Guide to Optimizing Online Education and Getting a Degree

Over 20 million Americans over the age of 25 have some college experience but no degree.  Many would love to further their education or train for a new profession, but they seem to lack the time, finances or commitment to go back to school. Unlike you, they haven’t realized that getting an online degree can help them better their life and open up new and exciting possibilities.

At Online Degree Direct, we want to help you find the best online program to make your dreams come true. Here is a quick guide to optimizing your online education experience.

Is Online Learning Right for You?

Although online learning is a convenient way to get an education, it’s not for everyone. Review your financial situation before you do anything else. Financial aid may help with university classes, but do you have enough to cover textbooks?  Also consider your schedule.  Will you need to get childcare in order to take night classes?

If you agree with at least half of the following statements, pursuing an online degree may be the right option for you:

  • I am comfortable with computers.
  • I am disciplined and self-motivated.
  • I don’t have the time to commute to a campus.
  • I can’t get the degree or training I need from local schools.
  • I learn just as well from reading as from a lecture.
  • My online degree is recognized and accepted by my profession.

What You Will Need

Most distance learning is done online, so you’ll need to have consistent access to a computer with a reliable internet connection.  The technologies used in online learning are pretty basic and familiar and include email, PDFs, forums and message boards.  You may want to familiarize yourself with any of these applications if you haven’t used them in awhile.

Online learning is also reading-intensive, so make sure you’re the kind of person who can absorb written information well.  Many online education programs also use technologies like streaming audio, video, podcasts, and chatrooms.  Some also use other types of online programs, but these systems are easy to learn, and don’t require advanced computer skills.

Choosing Your Classes

Many online degree programs offer both asynchronous and synchronous classes.  With asynchronous classes, students don’t have to interact at the same time and can post information of messages at their convenience.  This is good if you’re the type of person who doesn’t like speaking in front of others or prefer to take more time with your responses.

Synchronous classes occur at scheduled times, and communication is usually done through video conferencing, chat rooms, and conference calls.  In addition to being less convenient, synchronous classes may require additional resources such as a web cam, computer microphone, and a high-speed internet connection.

Finding the Right Online Degree

Taking charge of your education is a big step, so it’s crucial that you choose the program and degree best suited to your needs.  You’ll have to weigh many practical considerations such as your schedule and personal finances.  Do you need a full- or part-time program?  Also, what do you plan to do with your online degree?

Here are some other important factors to consider when choosing an online learning institute:

  • What training or credentials do the instructors have?
  • What experience to the instructors have with online learning?
  • How many students will be in the course?
  • How is your work evaluated?
  • What is the pace of the course?

To learn more about optimizing your online education, read: Preparing for Online College Courses and Creating an Online Class Schedule.