A university or college education is still one of the best paths to a fulfilling and well-paying career. However, as with many other industries, the internet is changing higher education like never before.
A couple decades ago, online colleges were rare. Even those that were around could not match the prestige or quality of their traditional counterparts. However, things have changed fast.
Today, you can get an online degree in nearly anything, including nursing, teaching, legal studies, business and information technology (IT). Additionally, virtual educational programs are better than ever at providing a quality education worth your money, time and effort.
The massive increase in distance learning has made it possible for more individuals than ever to acquire a degree even if they are busy with other obligations. This is especially great news for working professionals, parents and other adult learners who cannot afford to put their lives on pause while studying. Online degree programs guarantee the flexibility these students need to balance life and work while pursuing higher education. Furthermore, online degree programs usually tend to be more affordable.
However, earning an online degree is no small feat. It requires lots of commitment, perseverance, investment and time. And not all online degree programs are similar. This means that it is very important to choose the right higher education program to make sure you will be successful.
Below are a few important factors you need to take into account when choosing your online degree program.
Think About the Best Career Path for You
The rule of thumb when choosing a career is to pursue what you have an interest in. A few questions you need to ask yourself may include: What did you love studying while in high school? What interests you now?
If you do not know where to start, do your research and try to figure out what seems to capture your interest. Of course, you can pursue almost any degree program online, provided you have the determination and commitment to succeed.
See What Is in Demand
This is arguably the best way to choose a good online degree program for your career. Look at what fields need people and are expected to grow. If you choose a growing profession, you will be more likely to secure a job after completing your online degree program.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) is one of the best places to find information on well-paying and rapidly growing fields. Today, online Ph.D. programs, online nursing programs, online business degrees, online computer science degrees and online human resources degrees are among the most promising online degree programs you can obtain.
Look at Accreditation
This one is the most important question you need to ask yourself before you choose an online degree program. Accredited institutions have to comply with many official requirements, so it is essential to go for an accredited program.
Nothing should influence your decision to join an online degree program more than knowing the institution is regionally accredited. In simple terms, an accreditation means a particular college or university is recognized as a legitimate institution and not just a “degree mill.”
This is another huge factor you need to take into account before you finally settle for your preferred online degree program. You need to evaluate how the tuition fees compares to other similar degrees and colleges. Cost is an important consideration to make sure you will not have to pay too much or take out loans you will have trouble repaying. It is also important to note that not all high-priced online degrees guarantee the learning experience and employment outcomes you might be looking for.
Many affordable online degrees are of high quality. For instance, cybersecurity, business analytics and perhaps computer science are among the best online MBA programs. They may be equally affordable in terms of tuition fees.
How Will Instruction Be Delivered?
You also need to take into consideration how effectively technology is used to deliver the online degree program. Ultimately, the quality of the online program you enroll in will depend to a big extent on the technology used to offer it.
This means that you must closely examine and evaluate the various learning systems and procedures used to deliver the course content. When it comes to engagement with faculty and your instructors, consider the level of contact that the program and the tools allow.
How does the technology being used facilitate your group work with other students? Are your instructors available for in-person interaction? These are some important questions you need to find answers to before you finally enroll in your online degree program.
Consider the Institution’s Reputation
While being older does not necessarily imply that an online college is reputable, longevity and name recognition do give some programs an amount of respect. If a school you are looking to attend has just joined the education market, the chances are high that you might have a harder time finding a job with your degree when compared to a degree from an institution that has been around much longer and is more respected.
Nonetheless, choosing a newly introduced degree program is not necessarily a bad move. However, you should make an effort to evaluate other aspects in order to understand its reputation and suitability. For instance, if the degree program is associated with a respected college that is known to offer other successful and marketable online degree programs, it may be a good choice.
On the other hand, if a particular online degree program is new on the market and is also being offered by an unknown university or college that lacks any solid track record in the industry, it is usually a red flag that something isn’t right, and it may be a good idea to explore other avenues.
Besides these factors, you may also want to keep an eye on the types of resources offered. Just like a conventional college setting, an online learning experience must have a significant amount of career resources to help you succeed in your career. Today’s job market is competitive, and you need all the support you can get to make sure you are relevant and marketable.