work makes you choose online education, why not go into blended learning courses at your nearest college?
Is online study your best choice for what you want? What is your career goal? The degree you want to finish should be the perfect one to make your personal goal a reality.
For your online institution, the first consideration is its reputation. To confirm that reputation, the school must of course have the proper accreditation.
Next would be checking which of your prospective schools can further your own career in tandem with your personal educational goals. For instance, if you are an elementary school teacher, you would need to have a program that completes your credentialing requirements.
Every school has a different set of programs. Be on the lookout for those that are perfect fits for your schedule and learning style. (You can discuss this with your online college counselor.)
Credits and transfer policies
Some online colleges have good transfer policies and it will be advantageous if you have finished some college coursework or some AP high school classes. This will greatly reduce the amount of your coursework.
On the other hand, some schools accept few (or none at all) previously completed courses from other institutions. Discuss this with your counselor.
Another possibility of reduced coursework could be your work experience. Ask if you can get college credits by completing a portfolio, presenting a letter from your employer or perhaps taking an exam to prove what you already know.
Check out if you qualify for either a federal grant, subsidized or unsubsidized student loan. You may even be eligible for a school-based scholarship or payment program.
Discuss this with your financial aid adviser for a thorough assessment.
Ideally, your studies and your employment responsibilities are not to interfere with each other. However, it is a good idea to give notice to your employer regarding you’re going back to school.
There might be instances when you have to request time off for exams and some in-person school requirements.
As the cliche goes, online education is not a walk in the park. It will take up much of your time, effort and attention. This is especially true to people with family responsibilities. It is always a good idea to discuss this phase of your life with the other members of your family.