It seems that everyone is trying to advance their education or their career through higher learning. Just ten short years ago that meant sacrificing your income to drive to a brick-and-mortar college, technical school, or university and sit for torturous hours listening to a professor drone on about their knowledge set and sometimes ideology that you may not want to listen to. It is not that way anymore, however. The emergence of online education in the past decade has catapulted hundreds of thousands of people from their humdrum existence to one full of opportunity for advancement or change in careers.
There are many opportunities available for online education, as well as many choices of degree programs. One can learn how to bake a cake, teach children, or save the world through green initiatives in an online environment from the comfort of their home office, lunch break at work, or their favorite recliner. The online student can learn about criminals, psychology, and even architecture while watching their soap operas or feeding the baby.
Do Your Homework
Before you jump head first into an online learning environment make sure you do your homework. There are complete online services, there are mixed services that involve both classroom time and virtual time, and other programs that were traditionally college settings that have transitioned to online services. Know where you are going and what your goals are. You may wish to work toward your PhD in a particular field but the college you chose to attend only goes to an undergrad or MS level and you would have to change universities to get your PhD.
Check reviews and accreditation for each college you are looking at. Then check with local areas to find out what their requirements are for a person earning a degree. It is important that you know what you are getting into before being obligated to a program that may not suit your needs.
Advantages of Online Learning
The demands of a building are no longer a restriction to academic success. You can meet with your class on your own terms through asynchronous discussion boards. Some courses and colleges also offer synchronous (scheduled) classes where the teacher facilitates real-time discussion of a topic.
Another advantage of online learning is that you get to make your own hours. You can choose to spend as little or as much time on a project or assignment as you see fit. You can work days and attend your classes at night. You can avoid going to class once or twice or more a week, and still ensure that you get the education and credits that you deserve for the hard work you put in while you are living your life.
Race and gender mean very little. There is no bias or prejudice in an online setting because no one knows what anyone else looks like. Relationships do not exist in a virtual classroom to cloud the learning experience, either. Drama is kept to a minimum because of some evil love-triangle.
Disadvantages of Online Learning
There is no face-to-face interaction in a virtual online classroom. If you are the type of person who needs the personal touch and immediate response to questions or comments then the online system for university may not be for you. Everything is done online so there is no immediacy.
Time management is a must when you attend online classes. After all, you are responsible for your own behavior and your own schedule. If you are not able to keep up with your own responsibilities within an online, virtual environment you may be better suited for the brick-and-mortar school.
Make sure the degree program you seek is a viable option. For example, if you choose a path toward veteran counseling in psychology, the VA requires their counselors to have APA accredited education–which is not provided to online learners. Lawyers who wish to learn online should know that they can only practice law in California (currently) with an online Law degree.
Know the requirements of the specific job force in your area, too. If you are looking to get a Criminal Justice degree to work for the FBI, they won’t take newcomers over 35 years of age, and many police forces won’t allow new recruits older than 44.
Whether you are trying to improve your standing in your current career, or have found it important to change directions and look for new skills, an online college may be able to provide you with the flexibility to improve your standing in life. Just do your research into colleges and programs to choose the best fit for your own future and academic success.