Are you ready to learn online?
So, you are thinking about going back to school online – here are some important things to take into consideration.
You most likely have already done some research and see that online colleges and universities advertise that they are accommodating, accessible, affordable, and moreover flexible. Have you ever heard the phrase, “learn anywhere at any time” or “learn in the convenience of your home while working and raising a family”. These marketing catchphrases get us interested in believing we can do it all…but what we really need is to take a step back and think it through before making such a big decision.
Obviously, when choosing an online program, we look at cost, the programs offered, and reputation (reviews/accreditation). But here are some other things to consider:
- Term length – Term lengths can vary from 12- week to the accelerated 4-week course at any university. One thing to keep in mind is that no matter if the course is 12, 8, 6, or 4 weeks long, all of these courses will contain the same type of content, meaning the concepts you will be learning over the 12-week period will be consolidated into the 6 or 4 week accelerated class. So, choose wisely. If you work full-time and have a family – will you be able to successfully complete accelerated courses? It is worth it to you to graduate faster or to wait longer to graduate stretching the materials out so that you are not over stressed with daily life in general. FYI – it took me 7 years to complete my PhD.
- Programs – Make sure that the university or college you are looking into has the program (a second option too) that you want to complete. Did you do some research to ensure that you can obtain a job in that field once you graduate? Does the university’s program contain esteemed, experienced faculty? Do the courses contain current and relevant context? Can the university provide you with the job placement statistics of their graduates? When in doubt, ask to speak with the dean to inquire about program specific questions.
- Resources – Most universities say that they are accommodating. However, you need to find out exactly what resources they have to offer. As an online student you will be working most likely by yourself and will need support. You should find out how their IT department works and when they are open to assist. Are the instructors available at any time to help? Ask specific questions pertaining to personal phone calls and texting. Do personnel hold synchronous tutoring or advising sessions? Are there 24/7 support services?
Remember you are in charge of your education, so you must ask questions, communicate and read instructions clearly, as well as conduct research before selecting the appropriate online program that works best for you.