When people want to improve their lives, getting additional training/education in something (whether it is a college degree or a trade certification) is often an integral part of that path.
Online schools are becoming increasingly popular due to their convenience of time and place for education. Who wouldn’t want to be able to learn more, become better qualified for the dream job or promotion without having to sacrifice what is already in their lives?
So while you may be scouring the Internet looking for the program that is right for you…you might also want to consider whether you are right for online schooling.
What?! Yes! Because online college is not the best choice for everyone.
Here are a few things to consider.
1. Will you have access to the technology you will need?
This includes a computer with sufficiently current software and adequate Internet connection speeds. Be sure to check the college’s technology requirements in advance.
2. Do you have and can you operate the software programs required?
How skilled are you at navigating the Internet, using word processing software, spreadsheets, presentations? Creating videos?
While Microsoft Office is most commonly used, you can get these same types of applications for free when you download Apache’s Open Office.
Can you learn software programs with a little training? You will need to learn how to use the university’s course management software so you can access assignments, submit work for authenticity checks, turn it in for evaluation, take online exams, or even participate with online exam proctoring. Just some things to keep in mind.
3. Do you reasonably have the needed time (5-10 hours/week) to study?
You want to be painfully honest about this one. If you cannot consistently make this kind of time in your schedule, you may want to wait until you can. There is no sense spending money on an education when it is not feasible for you to commit to it.
Contrary to skeptic misconception, not every university is in it for only the money. If they cannot produce graduates, they risk reputation and accreditation. So, they are very interested in helping students complete their degrees in a timely fashion.
4. How motivated are you to stick with your program?
Can you stay motivated for a few years? For most people, that goal that is just beyond getting their degree or certificate carries a lot of weight. Is it enough to carry you through those late night study sessions (and the ensuing sleep deprivation)? Or going to school during the summer? Or struggling to grasp the concepts in a new subject? Or when life’s hiccups inevitably occur?
Your motivation needs to be stronger than the struggle.
5. Do you possess the discipline needed to be a self-directed learner?
This is also really important. Some online programs are simply an online version of a traditional brick-and-mortar classroom and that model works well for many, but the caveat is that you don’t have as much flexibility or the option to accelerate as you do with competency-based education models.
In the latter model, you have advisers to help keep you on track and you have instructors to provide academic scaffolding for you. But because they cannot see your eyes glaze over when you do not understand something, they cannot discern when you need help. Students bear the responsibility of reaching out to the instructors when assistance is needed. It is simple, and it is surprising how many students are unwilling to ask for help.
6. Do you have a sufficient support system?
Whether you are single, married, in a relationship…going back to school is tough. You will have to make tough choices about where to spend your time and when. You will have to prioritize study over play at times. When you have support people and systems in place to help pick up a little slack, it will make handling your additional load more manageable. Keep in mind that it is temporary.
Please also be aware that these important people will need your acknowledgement of and gratitude for their efforts. Without this part, the strain of school can sometimes overwhelm relationships. We don’t want that to happen.
7. Do you have a plan for paying for school?
Notice, I wrote “plan” — not “money.” Let’s be frank. Most people who go back to school are looking for a way to make more money. Whether it is through a better job, a career change, or a promotion, INCOME is a big motivator! No shame in that. We are eager to help you get there! Really!!
One of the big benefits of online schools is that there are an increasing number of them that are bucking the trend of hiking tuition and are able to keep prices low. While most students probably do not have a wad of cash sitting around to pay for school, these low cost institutions can be so affordable that you may be able to pay as you go. (Wouldn’t that be terrific?! No debt.)
But if you still need help, ask to speak to an admissions or financial counselor about options such as scholarships (many are need-based), work-study programs, preferred student loan options, etc.
The point is, do not let money stand in the way of you achieving your dream. Work with the school’s financial counselors to find the best way for you to pay for your education.
So, as you are considering online schools to help you get where you want to go (and make what you want to make), please also examine whether your skills and circumstances will enable you to succeed.
To discuss your educational goals and your particular situation with an admissions counselor at New Charter University, apply now.
New Charter University. Your degree. Your way.