Why Earn A College Degree Online?
Most students choose to earn a college degree online because of the convenience. There's no need to set aside blocks of time to attend class each week, not to mention the hassle of commuting to school after a long day at work, or finding a baby-sitter for the kids.Online degree programs seem to appeal most to non-traditional students. Perhaps younger students don't want to miss out on the larger college experience, while older students are more concerned with earning a degree than with joining clubs and attending college parties.
Is An Online Degree For You?
You may be an ideal candidate for completing a college degree online if you can answer "yes" to most of the following questions:
- Do I have too many commitments to commit to a weekly class meeting for a semester?
- Do I like to set my own schedule?
- Do I live far from a traditional university?
- Do I have an up-to-date computer and reliable Internet access?
- Do I have the motivation to complete work and participate in discussions without a set class time?
- Am I comfortable with online applications like message boards and chat rooms?
- Do I have time to devote to coursework each week?
- Can I learn well without the usual face-to-face classroom interaction?
- Will I take initiative and ask questions if I'm having technical difficulties or don't understand an assignment?
What To Expect From An Online Degree Program
Depending on the extent of a school's online degree program, you may not have a wide selection of classes from which to choose. If your college fits this description, you'll need to be especially aware of when required classes are offered. You don't want to wait another semester to graduate when a class you must take is only available in the fall.Each class will be run through a web interface like Blackboard. Within this system you can create a profile, visit the profiles of other class members, find assignments, follow links to required readings, upload assignments to the professor, and interact with the rest of the class through chat rooms and forums.
Many online classes take full advantage of the resources the Internet offers, pulling class readings from scholarly journals online instead of assigning a single book or assembling a photocopied coursepack. If there are any required textbooks, the university bookstore will frequently offer mail order service or you can find the required reading at online bookstores like Amazon.com.
Just like in face-to-face instruction, assignments vary greatly depending on the class. Some professors require weekly assignments, while others prefer long-term projects. Recognizing the importance of class participation, most professors require online students to make a certain number of contributions to message boards and chat rooms each week. Group projects are a component of some classes, requiring careful coordination of schedules and work. If you're not sure if a particular course is right for you, email the instructor before enrolling to find out more.
Financial Assistance Options
Students completing a college degree online are eligible for most financial aid programs and scholarships funds, as long as they are attending an accredited institution.