Tips for earning your degree online
Earning a degree online holds appeal for a variety of reasons. The idea of being able to increase earning power without attending traditional classes sounds attractive, but is the reality of online education as good as the advertisements make it out to be? The answer, of course, depends on how you approach your online learning experience. Here are some things to consider before attending college online.
1. Be sure to choose the best college for you. Price, reputation, and quality are all important. Do some serious research about how well graduates of your prospective college fare in the job market. You want to make sure that the degree you earn will be respected by employers.
Also find out what you are buying with your tuition and fees. Some online colleges offer extensive student services such as tutoring and interactive online lessons. Others expect students to teach themselves with minimal assistance. Getting the best value is not just about finding the lowest number.
2. Keep your expectations reasonable, especially if you are working while earning your degree. Try taking one class and see how it goes. Once you have done that, you can decide whether or not to increase your course load. Remember, taking longer than you would like to complete your degree is far better than not completing it all! Also keep in mind that failing and retaking courses can get expensive and time-consuming. It’s a smarter bet to ensure your success by pacing yourself.
3. Take advantage of all learning opportunities your college offers. Be sure to complete all reading and homework assignments whether they are "required" or not. If your course materials include interactive features like self-quizzes, use these to gauge your progress so that you can get help well in advance of any tests.
4. Keep in contact with your instructor and classmates by checking e-mail and message boards on a regular basis. Staying up-to-date on things like deadlines, assignments, and discussions will keep you from feeling overwhelmed.
5. Plan which activities you can cut back in order to make time for your online coursework. Promising yourself that you will "find the time" or "goof off less" is not sufficient. You will need to make concrete changes in your lifestyle such as cutting back on work hours, making childcare arrangements, or putting specific hobbies on hold. It doesn’t hurt to let your friends and family know that college will be taking up a lot of your time and energy. They will understand if you can’t get together or stay in touch as often as you did before you enrolled.
6. Consider hiring a face-to-face tutor if needed. Your local community college, university, or high school may have a tutor list available. Call several tutors and make sure to hire someone experienced in the subject you are having trouble with. You will get the most out of your tutoring sessions if you schedule them well in advance of any exams and prepare specific questions for your tutor.
Earning a degree online is a realistic possibility, but only for students who are dedicated enough to put in the effort. If you have the self-discipline and enthusiasm to succeed in online coursework, it may be your first step to a successful new career.