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Choosing the Right Online Class
There are a dozen great reasons to opt for a degree earned from online classes rather than a traditional university. From balancing school with work and family, to expanding your degree options beyond those offered in your area, to saving money while you earn that associate’s or PhD, online classes are a sensible choice over traditional brick-and-mortar schools. Yet, how do you know your degree will carry the same value when it’s earned from an online university rather than a traditional school? With hundreds of schools to choose from, you may wonder if you will choose a university that will impress your future employer or a dreaded degree-mill with all the value of phony coupons sold on auction sites.
You start by researching your online choice just like you would a traditional university. Gather a list of schools that offer the degree you’re looking for. Visit each school’s site and fill out the information request form. You are going to be bombarded with calls from representatives from each school. But, when you arm yourself with the knowledge of what you need, you’ll maintain control of the conversations and use them to determine if the online classes you’re being offered are right for you. To help you determine which online classes are a good fit, you have know a few things about yourself.
Of course, all online learning requires self-discipline and motivation. But some structures hold the student more accountable than others. Now is the time be honest with yourself regarding how self-disciplined you are. If you’ve left unfinished weight-loss plans and forgotten resolutions in your wake, or you are consistently late with appointments or bill payments, then you may benefit from an online class that requires homework be completed at intervals rather than just before the last day.
Obviously, online classes don’t offer authentic human interaction. Some, however, require that you participate in online discussions weekly. Examine how much social media sites you currently use to determine how comfortably you can interact virtually. If you don’t have an online presence already, you may decide to choose a class that forgoes the virtual interaction requirement.
Many people who have not been to school within the last seven years may have never been introduced to the concept of different learning styles. In recent years, experts have concluded that learning style plays a major role in how well students perform in school. If you are a visual learner, for example, you may do your best when you can read your material. Audio learners, on the other hand, do well remembering the content of lectures. When you are aware of your learning style, you can choose online classes based on whether they offer video streaming or printed textbooks.
Knowing what type of learning experience you need will help you greatly in your search for an online school. However, to make sure that the school you choose carries value in addition to a tailored learning environment, you’ll need to ascertain its reputation and validity.
First, find out if the university you are considering is accredited. Accredited means that the learning institution adheres to professional standards. This is different than being licensed. State licensing for institutions of higher education merely means that minimum standards have been met. When a licensed university is accredited, it means that its courses are quality, its credits will transfer, and, most importantly, its diplomas carry weight with employers.
Some shady online universities tout accreditation from illegitimate agencies. Find out who granted the accreditation, then check out the Department of Education’s website to verify that the accreditation source is reputable.
A class is only as good as its teacher, so you’ll want to know how the school you’re researching finds theirs. Get some names of the professors who teach courses related to your chosen degree. Perform an Internet search. At least one professional paper should come up for at least one name. Ask the university recruiter what requirements prospective teachers must meet. Find out how accessible professors are expected to be.
A flexible schedule is certainly one of the most valuable advantages of online learning. Many prospective students fail to consider the possibility that their own schedules will change. If you find yourself with unanticipated free time, will you be able to work ahead in the curriculum? Adversely, find out if the schedule is flexible enough if unexpected commitments arise.
Online classes enable many people to achieve their career goals. Distance learning has some key differences from traditional universities. Forging ahead knowing how these differences will affect you will increase your chances of success. While there are many universities that offer the high quality seen in traditional schools, the Internet makes junk degrees an easy scam to pull off. With just a little knowledge about how to effectively research your choices, you can make a safe decision and reap all the benefits online classes offer.