Is An Online Degree Program For You?

by Dr. Thomas Slater

You see advertisements for them every day: “Get your online bachelors degree at your convenience and get a better job.” And in fact, if done right, an online degree program can provide you just the degree you need, without having to significantly adapt your life to make room for a class schedule. This is because you can take classes online at your convenience, at night, or whenever you can schedule some free time. This makes it much more simple to hold down a full-time job, take care of your children, or any other number of things you would have to arrange if you were to go back to school full time on a traditional campus.

However, there are some drawbacks to an online education. First of all, you have to make sure that your college is accredited. Most employers will not honor degrees that have been gotten from universities (online or traditional) without accreditation. Because online education (also called “distance learning”) is gaining in popularity and in recognition as a sound education means, more and more organizations are now giving online institutions accreditation, so that a degree you earn from an online education is every bit as good as one you earn in a traditional campus.

However, this isn’t always so, and you have to make sure that it is true before you waste your hard-earned money on an online bachelors degree. How do you determine whether or not a university is accredited? Check the regional accreditation board in the area where your particular university is physically located. If it has not been recognized by this accreditation board, it’s not legitimate at least in regard to what sort of certification or degree it will offer you, and you should look elsewhere.

Once you do find an accredited college that has the program you want, you can apply for financial aid to actually “attend” classes there. It used to be true that for students to qualify for financial assistance, you had to complete at least 50% of your education on a traditional campus. This is no longer true, however, and the school itself should be able to help you apply for financial assistance much in the way a traditional college can.

Finally, online colleges have one step backward over traditional colleges, and that is that you do not have to physically show up for classes. Yes, this is an advantage in terms of your time, but it also means that you have to be completely self-accountable for your own “attendance” and completion of work. Therefore, if you’re not self-motivated enough to make sure you complete your assignments on time and follow the syllabus verbatim, an online university is probably not for you.

If you are disciplined and have no problem with self-motivation, then an online degree program may be just the ticket. You should be able to complete your masters degree with much less inconvenience, and without having to significantly confound your life. This, in turn, can help you find that dream career you’ve been looking for all your life.

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