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Amelia Roberts, a nurse in Washington, D.C., knew she needed to go back to college for a bachelor’s degree if she wanted to win a care coordinator position at her hospital. But attending college on the campus wasn’t an operating choice for her.
“I was at the workforce, so traveling to a category at night wasn’t going to work. Everything pointed to online university,” Roberts says. She signed up for a bachelor’s of science enter in nursing online through Thomas Edison State University in New Jersey. Right after Roberts got the promotion.
Roberts found the independent and self-paced type of online learning suited her well.
Millions of school students sign up for web based classes every year. Nearly a third of all university students take at least one online course, and something in seven students take online courses exclusively, according to the most recent data offered by Babson Survey Research Group, which conducts national surveys annually on online learning in the U.S.
But it’s not for everyone. If you’re considering a web-based degree program, ask yourself these five questions.
1. Are you self-motivated?
You have to be a self-starter to succeed in any classroom, but it’s crucial for online learning. Online degree seekers are often older than typical freshmen, and classes aren’t always the top priority.
“The most of our students will work adults with full-time jobs, children along with other commitments outside the classroom,” says Joe Chapman, director of student services for Arizona State University Online. “Attending in class on campus isn’t a choice for them, and it is been several years since they last attended school. … It may be daunting and scary for some people.”
To thrive within an online setting, you’ll need self-discipline. You will also require a strategy to manage your time and efforts to balance classwork along with other responsibilities, experts say.
2. Do you have the right equipment?
You may take a course online at any time and place – that’s its primary appeal. Yet that doesn’t mean you should be using your smartphone to do it, experts say.
“You could have a phone, an iPhone or an iPad and you may access our classes this way, but to be effective, you really should have a reliable computer,” says Lynne M. Lander Fleisher, director of Clarion University Online.
You’ll need a desktop or laptop and regular access to Wi-Fi to accomplish coursework online. You may want to download software your school requires too.
3. Can you adapt to learning online?
Learning in an online setting may not be the best way for you to absorb information. If you aren’t a reader, then you probably won’t enjoy online courses, which tend to need a large amount of reading. You’re unlikely to interact much with your professor or peers within an online course. A solo learning style may not be a fit should you depend on communicating with others.
“Everyone learns differently, therefore the individuals who can learn better by reading or hearing have an advantage,” says Megan Pederson, teaching specialist an internet-based academic advisor for University of Minnesota Crookston. “People who learn by doing tend not to enjoy the online experience.”
4. May be the school you’re interested in legitimate?
An online degree program’s quality will vary by institution. Programs offered by established, nonprofit private or public schools are usually safe bets. You need to research the credentials of schools without a brick-and-mortar counterpart.
Start by finding top online colleges from “best of” lists by reputable publications. For an extra layer of quality control, inquire about accreditation, both institutional and program-specific, using the admissions department.
5. How would you pay?
If you can’t afford to pay for your degree with savings and income, the educational funding process is equivalent to if you were attending a conventional college campus. You will need to submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA. Then you’ll get a Student Aid Report detailing help you qualify for.
The amount of help you can get will depend on your enrollment status, dependency status and income. The general rule is to accept any grants and scholarships, accompanied by work-study, before you take on a loan.
Schools that are accredited will offer educational funding. Be skeptical in case your school does not offer federal financial aid or pushes its very own home loan programs.