Most colleges/universities have online programs these days, and you can go to any one of them from anywhere around the globe. More and more options available for you.
The coronavirus/Covid-19 pandemic confined people to their homes. Going out and be in a public place such as the office or school, where our risks of getting infected getting bigger, are minimized, even banned under certain circumstances such as a lockdown.
The option of taking classes online become increasingly popular, especially because for most of us, we don’t have many choices. Students from every level, starting at elementary to university level have had experiences taking their classes online at some level.
Schools and universities had been transferring their classes online to make sure their classes can still work on schedule.
Before the pandemic, the students considering taking the online programs are usually the older and mature students, the ones with career and family responsibilities. Because it offered them more flexible schedules and many other advantages than attending the traditional classroom.
For the young ones, although online learning could never replace the physical university experience, the option of enrolling in an online program to continue their education is still an option worth considering.
But before you decide to choose to attend an online program for your higher education in university, at any level, you need to consider whether it is the right option for you.
How do you decide which program is right for you? Consider these 10 things:
1. Your Field of Study
It goes without saying, for some field of study, it will have no difference whatsoever if you take it by attending a traditional classroom setting or online classes.
The materials and the teaching methods can be transferred quite easily in an online form of learning. But for other types of study, it will be more difficult, even almost impossible.
If you will still be able to do live streaming of your classes and/or have it recorded for you to study it later, at your own pace and time, if you can access the textbooks and other materials easily, and if you can still participate in the classroom discussions with your professors and your classmates, and able to do your group projects online without any problem, and so on and so forth, then choosing an online program for your higher education will not be a problem for you.
But when your study required you to be in the field often, such as medical students who need to visit patients in the hospital, or to do a lot of lab projects and experiments where you need plenty of expensive and sophisticated equipments you can’t provide at home, attending them online will be impossible.
Anyway, I must say from the previous two examples, I stated the obvious there. The fact is, there are plenty of fields of study which still have grey area on whether it is possible to do it fully online or not.
In the end, you need to think carefully, decide the pro and cons of choosing to take the program online or not before making the decision.
2. The Duration of the Program
Make sure you know exactly how long will it take. With online courses, it will be easier to get left behind if you don’t have a good discipline to maintain everything, such as your study schedules, your assignments et cetera. Especially if the program allows you to study at your own pace and time.
To avoid slacking off or get distracted, and at the end affecting your study term, before enrolling in an online program for your higher education, you need to find out exactly when your graduation date would be if you stayed focus and on track.
Therefore, you know what the end goal is and start to plan everything to make sure you achieve it. Mark your calendar, create a clear schedule on what you should do every semester, and when is the deadline for each of them.
When I attended my Master/Graduate program, I was about 32. My daughter was 4 years old back then. I had many things to do and could not afford to waste time.
Lucky for me, I knew from the beginning when I should graduate if I want to make it on time, and the campus gave us the schedule for exams at every beginning of a new semester.
Therefore, I knew for sure what my schedules would be for my program, at least for that semester, and because of that, I was able to create my study schedules which I tried to stick to it rigorously.
If they don’t provide the students with clear schedules, you could ask for a mock-up of what your schedule would be for your entire program.
That way, you know what is coming, you will know exactly how long it takes and makes your own schedule accordingly.
3. The Teaching Methods
What are the teaching methods for the program you want to choose? Can you work at your own pace and time, by accessing the modules at the time most convenient to you? Or do you have to do stick to fixed schedules because the classes will be live streaming online?
Another thing to consider is the division of each of the study courses itself. Do your classes run in semesters where you will take 5 classes at once (assuming you need to take only one course per day) for 15-18-week semesters? Or are classes will be taught back to back in 6-12 weeks?
You need to consider which one is better for your schedule, especially when you also have other responsibilities since you are mature students and/or a mom and dad, for example.
Fewer classes in a long time are like running a marathon but take more classes in less time is like running in a sprint.
In the end, you need to decide which methods work better for you depending on your goals, your study situation, and your time management skills.
4. Textbooks and Other Material and Technical Requirements
Another thing to consider is the textbooks and materials as well as the technological requirements.
Textbooks are still required for online learning, but do you still need to have the physical form of the books since the ones you need are not available in digital versions yet? or could you have them completely digital, by buying the e-book and have all the lecturer materials provided for you to download immediately?
Online courses where you will still need to buy physical books can cost you more, since perhaps you will need to get the textbooks shipped to your home and paying for the shipping cost.
You also need to get information on the platform they used. Will it be a user-friendly platform? Is it easy to access and to download materials and presentations uploaded by your professors? Is it going to be easy for you to upload your papers and assignments?
Can the platform facilitate and accommodate many things beneficial for your studies, such as have a chat room for you to have a discussion with your classmates? Does the platform have a shared folder feature where you can share your work?
What about the technical requirements? What are the devices you need to be able to attend and maximize your online learning process?
Do a laptop, a good internet connection, and a printer is enough? Do you need something else such as other devices or any program and apps you need to install before you start the online learning?
Make sure you have these types of questions answered before you choose a program so that you can choose the one better and more affordable for you.
Because honestly, some of the technical equipment will not going to be cheap. If you don’t have many budgets to splurge on technological kinds of stuff, make sure you choose the one where you can utilize what you already have.
5. The Graduation Requirements
How many classes or credits are required to finish the course and to get your degree online program? Normally, a course program will provide a list of required classes with a brief description of each one and on which semester you will going to have them.
Will there be internship or service/volunteer hours to complete? Do you need to write a thesis or conduct qualitative or quantitative research and make reports for your final project in addition to completing your credits required to graduate?
Make sure you know the requirements before you commit to a program because you need to know for sure whether it will be possible for you and works well with your schedule and current situation in life or not.
Use this budget tracker template to track your expenses during your Back-to-School preparation period. All the things you might need to prepare financially for attending a University, an online college/course, even for a study abroad, are listed here. This template consists of 11 different worksheets, each sheet represents a different phase of your Back to School Journey preparation.
Over To You
If you are interested to continue pursuing your education through an online program, those are some of the points you need to research carefully before you make your final decision on which program to choose.
You can find more information about applying to online colleges/universities here at this link.
In the next post, we will cover another half part of them. So, stay tuned and click here to know more.
In the meantime, do you have some comments or feedback about this post? What are your considerations in choosing an online program? Do you have anything to add?
Feel free to comment down below, pin it, and share this post on your social media. Who knows, perhaps there is someone who can benefit from the information and this post will reach them, thanks to you!
Till next time and stay safe!!
- 10 Things You Need to Check, Before Choosing an Online College (Part 2)
- 7 Amazing Advantages of Attending Online School as Student-Moms and Mature Students
- 5 Fascinating Reasons Why A Mom Should Go Back To School
- 6 Surprising Ways College Will Be Easy for You When You Go Back to College as Student-Moms and Mature Students
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